Biennial Congress Planning and Operational Procedures


a. Venue Considerations
General factors to be taken into account when considering the suitability of Congress venues include the accessibility of a site to the membership, the likely interest of the area to the membership including the season of the year, the possible benefit to psychoanalysis of holding a Congress in the region, the relative subsistence expense levels at different venues, the adequacy for the needs of a Congress of the facilities and their cost to the IPA.

For a venue to be considered, it is not required that a prospective venue be the home of an IPA Constituent Organization or that a Society tender an invitation to the IPA for a Congress in its location. In those instances when there is no local group, or if its resources are unequal to all of the responsibilities of a Local Arrangements Committee, the IPA Central Office will negotiate with a Professional Congress Organization (PCO) of its choice which matters will be handled by the IPA and which by the PCO according to contract. With the growth of the IPA, the Central Office has assumed progressively more of those tasks previously performed by a PCO and at less expense.

b. Organizational Responsibilities
The IPA Vice-President has over-all responsibility for the organization of the biennial Congresses, including responsibility for the evaluation of prospective venues sufficiently far in advance – usually at least six years – to assure time for an adequate range of choices and a thorough evaluation of all the factors involved. To assist the Vice-President in this work, the IPA Treasurer and the Executive Director will work together with the Vice-President as a Congress Task Force that reports the status of its work at each meeting of the Executive Committee. When the information about a venue is deemed by the Executive Committee to be sufficient, that recommendation, and the reasons for it, is made by the Executive Committee to Board of Representatives, which has the final decision. There are occasions when the Board may reverse its decision, as for example when local circumstances develop that make it inadvisable for an IPA Congress to be held at the locale previously agreed to, or when the finances, the facilities or other parameters change significantly from those on which the original decision was made. It is the Vice-President’s responsibility to keep the Executive Committee and Board of Representatives informed of any such changes.

c. The Role of IPA Constituent Organizations
Historically it has most often been the case that an IPA Component Society requests the Executive Committee to consider holding a Congress in its city. Such a request or offer is addressed in writing to the President and Vice President and is made by the President of the requesting Society on behalf of its members. Any verbal presentations to Executive Committee or to Board of Representatives by an individual must be supported by a written offer as described. If the proposed locale is the home of an IPA Component Society, a letter must accompany any written proposal from the President of that Society supporting the offer. Bids, offers or invitations from other sources will not be considered.

The IPA Vice-President shall acknowledge all offers properly made in writing and, if possible, some indication is given of the likelihood that it will be considered among those venues currently being reviewed. If the reply is in the negative, the Society may wish to reconsider and re-submit its offer at a later date. If the reply is positive, the Congress Task Force will work with the Society and with the local PCO to the extent necessary to gather sufficient information on which to base a recommendation to the Executive Committee, and eventually to the Board of Representatives. On the agreement of Board of Representatives, the final planning phase begins, governed by the relevant section of the IPA Procedural Code. It is of vital importance that, from the beginning, proper procedures be followed to ensure accountability, to prevent conflicts of interest and to maintain IPA control over this complex process, for the benefit of its members.


a. Venue Evaluation
In most cases, adequate information about the suitability of a prospective Congress site can be gathered only by a reconnoitering visit by a member of the Central Office staff or by the Vice-President or both. Many factors vital to the successful "mechanical" functioning of an IPA Scientific Congress are not apparent unless an experienced observer is on the scene. Brochures, plans and prospectuses provided by cities, PCOs, the venue operators and other interested parties, while helpful, do not always give a sufficiently complete picture of how well the members’ needs will be met in terms of the range and quality of hotels, their proximity to or distance from the Congress site itself, the adequacy of the facilities for the Congress, etc.

b. PCO Evaluation
Most cities large enough to support a large congress centre will also have several commercial organizations competing to offer help that ranges from complete organization and running of a congress to the provision of selected and negotiated services. The IPA typically evaluates those available on the basis of factors such as cost, professionalism, ability to perform and cooperativeness. The IPA monitors PCO performance and requires that its usual procedures be followed, for example in requesting bids from three vendors prior to approving the selection of one, in accounting for and paying for services, etc. An exception may occur when a congress site is owned and run by an organization that has its own PCO. In such an instance, the evaluation of a congress venue will also take into consideration the nature of the associated PCO according to the factors already described.


a. Organizational Structure
The President appoints the Programme Committee and any Pre-Congress Committee Chairs and Co-chairs at least two years prior to the relevant Congress and, in due course, the President also appoints the members of the regional sub-committees (if any). Each of these two committees operates on a separate budget as an independent cost centre, for which each of the Chairs is responsible. Programme Committee costs are included in the overall Congress budget, but Pre-Congress costs are not included. The financial procedures and parameters for filing a budget request and for reimbursement are detailed in the PC section on Budgetary Process and Financial Procedures. Reimbursement is provided according to appropriate schedules for activities within the scope of committee activities and for which budgetary allocation has been approved. No additional compensation is provided for any reason, including but not limited to Congress registration fees, travel to and from the Congress itself, hotel accommodation or subsistence during the Congress period itself.

b. The Scientific Congress Programme Committee
Typically the Programme Committee consists of an overall Chair, with a Co-chair from each of the three regions. Sometimes a Secretary to the Committee is also appointed, although there have been Congresses well-run with only three Co-chairs, one of whom also assumed the duties of over-all Chair.

Because the construction of a Congress involves judgements of the work of colleagues who submit papers and other work and proposals to be considered for acceptance for presentation at the Congress, a mechanism is required to manage this process fairly. The PC can either appoint a team of readers who, between them, are proficient across all the IPA’s official languages; at least two readers will review every paper after it has been anonymised. Alternatively, the PC can appoint regional sub-committees to carry out the same task. Typically regional sub-committees consist of twelve members in each region whose names are submitted by the Programme Committee Chair to the President for consideration for appointment. Usually more than twelve names are submitted from each region in order to provide scope for judging the appropriate scope of representation. An emphasis is placed on the participation of younger colleagues in order to facilitate early involvement of the younger generation. They may also be involved in discussions of various sub-topics, panels and discussion groups. There is no reimbursement to the members of these sub-committees.

The Programme Committee communicates through the group email service provided by the IPA Central Office. The IPA Vice-President is a member of this email group, as is a designated member of the IPA Central Office.

The President in consultation with the Programme Committee and other colleagues decides the Congress theme and title. The President at the end of the preceding Congress announces the Congress theme and the appointments to the Programme Committee, even though these decisions may well have been taken earlier.

c. The Pre-Congress on Training Committee
Typically this Committee has an overall Chair and a Co-chair from each region. There is usually no Secretary and no regional sub-committees. Any change in this arrangement must be made in consultation with the Congress Task Force, the President, and with the agreement of the Executive Committee. As the duration of the Pre congress is relatively short, and the topic chosen is the one on which all the Pre congress is focused, the expense of its operation is correspondingly small. It communicates through its own designated group email service provided by the IPA Central Office. The IPA Vice-President is a member of this email group as is a designated member of the IPA Central Office.

d. Congress Integration
A meeting is held of all groups together, at the Congress site, usually for two days. It is most convenient for this meeting to be scheduled to take place in the early Spring of the year preceding the Congress. This meeting brings together the IPA Vice President, the relevant Central Office staff, the Programme Committee, the Pre-Congress on Training Committee, the Local Arrangements Committee, the chief representatives of the Congress venue, the PCO if any, and any other local persons involved in decisions that need to be made at this meeting. The Executive Director organizes the meeting, usually soon after the Committee appointments are known and best if arranged prior to the preceding Congress.


Change Log

Addition to the second paragraph in section 2b to clarify the procedure for the assessment of submissions to the Congress.  Addition of the word ‘title’ to 4th paragraph of section 3b – approved by the Board January 2012

Replacement of term “Secretary General” with “Vice President” throughout – approved by the Board April 2014


*This change record is for background information only and does not form part of the Procedural Code. If there is any conflict between a statement in the Procedural Code and a statement in this change record, the change record will be disregarded.