Join ISSTD News and be part of a growing member service

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

In 2017 ISSTD News, after a period of hiatus, was re-launched in a blog based format. In the last 18 months this publication has taken off. In the last 12 months alone, there has been a three-fold increase in readership numbers and page views. We are really excited about the way the Newsletter is shaping up, but in order for it to continue to grow and develop we need your help! We have been delighted to have Noula Diamantopoulos join us to coordinate Creative Space and Shelley Hua join us to coordinate the new feature ‘Spreading the Word’. And of course we have the indefatigable Warwick Middleton providing wonderful photos and coordinating a series of articles on ISSTD History.

However more hands on deck would really help the Newsletter grow. If you enjoy writing, editing and making connections with colleagues all over the world, then you will enjoy joining our team at the News.

At the moment we are after people to help in the following areas:

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, Publications of Interest: Unfortunately our current Editor Lynn Hazard is heading off to retire, so will be finishing in this role at the end of the year. If you like finding and reading new articles in the field than this is the spot for you. Don’t be deterred if you lack access to a database. We can help with that!

These jobs do not take a lot of time as the features are quarterly, so see if you can find the time to lend a hand, have fun and meet new colleagues as you go!

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

Letter From The President

Getting Ready for the 2019 Conference: Our Call for Proposals opens August 1

Kevin Connors, MS, MFT

Greetings Dear Colleagues,

I have the joy of wearing two hats; the shiny president’s chapeau and a hard hat for the hard working Annual Conference Committee. I am going to focus on the latter role and the current plans and progress of the Conference Committee as we prepare for the 2019 World Congress on Complex Trauma: Research | Intervention |  Innovation.

I hope you are all aware that the 2019 conference will be held in New York City from March 28th through April 1st at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in the heart of New York’s theatre district. The Conference Committee has been diligently working to create an outstanding line-up of plenary presentations, pre-conference workshops and special events to make this conference truly memorable. This year we are faced with even greater challenges which in turn afford us new opportunities. Or as a wise person once said, “I have some good news and some bad news.”

Over the past few years, and continuing this year in New York, we have experienced a steep increase in the price of producing our premiere event. Food and beverages costs are higher while audio/visual expenses have nearly tripled. All the while we strive to hold the conference registration fees unchanged. This leads us to make cuts and compromises in other areas.

The first and foremost change will be to move our Awards ceremony from a dinner extravaganza to a more informal and intimate luncheon. I understand that many of you may be upset at this announcement and feel the only way to assuage your grief will be to use the extra free time on Saturday evening to take advantage of our hotel’s prime location in the heart of New York’s theatre district and go out to explore the “Big Apple”.

There will be a few changes in 2019 schedule. Notably, there will be fewer 3 hour workshops. Further, we will reduce the overall number of breakout sessions offered each day. Accordingly the competition for those will be fierce. The payoff will be in an even higher caliber of meaningful conference content, clinical offerings and research findings.

That said, the heart and soul of our conference are the submissions from the members. Our Call for Proposals will launch August 1, 2018 and end on September 17. There will be no extension to the deadline. We are encouraging prompt submissions and all those who submit a proposal by August 31, 2018 will be eligible to enter a draw for a year’s free membership. As in the past few years, proposal submissions will be be managed on-line. You can find submission guidelines and the link to the submission site on the conference website.

Put your thinking caps on. What creative new ideas and treatment strategies have you been developing? Coordinate and collaborate with your colleagues to create panels and forums to share your thoughts and to expand our common knowledge base. We are hungry for your most recent research.

I encourage our Special Interest Groups to plan and submit workshops that can be organized into mini-tracks that run throughout the conference. I suggest that each SIG start a series of on-line discussions looking to coordinate a string of solid presentations. If they can create three 90 minute presentations, we can offer a day long mini track with one in each of the three break-out sessions on either Saturday or Sunday. If your SIG can put together seven 90 minute offerings, the special interest track could run the length of the conference.

There are important keys to writing a good submission. The material must be solidly grounded, with a strong basis in research and clinical wisdom. The presentation needs to be well written, without misspellings or grammatical errors. I realize some of our foremost thought leaders are not primarily English speakers or have expressive language difficulties. Please invite a colleague to look over your submission for editing suggestions and to clean up formatting. When crafting your abstract, help the reviewer understand what makes your material unique and relevant. Identify who might be best served by learning about your approach.

The conference workshops and symposia will be showcased by a stellar line up. Our plenary dream team leads off with Gabor Mate presenting on Compassionate Inquiry. Stephen Porges, discussing Polyvagal theory, follows on Sunday. Allan Schore, one of the top experts in the neurobiology of attachment, closes on Monday.

A special highlight for our World Congress will be an international panel discussing trauma and dissociation from a global perspective. This panel includes Gabor Mate, Sandra Baita from South America, Vedat Sar from Turkey, Christa Kruger from South Africa, Dolores Mosquera from Spain, and Adithy from India.

While the main body of the conference starts on Saturday, March 30th, immediately preceding are two days filled with intensive, in-depth pre-conference workshops. These workshops offer a broad range of clinical materials; from fundamental information that anyone approaching work with profoundly traumatized clients needs to know, to advanced techniques and nuanced ways of conceptualizing the intricate dynamics of dissociative disorders.

On Thursday, March 30th, the courses offered include:

  • Sandra Baita presenting her work with children and adolescents;
  • Heather Hall and Michael Salter discussing dissociation and trauma as a public health issue;
  • Rochelle Sharpe Lohrasbe teaching sensori-motor applications and interventions; and
  • D. Michael Coy and select members of the ISSTD’s EMDR Therapy Training Task Force will give us an overview and updates on the development of an EMDR therapy standard training for ISSTD.

On Friday, March 29th course offerings include;

  • Ken Benau and Sarah Krakauer exploring Shame and Pride with Relational Trauma;
  • Michael Salter and members of the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control, and Organized Abuse Special Interest Group addressing issues in understanding and treating organized abuse;
  • Christine Forner leading an exploration into the fundamentals of understanding and treating dissociative disorders;
  • Rick Kluft presenting on advanced treatment issues; and
  • Kathy Steele will be joined by colleagues Suzette Boon and Dolores Mosquera to discuss Working with Integrative Failures across Diagnostic Categories.

Please share this information with your colleagues who aren’t yet members. Our conference and our Call for Proposals are open to all interested clinicians and researchers. They may have valuable ideas and insights to share with us; while attending our conference is an excellent way to introduce them to ISSTD.

In great anticipation of what is to come, I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

Please help support our $35 for the 35th campaign. This campaign focuses on raising funds for our much needed website updates and improvements as well as supporting student member opportunities and activities. You can help by making a donation of any size on this page.

Thanks for helping grow ISSTD.

News You Can Use

News You Can Use

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

Re-launch of Popular Attachment Journal

In news that will bring relief to many of its fans, Attachment: New Directions In Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis is once more up and running, with the first new edition due out in August.

Attachment, edited by ISSTD member Orit Badouk-Epstein, and produced by the Bowlby Centre in London, has developed a following among those interested in attachment, and its strong trauma informed focus made it of particular interest to ISSTD Members, a number of whom have written articles for the journal. Many were dismayed when it temporarily ceased publication this year.

However, the team at Attachment did not go away and have been busy finding a new publisher to …err … attach to. The Journal team has now found a new publishing house, Phoenix Publishing House, which will be releasing the journal twice a year. The journal will continue with its previous focus and with the popular mixed format which includes clinical and theoretical articles, opinion pieces, film and book reviews and creative writing pieces.

The first issue for 2018 is due to be published in August and includes the following articles, a number written by ISSTD members:

  • Grenfell: Friendly fire? A personal and professional journey by Valerie Sinason and Dehra Mitchell
  • An object-relations approach to MPD/DID, imaginary companions, and heteronyms: Dissociation and creativity by Graham Clarke
  • Working with dissociated aggression in traumatised patients by Dan Shaw
  • What kind of courtship sets a couple up for long-term attachment: Romance, arranged marriage, or online matchmaking? by Anne Power
  • John Bowlby and contemporary issues of clinical diagnosis by Georgina L. Barnes, Matt Woolgar, Helen Beckwith, Robbie Duschinsky
  • Bearing the unbearable: Meditations on being in rhythm by Karen Hopenwasser
  • My name is Dot by Orit Badouk Epstein
  • On Boarding School by Olya Khaleelee
  • Ethics and iatrogenia in clinical practice: A relational perspective by Paul Renn

To renew your subscription online, please visit this page.

New Website Offers Refreshing Self Care for Free

ISSTD Member Sharon Gold-Steinberg, PhD and her colleague Carryn Lund, LMSW have developed a beautiful website offering meditations and inspiration specifically for psychotherapists, including those working with traumatized clients.

Website Co-Founder, Sharon Gold-Steinberg, PhD

Therapist Refresh is a website that supports psychotherapists in caring for themselves as they provide healing for others. The website offers a range of audio meditations developed specifically for the busy clinician, targeted at various aspects of the clinical day, including Compassion for Clients and Ending Your Day. These free meditations will help to refresh and energize you while reducing triggering and burn out. Ranging in length from as little as 2 minutes through to just over 5 minutes they are accessible to even the busiest therapist.

In addition, subscribers receive free weekly e-mails with information to inspire self-care, satisfaction with clinical practice, and build a sense of community and camaraderie with other therapists.

Take a little time to have a look and watch the website develop as Sharon and Carryn have plans for many more features. Check out the website here.

Wisdom, Attachment, and Love in Trauma Therapy: Beyond Evidence –Based Practice
A New Book by Susan Pease-Banitt, LCSW

This latest highly acclaimed book by ISSTD member, Susan Pease Banitt focuses on the role of the therapist as a healing presence rather than technique administrator, on the importance of how we are with clients rather than what to do.
Pease-Banitt advocates therapists undertake self-work to learn to embody qualities that foster an appropriate, corrective, and loving therapy experience.

Stephen W. Porges, PhD, founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, writes of the book:

“Wisdom, Attachment, and Love in Trauma Therapy provides a sophisticated and compassionate understanding of how trauma therapists experience, train, and contribute to the healing of their heroic clients. In this well-written and integrated book, Susan Pease Banitt conveys a conceptual framework integrating principles extracted from contemporary neuroscience, psychology, and philosophic orientations to emphasize the features of successful therapy. Through her personal experiences, she emphasizes the importance of the therapist being present with and accepting of the client. Perhaps most relevant to the trauma therapist, she provides a deep understanding of the vulnerabilities of the therapist, who may be a survivor of trauma.”

Contents include: Neuroscience and Trauma-Informed Practice; Ego Development and Traumatic Defenses; Fostering Attachment in Psychotherapy; Superhuman Empathy and Trauma Work; and Self-Care for the Trauma Therapist.

As an added bonus, and not to be missed, ISSTD Member, Lisa Danylchuk, writes a moving and personal forward to the book, speaking not only about the book, but sharing some of her own journey as a therapist and her connections with the author through ISSTD

Of the book, Lisa writes:

In this book, Sue helps us to recall and become increasingly comfortable with love as the basic truth of human relationship and attachment. In a gentle and inclusive manner, she reminds us of our humanity and our own vulnerabilities, encouraging those in human services to reflect on their own developmental processes and ways of relating as a foundation for deep healing work. She speaks with humor and with the evidence of a lifetime of practical experience in counseling and social work.

The book is available from Amazon (Remember to use your Amazon Smiles to raise money for ISSTD!) or from the publisher.

Adult Psychiatrist Position Open at Sheppard Pratt – Towson, MD

Sheppard Pratt Health System is seeking an adult psychiatrist for a full-time or part-time position in our nationally and internationally-recognized Trauma Disorders Program. Led by Richard J. Loewenstein, M.D., The Trauma Disorders Program treats individuals with trauma-related disorders, including dissociative disorders and other complex post-traumatic conditions, in a structured and supportive environment that focuses on safety and stabilization.


  • Must have a current license to practice in Maryland at the time of hire
  • Board certification preferred
  • Individuals hired for inpatient services participate in a call schedule

About Sheppard Pratt Health System

As the nation’s largest private, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use, special education, and social services, we employ more than 95 doctors who all share a passion for providing the best care to those we serve. Consistently ranked as one of the top ten psychiatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, we offer a generous compensation package and comprehensive benefits. To learn more about our services, visit EOE and smoke-free campus.

For more information, please contact Kathleen Hilzendeger, Director of Professional Services, at 410.938.3460 or To apply, please click here.

Join ISSTD at the 23rd Annual IVAT Conference in San Diego this September

The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) is holding their 23rd International Summit on Violence, Abuse & Trauma Across the Lifespan. This is set to take place on September 5 – 9, 2018 in San Diego, CA. The goal of the Summit is to make a positive impact towards eliminating all forms of violence, abuse, and trauma by offering continuing education, specialty trainings, and a forum for professionals across disciplines and philosophies to gather for in-depth exchange of current information on all facets of prevention, intervention, treatment and research.

For a full review, see the 23rd Summit Brochure here. To register for the Summit, click here.

The Summit’s focus is “Voices Against Violence: Breaking Through the Silence.” On Friday, September 7th a plenary roundtable will discuss What’s Next for #MeToo? Breaking the Silence, Changing the Norms as well as seven parallel plenaries on Saturday, September 8th covering a variety of controversial, hot topics with renowned invited speakers. Trainings and continuing education are offered for most licensures, and multiple networking opportunities are built into the Summit from the Awards Luncheon to the Poster Session & Welcome Reception.

On Wednesday September 5th, the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV) Across the Lifespan will hold its annual Think Tank Forum to discuss interpersonal violence issues and the goals, methods, and plans to tackle these issues in the year to come.

Welcome ISSTD’s New Members in July!

Stella Bowring
Maggie Robbins
Ernest Schall
Carmel Swiggs
Dominique Barritt-McBride
Raha Mirian
Matt DeGennaro
Eileen Griffin
Kimberlee Soule
Inga Sugitha
Rowena Tate
Mohammadee Bhaiyat
Jeri Kao
Terri Merritt

Tanya Bailey
Elizabeth Brekelbaum
Maria Grindle
Ann Ling
Monique Sundlie
Jodi Kohut

Do You Have News ISSTD Members Can Use?
We need your help to make NYCU a great feature, full of news and connecting us all!

Do you have a book or journal article 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? 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.

Submission Deadline: 20th of the month

Send to ISSTD Editor, Kate McMaugh:

Clinical E-Journal

JTD and Frontiers Table of Contents (July 2018)

Journal of Trauma & Dissociation

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

Table of Contents
Volume 19, Issue 1
Volume 19, Issue 2
Volume 19, Issue 3
Volume 19, Issue 4
Volume 18, 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’s Only section of the ISSTD website and log in with your member username & password. Need help to access? Call ISSTD Headquarters at 703-610-9037, or email for assistance.

Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation

Table of Contents


  • 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.)

To access articles, log into the Member’s Corner area of the website and click on the Frontiers link in the upper right corner. New articles will be posted monthly on the fourth Tuesday of the month as they become available. Frontiers is a member-only benefit.

Regional Conferences

Regional Conference Recap: Chester, UK

Jeanie McIntee, PhD

In June this year ISSTD and UK-based CTC Psychological Services joined forced to celebrate ISSTD’s 35th anniversary and CTC’s 30th anniversaries by holding a joint conference, in Chester UK.

The conference focused on the topic of Developmental Trauma and Dissociation, whilst also promoting the UK Government strategy of child mental health.

The conference was held in Chester’s prestigious, Grosvenor Hotel and Spa, located within the picturesque Roman walled city. In this unique venue, we welcomed experts and visitors from every corner of the globe.

Chris Matheson, The Member of Parliament for the City of Chester, opened the conference and welcomed our visitors. ISSTD Fellow, Adah Sachs, PhD introduced the conference on behalf of ISSTD.

We were fortunate to have international experts Dr Joy Silberg, Professor Martin Dorahy, Professor Ruth Lanius, and Dr Richard Chefetz join us to provide training and share research and clinical expertise as they spoke to the identification and treatment of childhood trauma as well as the negative impact of untreated trauma on mental and physical development, throughout childhood and adulthood.

Ruth Lanius, Martin Dorahy, Richard Chefetz

The feedback provided by those in attendance, reflected the experts’ excellence, in both content and delivery and indicated how fortunate we were to have them share their knowledge and skills at this anniversary conference.

Julian Long, Joyanna Silberg, and her husband Richard

Coupled with the success of the keynote speakers, we also welcomed UK experts in Dissociation, PTSD, EMDR, adoption and trauma, who were able to present a range of workshops in their specialised fields.

Kathryn Chefetz and Jeanie McIntee

Presentations were also given by Experts by Experience, with regard to the parenting and development of adopted children with Dissociation and trauma, with whom CTC Psychological Services have worked so closely over recent years. These presentations provided a raw insight into the daily lives and events that families and particularly parents go through, when caring for those that have experienced traumatic childhoods and the sharing of expertise as to what has been found to be successful in meeting challenges.



Retired . . . but Still a Member

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

Members of ISSTD who retire are still able to enjoy connection with colleagues working in the field of trauma and dissociation, through the ISSTD Retired Membership category. The Retired Membership is open to members who have retired from active practice or research. To be eligible for Retired Membership, the member must be at least 65 years of age and have paid dues to the Society for 10 or more years. Retired members have all the benefits of full membership except that they may not run for or hold office.

We asked a few of our retired members to tell us a little about what life is like for them now they have retired and what it means for them to maintain a retired membership with ISSTD.

Well known ISSTD Fellow, and past chair of the RAMCOA SIG, Alison Miller, shares with us the impact of this lifelong work on her and what it means to be retired to spend more time with her family.

Here is Alison in her “other” identity—”Granny,” with her youngest grandchild.

In retirement Alison, who lives in Canada, has moved from the city to a little mountain village to be close to family and live closer to nature.

When asked how it feels to retire Alison says, “At last, I can just be a human being among other human beings. No one expects me to be an expert on life … I like just being a person. I like having the freedom to sometimes be rude, to not have to watch myself as a constant role model for other people…Maybe I’ll be a cranky old lady.”

She adds that while working in the field of dissociative disorders, and specifically with survivors of organized abuse (RAMCOA) has been a very fulfilling career, it has also been challenging.

“This is an exhausting field. The tortuous complexity of personality systems, the agony of the hurt inner children, the moral injury of forced perpetration, and most of all, with some clients, the constant ongoing torture by perpetrator groups, has taken its toll on me. It’s hard to feel connected to “normal” life when I spend most of my day with people who have suffered so intensely at the hands of other human beings. It’s time to pass the torch onto others, to leave the battlefield to the next wave of soldiers.”

“For the past few years I have felt a strong need to be around normal, healthy people, in a natural, healthy environment, with music, trees, and play.”

“ISSTD, and in particular the RAMCOA special interest group, are still my people, in a different way from those who know me as “granny.” Our members … are the ones who understand what I’m talking about and what my clients have experienced. I remain part of this group in order to continue to pass on what I’ve learned, and also to connect with my people, those who have taken on the daunting challenge of this work.”

ISSTD members are fortunate to benefit from Alison’s wisdom and experience as her retired membership has enabled her to continue to volunteer for ISSTD. She serves on the RAMCOA SIG Executive, she presents at RAMCOA all day webinars and is currently chairing the RAMCOA Bookclub discussion of her book Healing the Unimaginable.

ISSTD is also privileged to count Philip Coons, MD, ISSTD Fellow and past president (1988-1989) as one of our retired members. In comments that may make some of us rather green with envy Phil reports,

Retirement opens up travel opportunities. Here is a photo of Phil and his wife, Elizabeth Bowman, MD (also a renowned trauma specialist and past president of ISSTD) watching a giant land tortoise during their latest trip to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

“Retirement is great. In fact, I worked part time for several years before I fully retired. I have many hobbies, including travel, photography, hiking, genealogy, reading, and writing. Yes, I still write. I published four books in partial retirement, but not about dissociation, and I write essays for the Indianapolis Literary Club.

Like Alison, remaining in contact with colleagues and friends is an important attraction of the Retired Membership Category for Phil, “I continue to remain a retired member of the ISSTD to keep in contact with my colleagues. I also attend monthly luncheons with my retired colleagues from work, and I attend Neurology and Psychiatry Department Grand Rounds on a regular basis. In late summer I plan to take a course to become a Master Naturalist.”

Christine Courtois, PhD, ABPP, is a prominent ISSTD Fellow who has chosen to maintain a retired membership benefit. Christine is well known to most of us as a highly acclaimed therapist, writer and trainer. She is known for promoting and facilitating the development of the complex trauma field through her many roles. She is the recipient of many awards in ISSTD including the ISSTD 2010 Print Media Award for her book with co-editor Dr. Julian Ford, Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide (2009); the ISSTD Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and the Cornelia Wilbur Award in 2001.

Christine Courtois, pictured at ISSTD conference, Washington, 2017, with ISSTD member Laura Brown, Author of Your Turn to Care

For Christine, retirement has meant some significant changes such as closing her clinical practice and changing her principal residence from the DC metro area to the beach, achieving a long time goal. However, retirement looks more like a semi-retirement as she is continuing to write and edit, as well as conduct training. She says “Retirement means a lot more free time and time to travel for fun and do other things that were put on the back burner. It means more time to spend with family and friends … and much less stress and administrivia!!! It is more time away from the heaviness and responsibility of the clinical work”

Christine will likely continue to be a retired member of ISSTD. At this stage she can see the benefits of continuing in order to stay up to date. She also reports a specific benefit in receiving the members journal, Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.

Christine continues to contribute to the field through training and conference presentations. She is working on one new book on sexual boundary violations by psychotherapists and revising her 2009 book with Dr. Ford. A couple of more recent books are:

For those members considering retiring, have a look and see if you meet the criteria for the Retired Membership Category. It can be a great way to stay in touch with the field and with colleagues.

Special Interest Groups

Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse (RAMCOA) SIG

Kate McMaugh and Michael Salter

The RAMCOA SIG is a special interest group for those members of ISSTD who research or provide clinical services to those affected by all forms of organised and extreme abuse.

With over 150 members this is a vibrant online meeting place where clinical and other relevant issues can be discussed in a supportive and safe manner. The SIG is supported by the Executive made up of Michael Salter (Chair), Alison Miller (past Chair), Susan Hykes (moderator), Rosita Cortizo (moderator-elect), Kate McMaugh (Secretary), Valerie Sinason (Chair elect) and Lynette Danylchuk (secretary elect).

The SIG has been very busy with online discussions of a wide array of therapeutic issues. Members new to the field particularly appreciate the assistance and guidance of those more experienced, as there are few other avenues to discuss and learn about these forms of abuse.
In addition the SIG has also put together conference presentations at the 2018 ISSTD Conference including, for the first time, an all-day RAMCOA workshop during the pre-conference workshops. This was well-attended and well received. Discussions are already underway to plan more presentations at the 2019 Conference.

Last year the SIG organised ISSTD’s first ever all-day webinar training. This was highly successful with participants asking for more. So once again this year the SIG will be hosting another all-day webinar on October 12. Presentations include:

  • Warwick Middleton – “A life sentence: How the study of ongoing incest during adulthood informs us about the nature of organised abuse”
  • Sue Richardson – “Clinical supervision of work with RAMCOA: An attachment-based perspective”
  • Richard Lowenstein – “Negative therapeutic reaction and stuck cases: Mind control transference in the treatment of dissociative identity disorder”
  • Joy Silberg – “Symptoms and treatment considerations for a group of 70 children abused in a presumed child pornography ring “
  • Michael Salter – “Understanding RAMCOA in the context of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation”

The SIG also has its own bookclub. This year it has held successful bookclub discussions of Sue Grand’s 2000 book “The Reproduction of Evil” and is currently holding a discussion of Alison Miller’s book “Healing the Unimaginable”.

The SIG is always keen to welcome new members. If you have an interest in joining please contact secretary Kate McMaugh:
For general enquiries about the SIG contact Michael Salter (Chair):

Special Interest Groups

Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse: Examining our History and Looking Forward

Michael Salter, PhD

I was a teenager when ritual abuse was first reported in Australia. A series of newspaper articles in the mid-1990s claimed that women were entering psychotherapy only to ‘recover’ memories of grotesque and improbable abuse. The general thrust of coverage was that the movement against child abuse had gone too far, and that therapists and social workers were encouraging, and sometimes forcing, children and women to imagine abuse that had never happened.

I was entirely unprepared when, only a few years after the publication of those articles, a friend began disclosing ritual abuse in the context of a paedophile ring. These disclosures occurred without facilitation or encouragement by a mental health professional, and they did not conform to mass media warnings about ‘false’ and ‘recovered’ memories. She had never ‘forgotten’ her abuse and she was reporting attacks in the present that left behind undeniable marks and injuries.

Her disclosures set me on the path to a career as a criminologist specializing in the study of organized child sexual abuse. I now chair the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse Special Interest Group (RAMCOA) which is full of people just like me: people who unexpectedly encountered survivors of extreme abuse and have sought to understand and address their particular needs. The SIG includes an important cohort of therapists who are also survivors, driven by personal experience and professional commitment to provide care for others who share their history.

Over the last few years, there’ve been moves afoot within the ISSTD to revisit and come to grips with the fractious legacies of the ‘memory wars’, including controversies over ritual abuse and mind control. I listened with great interest at the national ISSTD conference in Chicago this year as a number of ‘veterans’ of those wars shared their reflections on that time. It’s been illuminating to hear first hand accounts of the formation of the ISSTD and the costs born by those who first tried to articulate the unspeakable: the intentional inducement and manipulation of dissociation in children for the purposes of sexual sadism and exploitation.

However, if the evolution of trauma treatment has taught us anything, it’s that revisiting the past is not inherently therapeutic. Revisiting needs to be an opportunity for reframing and reprocessing, or else we may only reproduce the same conflicts and painful divisions. We can use contemporary knowledge and evidence of child sexual exploitation to develop new insights into earlier debates over ritual abuse and mind control

It has long been observed that virtually all survivors of ritual abuse and mind control report that their sexual abuse was photographed and videotaped (e.g. Snow & Sorenson, 1990). This observation is affirmed by contemporary digital evidence in the form of online child exploitation material, as well as research with survivors. The size of the market in child abuse material was significant prior to the internet, and included semi-commercial production within developed countries (Berenbaum et al., 1984). However, with the advent of the internet, demand for child abuse material has grown exponentially. By mid 2017, the world’s largest law enforcement database of child abuse material, the U.S. Child Victim Identification Program, had reviewed more than 207 million images and videos of abuse.

Content analysis finds that over half of online child abuse material depicts explicit sexual activity and assaults, and 2% depict the kinds of torture disclosed by survivors of ritual abuse: bestiality, bondage, weapons, defecation/urination (Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 2016). Over two thirds of abuse material appears to have been manufactured in a home setting. In 2017, the Canadian Center for Child Protection published the findings of a survey of 150 survivors of child sexual abuse imagery (Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 2017). Their findings include that:

  • Half of survivors were victims of organized sexual abuse: that is, a group or network of offenders.
  • In the majority of organized abuse cases, the primary perpetrators were one or both parents.
  • Victimisation in organized abuse tended to begin before the age of four and continue into adulthood.
  • A significant group of survivors reported torture involving rituals, electroshock and near-drowning (Canadian Center for Child Protection, 2017).

This data affirms to a significant degree the pattern of abuse that has been consistently disclosed by survivors of ritual abuse and mind control. It is becoming apparent that demand for child abuse material is being met by organized perpetrator groups involving parents who use a range of techniques to traumatise their children from infancy into compliance with sexual exploitation. From the vantage point offered by contemporary research, it would seem that the emerging professional field of trauma and dissociation in the 1970s and 1980s provided a space in which a subterranean criminal phenomenon – the extreme abuse of children for mass consumption – could surface and be recognized for the first time.

Something else that we learn from trauma therapy is that the retelling of history is shaped by inequities of power. Some people are permitted to remember but others are not, and some stories are legitimized while others never gain a hearing. At the moment, the authorised perspective on the ‘memory wars’ over the credibility of ritual abuse and mind control tends to be (mostly) white, (mostly) male and (mostly) medical, characterized by a renewed call for therapeutic neutrality to avoid the supposed excesses of the ‘believers’ and the ‘sceptics’ of the 1980s and 1990s. Underlying this call is a soothing agnosticism over the reality or otherwise of extreme abuse; an agnosticism that could have been justified twenty-five years ago perhaps, but not today.

There is another set of histories and perspectives on ritual abuse and mind control that paint a more complex picture. The narrative of rational clinicians standing firm against ideology and hysteria casts a pejorative shadow over the struggles of survivors, activists and their allies who forced ritual abuse and mind control onto the therapeutic agenda. Listening to these stories will not only provide us with richer insights into the ‘memory wars’ but will broaden the field of those who are authorized to provide the ‘official’ history of research and practice in trauma and dissociation.

A full accounting of the ‘memory wars’ might even acknowledge the experience of those people, like my friend, whose brutal exploitation continued unabated during the 1990s, even as the very existence of her abuse was being debated in the mass media and professional literature. Perhaps, one day, we might find space to grieve for the extraordinary tragedy that we were first alerted to ritual abuse and mind control over a quarter of a century ago, and we have lost another generation to inaction and disbelief.

I am one of many who believe that we have reached a tipping point in relation to ritual abuse, mind control and organized abuse. In my work as a criminologist, I am in regular contact with professional stakeholders involved in the detection and disruption of online and organized sexual abuse. Ritual abuse and mind control do not surprise them. Slowly but surely, sadistic and exploitative family networks are being uncovered and broken up through careful investigation and prosecution. We are beginning to reckon with paedophilic subcultures that use dissociation as an instrument of control.

The most appropriate stance that we can take, I think, when we look back at early attempts to grapple with ritual abuse and mind control is grateful appreciation. Like any early area of inquiry, there were missteps and mistakes. But we would not be where we are today without the dogged commitment of those therapists, survivors and activists who refused to let the extreme and bizarre excesses of human cruelty be buried by social and professional incredulity. Their efforts, I believe, have been vindicated.


  1. Berenbaum, Tina M., Burgess, Ann Wolbert, Cucci, Joseph, Davidson, Howard A., McCaghy, Charles H., & Summit, Roland C. (1984). Child pornography in the 1970s. In A. W. Burgess & M. Lindeqvist Clark (Eds.), Child pornography and sex rings (pp. 7–23). Lexington MA; Toronto: Lexington Books.
  2. Canadian Center for Child Protection. (2017). Survivor’s Survey Preliminary Report. Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
  3. Canadian Centre for Child Protection. (2016). Child sexual abuse images on the Internet:
  4. Canadian Centre for Child Protection. (2017). Survivor’s Survey: Executive Summary. Winnipeg: Canadian Center for Child Protection.
  5. Snow, B., & Sorenson, T. (1990). Ritualistic child abuse in a neighborhood setting. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5(4), 474–487.

Creative Space

Self Care and the Therapist

Noula Diamantopoulos, Editor

How do you take care of yourself as a therapist to prevent burnout and bring the best version of yourself to each therapeutic encounter?

Bringing the mind to rest, to pause, to fallow is important. Creating an intentional rest time also allows for new ideas to sprout. We need to fallow.

One of the ways to do this is to engage with a creative process. I asked our members what they do to ‘fallow”. ISSTD Board Member Paula Thomson (PsyD) shared her love for choreography and dancing in this interview:

Noula: How does this form of self expression support your well being?

Paula: Dance and the creation of new dance works is a passion that has persisted since I was a small child. Engaging in this activity provides an opportunity to reflect on the human condition and find ways to express the agony and ecstasy of human interactions.

Noula: When do you engage in this process and how often?

Paula: I see about 20 hours of patients each week; however, I also attend ballet class at least 3 times per week, teach dance and choreography at the university level and choreograph or mentor other choreographers throughout the year.

You can watch one of Paula’s choreographed performances here. It’s a 9min piece called All In The Mornings exploring the themes of death, sickness and life.

If dance and physical expression is not your forte you might prefer a more sedentary form of self care – for example something anchored in artistic creativity such coloring-in books for adults.

An even simpler process is used in Trace it to Erase it. Written by Australian Neuroscientist Dr. Selena Bartlett, this book posits that the simple act of tracing can assist in managing brain stress. It’s easy to do and as therapist we can engage with this simple activity throughout the day. If you find creating a meditation practice difficult to do then I suggest you look at Selena’s book and try Trace It To Erase It. It’s a book I also recommend to my clients.

Committee Spotlight

Communications and Marketing Committee

Robert B. Slater, MSW, LCSW-R, Chair, Communications and Marketing Committee

We hope that everybody in the northern hemisphere is having a good summer, while those in the south are surviving their winter.

The Communication and Marketing Committee is getting ready for what looks to be one of the most exciting years in ISSTD history. We are, for the first time, going to be having our annual conference for 2019 in the Big Apple, New York City!

We want to make very sure that this is going to be an amazing conference for everybody who is interested in learning more about trauma and dissociation. Over the next few weeks, details will begin to come out about some of our plenary speakers and other events and activities.

In order to make sure as many people as possible are aware of what we are offering, we are looking for some additional short-term volunteers who are willing to contact universities in the tri-state area to make sure that they are aware of the conference.

ISSTD is now offering an organizational membership, so that not-for-profits, treatment facilities, multi-therapist practices, government associations, and colleges/universities can join ISSTD and have several people from their perspective organizations attend the conference at a group rate. This is a great opportunity to not just promote the conference but to also promote this exciting new membership category.

For those who volunteer to help us spread the word, we will be offering educational incentives through free access to some of ISSTD’s high quality and popular webinar recordings.

In addition to this, we are in the midst of our “35 for the 35th” fundraising campaign. We are trying to raise $35,000 to fund our brand-new and completely updated website, which will also allow us to do so much more than we’ve been able to do with our current website. Our new website will be a visible face to the world which is streamlined, modern and accessible. Information for the public will be updated and there will be an easily updated and more user-friendly Find-A-Therapist service. Quite importantly the new website will enable more interactive communication between members, such as discussion groups, interactive project groups and allowing mentors and mentees to meet each other, connect and communicate.

We live in a world where our website is the face of our organisation, and often the only way many people interact with us. We need it to be wonderful. If you want to make any donations this year, please make sure you donate to our website development before the year is out.

Speaking of websites, we do live in an exciting period of history as social media continues to grow by leaps and bounds. ISSTD is part of this growing trend. The Communication and Marketing Committee continues to find innovative ways to connect with the world through social media, ably lead by Rochelle Sharpe Lohrasbe – Chair of Social Media Sub-Committee. Through social media we are finding more ways of letting the world know about the causes, consequences and treatment of complex trauma and dissociative disorders. Through social media we can also let the world know that we are the premier group to educate people about best practice treatment of these disorders, as well as the broader social impact of complex trauma and dissociation.

Our committee is always thinking of new projects. For example, we are interested in making sure the information for consumers on our new website is up-to-date, accessible and appropriate. We are looking at developing not just written resources but multimedia resources as well.

With all these projects happening we are always interested in volunteers. Volunteers do not need to be engaged with the committee on a long term basis, but may be interested in helping out on a short term project.

Volunteering for our committee is a great chance to use marketing, communication or writing skills you have developed in your career. However if you are a ‘newbie’ to communication and marketing, but interested in developing these skills, our committee is a great place to learn and be mentored.

We are interested in hearing from people who can help promote the conference, write educational and promotional material, or participate in other forms of marketing and communication through the website, social media and multimedia resources. If you are interested in being one of those volunteers, you can contact me at or email HQ at and they will forward your interest on to me.

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