February 23, 2021

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By Philippe Conus

The second congress of the IEPAf  that was originally planned  to be held in Lyon last year was held online on December 7th , 2020. IEPA’s Vice President of Europe , Professor Philippe Conus provides an overview of the event and future plans for the organisation.


The French-speaking branch of IEPA , IEPAf that was launched in 2018 held its second conference on December 7th 2020. Initially planned to take place in Lyon, it was finally held online (to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic context). Despite or maybe because of this virtual format, there were more than 360 registered participants to this one-day program. In line with our aims and as outlined by our title (Let’s remain practical!), we focused on concrete issues that clinicians encounter when helping young patients going through the early phases of a psychotic disorder.

We started the conference with three brief plenary sessions. Prof Marie-Odile Krebs synthetized the current knowledge on brain maturation during adolescence and early adulthood, thus emphasizing on the critical aspect of this period of life.  Speakers from four countries described the strategies deployed in their early intervention programs to adapt their interventions and service functioning to the COVID-19 pandemic context. Finally, a brief overview of the state of early intervention implementation across the three French-speaking countries of the IEPAf organization board; Canada, France and Switzerland, was presented.

The main part of the conference was then dedicated to 3 successive sessions of 3 parallel one hour workshops addressing a wide range of domains.  Working with families in early intervention; Addiction to gaming; Building a crisis plan; How to set up an early intervention program?; Impact of COVID-19 on young people with psychosis and strategies/tools of early intervention programs to help them; Supported employment and studies; Trauma informed care in early psychosis. Three speakers from Canada, France and Switzerland in each workshop gave brief 7 minutes talks each before the chair conducted the discussion with participants. These extremely enriching discussions led to the creation of various sub-groups that have planned to keep in contact, either to exchange practical tools, or to develop training or further discussions in the future.

Globally, this conference was a fantastic success, mainly because it was accessible to all clinicians that had an occasion to meet with international colleagues and because it resolved the issue of language barrier for French speaking colleagues who sometimes struggle to follow a conference in English. In the future, we plan to organize such a virtual conference annually. We consider planning web conferences as well as training sessions and professional exchanges, a variety of strategies that will facilitate knowledge transfer and reinforce the emergence of a community of clinicians within the French-speaking community.

We are very thankful to IEPA for its support to our initiative, and we thank Dr Frederic Haesebaert, from Vinatier Hospital / Lyon Universitym, who piloted from Lyon the organization of this meeting and University of Montreal for their technical support with the help of the organizing committee.

From France:  Pr Marie-Odile Krebs (Groupe Hospitalier Universitaire (GHU) Paris, Sainte Anne, Paris ; Lydie Mathevet from PsyCare, France. , From Quebec, Association Québécoise des Programmes pour Premiers Episodes Psychotiques (AQPPEP) :  Nicolas Girard, Pr Sophie L’Heureux, Pr Amal Abdel-Baki
From Switzerland :  Pr Philippe Conus, Swiss Early Psychosis Project (SWEPP), Lausanne University Hospital.

A special thanks for all those who contributed as speakers, timekeepers and moderators.