Winds of Hope

Acceptance and capacity for change


Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy), 18-22 October 2023

Lignano Sabbiadoro in Italy is the venue of the 2023 congress

The IFOTES congress in 2023 will no longer be held in Tihany (Hungary), but in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy).

The main reasons for this change of venue are the planning process, subject to many ongoing variables, and the costs for the participants in Hungary. 

Wishing to keep the congress on the scheduled date and having not much time left to prepare it, the Board of IFOTES has therefore decided to have the congress 2023 in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy (approx. 100 Km. from Venice), where conditions are more stable and the IFOTES staff and the PCO have already experience in organizing an IFOTES congress. 

We are hopeful to hold the following congress in 2025 or 2026 in Hungary with our member LESZ, since a lot of preparation work has been done and can be used for next time.

We are sorry about this change, but we hope you will understand and keep up your motivation to take part in the event. 

Sonja Karrer (President) and Michael Grundhoff (vice-president)


Winds of Hope

Acceptance and capacity for change

Human beings face small or large changes throughout their life, sometimes by choice, sometimes because circumstances and events are forced upon them. This can happen in a sudden and dramatic way and involve not only individuals, but communities and society as a whole, as with the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent armed conflict in Europe.

Sometimes changes forced upon us are not easy, but acceptance is the prerequisite to resilience. We should acknowledge that unwelcome change can also open prospects for personal and social maturing.

Individuals and society generally have the personal and collective resources to cope and accept change, to keep a balance, even when everything seems upside down. But it can be difficult.

Helpline volunteers know this only too well, given that for 60 years they have listened to people and supported them in the most critical moments of life, in those periods when accepting or changing is crucial to restore hope and to build or re-build the future.

For its next international congress, IFOTES proposes to reflect on these abilities, that only human beings have, to experience changes, moving between the capacity for acceptance and the desire for further transformation.


Acceptance and capacity for change

To get closer to the theme of the next international congress, a web conference "Acceptance and capacity for change" was held on 18th Nov 2022.

The framework for the first reflections on the congress theme was outlined with the support of two distinguished speakers.

Consequences of the pandemic and war on mental health and coping possibilities - Prof. Dr. Dóra Perczel-Forintos, Dep. Clinical Psychology, Semmelweis University, Budapest (HU)

How listening can lead to acceptance - Prof. Martin Debbané, Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva (CH)


Message from IFOTES president
Sonja Karrer

Dear volunteers and members of IFOTES,

we are very happy that 4 years after the last congress in Udine we will have the next congress in 2023 in Lignano Sabbiadoro, in the Italian region Friuli Venezia Giulia.

We are looking very much forward to meeting many of you at the congress. I’m sure that it will be a wonderful experience for all of you in this beautiful and welcoming region.

See you in October 2023!

Sonja Karrer
President of IFOTES

Draft Program

2023 IFOTES Congress
"Winds of Hope"

18-22 October 2023


october 2023 Wednesday


15.00 - 19.00 Arrival and registration
19.00 Welcome reception


october 2023 Thursday

Topic of the day

09.00 - 10.30 Plenary
10.30 - 11.00 Coffee break
11.00 - 12.30 Parallel Lectures / Workshops
12.30 - 14.30 Lunch
14.30 - 15.30 Parallel Lectures / Workshops
15.30 - 16.00 Coffee break 
16.00 - 17.00 Parallel Lectures / Workshops
20.00 Socio-cultural evening


october 2023 Friday

Topic of the day

09.00 - 10.30 Plenary 
10.30 - 11.00 Coffee break 
11.00 - 13.00 Parallel Lectures / Workshops 
13.00 - 14.30 Lunch 
15.00 - 17.30 Social Programs and Tours
20.00 Socio-cultural evening


october 2023 Saturday

Topic of the day

09.00 - 10.30 Plenary 
10.30 - 11.00 Coffee break 
11.00 - 12.30 Parallel Lectures / Workshops 
12.30 - 14.30 Lunch 
14.30 - 15.30 Parallel Lectures / Workshops 
15.30 - 16.00 Coffee break 
16.00 - 17.00 Parallel Lectures / Workshops 
20.00 - 00.00 Farewell evening


october 2023 Sunday

Topic of the day

09.00 - 10.30 Plenary
10.30 - 11.15 Coffee break
11.15 - 12.00 Outcome of the congress 
12.00 - 12.30 Closing ceremony

Information about Lignano Sabbiadoro and the coast of Friuli Venezia Giulia
Information about Lignano Sabbiadoro and the coast of Friuli Venezia Giulia

The place: Lignano Sabbiadoro

A long strip of golden beach (as much as 8 km) is the jewel in the crown of Lignano Sabbiadoro, one of Italy’s most renowned seaside resorts

Lignano looks out over the Marano lagoon, an unspoilt area of sandbanks, canals and little islands with the characteristic fisherman’s huts that even Ernest Hemingway fell in love with sixty years ago.

The coast of Friuli Venezia Giulia 

Long sandy beaches alternating with spectacular lagoon landscapes, fishing areas, nature oases of incomparable beauty and little bays set into cliffs punctuate Friuli Venezia Giulia’s 130 kilometres of coast.

What this varied and heterogeneous riviera has in common is the Adriatic Sea which washes the whole of the area from famous beach resort Lignano Sabbiadoro to Muggia, the easternmost side of the Gulf of Trieste with Grado and its beaches and the Grado and Marano lagoons within it.

Where is Lignano Sabbiadoro  

Organizers & Partners
Steering Committee and Scientific Committee


  • Sonja Karrer, IFOTES president - Chair of the Committee
  • Michael Grundhoff, IFOTES vice president
  • Diana Rucli, IFOTES director - Congress coordinator


  • Yaël Liebkind, member of the IFOTES International Committee, director of la Main Tendue Genève (CH) – Chair of the Committee
  • László Udvardi, LESZ vice-president, psychiatrist
  • Astrid Höpperger, member of the IFOTES International Committee, director of Telefonseelsorge Innsbruck (A)
  • Melinda Medgyaszai, LESZ member, psychotherapist and microbiologist
  • Mit Van Paesschen, member of the IFOTES International Committee, director of Tele-Onthaal Vlaams-Brabant en Brussel (B)
  • Reka Szente, LESZ member


Registrations will open in April 2023