ISSTD Looking to Establish Three New SIGs

ISSTD Special Interest Groups (SIGs) provide ISSTD members with information and support targeted to specific areas within the trauma and dissociation field. Developed by members, for members, they are open to all ISSTD Members who share that interest. Members of our current SIGs report finding these forums a valuable source of education, information and collegiate support.

ISSTD is pleased to announce that several members have put forward exciting proposals for future SIGs. However, in order to move ahead with these ideas we need to determine the level of interest among members. If you are interested in participating in any of these new SIGs, please email the contact for the group.

Veterans’ Special Interest Group
The mission of the Veterans’ SIG is to advance the knowledge, research, and treatment of military related trauma spectrum disorders. Post traumatic stress presentations in Veterans are often complex and unique, and their needs for recovery do not always fall within the scope of a traditional PTSD diagnosis or manualized therapies; However, treatment can often be limited by systematic barriers. Thus the need for creative approaches, new ideas, and advocacy for both Veterans and their providers are important. This SIG would provide an environment of support, feedback, and creative strategies to enhance the care and understanding of military related trauma.

SIG Contact:
Heather N. Kacos, Psy.D.

Couple and Family Therapy Special Interest Group
I am interested in starting a Couple and Family SIG to bring together clinicians and researchers who work with couples and families in the context of trauma. What I have found over the past many years is that those of us who do couple and family work find ourselves divided–we attend couple and family conferences and continuing education sessions, and we attend trauma conferences but rarely do the two areas intersect. It would be the mission of this section to bring together clinicians and researchers working with traumatized couples and families to bridge that gap and develop opportunities for networking, continuing education and research that are specifically geared to trauma focused work with couple and family systems.

Of course, the mission of the group will be developed with SIG members, but I can see us working to develop a listserv to share resources, discuss clinical issues and engage in journal watch type activities; collaborative workshops and symposia at the conference; developing a special issue for JTD or Frontiers on couple and family work and generally providing support and community for those of us who straddle these two worlds.

SIG Contact:
Heather MacIntosh,

Transitional Age Youth Special Interest Group
The mission of the TAY Special Interest Group (transitional age youth being 18-24 years old) is to create a space where mental health clinicians who work with this population can connect and collaborate around effective assessment, research, and treatment in the areas of trauma and dissociation as it applies to TAY. It is also a space where clinicians who are new to working with this age range and the specific areas of difficulty that TAY often navigate can gain support as well as guidance in their work. In addition, the group will discuss ways to promote awareness among clinicians and other care providers of the unique ways in which trauma and dissociation manifest among TAY.

SIG Contact:
Katie Keech, LMFT

Interested in starting a Special Interest Group? Click here to learn more about the guidelines and registration process.

Committee Spotlight

Member Engagement Committee

Logan Larson, LPC, Member Engagement Committee Co-Chair

The ISSTD would not have been born, nor would it survive, without its member-volunteers! Currently co-chaired by Logan Larson and Lisa Danylchuk, what used to be known as the Volunteer Committee has recently been “rebranded”. Now, known as the Member Engagement Committee, the group is dedicated to helping members find their place within the ISSTD. Although in the past this committee has been a committee of one or two, restructuring has allowed us to grow and ensure that those who want to be more engaged are able to do so.

One of the main goals of the Member Engagement Committee is to connect ISSTD members with opportunities for involvement that are right for them. Although the ISSTD is home to several committees and task forces, there are also opportunities that arise which are less intensive.

Obviously many ISSTD members come to us with skills and expertise in many areas and we value them sharing those skills with us. If you have a particular talent in marketing, writing, event management, media etc then we’d love to hear from you.

However you don’t have to be an expert to help out. Volunteering in ISSTD can be a great way to learn new skills and build your resume:

  • Have you ever wanted to learn more about organising big events? Join a conference organising committee, or just volunteer to help at the event.
  • Have you ever wanted to learn more about marketing and advertising? Volunteer to help out with developing brochures or with our social media campaigns.
  • Have you ever wanted to improve your writing or editing skills, but going straight to a big journal feels scary? Consider writing or editing for ISSTD News.
  • Do you like social media? A fan of Facebook, Linked In or Twitter? If so – we would love to hear from you. We need people to occasionally assist in sharing information about ISSTD, and trauma and dissociation in general, through these forums. Think of it as a simple, fun way to raise awareness.

If you put up your hand to help out there will be plenty of others to show you the ropes and help you learn any of the skills you need.

To become more involved with the ISSTD and learn about opportunities for engagement, reach out to headquarters, Logan or Lisa. Let us know your interests, skills and if you would like to pursue full committee membership.

You will be added to our Member Engagement Committee list, which will allow you to correspond with us and other group members via Basecamp (current software platform).

At our bi-monthly Committee Chair Roundtable meeting, we will present a list of ISSTD members who are desiring committee or task force membership, and obtain information about projects and tasks that each committee needs help with.

Once a member has been placed on another committee, they may choose to remain on the Member Engagement Committee or request to be taken off the list.

The Member Engagement Committee is a “low commitment” committee. Members who are not interested in any other committee, but would like to be involved are welcomed to remain on the Member Engagement Committee until an opportunity for volunteering comes along that feels right – and of course they are also welcome to stay beyond that if they choose!

Most of our communication is through Basecamp and e-mail, with an optional meeting taking place via ‘Zoom’, held quarterly. Becoming more engaged with the ISSTD is an opportunity to network, be heard, share ideas and give back.

Remember that this organization is only as strong as its members, and volunteering is a great way to support ISSTD.

If you are interested in becoming more involved with the ISSTD, please take the time to complete the ‘Member Engagement Form’ on the ‘Members Corner’ page of the website.

Click on this link to access the form:

Alternatively Email ISSTD headquarters at

We look forward to hearing from you!

Regional Conferences

New Regional Conference in Hobart, Australia Planned for September 2018!

In a first for both ISSTD and Australia, an exciting regional conference on Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD) will be held in Hobart, Tasmania in September 2018.

Hobart, Tasmania

This regional conference will be in workshop format and will be presented by ISSTD members and complex trauma experts, Dr. Joan Haliburn and Dr. Jan Ewing. Delivered over one and half days on 14-15 September, 2018, this conference will deliver cutting-edge professional development in a unique setting, the delightful island-state of Tasmania, located off the south coast of mainland Australia.

The conference promises to be both a didactic and clinical exposition of trauma and its complexities, often the result of trauma in early childhood and compounded with later traumatic experiences resulting in CTSD.

Beginning with an introduction to the “Big Four” conceptual models that inform the understanding and

Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair, Tasmania

treatment of CTSD, the presentations will then explore attachment theory, the central role of attachment, and resilience, before moving onto the phase model of psychotherapy i.e. early, middle and late phase to ending therapy. Additionally, it will cover the impact of shame, grief and loss, and incorporate a recovery model of self-compassion and self-acceptance. These presenters have a wealth of theoretical knowledge and clinical experience which will be illustrated by ample clinical material to complement the didactic presentation.

This regional conference will be held in the very comfortable Blundstone Arena Function Centre, Bellerive, in Hobart, Tasmania. Bellerive is located on the eastern shores of the Derwent River, just 10 minutes-drive from Hobart CBD and 10 kilometres from Hobart International Airport.

Bruny Island, Tasmania

While this conference offers a great opportunity for professional development for those living in Tasmania, don’t let this conference just be for Tasmanians! Consider this workshop as not just great professional development, but also a stepping stone to a well-deserved break in Tasmania.

Hobart is ideally placed to explore this delightful island, possibly one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Hobart, a picturesque small city situated along the scenic Derwent River, has a rich convict heritage and many beautiful sandstone buildings. It has a cool temperate climate, a variety of quality accommodation, art galleries, wine bars, cafes and many restaurants, where fresh seafood from the

A friendly Pademelon, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Southern Ocean is a specialty.

Hobart is also an ideal base from which to explore the rest of Tasmania. Stunning Bruny Island is just a day trip away and the World Heritage Listed site of Port Arthur, considered one of the world’s best preserved convict sites, is a short day trip from Hobart. If you wish to have a longer stay and drive a little further afield you can visit lavender farms, vineyards, or enjoy sensational bush-walking in some of the best-protected wilderness in the world. (Almost a fifth of Tasmania is World Heritage Listed wilderness). For the more adventurous among you Tasmania is quickly becoming known as a world class mountain-biking and rock-climbing destination.

You are invited to participate in this exciting new regional conference, and to enjoy what Hobart, Tasmania has to offer. A full copy of the program is available here: Hobart Conference Website



Volunteer Opportunities for ISSTD News

Wanting to hone those writing skills? Ever wanted to co-ordinate a regular feature of a publication? ISSTD News is looking for assistance from members who want to be engaged in helping this rapidly developing publication continue to flourish.
Opportunities to Co-ordinate a Feature
Feature Coordinators, with the support and direction of the ISSTD News Editor and the Board of ISSTD News, seek content for our regular features; liaise with writers; edit content; and may sometimes choose to write for the feature themselves.

The following volunteer opportunities are available:

Coordinator, International Spotlight. International Spotlight is a regular quarterly feature which focuses on the trauma and dissociation field in a particular country around the world. This is an exciting chance to liaise with trauma and dissociation specialists from around the world.

Coordinator, Volunteer Spotlight. This quarterly feature showcases the work of our valuable volunteers within ISSTD. This is a chance to work with volunteers from around the world to honour their work and promote their projects. Once a year (December) we also do a general piece on volunteering for ISSTD to commemorate International Volunteer Day.

Coordinator, Kid’s Korner. We are seeking someone with skills and experience in working with child and adolescent clients to coordinate a quarterly feature on work in this exciting and valuable area. This Coordinator will liaise with our members who work with children and teenagers, including our Child and Adolescent SIG and Committee as well as the child and adolescent training group to make sure that regular articles on this area of work are part of ISSTD News.

Coordinator, “What it was like when…” This is a new quarterly feature of ISSTD, focussing on our own history. The Coordinator will be part of launching this new feature to coincide with and commemorate our 35th anniversary. This feature will contain pictures or articles to commemorate past activities and people of ISSTD. We hope this will be a fun column filled with brief snippets, anecdotes or photos which tell a story of … younger days… but will also remind us of our rich and valuable history.

Coordinator, Spreading the Word. We know that trauma and dissociation impact on all areas of health but surprisingly this is under-estimated in many areas of health and welfare. One of the goals of ISSTD is to inform, educate and support the wider health community. This new quarterly column aims to keep us informed of activities in which ISSTD members aim to ‘spread the word’ about trauma and dissociation research and clinical practice to those who work in other health fields. We hope this Coordinator will be someone willing to liaise with and collaborate with members across the globe and promote their ground-breaking work.

Writing Opportunities:
Writing Opportunities Abound! Are you a novice writer and not sure where to start? Well, start with us. ISSTD News aims to publish brief and newsy articles ranging from 300 – 1000 words (in most cases). Our style is more informal and newsy than a professional journal, making us a great place to start your professional writing career. Our feature coordinators can work with you to shape your piece.

If you are an experienced writer we also welcome your articles. This may be a chance to promote your latest project or it may be a chance to briefly summarise some of your longer articles or books to reach an audience of dedicated trauma and dissociation specialists.

We seek contributors for:

  • Current news items in your region – Have you published a book? Developed a new training course? Is there an exciting new project or initiative in your part of the world? Please let us know.
  • International Spotlight – up to 1500 words featuring trauma and dissociation work in some part of the world. Why not share what it is like to work in the field in your country?
  • Kid’s Korner – approximately 500 – 1000 words on all issues pertaining to therapy with children and adolescents who experience a dissociative disorder
  • Volunteer Spotlight – approximately 500 -1000 words featuring a member of ISSTD who has volunteered in our society.
  • Members’ Clinical Corner – approximately 1000 words commenting on, discussing or critiquing an article previously published in JTD or “Frontiers”. Ideas for Members’ Clinical Corner are to go to Pam Stavropolous at
  • Publications of Interest – have you read an interesting article lately? Perhaps you have recently published an article? This is the chance for the article to be promoted. Each quarter lists interesting publications within a theme. Ideas for POI articles or themes are to go to Lynn Hazard at
  • “Creative Arts Column” – seeking poetry, pictures of original artwork, or articles about creative therapies of up to 1000 words. The coordinator of this feature, Noula Diamantopoulos, can be contacted to discuss themes and ideas at:

ISSTD News does not accept unsolicited articles, so please contact us and discuss an idea first. Articles should be written by members but we do occasionally accept an article co-authored with a non-member.

If you are interested in any of these coordination or writing opportunities please contact ISSTD News Editor – Kate McMaugh at

Letter From The President

On Responding to the Need for Greater Diversity within ISSTD

Kevin Connors, MS, MFT

One of the important events at our annual conference is the “Town Hall Meeting”.
This is an opportunity for everyone attending to comment on the state of our Society and the field of traumatology in general. This is an opportunity to comment on where we are going and where we would like to be.

This year’s Town Hall Meeting presented a sobering observation with respect to the lack of diversity within our Society. As an International Society, we have worked to extend our welcome outside of North America; to encourage and embrace colleagues from around the globe. The observations at our Town Hall meeting challenges us to examine how there are different borders that needed to be crossed. How do we embrace and acknowledge other cultures and ethnicities? How do we welcome colleagues from other cultures as well as from other countries? Can we look within our own countries and our own selves to recognize blind spots and short-comings?

To address this, ISSTD has taken a few firststeps. At our March Board meeting, the Directors voted to create a task force examining how trauma and dissociation is a public health issue. This task force is jointly chaired by Heather Hall and Michael Salter. After hearing the concerns expressed by so many at our Town Hall, Heather and Michael decided that issues of diversity are a key element for their task force to study. While the task force is just in the earliest stages of forming, I am excited to see what develops and what recommendations they will suggest to our Board of Directors.

To further, push the issue of diversity to the forefront, the conference committee is looking to organize a panel discussion on promoting greater cultural awareness and ethnic diversity within our Society. Identifying key faculty and core issues is our immediate task at hand. Who will be invited to sit at the table?

A greater challenge is to find ways to continue this focus and this energy past the first year. How does this become an on-going goal of our Society? How do we expand beyond physical/geographical borders? How can we better craft our invitation to other colleagues to join in our Mission?

A Shameless Plug for Support:

Our Treasurer and Webmaster, D. Michael Coy has been spearheading the movement to update the ISSTD website. His challenge is to bring our on-line public face into the 21st Century with a more responsive and user-friendly format allowing not only members, but guests from the general public as well as interested clinicians, scholars, and researchers to access state of the art information about dissociation, complex trauma, and all that ISSTD has to offer.

The software, updates, and technical support does not come cheaply. To offset the cost of this critical revision, we have launched the 35 for the 35th Campaign.

We are asking each of you to contribute $35 (or some variant thereof like $135 or $35.35 or $3,535.35) to make the needed changes a reality. We are able take donations on-line here: DONATE NOW!
Thank you in advance for your help and your contributions.

In closing, I encourage all members of our society to support the work of ISSTD, to reach out to colleagues, and friends, inviting everyone to join in our mission and vision.


Welcome ISSTD New Members! (April)

Emily Aber
Pamela Alexander
Dorothy Ashman
Amy Champoux
Elaine Ducharme
Catherine Egan
Beth Ehrisman
Rebecca Goldberg
Sarah Heil-Brenny
Jeffrey Hill
Lori Hollingsworth
Colin Howard
Gina Manlove
Jacquelyn McDonald
Tracy Muklewicz
Georgian Mustata
Linda Naef
Diana Newberry
Sherri Paulson
Sarah Schlote
Meg Waurick
Susan Wulff
Michelle Brilee
Courtenay M Crucil
Marian Crowley
Lisa Panisch
David Rickman
Darwin Rodriguez
Jessica Spigner
Gina Vanderham
Katherine Yeutter

Kid's Korner

“As a criminologist studying child sexual abuse, I sometimes feel like I live in the ‘upside down’.”

Dr. Michael Salter

As a criminologist studying organised child sexual abuse, I sometimes feel like I live in the ‘upside down’, the shadow world parallel to our own in the TV series Stranger Things. In the TV series, the ‘upside down’ looks like our own world, but darker and filled with unpredictable terror. Kids disappear into it sometimes, and occasionally something awful slips out of it to disrupt our brighter universe. For the most part, people would prefer not to admit it exists.

I’ve interviewed over 40 Australians who report being abused by groups or networks as children. I’ve met many, many more survivors from around the world. Each of them has escaped from their own ‘upside down’: a dark childhood ruled by abusive adults demanding their compliance and silence. Far too often, their own parents orchestrated their abuse. We now know that parents are amongst the most prolific producers of child abuse material.

Every victim of child sexual abuse survives in his or her own way, often by pretending the abuse isn’t happening. The majority of sexually abused kids never disclose at the time, but even when they do, research suggests that most children are not believed. When a child offers us a glimpse into their ‘upside down’, it seems that most of us don’t want to help them, or don’t know how.

Trapped between two worlds – the shadow world of their abusers, and the world that turns a blind eye to it – is it any wonder that some survivors also turn away from knowledge of their abuse? One study of women with documented histories of sexual abuse found that one third did not remember the abuse seventeen years later. Of those that did remember, 16% said there were times where they did not recall the abuse. Many could not fully recall what had happened.

The traumatic dynamics of abuse and memory make investigating and prosecuting complex sexual abuse cases very difficult. Profoundly abused children are the least likely to disclose their abuse, and even where there is forensic evidence, they may grow up having forgotten or even denying the abuse took place. Some may even ally themselves with their abusers who reinforce the victim’s desperate wish that the abuse didn’t happen. These impulses are understandable and require a compassionate and sensitive response.

Unfortunately, there are many myths circulating in the media and community that reinforce individual and collective denial. Since the 1980s, journalists have claimed that children make up stories of sexual abuse, and are encouraged or even forced to do so by social workers, therapists and police. It has become an item of faith amongst skeptics that investigators have a perverted interest in sexual abuse cases, to the point of inventing them.

This is ridiculous. When you work in the field of sexual abuse, the very last thing you want to hear is that another child has been hurt. However, when a child discloses sexual abuse, we have to take them seriously. Children are far less suggestible than people realise, and disclosures of sexual abuse should always be listened to and reported to the correct authorities. Child protection practices and interviewing techniques with children are constantly being studied and improved to ensure that children’s evidence is as robust and accurate as possible.

Nonetheless, people still don’t want to believe the ‘upside down’ world of sexual abuse exists. They don’t want to hear about parents who abuse their kids and allow other people to do so, advertising them online, making them available for money or circulating abuse images and video of them. One way to make this awful knowledge disappear is to attack the messenger, and blame the people who support child and adult survivors and investigate their allegations. This has become a common technique of denial and it’s not going away anytime soon.

There’s a moment in Stranger Things where one of the young protagonists confronts a monster from the ‘upside down’, and it invades him. When I’m confronted by people who deny the seriousness of sexual abuse, I wonder if that’s what they are afraid of too: that they will somehow be infected by the fear and the terror that comes with severe sexual abuse. However, it’s only by sharing in the knowledge that such abuse exists that we can understand what victims are trying to tell us, and hold perpetrators to account.

Through the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Australia has proven that we can bring victims and survivors of sexual abuse in from the cold. We can look into the worst aspects of human behaviour and come out the other side armed with new insights and tools to prevent abuse and support victims. As we move forward, we should stay mindful of our own instincts for denial and minimisation. There are still many kids trapped in the ‘upside down’, and many perpetrators who would prefer that we didn’t know it exits.

This article was originally published online April, 2018 at Mama Mia website ( Reproduced with permission of author.

Creative Space

Creative Space: A Place for our Creative Selves

Noula Diamantopoulos, Editor

I welcome you to this new part of our newsletter – a creative inclusion to act as an interlude perhaps, a breathing space to share the creations of our imagination – retrieving the light within the dark unconscious creative self, for the sharing makes it brighter.

To express ourselves in ways that defy rational appraisal is the gift of the creative process. It is the soul of our work, it is the humanity of the way we see another, it is the breathful way of holding space, of following another’s not knowingness, of loving non judgmentally.

My name is Noula Diamantopoulos, a member of ISSTD, and now your editor for this new column. I am honoured to bring to the surface of these pages the many and varied beautiful creative ways of our members. I cannot say how this will play over time, but play out is all I wish for. The inevitable inner child deems it so!

This month we are focusing on poetry which is minimal, but meaningful, poems which may have few words, but which encourage one to sit and reflect.

I begin this Interlude with a piece of my own work: a neon sign that was in a group exhibition called #allthefeels. It’s not only a graphic, but also a poem.

We continue with an example of what we think may be ISSTD’s first ever haiku, originally written by Jean Goodwin, when attending an ISSTD Annual Conference in 1983. (Originally published in O’Neil (Ed) From organizational infancy to early adulthood, 1983-2003: Celebrating our 20th Anniversary, ISSTD, 2003.)

I then conclude with some more modern takes on this briefest of poetry forms,
I hope you enjoy this ‘interlude’ and I look forward to contributions from members, be they poetry, short creative pieces or visual representations.

Please send submissions of your creative self to

Noula Diamantopoulos, Editor

It is a request and a reminder to all of us to:
simply ‘be love’
and when we are, we will be loved…
dear beloved.
By Noula Diamantopoulos

Chicago Baroque:
Where drawbridge meets skyscraper
And concrete comes carved.
By Jean Goodwin

Elegant Bengal,
beartrapped. Killer. Rescue risks
Tiger-person pair.
By Kathy Downing

Danger coming
Watch out Brother
Please – do be careful

Blazing, commanding
Like my blood
Deep, dark, inner, flowing

Sailing by
Quiet fluffy cushions
Resting places for me
By Julia Bry Schwab


2018 Annual Conference

Annual Conference Highlights: ASCH Pre-Conference Training

By Reinhild Draeger-Muenke, PsyD, ASCH Trainer

The ASCH (American Society of Clinical Hypnosis) approved 20- hour training in clinical hypnosis has by now become a regular and expected feature at the ISSTD annual meeting. Several fundamental and intermediate trainings have been offered in the form of 3-day pre-conference workshops at the past several annual meetings, and interest and attendance have steadily increased, to the point that for the 2018 meeting not all applicants could be accommodated. By design, the trainings are capped at 21 participants. Three experienced faculty lead the conference in order to create a predictable and safe learning community, especially for the experiential small group segments of the training.

Gina Manlove, Wendy Lemke & Reinhild Draeger-Muenke, ASCH Workshop, Chicago 2018

This training in trauma and dissociation focused clinical hypnosis offers knowledge- and experience-based insight into an intricate auto-hypnotic process dissociative patients have been destructively engaged in, often for decades. Our already highly trained trauma therapists/ participants are learning to address trauma and dissociation through a (formal and informal) hypnosis-informed approach that allows for constructive flexibility and hypnosis-based problem solving even under difficult treatment circumstances.

In the process of intense learning, faculty and participants have the opportunity to co-create a unique environment that allows everyone, faculty and students alike, the safety to be creative, collaborate as a team, support one another in practicing new skills, and broaden existing treatment conceptualizations through clinical hypnosis skills. In both learning and therapeutic processes, clinical hypnosis invites an experience rather than solely imparting information. This foundational principle is at the heart of the conference training. We laugh at inside jokes and appreciate the diversity of what each of us has to offer. We as faculty strive (and prepare) to offer a safe, stress-free learning process for the participants, to be replicated with their patients in the process of integrating hypnosis into their treatment.

Gina Manlove and Wendy Lemke demonstrate the principles of spiral learning – Day 1, ASCH 3-Day Workshop, Chicago

The response to the most recent training provided by Reinhild Draeger-Muenke, Gina Manlove, and Wendy Lemke has been excellent. It is wonderful to read postings that participants are successfully incorporating their newly acquired hypnosis skills into their practice and are eager for more ASCH approved intermediate and/or advanced training.

Reflections of a participant – Warwick Middleton, MD

Board meetings precluded me for the past half-decade from being able to sign-on to take this extremely well-planned and presented 3-day course that covers the fundamentals of hypnosis and which allows all participants to practice hypnotic inductions and the

A beautiful setting to catch up after training, bar at Palmer House, Chicago

structuring of hypnotic interventions, in the most supportive environment conceivable. The presenters clearly are deeply connected to hypnosis, enjoy teaching, and all have great communication skills. Those undertaking the course ranged from student/emerging professionals, through to some of us that have been around for a while. They were a great group of colleagues with which to spend three days. I have very pleasant memories, including at the completion of Day 2 of dragging off another of the more senior participants, Paul Darnell, for a great “Old Fashioned” at the bar in the foyer of the Palmer House, as we admired the spectacular ceiling and soaked up the ambiance of the setting. This is not a training experience to be missed.


Reflections of a participant – Abigail Percifield – Student Member

ASCH workshop attendees Abigail Percifield, far left (Chicago, IL) with Laura Lee Clinchard (Lincoln, NE), Johanna Lynch (Brisbane, Australia), Quentin Dignam (Tamworth, Australia) & Megan Kolano (Stockbridge, MA

As a student entering her third year of doctoral studies, this training offered me a unique experience to learn the fundamentals of clinical hypnosis while surrounded by highly trained and skilled therapists. Not only was I able to soak up the knowledge of our instructors, but I was also able to learn from my fellow participants as we engaged in many small group sessions. Although I left the course feeling confident in my ability to guide someone into their own constructive trance experience and formulate constructive hypnotic suggestions, most importantly, I learned enhanced ways to be with my clients during therapy. Even for students who may not have a supervisor trained in clinical hypnosis, this course will offer invaluable insight into how newly trained therapists can engage with their clients in a more attuned way. The skills I learned in this course also extend into the personal realm, as I have learned how to utilize self-hypnosis to calm and center myself during moments of high stress. I often commented on how it was a stress-free learning environment as each experience with trance taught me more about how to relax myself. Without reservation, I would recommend this course as training for therapists of all levels.


Reflections of a participant – Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D.

Mara Tesler Stein, Chicago resident and first-time attendee at ISSTD Annual Conference – at the ASCH Workshop

I have long wanted to learn clinical hypnosis, and when the stars aligned, making it possible for me to join this year’s ASCH Level I training at the ISSTD conference, I was thrilled, but nervous. It’s always humbling to approach a new modality as an absolute beginner. The vulnerability that engenders can leave me cautious and tentative about the new skills. Fortunately, we couldn’t have asked for warmer, more respectful and skilled trainers. Their depth of experience and breadth of knowledge meant that clinical questions could be addressed with complexity and nuance, making the training feel like far more than “basic”.

From the opening introductions, it was clear that we were invited to bring our whole selves to the training; to reflect on and, perhaps, share who we are as people and as clinicians. New or experienced. Knowledgeable about hypnotherapy, or strangers to the process. Each participant’s insights and contributions were encouraged and welcomed both in class discussion and in the small group practices. This made it so much easier to learn not only from our instructors, but also from one another. I left the training wanting to read more, learn more, talk more about hypnotherapy and how to integrate it into my clinical work. I left wanting to stay connected to the instructors and my classmates. How magical is that for a three-day training?


Photo Credits: Warwick Middleton,MD.

Focus on ISSTD History

Reminiscence from the UK: 30 years on

Dr Jeanie McIntee, Consultant Clinical & Forensic Psychologist & Psychotherapist
CTC Psychological Services, Chester UK

ISSTD in the UK: A History
My interest in Trauma and Dissociation began more than 33 years ago. Like most people I did not seek it out. I had a client whom I knew was quite complex and I had engaged a very experienced supervisor because of this. One night, in supervision, he suggested my client may have Multiple Personality Disorder (now more aptly called Dissociative Identity Disorder). I was fairly dismissive of this idea, not really being convinced of the reality of it.

Imagine my surprise, when I arrived in work the next morning, and a letter awaited me, from the client, saying, ‘There are others of us in here but she doesn’t let us speak to you’. This felt spooky, but I was sufficiently aware of psychodynamic therapy to realise that there were things happening, beyond my awareness, that had clearly communicated to both my supervisor and my client and had suddenly been forced into my consciousness.

My supervisor recommended a workshop coming up in London, led by someone who was a member of ISSD, from USA, and that is how I was introduced to the organisation that was to be my main support and resource over the next few decades. Suddenly my awareness expanded exponentially, as did that of my work colleagues. It was not long before I began to recognise a variety of dissociative clients with varying presentations, from mild through to DID. I then read voraciously, alongside my other psychological and psychotherapeutic reading and training. Around this time, I also commenced formal training as a psychotherapist, following on from already being a Clinical Psychologist and NHS service manager.

It was very hard to discuss dissociation beyond my immediate colleagues, as the prevailing climate was very sceptical. A university lecturer, who I did not know personally, even sent me a copy of the Aldridge-Morris book, (Aldridge-Morris, (1989). Multiple Personality Disorder. An Exercise in Deception).

It was isolating and I felt as if I was often under attack professionally. However, I had also read a lot about the way in which personality imprints itself onto behavior and the modus operandi in offenders (e.g. David Canter (2001) Criminal Shadows). I therefore wondered, if it were the case that MPD were iatrogenic, then why is it that all of my cases were each unique in their presentation, structure and behavior? The main similarities were that they had experienced severe trauma and that their various self-states reflected functions e.g. they had a role to deal with: going to school, or work, or to relate to an abuser, or to provide nurturance. The more I studied, the more I saw how like normal development, roles and functions this was, except it had to accommodate extremes of circumstance and the repeated nature of the trauma prevented adequate information processing and integration.

I went to various ISSD conferences, in Chicago, Montreal, San Francisco, Florida (where for the first time I went to Disney World), and Amsterdam. I was astounded to see people queuing out of the very large rooms, trying to get into presentations. I presented various papers at these conferences and found members to be very interested in what was happening in the UK, where there was still much scepticism. Despite the scepticism, I, together with colleagues Sue Richardson, Reme Acquarone, Jane Lamont, Marise Maddison, among others, set up ISSD (UK), in 1990, resulting in my becoming the first ISSD (UK) Chairperson and the first ever International Representative for ISSD.

We organised several annual conferences in the UK, both in Chester and in Manchester, with most of the leading experts from around the world presenting. ISSD (UK) met regularly and we had well over 100 delegates at each of our conferences. In our workplaces, we were often very isolated and professionally ridiculed or attacked as naïve and gullible or even downright ‘wicked’ but, at our conferences, we found people open and interested and willing to learn.

My first DID client was also from an SRA background, so I had unwittingly fallen into the deep end. I had support from a particular colleague and admit that it caused considerable counter-transference issues, for both of us, including bad dreams and feelings of fear and threat, especially as we both had children. There was also intellectual curiosity and eagerness to learn and clearly, we were not frightened off, either by supernatural/magical thinking, or professional scepticism and attacks, as we are still working hard in this field today.

Following all this hard work and dedication by ISSD (UK) and ISSD, dissociation became much more mainstream in the UK, even though the scepticism about DID remained quite prevalent. Adult Psychiatry in the UK was (and still is to a large extent), based, very much, in a biochemical model and not very psychosocial. Dissociation and DID were considered a US phenomenon and not to exist at all in the UK. Despite this, I took this area of work for my PhD research, conducting the only national survey of prevalence. This yielded information that DID was being identified, throughout the UK, with a prevalence that was similar to other disorders such as Schizophrenia.

My survey, in the late 1990’s, also asked about False Memories as well as dissociation/DID and I had many letters from all shades of opinion on these topics. I found myself on a tightrope between promoting training and understanding about dissociation and not putting myself too much into the limelight. This was also in a different era with regard to the recognition of Child Sexual Abuse. Things have both come a long way since then. However, as the current situation in the UK with regard Safeguarding and Historical Abuse will testify, things still have a long way to go.

Working away at a grassroots level has eventually led to all sorts of people mentioning dissociation in more informal ways, for example clinicians talking of a child dissociating or discussing something like this, in a report.

Currently there is even the occasional hospital that recognises dissociation and even DID. Surprisingly the NHS website contains useful information. However, it is still not easy for clients to find the help they need and almost exclusively they have to fund it themselves. There is still a lot of work to do.

Despite all this, it no longer feels like I am an outcast. I was always lucky to have immediate colleagues who were of a similar mind, but outside my inner circle, it was sceptical and hostile. Now it feels less like the whole ‘external world’ of the UK is anti-dissociation. Currently there are things published in the UK about DID. Organisations such as PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors) are doing important training work. Media interest can be found and not always in a sensational manner. Even that has become more mainstream
ISSD (UK) went on the merge with ESTD in 2007 and various organisations such as PODS and the Centre for Dissociative Studies, in London, have continued to promote information and training throughout the UK and beyond.

Present Events: An Exciting Conference
This year we are hoping to give ISSTD another boost, as we celebrate both its 35th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of CTC Psychological Services, by holding a joint conference, in Chester UK, on the topic of Developmental Trauma and Dissociation. A key focus will be on adoption support and assisting children and parents at an early stage to remedy the effects of trauma and dissociation.

This time our venue is Chester’s most prestigious hotel, The Chester Grosvenor Hotel and Spa. There will be presentations by speakers from our previous conferences such as Dr Joy Silberg and Professor Martin Dorahy and speakers new to the UK Conferences such as Professor Ruth Lanius and Dr Richard Chefetz. It is exciting for us to have these internationally renowned speakers coming to the UK.

We also have UK experts in dissociation, PTSD, EMDR, adoption, and trauma through the lifespan. Presentations will be given by Experts by Experience with regard to the parenting of adopted children with trauma and dissociation.

We look forward to welcoming all delegates to this exciting conference on 23/24 June 2018. Chester is indeed one of the most picturesque and historical of English cities. We hope you will be able to both attend the conference and take some time to enjoy this unique city.

For more information on the conference, visit the Conference Website!

Dancing at an early Conference Dinner, UK. Fran Waters on left and Jeanie McIntee, middle. Others unknown.

Training session at an early UK conference.

The historic city of Chester, UK (Photo: Shutterstock)

River Dee, Chester, UK (Photo: Shutterstock)

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