STOICON ’16: Don Robertson

156529_10152744795625164_378564046_nWe continue our weekly entry in this limited series of posts leading up to the STOICON 2016 conference, scheduled in New York City for 15 October. (More info? Here. Tickets? Here. Looking for cheap accommodation with a fellow Stoic? Here.) The idea is to briefly feature each of the scheduled speakers for our talks and workshops so that people can better appreciate some of the leading figures behind the Modern Stoicism movement (is that what it is?), as well as give their reasoned assent to the impression that this is a conference well worth attending…

The featured speaker today is Don Robertson, a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, trainer, and author who specialises in the treatment of anxiety and the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and clinical hypnotherapy. He is the author of many articles on philosophy and psychotherapy in professional journals, as well as a number of books.

Don was born and grew up in Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland. He also lived in England for about twenty years, before settling with his family in Nova Scotia, Canada. After doing his degree in philosophy at Aberdeen University he completed a Masters degree in philosophy and psychotherapy at Sheffield University and went on to train in different models of psychotherapy, including doing a post-graduate diploma in advanced Cognitive-Behavioural Psychotherapy at Kings College.

Don’s background in academic philosophy has helped him to appreciate the relationship between modern psychotherapy and ancient philosophy, a subject that he has frequently written about and lectured upon in training courses and professional conferences over the years.

Don has published the excellent Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, a guide to finding a happier way of life that draws on the ancient wisdom of the Stoics to reveal lasting truths and proven strategies for enhanced well-being. By learning what Stoicism is, Don maintains, you can revolutionize your life, learn how to — properly — ‘seize the day’, how to cope in the face of adversity, and how to come to terms with whatever situation you’re in.

At STOICON ’16 Don will talk about “Stoicism, mindfulness, and cognitive therapy.” The concept of “mindfulness” is popularly associated with Buddhism, although the English word didn’t gain widespread use as a description of a meditation practice until the late 1970s. There’s a great deal of evidence that mindfulness-related practices employed in modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can have measurable benefits for our mental health. His first book on Stoicism, The Philosophy of CBT, explored the relationship between Stoic spiritual exercises and modern therapy techniques in detail. In the Stoic Week handbook, and the Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training (SMRT) course, Don has made extensive use of mindfulness and CBT techniques as a way of applying Stoic strategies to daily living, reaching thousands of participants around the world. His talk will provide an overview of some of this work, its findings, and some of the ways in which practitioners have successfully combined elements of Stoicism, mindfulness, and cognitive therapy in practice.

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