About Christina Albano

Christina Albano
I graduated from Endicott College in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Minor in Human Services, and in May 2011 received a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University.

Click here for detailed bio

Conference Buzz

Behind the scenes blog about the upcoming conference.

Michael Spigler- Final Conference Update!

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Good Afternoon Everyone! Today, Michael Spigler will be giving a final Conference update about everything you need to know to prepare for the Conference next weekend:

Hello IOCDF Annual Conference Attendees! It is hard to believe that we are just over a week away from our 18th Annual Conference! We are so glad to have you join us this year.

Hotel Block

Today is the FINAL DAY to reserve your room at the nearby Hilton San Diego Harbor Island Hotel. They are honoring the $189/night rate as well as providing free in-room internet, free shuttles to/from the airport and downtown San Diego, and $10/day parking. The hotel is less than a mile from the Sheraton. Reserve your room here: http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/groups/personalized/S/SANAHHF-OCD-20110728/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG

Registration Information

If you have friends, loved ones or colleagues who are still considering coming, please let them know that pre-registration by phone and internet ends at 9 AM EST on Monday, July 25. Walk-in Registration will then open up at the hotel at 12 PM on Thursday, July 28. We will have plenty of walk-in space available.

Since you have already registered, you may start picking up your badge and conference materials from the Sheraton's Bayview Foyer between 12-8 PM on Thursday, July 28, from 7 AM - 6 PM on Friday, July 29, and from Saturday, July 30 from 7 AM - 1 PM. The Bayview Foyer is on the Lobby Level of the Sheraton.

Pre-Conference Continuing Education Opportunity for Professionals

If you are a therapist or researcher interested in Body Dysmorphic Disorder, please consider registering for our Advanced Behavior Therapy Training Institute on Thursday, July 28 from 1-6 PM. We still have plenty of space available. The cost is $100 and walk-in registration is available. Psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, nurses, and licensed mental health counselors can receive 4.5 additional credits. More information can be found here: http://www.ocfoundation.org/About_Conference.aspx#ABTTI

Download the Program Guide Now!

Our full Program Guide, featuring detailed descriptions of all sessions, exhibitor lists, and much more can now be downloaded from our main conference page here: http://www.ocfoundation.org/Conference.aspx

Research Poster Session

For the fourth year in a row, we are pleased to showcase exciting research into OCD and related disorders. This year, 37 different projects from 28 different research institutions will be featured. The posters will be available for viewing throughout the conference and a special, 1-hour question and answer session with the researchers will take place on Saturday, July 30 from 5:30-6:30 PM in Nautilus 5 of the conference hotel. Click here to view this year's featured research.

Fun in San Diego

A reminder that we have worked out several deals with local San Diego groups, including the San Diego Padres, Old Town Trolley, and Belmont Park. For more information on these special deals visit: http://www.ocfoundation.org/travel.aspx#Area

You can also start planning your meals at some of San Diego's fabulous restaurants here: http://www.sandiegorestaurants.com/search_advanced.cfm


See you soon! Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Please note that our office will be closed for the Annual Conference from Tuesday, July 26 - Tuesday, August 2.

Michael Spigler- IOCDF Conference Planning Update #4

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Good afternoon Conference Buzz readers. Today I interviewed Michael, Program Director at the IOCDF, to get an update on the Conference planning here at the IOCDF office...

How is this year's conference shaping up?

I am really excited about this year. With still a month left, we already have well over 700 people registered! That already makes this the best West Coast conference in our history and the 6th best ever. But, since we usually get about another 350 registrations between now and the conference, it means we have a real shot at breaking our attendance record! Those attending the conference this year really have a chance to be a part of something amazing.
We also have some fun announcements set for this year's Keynote Address. If you are coming to the conference this year you won't want to miss it!

I noticed that the early bird discounts have ended, can people still register?

Absolutely! The early bird discounts ended on Monday, but it doesn't mean that your chance to come to the conference has passed you by.
We have so many things to plan for (how many bags to order, how much food to order, etc.) so it is really helpful to have a sense of how many people will be coming to the conference. Because of this, we try to reward those who register early with a cheaper rate. However, we still have plenty of space and if you are still thinking about coming, we would love to have you. Registration is still available at http://www.ocfoundation.org/conference.aspx or by calling our office until the week before the conference. After that people can even register at the Sheraton San Diego on both July 28 and July 29.

Is there any important conference info that you want people to know?

Yes! Our room block at the hotel closes on Wednesday, July 6. If you are already registered or are just considering going, book your rooms now! After the 6th, the cost per night may increase dramatically and you could run the risk of not having a room available at the hotel. You can always cancel your room at the hotel with enough notice, so there's no reason not to reserve a room now.

I can tell the office is buzzing today. How is everyone holding up with only a month until the conference?

Ahhh! Don't remind me! We still have so much to do.
This conference is so much work and we're all running at 100 MPH right now. Each day is turning into a blur. We get in at 9 and before we even have a chance to look at the clock it has magically and tragically turned into 5 or 6 PM!
Every year the staff puts everything they have into preparing for the conference, but as soon as we see one of the many people who have had their lives changed for the better, it all disappears and it makes the hard work worthwhile.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work with such amazing co-workers and volunteers who, no matter if we are cramming 200 boxes into our tiny, misshapen elevator or burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline, always keep their sense of humor and their commitment to our mission. But, having said all of that, we'll all definitely be letting out a huge sigh of relief on August 1st!

Michael Spigler- IOCDF Conference Planning Update #2

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Happy Monday! Today, I again spoke with IOCDF's Program Director Mike Spigler for an update on the conference and its planning.

Mike, what's new with the conference this week?

The deadline for getting in exhibit registrations and ads has just passed and I'm happy to say that we will have a record number of exhibitors and advertisers this year! Our exhibitors are a fantastic resource for our conference attendees. Those in attendance will be able to talk to nearly a dozen intensive treatment programs, participate in OCD research studies, talk to our affiliates, and learn about the services offered by other related non-profits.

After pouring through dozens of applications, we have also just selected and contacted all of our volunteer room monitors that will help us ensure that each workshop goes off smoothly. These volunteers are an essential part of the conference and we are so thankful to them for their help. If you would like to be considered as a volunteer for next year, please email Marissa Keegan at: mkeegan@ocfoundation.orgWe're also in the midst of putting together our program guide which will serve as a road map for all of our attendees. Since we have limited room in the guide, one of the hardest parts of this process is taking the original workshop proposals form each of our presenters and trying to create a 100-word or less summary that is easy to understand but still gets the point across. That process alone took us about two days to finish.

You can actually get a preview of all the talks now by visiting the conference page and viewing the event's new Google calendar. By clicking on any of the talks, you can read a brief summary of what to expect in each session. It is a great way to plan your days for when you arrive.

We're also putting the final touches on plans with our conference vendors. As you can see from the photos below, one vendor that we'll probably be changing is our shipping company of choice. This is how they returned our brand new crate to us last week after an exhibit in San Francisco. It arrived with no less than 6 holes and covered in tape, which was the only thing holding it together!

IOCDF Shipping Case 1

IOCDF Shipping Case 2

Michael Spigler

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This week I interviewed Michael Spigler, who is the Program Director of the International OCD Foundation. I wanted to interview Michael to see what he is working on now for the conference, and also get a look into all the hard work it takes to run the annual conference!

How many conferences have you been a part of?

This will be my fourth. I started just before the 2008 conference in Boston. It was such an amazing experience and I was fortunate to learn from Denise Egan-Stack, one of our Board Members and Co-Chair of our Conference Planning Committee. Since then, we've been to Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and now San Diego.

How many people help with the conference planning?

The IOCDF only has six staff members, so with a conference of this size, it takes a lot of help from volunteers before, during and after the conference. We are very thankful that we have the help of a dedicated Conference Planning Committee, local task force, and volunteers in our office and at the conference.

How long does the conference planning take?

Planning the conference takes all year. Immediately following the conference in July, we begin crunching the numbers on all of the evaluations we receive and start incorporating the information in them into next year's plans.
Since the fall is the slowest time of the year for the conference, we also use it to start working on finding a host city and hotel for the conference three years ahead. So, this August we'll be back on the West Coast looking for a host for our 2014 conference! After that, we are already gearing up for the 2012 conference and before we know it, we're accepting presentation proposals and working on the next year's registration brochure.

What is the most challenging part of running the conference?

The conference has a lot of moving parts and it takes very careful planning to create the high quality experience that everyone expects. However, I think the hardest part is selecting the presenters and sessions that are included in the program. 
This year, we had over 200 proposals-the most we've ever received. Since we only had 96 open spots, it meant that we had to say no to more people than we accepted. All of the proposals we receive are fantastic, so it is heart-wrenching to give people the bad news. However, it means that only the best-of-the-best are accepted and makes for an even better program for our attendees.

What are you most looking forward to at this year's conference?

Seeing all of the hard work that we've put in coming to fruition and making a difference. No matter how stressful the days may be, all it takes is hearing from one person that the program has made a positive impact on them. Luckily for us, this program is so life-changing for so many people that we get to see this several times a day.

What are you least looking forward to at this year's conference?

The lack of sleep. With breakfast opening at 7 AM and support groups and evening programs running into the night, our days begin at about 5 AM and end at about 11 PM every day once we arrive in San Diego. (And this year, the jet lag won't help!) Most people only see the programs listed in the conference brochure, but we are also attending board meetings, affiliate meetings, and other events throughout the weekend.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished a lengthy article about the conference for our upcoming OCD Newsletter and now we are following up with all of our current and potential exhibitors to make sure they have everything they need for a successful event. Next up is starting to work on the enormous, 60-page Program Guide that we give to all of our participants who attend the conference.


Christina - Blogger Bio

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Welcome to my Blog! First, let me tell you a little bit about me...

My name is Christina and I am the International OCD Foundation’s Social Media Intern for this year's Annual Conference. I graduated from Endicott College in 2009 with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Minor in Human Services, and in May 2011 I will have my Masters in Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University. While studying at Northeastern, I did my Pre-Master's Practicum at McLean Hospital's OCD Institute and began to feel that specializing in OCD was something I would like to do. Under the supervision of Dr. Jason Elias, I started to get involved in OCD research, and am currently working as a Research Assistant at the OCD Institute. This summer, I will be starting as a Counselor at the OCD Institute under the supervision of Denise Egan-Stack, LMHC to work towards my goal of being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

What You Can Expect from the Conference Blog:

As Social Media Intern here at the IOCDF, I have worked hard interviewing some of the speakers at the 2011 IOCDF Conference for a blog about the Annual Conference. We wanted to do this blog to give people an insider's look at what goes on at the conference, such as workshops and panels, support groups, activities for kids and teens, evening events, fun things to do in San Diego, and more. In addition, we also wanted to give readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into all that goes into the preparation for the conference here at the IOCDF headquarters in Boston, MA. The IOCDF Annual Conference is a joint effort, and a place where everyone - including patients, families, professionals, and researchers - can collaborate and help one another, so we want everyone to be involved in the process!

Reader's of the blog can expect interviews from the speakers at various presentations and workshops at the conference, as well as insiders from local attractions such as the San Diego Padres. The interviews will be posted on the blog every Monday and Friday, and will feature behind the scenes updates about conference planning from the IOCDF staff, tips for tourists and families on vacation, and also live blogging from the actual conference in July. You will be able to find the blog on the conference page on the website (http://www.ocfoundation.org/Conference.aspx), on our Facebook page and Twitter page, and on the IOCDF homepage.

Next week I will be interviewing Michael Spigler, the IOCDF's Program Director at the IOCDF headquarters in Boston! If anyone has any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us here at the foundation as we would love to hear from you! Looking forward to seeing you in San Diego in July!