Letter From The President

Healing the Wounded Child: A Common Thread for all of us

Christine Forner, President

The Month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA, and so in April each year our Newsletter has a special focus on child and adolescent issues. This provides an opportunity to review what brings us all here in the first place. The field of complex trauma and dissociation is born in the realm of the lost child. It is the hurt, abused and neglected child that draws us all to the halls of the ISSTD. Whether we actually work with children or we work with adults who were hurt as children, the common thread of what we do is the child! What we end up finding, as we gather as a group, is the vast amount of lost children we are talking about. It is hard, once you learn of the true nature of the problem and the real scope and scale of how many harmed and lost children there really are, to not be overwhelmed by the size of the project we dedicate our lives to. This is a huge hill to climb.

It is also very challenging, once one learns about the effects that hard childhoods have on kids and how this translates into adulthood, to not buckle under the weight of this knowledge. This knowledge, that dissociative disorders are born in harsh conditions, and such conditions seem pervasive. Adverse childhood experiences are extremely common. The inability for parents, caregivers, educators, legal entities and policy makers to understand a) what is an actual adverse experience and b) how to help a child deal with these experiences seems to be the crux of the problem.

How do we continue to do what we do, so that we can transfer what we have learned to others, to ensure that no child is lost? How do we keep our own hearts, souls and minds healthy to hold this information, research it, search for more information to help further understand what is happening and how we can ultimately stop this extremely preventable mental health issue?

Reflection on what we have accomplished can assist in providing answers, and hope, to these very complex and seemingly insurmountable problems. During my time in this field we have learned so much. We have been able to study Attachment theory, the Polyvagal theory, neurobiology and neuroimaging, large meta studies, and a plethora of qualitative information, and these, along with the ACE studies, all provide a vast amount of information that supports the finding that children are very sensitive to stress. We have learned what infants and children need to flourish and what happens if these needs are not met. We have learned that children are a lot more affected by their environments than adults. We have learned that not only the function of the mind is affected by childhood adverse experiences but also the structure of the brain itself. We know that when infants and children are exposed to abuse, chaotic homes, neglect, harsh interpersonal connections, and other tumultuous environments that they do not do well at all. We have learned that children are very sensitive to the presence, and conversely, absence of the caregivers. We have learned that children who are raised in adversity are very likely to bring these adverse experiences into their adulthood.

We have learned that there is a connection between the occurrence of childhood trauma and how those survivors conduct themselves in adulthood. For example, people have been re-visiting the findings of the well-known “marshmallow experiment”. It was noticed that in the pre-screening of child-subjects, there was no consideration for lack or poverty. Once lack or poverty are accounted for the results are very different and can be interpreted differently. When a person is lacking in basic needs, those needs will be a predominate concern for the person, such as with the marshmallow. The children who have been provided with less, have way less belief that their needs will be met, so they eat the marshmallow. The children who learned that there is plenty, are more able to wait, so they can prolong the eating of the marshmallow. The children who have learned that there is no predictability in getting anything, take it as soon as they can.

We have learned that there are reasonable explanations for a majority of human reactions and behaviours, if the adverse experience is accounted for. If it not accounted for, then there is a whole host of information that is missing. We can connect a lot of dots because of what we have learned about the effects that childhood trauma has on people. We can show connection between childhood adversity and how polices are developed. How election choices are made. What the adverse experience will have on future medical concerns and outcomes. We understand that many legal concerns are all influenced and effected by people who were hurt as children. We know that what happened to people as children alters their whole world view.

I think the most influential information of all is that humans thrive on love. We thrive on feeling safe and need to have security in our family units. We have also learned that care for the wounds, caring for the hurts, caring for the pain, honouring the suffering are some of the most powerful sources of healing. From a variety of sources we are learning that care, attention, softness and dignity to the suffering of the children or adult survivours mend these wounds.

As we move into the next decade my wish is that the needs of our young are put at the forefront of all policies. For this to occur the need to educate almost every facet of our social, educational, health and government branches of society will benefit from knowing what we know. We are the leaders in this aspect. It is my hope that as leaders we can take our brutal but beautiful knowledge and continue to help change how we treat children.

News You Can Use

News You Can Use

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

Rediscovering Pierre Janet

Pierre Janet is well-recognised as a pioneer of our field. Once seemingly near-forgotten by the psychological sciences, he is being discovered anew in recent years.

Esteemed ISSTD Fellow Onno van der Hart, PhD has long been a champion of furthering our knowledge of Janet. He joins Giuseppe Craparo and Francesca Ortu in editing a newly released book: Rediscovering Pierre Janet: Trauma, Dissociation, and a New Context for Psychoanalysis.

Divided into three parts, the first section explores Janet’s influence on psychoanalysis, covering a wide breadth of analytical thought, spanning the time from Freud and Jung, through to Bromberg. The book then goes on to explore Janet’s work on contemporary psychotraumatology. The third part of the book explores Janet’s influence on contemporary psychotherapy, including the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and dissociative identity disorder.

Rediscovering Pierre Janet draws together eminent scholars from a variety of backgrounds, many of them well known members of ISSTD. Some chapters include:

  • Andrew Moskowitz and his colleagues explore the writing and thinking of Janet on hallucinations, paranoia, and schizophrenia;
  • Kathy Steele and Onno van der Hart discuss the hypnotherapeutic relationship with traumatized patients and explore Pierre Janet’s contributions to current treatment
  • Onno van der Hart, Paul Brown, and Bessel A. van der Kolk overview Pierre Janet’s treatment of posttraumatic stress and
  • Gerhard Heim and Karl-Ernst Bühler explore Janet’s views on the etiology, pathogenesis, and therapy of dissociative disorders

Commenting on this book, well known therapist and writer, Philip M. Bromberg, author of Standing in the Spaces, writes: “In this magnificent volume, both scholarly and personal, Janet’s contribution and the man himself are embodied and come alive in every chapter. It is a book for us, and a ‘must-read’.”

Published by Routledge the book is available through the following Routledge and Amazon.


The Traumatised Memory: English Translation now available

The Traumatized Memory – Protection and Resistance (2019), edited by ISSTD/ESTD Member, Dr Ralf Vogt, is now available in English translation.

This important collection of writings explores how traumatic incidents are psychologically mapped and coded into symptoms of the body and into mental images. The book explores how this information is encoded, saved and stored by survivors, depending on their age, the cruelty level of the incident or the accumulation of terrible events. It also asks and explores how this encrypted data can be later retrieved and decrypted in a manner that is therapeutically effective and emotionally acceptable.

This book is one that can be understood by psychotherapeutic colleagues and affected clients alike. The illustrative case examples are also interesting for anyone who wants to experience the logic and contradictions of the fascinating unconscious.

Initially printed in German, the editor (Ralf) was able to have the publisher –Lehmanns Media- produce an English print version. In addition, there is a very affordable ebook available, for those colleagues who wish to save on paper and shipping costs.

Editor, Ralf Vogt, pictured at the ISSTD Annual Conference, 2019

This book features the writings of many prominent members of ISSTD and ESTD including:

  • Winja Lutz, who writes on the reality of ‘False Memories’, the False Memory Syndome Foundation and False Memory research;
  • Renée Potgeiter Marks, who writes on the process of memory recall in children with Complex Trauma and Dissociation;
  • Valerie Sinason who writes on time, memory and DID;
  • Joanne Twombly who provides a case study of a woman with DID;
  • ISTD Past President, Kevin Connors who writes on memory and dissociation;
  • Irina Vogt who explores perinatal and birth trauma; as well as
  • Ralf Vogt himself who contributes many chapters exploring assessment and treatment, particularly the SPIM-30 model, and this work is often explored and illustrated through the lens of detailed case study.

The print book is available here and the ebook is available here.


Welcome ISSTD’s New Members in April!

Torrie Benson-Pryor
Andra Bruce
Michelle Gronum
Helga McIlrath
Sharon McLendon
Tracy Murdoch
James Perry
Zoe Pool
Joanne Regina
Dena Robertson Blackford
Sunica Schreiner
Zoe Thomas
Cynthia Vander Ark
Mary Alice Wentling
Jason Wheatley
Sean Burns
Jason Cleveland
Anna Groom
Barbara Kates
Barbara Mark
Jennifer Pearson
Nigel Surridge
Ian Niecko
Geoffrey Kaile
Julia Reed
Katherine Lambos
Samantha Lukey
Jessica McDaniel Johnson

Do You Have News ISSTD Members Can Use?
We need your help to make NYCU a great feature, full of news and sharing the activities of our community members.
Do you have a book or book chapter coming out that you wish to share? Have you received an award for your work in the field? Have you been part of developing a new website or training course? Have you had a chance to develop something creative and unique that you wish to share with others in the field? If so, we want to hear from you! Don’t be shy, submit your news to us so that we can share with other members. (Please be aware: we do not offer book reviews, but a chance to share with others that your book has been published.)

Submission Deadline: 20th of the month
Send to ISSTD Editor, Kate McMaugh: katemcmaughpsychology@gmail.com

Clinical E-Journal

JTD & Frontiers Table of Contents (April 2019)

Journal of Trauma & Dissociation

Check out the entire library online of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation – your member benefit – now!

Table of Contents
Volume 20, Issue 1
Volume 20, Issue 2
Volume 19, Issue 3
Volume 19, Issue 4
Volume 19, Issue 5

Are you interested in auto publication alerts?
To set up a quick and each way to get a ‘new content alerts’ for JTD, go to the JTD page at Taylor & Francis and click the ‘Alert me’ button under the graphic of the JTD.

For full access to the entire library of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation (your member benefit) visit the Member Resources page of ISSTDWorld. Need help to access? Call ISSTD Headquarters at 202-803-6332, or email info@isst-d.org for assistance.

Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation

Table of Contents


  • The Memory Wars in England: A Personal and Professional Experience (Valerie Sinason)
  • The First Individual with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) That One Knowingly Diagnoses and Treats (Warwick Middleton, MB, BS, FRANCZP, MD)
  • Envisioning and Embodying Empowerment in Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Case Illustrating the Two-Part Film Technique (Sarah Y Krakauer, PsyD)
  • Editorial: How are Memories of Entrapment in Abuse Born? (Andreas Laddis, MD)
  • Commentary: Therapeutic Neutrality, Ritual Abuse, and Maladaptive Daydreaming (Alison Miller, PhD)
  • Rejoinder: Maladaptive Daydreaming and Therapeutic Neutrality (Colin a Ross, MD)
  • Commentary: On Dissociative Identity Disorder and Maladaptive Daydreaming (Eli Somer, PhD)
  • Rejoinder: Maladaptive Daydreaming and Dissociation: Both a Continuum and a Taxon (Colin A Ross, MD)
  • Commentary: Understanding Reports of Satanic Ritual Abuse (Warwick Middleton, MB, BS, FRANZCP, MD)
  • Commentary: Truth and Neutrality in the Treatment of Extreme Abuse (Michael Salter, PhD)


  • From Proximity Seeking to Relationship Seeking: Working Towards Separation from the “Scaregivers” (Orit Badouk Epstein)
  • The Relationship of Mental Telepathy to Trauma and Dissociation (Sharon K Farber, PhD)
  • A Simple Algorithm for Medication of Patients with Complex Trauma-Related Disorder (Andreas Laddis, MD)
  • Healing Emotional Affective Responses to Trauma (HEART): A Christian Model of Working with Trauma (Benjamin B Keyes, PhD, EdD)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in Complex Trauma and Dissociation: Reflections on Safety, Efficacy and the Need for Adapting Procedures (Anabel González, MD, PhD)
  • Cross-Cultural Trauma Work With a Tribal Missionary: A Case Study (Heather Davediuk Gingrich, PhD)
  • The Potential Relevance of Maladaptive Daydreaming in the Treatment of Dissociative Disorder in Persons with Ritual Abuse and Complex Inner Worlds (Colin A. Ross, M.D.)
  • Neuroaffective Embodied Self Therapy (NEST): An Integrative Approach to Case Formulation and EMDR Treatment Planning for Complex Cases (Sandra L. Paulsen, Ph.D.)
  • The Case of the Shaking Legs: Somatoform Dissociation and Spiritual Struggles (Alfonso Martinez-Taboas, Ph.D.)
  • Treatment Outcomes Across Ten Months of Combined Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment In a Traumatized and Dissociative Patient Group (Colin A. Ross, M.D., Caitlin Goode, M.S., and Elizabeth Schroeder, B.A.)
  • Maladaptive Daydreaming: Ontological Analysis, Treatment Rationale; a Pilot Case Report (Eli Somer, Ph.D.)


  • Editorial: How Close Encounters of the Completely Unanticipated Kind Led Me to Becoming Co-Editor of Frontiers (A. Steven Frankel, Ph.D., J.D.)
  • Editorial: Sources for Psychotherapy’s Improvement and Criteria for Psychotherapy’s Efficacy (Andreas Laddis, M.D.)
  • Trying to Keep It Real: My Experience in Developing Clinical Approaches to the Treatment of DID (Richard P. Kluft, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • Expanding our Toolkit through Collaboration: DIR/Floortime and Dissociation-Informed Trauma Therapy for Children (Joyanna Silberg, Ph.D. and Chevy Schwartz Lapin, MA)
  • From Passion to Action: A Synopsis of the Theory and Practice of Enactive Trauma Therapy (Ellert R.S. Nijenhuis, Ph.D.)

Please note that Frontiers has moved to the Member Resources area of ISSTDWorld. You must be logged in as a member in order to view the articles. To access please log in to isstdworld.isst-d.org using your member credentials. Once you are logged in, click on the Member Resources tab in the navigation bar at the top of the page. The archive will be located under the Publications section of this page. For questions or assistance please contact ISSTD Headquarters at info@isst-d.org

2019 Annual Conference

Special Thanks to our Outgoing Board Members

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

Kevin receiving his award

Our Annual Conference saw us honour our outgoing Board Members. Our Board Members generously give of their time, for years, to lead our organisation, fitting this role in around their clinical, teaching and research roles. Many continue to be involved in ISSTD both before and after their time on the Board. At each Annual Conference we take a moment to thank those departing the Board after their period of Service.

This year those we took time to thank included our most immediate Past President Kevin Connors, MS MFT, who left the Board late last year when other work commitments called. Kevin served on the Board on and off from 2009 through 2018, serving in roles such as Vice-President, President Elect, and President, as well as Director. Kevin also served as Chair of the Conference Committee for most of his time on the Board.

We also thank other outgoing Board Members. Past President Martin Dorahy, PhD has served on the Board since 2014. Martin served as President in 2017 and Immediate Past President in 2018. Martin is well-known for his energy and commitment to ISSTD, particularly his passion for furthering our scientific credibility and our collaboration with other organisations such as ESTD. Martin continues to be involved in many ventures in ISSTD including as Associate Editor of our new clinical ejournal Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma and Dissociation, the Scientific Committee and the Member Engagement Committee.

Bob Slater, MSW LCSW, has served on the Board for five years, including as Secretary from 2016-2018. Bob has served with enthusiasm and generosity in several other roles as well, including Chairing the Child and Adolescent SIG, the Communications and Marketing Committee and serving on the Rapid Response Task Force. Bob has played an important role in changing and improving the way in which we communicate information to our members including the development of our well-received member-information videos. ISSTD will continue to develop audio-visual resources in the years to come. Bob continues to be involved in ISSTD, including in the Child and Adolescent Committee and SIG.

Martin Dorahy, Paula Thompson and Bob Slater, accepting their awards

Paula Thomson, PhD spent six years on the Board. She served on the PTP Task Force, bringing her expertise as a university professor to our training program planning. She was also a part of the Task Force put together by the Board to create an open communication between the Board and the RAMC SIG, helping that SIG become an integral part of all of ISSTD. The RAMCOA SIC is now our biggest and, arguably, most active SIG. In addition, Paula brought her knowledge of movement and dance to our organization, broadening our awareness and skill in using movement in helping trauma survivors heal.

Joan Haliburn MD, who was unable to be at the 2019 Conference, pictured at earlier ISSTD Regional Conference

Joan Haliburn, MD spent three years on the Board. Joan brought a grounded, wise presence to the Board. She helped launch and maintain the ISSTD Virtual Book Club, and brought her organizational talents to that group, and to all the work she did in ISSTD. She also shared her wisdom on the integration of neurobiology, and developmental science. Joan, along with fellow Australian ISSTD member, Jan Ewing, PhD, organised and co-facilitated the very successful ISSTD Regional Seminar in Hobart, Australia during 2018.

Committee Spotlight

Child & Adolescent Committee – An Update

Na’ama Yehuda, Committee Co-Chair

The ISSTD Child & Adolescent Committee (C&A Committee) is co-chaired by Fran Waters and Na’ama Yehuda, and includes members from around the world: Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the US, and the UK.

Child & Adolescent Therapists at Annual Conference 2019

The C&A Committee’s mission is to improve awareness, knowledge, training, and information about child and adolescent trauma and dissociation; and to work to increase the number of child professionals who specialize in research, education and treatment of developmental trauma and dissociative disorders, internationally.

Over the years, the Committee developed the FAQs for parents and for teachers; helped produce award winning DVD series on childhood trauma and dissociation; wrote the treatment guidelines for child and adolescent trauma and dissociation (an update and revision are in the works); collated and published a case-study book [Wieland, S. (Ed.) (2015), 2nd Edition, Dissociation in Traumatized Children and Adolescents: Theory and clinical interventions, Psychological Stress Series, Routledge Publishers.]; was instrumental in adding child and adolescent trauma issues to the ISSTD’s strategic plan; introduced ways to identify child and adolescent related presentations on the annual conference program; and developed child and adolescent courses for the ISSTD professional development track in person as well as in online formats, in both English and Spanish. Many of the C&A Committee members have published books and chapters in the field over recent years, with several of these books winning recognition and awards for contribution to the field of childhood trauma and dissociation.

Last year, the Committee helped organize a full day webinar, held during April, as part of last year’s US National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Several members of the C&A Committee presented in a succession of 90 minute webinars, with contents relating to clinical presentation, etiology, diagnosis, treatment, and clinical issues in child and adolescent trauma and dissociation. It was a fascinating day of learning and the webinars are available for purchase through ISSTD’s webinar library. Discounted prices are available for members in the webinar library on the member resources page in ISSTDWorld.  Stay tuned for more child and adolescent webinars in the future.

Child & Adolescent Committee Dinner, 2019

Upcoming Projects

The C&A Committee recently met for its annual Committee Dinner during the ISSTD’s Annual Conference in NYC, where committee members and invited guests discussed plans for creating, revising, populating, and detailing a section of the new ISSTD website platform with information relevant to child and adolescent trauma and dissociation.

The goal is to have information and resources about child and adolescent trauma and dissociation made available to both professionals and the public, and to include overviews about trauma and neurobiology; notes about differential-diagnosis issues and co-morbidity; fact-sheets on psychopharmacology issues in childhood trauma, developmental issues, and high-risk populations. The development of the C&A website section, along with revising the child and adolescent treatment guidelines, is a priority for the C&A Committee for this coming year.

Other projects include:

  • continued contributions and ongoing editorial capacity on the ISSTD’s clinical e-journal, Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation,
  • quarterly articles in the ISSTD News, and
  • collaborating on new screening methods for childhood dissociation.

As part of its ongoing goals, the committee’s international representation works to identify and address misperceptions and misrepresentations regarding childhood trauma and dissociation. The committee also hopes to improve international representation is through collaboration with the C&A SIG  – a special interest group which is open to all ISSTD members who are interested in child and adolescent trauma and dissociation.

For more information about the Child and Adolescent Committee, and for volunteer queries and interests, feel free to contact Fran Waters at: franwatersusa@gmail.com or Na’ama Yehuda at: naamayehuda@aol.com

For more information about joining the SIG please contact Na’ama Yehuda at naamayehuda@aol.com

Caul Awards

David Caul Graduate Research Grants – Application Period Open Now!


The application period is open now for the David Caul Graduate Research Grant! The award is named for David Caul, MD, the fourth president of ISSTD in 1987, (then known as the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality & Dissociation) a dedicated and beloved leader in the field of dissociation. This grant is designed to support research that is primarily concerned with dissociation or closely related topics. Graduate students (in a Masters, PsyD, or PhD program) and undergraduate honors students are eligible to apply for grants up to $1500. Postdocs are not eligible for the Caul award. Please note that grants for projects less than $1500 are also encouraged.

For consideration, the Applicant must fulfill the following criteria: 

(1) The Applicant must be either:

  • A graduate student (in a Masters, PsyD, or PhD program) in psychology, psychiatry, social work, or related fields or
  • An undergraduate psychology honors student or
  • A resident in psychiatry

Postdocs are not eligible for the Caul Award.

(2) The proposed research must be primarily concerned with dissociation or closely related topics.

(3) The Applicant must submit a completed research proposal. The application will consist of:

  • Applicant information cover sheet (completed online)
  • Research overview page (completed online)
  • A 1000 word maximum summary of the proposed research presenting the rationale, aims and hypotheses, research design, and procedures
  • Proposed budget for the grant indicating the amount requested and how funds would be spent
  • Brief description, attached to the budget, of why the grant will be essential to performance of the project
  • CVs from both the applicant and their Faculty Supervisor
  • Letter of support from the primary faculty member overseeing the research that addresses the applicants’ ability to carry out the proposed research (this letter can be submitted independently by the faculty member)
  • Letters of support from recruitment sites (where applicable)

(4) The research proposal must be approved by the Applicants graduate faculty supervisor as submitted. If an award is made and the project is substantially changed, the Committee must be notified of that fact as soon as possible. If the revised protocol appears to change resource needs, then the Committee may perform an ad hoc review of the revised project to assure that the award remains justified.

(5) The award funding should be used to cover central costs for the completion of the work. The grant is unable to cover payment of graduate students stipends or living expenses, nor can funds be requested for conference travel or registration. Finally, the grant cannot be used to “recoup” expenses from aspects of the project that have already been completed or purchased.

(6) Before grant funds can be distributed, the Applicant must provide certification that the research proposal has been granted approval by the Institutional Review Board or other Ethics oversight committee of their educational institution. If research is to be conducted outside the educational institution, then certifications must be provided to the committee for each site.

Proposals will be evaluated on a number of dimensions, including: the relevance and importance of the research question to the field of dissociation, originality, feasibility, quality of the aims/hypotheses, how well the methodology addresses the research question, whether the budget is justified given the research design, and the overall quality of the proposal.

Awards announcement letters will be sent out mid-summer annually following the application period

It is an expectation that recipients of a Caul Award:

  • Acknowledge support from the David Caul Graduate Research Grants of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation in any publications or presentations that result from the project.
  • Provide the David Caul Graduate Research Grant Committee with a copy of any publications and/or presentations that result from the project.
  • Submit to the David Caul Graduate Research Grant Committee a brief, written report within two months of the conclusion of the project summarizing the research findings and listing any presentations, conference papers, grant proposals, or publications that have resulted from the project.

Application materials are available through the grant webpage from April 15 to May 20, 2019.  Enquiries can be directed to: Dr. Judith Daniels (j.k.daniels@rug.nl).

2019 Annual Conference

ISSTD Annual Conference: Reflections of First-time Attendees

Learning and Connecting with Colleagues Across the Globe

Cheryl Nifoussi, LCSW, LMFT, Retired Psychoanalyst

I attended the three-day ASCH Basic Hypnosis Training and the first day of the ISSTD conference. The training surpassed all of my positive expectations. The combination of didactic and experiential learning was very well-balanced and the facilitators created a safe environment for learning.

Saturday’s Plenary address was by Dr. Gabor Maté, author of the book, “When the Body Says No.” (For those who missed his lecture, similar talks are available on YouTube.) He is an engaging speaker, and he was at his best when he invited Rosita Cortizo to participate in a demonstration illustrating the constructive use of anger to set boundaries. Dr. Maté reminds us that a rage storm is not constructive anger. As a matter of fact, after a rage storm, the risk of heart attack elevates for the next two hours. He compared healthy emotion to the immune system, in that the function of both is to keep out the bad things and let in good things.

Dr. Maté talked about the need to listen to our bodies and care for ourselves because, if we don’t say no, our bodies will say it for us by developing stress related illnesses. He suggested that we choose guilt over resentment.

Dr.Maté invited us to consider three questions about saying no.

Gabor Maté Presenting

  1. Where in my life am I not saying no?
  2. What is the impact of my not saying no?
  3. What is the belief behind my inability to say no?

Dr. Maté said that most people have difficulty saying no because they fear the loss of attachment. He taught that children cannot risk the loss of attachment because they need caretakers for survival, but as adults we have freedom to say no and survive.

With regard to other workshops and panels, there were so many good choices that I often found myself wanting to be in more than one place at once.

The atmosphere at the conference was welcoming and respectful. It was an amazing experience to be with colleagues from around the world, from so many different backgrounds and academic persuasions and share the opportunity to learn from one another.

Many of us had a chance to catch up outside the conference as well. Seeing the expression on ISSTD News editor Kate McMaugh’s face, when she encountered the lights on Broadway for the first time, was a sparkling moment for me. One can read about New York attractions or even see pictures, but there’s nothing like experiencing it! For me, that kind of magic occurred at this conference when meeting colleagues in person who had formerly been Internet “penpals.”

An Educational and Heartfelt Experience


I have only been a member of ISSTD for 4 months. My first ISSTD conference was educational and very adventurous for me. It has been an interesting and educational journey so far for me with ISSTD. I know from my past career as an athletic trainer how rewarding attending a conference can be for my own personal life, but also my professional career. In addition, a conference provides opportunity to socialize with other colleagues from other institutions and a trip to a great location. The main goal is to hear presentations and to converse with other clinicians. As I advance in my career, I have realized that while listening to the presenters is extremely valuable, “hallway” conversations can be even more fruitful.

Conference Audience

I am a Survivor of childhood abuse and domestic violence, living with Dissociate Identity Disorder. I have had this creative disorder my whole life. I have amazing family, friends and co-workers that accept me for who I am. They know “I am not what happened to me”. Each one of these relationships are built on trust and love. This leads me into my experience at the conference as a first attendee.

As each one of us know, trust is most important piece of a therapeutic relationship. I had to trust in myself, trust others for guidance and trust in the whole new experience. Well, I did that. I met a couple of amazing ladies, whom I was lucky enough to spend time with and be taught how important a therapeutic relationship is for an individual to heal from trauma. Along with empathy and genuineness, this alliance represents an integral part of the therapeutic relationship and plays an extremely important role in the healing process.

I learned to see the possibility of an individual without their defenses getting in the way. I am choosing to see all the possibilities of an individual by looking through a hour glass filled with beautiful multi-color sand. Then I could truly appreciate the unique essence of the individual, separate from the trauma or the ongoing abuse in the individual’s life.

My gratitude and appreciation to Lynette and Valerie for making my first time at an ISSTD conference educational and heartfelt. I learned a lot about myself and how to build a better relationship with the victims and survivors of sexual and physical abuse that I care for every day as an advocate. Also, I would like say “Thank You” to Kate and Shelley for being so supportive and caring through this time. You two showed me the “Heart” of ISSTD.

A Jam-Packed and Creative Five Days

Shelley Hua

Shelley (far right) with colleagues Jessica and Sandra

The 2019 Annual Conference was a jam-packed 5 days that was an experience to remember. It has been a whirlwind of amazing, that I can only try to recount. As someone who has eyed the conference program for a couple of years and felt compelled by the calibre of the synopses every year, it only exceeded my expectations.

The first two days were the Pre-Conference, where we can fully immerse ourselves in full-day workshops. And they were immersive indeed. With five streams to choose from each day, I attended The Primary Prevention of Complex Trauma and Dissociation: A Public Health Approach (presented by Heather Hall, MD and Michael Salter, PhD) on Thursday and Integration Failures Across Diagnostic Categories in Traumatized Individuals (presented by Kathy Steele, MN, CS, Dolores Mosquera, MA and Suzette Boon, PhD) on Friday. The former was a cosy and engaging group that nevertheless did not let us off the hook about difficult issues. The latter brought the work of ISSTD to life. For me, it also brought this community to life as I sat amongst this large group and realised how beautifully sensitive and astute you all are.

The start of the main conference was like a second beginning, filled with dynamicity, new people and a flurry of activity. Well, do I love starting a good thing twice! With a packed program, fantastic Plenary speakers and a busy exhibitor area, it was a great time to experience everything. I was thrilled to meet up with two long-distance friends from the Trauma Therapist Project – Jessica Culp and Sandra Emmanouilides. I was in awe of meeting some people whose names I only think of in print, and sometimes on screen (shhh – I am still in awe). The Students & Emerging Professionals (SEP) lunch was fabulous and loud. And so was the impromptu SEP dinner… it reminded me of being a student. No kidding – it really did, and it reminded me of travel, too, and having a world of possibilities.

Student and Emerging Professional Lunch

It was wonderful to put faces to Special Interest Group names and to hear a wealth of knowledge presented. There were so many sessions I wanted to see that I wished I could be in more than one place at a time. But failing that, I eagerly await the conference recordings. The poster presentations were amazing and inventive and so underrated. The breaks weren’t long enough to speak about everything that had been in the sessions before. Meeting and hearing all you wonderful people enlivened this community and brought me home to our shared purpose – not only amongst those I met, but also those of you I didn’t, at the conference and elsewhere, wherever you are. I’m glad to be a part of this with you.

It also reminded me of the creativity that underlies everything, all the time. Thank you for putting me in touch with that. I was struck by how sensitively creative, thoughtful, heartful, you all are. It’s like coming in to touch the best amongst you all and letting it enrich me and inspire me. I look forward to the many conversations to be continued post-conference, too. I love how beginnings are created and how it spills over into the days and weeks we settle back into our regular lives because it couldn’t fit and so it forces us to continue musing and make way for what’s possible.

I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of shopping. And I was sorry to run out of the last session on the last day to leave in a hurry. Farewell, NYC, it was lovely to meet you in Spring. Thanks again everyone for a memorable experience and here’s to the year ahead.

Kid's Korner

Reading the Child Within: How Bibliotherapy can Help the Victim of Child Sexual Abuse

Agnes Wohl, ACSW, LCSW and Gregory W Kirschen, PhD

Agnes Wohl

Child sexual abuse is an extensive health problem in the United States (U.S.) and leads to a variety of serious mental and physical health issues throughout the lifetime of the individual (Townsend & Rheingold, 2013). Short and long term consequences include exacerbation of autoimmune diseases, labile affect, dissociation, mood dysregulation, poor self-esteem, and problems related to boundary formation (Bass & Davis, 2008; Chew, 1998; Courtois, 2014; Dube et al., 2009; Finkelhor, 1986; Kaufman & Wohl, 1992). The child’s and later the adult’s world view is altered, and his/her attachments and relationships are fragmented. Trust in him/herself and others has been trampled. Judgments are distorted and cognitive functioning can become compromised. Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, substance use, eating and sleeping disorders, and suicide risk are also significantly elevated in both childhood and adulthood (Bahk, Jang, Choi, & Lee, 2017).

A variety of therapies have been developed and implemented to help victims cope and heal from the psychological repercussions of childhood sexual abuse. Play, sand tray, and art therapies have been instituted to help these child victims recover, with considerable degrees of success (Bratton, Ray, Rhine, & Jones, 2005; Homeyer & Sweeney, 2016; Pifalo, 2006). This makes sense, as these therapies simulate the child’s own natural strategy of healing him/herself in a non-threatening context.

Bibliotherapy, the use of storytelling as part of the healing process, which is the focus of this writing, offers several advantages in terms of giving children healthy instead of destructive coping skills. As Dr. Pardeck describes, the sexually abused child can learn and begin to heal through stories that demonstrate how the characters resolve their issues and translate these lessons into their own lives (Pardeck, 1990). He believes “conventional talking treatment” is difficult for abused children because they have been silenced through their abuse. This pattern is perpetuated into adulthood; adult patients who attempt to talk about their childhood abuse are often unable to do so.

Bibliotherapy encourages curiosity instead of an automatic fear response. The child is engaged and may be thinking, “I wonder what will happen next?” The picture book fosters a sense of calm instead of activation. As the story progresses the nervous system regulates. The stories, in fact, can be used to help the kids experience a narrative in a more regulated manner.

Engendering a sense of calmness, bibliotherapy also incorporates mindful meditation, that is, paying attention on purpose, as both the therapist and child focus together in the moment of the reading. All other sounds and sensory input are quieted and subtly fade into the background. The engaging characters and illustrations assist in creating a “laser focus” in which distractions are minimized.

It is well-known that autonomic nervous system dysregulation can occur subsequent to sexual trauma (Keeshin, Strawn, Out, Granger, & Putnam, 2014; Lorenz, Harte, & Meston, 2015). In particular, the polyvagal theory posits that when the brain processes emotionally-salient stimuli (whether externally- or internally-driven), it outputs this information to the cranial nerves, including the vagus nerve, which in turn influences heart rate, breathing, and muscle tone in the pharynx and larynx (Porges, 2009). Examples of this can be witnessed in the breath of the child. Shallow breathing is an observable defensive state, while mouth breathing is generally associated with hyper-arousal. When a child is dysregulated in this way, his/her cognition is “off-line.” One of the goals of therapy is to assist the child in maintaining him/herself within the window of tolerance of emotions using imagery, five-sense perception and physical sensations.

In a similar vein of combining cognitive and physical elements, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a cognitive, affective, and somatic approach to trauma therapy (Shapiro & Forrest, 2016). It is a treatment in which painful material and beliefs about the self, are processed with the use of bilateral stimulation. The beginning stage of this treatment is resource building where the child is urged to create more adaptive skills to face the past and function in the present. Reading a children’s picture book aloud with bilateral stimulation (usually the use of tappers), enhances the reading and deepens the messages of the book.

Most often, children who have been sexually abused have disturbed attachment formation (Alexander, 1992; Ogden & Fisher, 2015; Riggs, 2010). The idea of a secure connection to the primary care giver is generally absent in these cases. The resource of awareness, that somebody is there for the child, whether he/she is physically present is poorly developed in these children. Bibliotherapy can be utilized to begin to foster learning of secure attachments.

Children who have been sexually abused often feel they are the only ones who have suffered this fate. Reading a book with animal protagonists can be a non-threatening way to introduce the concept that this is a trauma that happens to others and they can overcome it. “Fawn’s Touching Tale” is a story about a family of deer in which the daughter is sexually abused by her father, and an owl is metaphorically the therapist (Wohl & Marcus, 2018). It takes the reader through the process of the grooming, the sexual abuse, and the beginning of resolution. The child can comfortably make the connection that firstly, this is not his/her problem alone; this happens to others, and it creates a sense of hope: that there can be some form of resolution. This story and many others have the capacity to provide a container for difficult emotions, cognitions and experiences. It can start the process of encouraging the child to create his/her own narrative as they re-remember their own story in the presence of an attuned therapist in the present moment. The memory that was unpacked is now repacked in a different, more adaptive way (Ogden & Fisher, 2015)

The best approach to treating child sexual abuse is one that is tailored to the individual child. Thus, the clinician should be well-versed in all the different types of therapy available and titrate them to meet the needs of each child, much as a psychopharmacologist might use a combination of titrated medications. Although it is likely that most if not all patients will be equally receptive to bibliotherapy, both children as well as adults who enjoy storytelling and being read to are inclined to benefit from this form of therapy.

Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Howard Kirschen MD for his critical feedback on this manuscript.

Alexander, P. C. (1992). Application of attachment theory to the study of sexual abuse. J Consult Clin Psychol, 60(2), 185-195.

Bahk, Y. C., Jang, S. K., Choi, K. H., & Lee, S. H. (2017). The Relationship between Childhood Trauma and Suicidal Ideation: Role of Maltreatment and Potential Mediators. Psychiatry Investig, 14(1), 37-43. doi:10.4306/pi.2017.14.1.37

Bass, E., & Davis, L. (2008). The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 20th Anniversary Edition. Collins Living.

Bratton, S., Ray, D., Rhine, T., & Jones, L. (2005). The Efficacy of Play Therapy With Children: A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment Outcomes. Professional Psychology Research and Practice, 36(4), 376-390.

Chew, J. (1998). Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Healing Through Group Work, Beyond Survival. Haworth Press.

Courtois, C. A. (2014). t’s Not You, It’s What Happened to You: Complex Trauma and Treatment. Elements Behavioral Health.

Dube, S. R., Fairweather, D., Pearson, W. S., Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., & Croft, J. B. (2009). Cumulative childhood stress and autoimmune diseases in adults. Psychosom Med, 71(2), 243-250. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181907888

Finkelhor, D. (1986). A sourcebook on child sexual abuse. Sage.

Homeyer, L. E., & Sweeney, D. S. (2016). Sandtray Therapy: A Practical Manual Third Edition. Routledge.

Kaufman, B., & Wohl, A. (1992). Casualties of childhood: A developmental perspective on sexual abuse using projective drawings. Brunner/Mazel.

Keeshin, B. R., Strawn, J. R., Out, D., Granger, D. A., & Putnam, F. W. (2014). Cortisol awakening response in adolescents with acute sexual abuse related posttraumatic stress disorder. Depress Anxiety, 31(2), 107-114. doi:10.1002/da.22154

Lorenz, T. K., Harte, C. B., & Meston, C. M. (2015). Changes in Autonomic Nervous System Activity are Associated with Changes in Sexual Function in Women with a History of Childhood Sexual Abuse. J Sex Med, 12(7), 1545-1554. doi:10.1111/jsm.12908

Ogden, P., & Fisher, J. (2015). Sensorimotor psychotherapy: Interventions for trauma and attachment. W W Norton & Co.

Pardeck, J. T. (1990). Bibliotherapy with Abused Children. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services.

Porges, S.W. (2009). Reciprocal influences between body and brain in the perception and expression of affect: A polyvagal perspective. In D. Fosha, D. Siegel, & M. Solomon (Eds.), The healing power of emotion: Neurobiological Understandings and therapeutic perspectives. Norton.

Resick, P. A., Nishith, P., Weaver, T. L., Astin, M. C., & Feuer, C. A. (2002). A comparison of cognitive-processing therapy with prolonged exposure and a waiting condition for the treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder in female rape victims. J Consult Clin Psychol, 70(4), 867-879.

Shapiro, F., & Forrest, M. S. (2016). EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma. Basic Books.

Townsend, C., & Rheingold, A. A. (2013). Estimating a Child Sexual abuse prevalence rate for practitioners. CALiO Collection of Resources.

van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma 1st Edition. Penguin Books.

Wohl, A., & Marcus, I. W. (2018). Fawn’s Touching Tale: A Story for Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused. Independently Published.

Letter From The President

Reflections on our 2019 Annual Conference

Christine Forner, BA, BSW, MSW

Hello My Fellow ISSTD members,

I am recently home from the annual conference and as I write this, the most vivid feeling I am having is that I feel ‘full’. Full of new knowledge, full of hope from the new connections, full of love for each person I met, and full of new curiosity as new perspectives are presented.

For me these conferences are so much more than yearly learning. One of my favourite things about the annual conference is spending a week with my therapy family. Being surrounded with so many others who experience the world in a similar way to how I experience the world provides me with a deep feeling of communal connection. The community of the ISSTD fills me so that I am re-energized and this energy boost from the support I feel assists me in managing this very challenging work.

Thank you to all those who attended. I heard many times over that this conference is different than other conferences. Many people described to me the joy, heart and connection they felt. We are a scientifically based organization, that also values the heart of our community. If you have never been to a conference I would suggest you look into attending one of our annual conferences in order to relationally connect with others who share similar experience.

This year our current attendee number for the 36th annual conference is 595, but a few numbers are still coming in. This is the largest conference we have had in a while. I am so happy to see the growth. Our membership continues to grow and those of us who have been attending the conferences for a long time, have tangibly noticed that the Student and Emerging Professionals are very eager and engaged. Again, for me, the highlight of this conference was the many hugs and warm welcomes.

This year several themes came to the surface. In our full day Board meeting we reviewed our strategic plan to see if we have met our yearly goals, what we may need to do to if some goals were not met and what would we like to focus the direction that our society should go within the next year or two. I am happy to report that most of our goals for 2018 were met. We have been able to launch a new web site. We have the foundation for a universal way to communicate with each other via Higher Logic. We have organized and distributed several funds to assist those who are less able to attend the training, through the Goodwin Fund and we were able to support a impactful study by Dr. Simone Reinders. Last year our main goal was to look at what we can do to continue to bring the society into the mainstream. By making our trainings and other education material more accessible and by focusing our attention in areas that we typically have not focused on, we seem to have continued the trend of informing the wider therapeutic and scientific community about what we have to offer

This year we all, individually, brought to the collective of the Board the observation that we need to conceptualize ourselves in a much larger context. It was interesting to hear the notion, time and time again, that we need to move towards doing what we can to influence larger systems, such as public policies. Our Public Policy Task Force continues to grow and conceptualize a plan to move forward. It will be interesting how this group pulls together to develop a plan, tasks and goals to bring the plan into fruition.

The other major area that is taking form is how we develop our cultural diversity. A quote I heard in the Town Hall meeting was “There needs to be more ‘I’ (International) in the ISSTD”. A few of our newer members were so helpful in guiding us into this broader perspective. In the next few months the Board will be setting up a plan to better organize our committees and update our policies and procedures to reflect the changes that will be needed to move the ISSTD into the next decade. A large part of this goal is to add in cultural awareness and a deeper level of inclusivity.

I am looking forward to the impact that this conference will have on ISSTD and all of us as individual practitioners. I am excited to welcome our new members, and our new volunteers. Your vision, excitement, your passion and your dedication to the ISSTD is what fosters the special community that is found here.

News You Can Use

News You Can Use

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

Psychosis Trauma and Dissociation: Revised second edition
now available

Psychosis Trauma and Dissociation: Evolving Perspectives on Severe Psychopathology is a key text in the field, exploring the complex interface between psychosis, trauma and dissociation. The original edition, no doubt one many of us have on our bookshelves, is now over ten years old and the editors Andrew Moskowitz, Martin Dorahy and Ingo Schafer have updated and expanded the text in this second edition, released this month.
The editors, leaders in the field and prominent members of ISSTD and ESTD, have collaborated with more than fifty other experts from around the world, to explore historical, empirical, theoretical and clinical perspectives. The second edition is a testament to the considerable gains and expanding knowledge in the field since the first edition was published in 2008.

The book is divided into three broad parts: Historical and Conceptual Perspectives, Research Perspectives and Clinical Perspectives, each containing eight to ten thoughtful and scholarly chapters, including nine new chapters.

Many ISSTD Members feature as authors of the chapters including Onno van der Hart, Warwick Middleton, Elizabeth Howell, Colin Ross, Vedat Şar, Bethany Brand, Marlene Steinberg, Ruth Blizard, Valerie Sinason and more, making this another worthy inclusion into our News You Can Use update.

The revised edition is now available for purchase at Wiley Books and Amazon. Remember to use your Amazon Smiles to raise money for ISSTD!

A trauma informed approach to mental health care in Australia

Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia: A Guide to Trauma-informed Approaches has just been published by Routledge. This impressive collection of writings, edited by Australian clinicians Richard Benjamin, Joan Haliburn, Serena King promises to be significant, not just for Australia, but for others around the world.
It outlines the trauma-informed approaches necessary to provide a more compassionate model of care for those who experience a mental illness. The comprehensive book is divided into four parts:

  • theory, constructs and effects of abuse and trauma;
  • the effects of abuse and trauma on specific populations;
  • therapy approaches; and
  • broader organisational perspectives.

Many members of ISSTD have been instrumental in the development of the book. One of the editorial team, Joan Haliburn has been an active member of ISSTD for many years, including serving on our Board and co-chairing our Bookclub.

To highlight just a few chapters written by ISSTD members:

  • President of the Blue Knot Foundation Cathy Kezelman: Childhood Trauma – The Long-Term Impact and the Human Cost
  • ISSTD Fellow and Past President Warwick Middleton: Incest That Continues into Adult Life
  • ISSTD Fellows Christine A Courtois and Julian D Ford: Sequenced Relationship-Based Treatment for Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders
  • Joan Haliburn: Trauma-Informed Psychodynamic Psychotherapy – A Brief History and Contemporary Application
  • Head of Research at the Blue Knot Foundation, Pam Stavropoulos: The Principles of Trauma-Informed Care and The Need for Cultural and Organisational Change
  • Australian researcher Mary-Anne Kate and former ISSTD President Martin Dorahy co-author a chapter entitled: Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Developmental Trauma Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and the Dissociative Disorders

The book has been well-received by experts in child trauma with Dr Peggy Brown, AO and former CEO of the National Mental Health Commission stating that:

“Every mental health clinician and health policy maker and administrator in the country should read Humanising Mental Health Care in Australia … No matter what your background, if you are interested in how to improve the delivery of compassionate mental health care, I guarantee you will find true `pearls of wisdom’ in this book.”

And the Peter McClellan, AM, QC, well respected for his role as Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, further endorses the book:

“The learning from this book will also enable others to develop a greater understanding of the appropriate approach to the treatment of people suffering complex trauma.”

The book is available here.

~ Advanced notice ~

The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is pleased to provide advanced notice of the David Caul Graduate Research Grant. This grant is designed to support research that is primarily concerned with dissociation or closely related topics. Graduate students (in a Masters, PsyD, or PhD program) and undergraduate honors students are eligible to apply for grants up to $1500. Postdocs are not eligible for the Caul award. Please note that grants for projects less than $1500 are also encouraged.

Application materials will be available through the grant webpage from April 15 to May 20, 2019. Further information will be provided before the submission window opens. Enquiries can be directed to: Dr. Judith Daniels (j.k.daniels@rug.nl).

Welcome ISSTD’s New Members in March!

Gella Asovski
Brenda Beardsley
Maria Paola Boldrini
Therese Byrne
Ermanno Carrara
Malia Gallegos
Suzanne Garber
Temperance Johnson
Shelley Jordan
Lily Kim
Adam Meiselman
Lisa Morris
Barton Sloan
Elise St Andre
Frank Bellaiche
Caitlin Buon
Kay Johnson
HeaKyung Kwon
Timothy Latsko
Ashley Macpherson
Daniel Smith
Annie Southern
Heather Whittall
Olga Winkler
Patricia Adams
Anna Exckhardt
Katherine FOrbes-Pitt
Jillian Kuhn
Jayme Wise
Eitan Zerykier
Jessica Attas
Naomi Azar
Mark Blockus
Patricia Dallacroce
Stephanie Mitchell
J Righter
Karen Williams
Linda Giammona
Jennifer Howells
Mary Montelongo
Ryan Strosser
Sowmya Yeturo
Olga Klepackova
Sarinda Newell
Kelly Pattison

Do You Have News ISSTD Members Can Use?
We need your help to make NYCU a great feature, full of news and sharing the activities of our community members.

Do you have a book or book chapter coming out that you wish to share? Have you received an award for your work in the field? Have you been part of developing a new website or training course? Have you had a chance to develop something creative and unique that you wish to share with others in the field? If so, we want to hear from you! Don’t be shy, submit your news to us so that we can share with other members. (Please be aware: we do not offer book reviews, but a chance to share with others that your book has been published.)

Submission Deadline: 20th of the month
Send to ISSTD Editor, Kate McMaugh: katemcmaughpsychology@gmail.com

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