Creative Space

Creative Space

Noula Diamantopoulos, Curator

The Arts chose me at the age of 37 when she compelled me to leave a career as an international tax advisor. I was completing my second degree, this one in law, when the calling came and I dropped out with 1 year to go and started a career in the arts. I still don’t understand it, but here I am 23 years later, art making, creator of many different types of workshops, therapist, coach, author and at the beginning of a new chapter in my life once more. More about that later.

I am writing this about myself as a way of connecting with you, the reader. I don’t want to remain anonymous or known as that person who curates the Creative Space column you are reading.

The intention behind this column is to create a space of belonging through the lens of our creative practice lenses. Engaging in art-making practices is our personal prescription to healing self and others. I invite you to engage with me via email and send through anything which is part of your creative practice, that you feel I can publish.

This issue is a CALL AND RESPONSE contribution. I asked Dr Jan Ewing to respond to the wonderous and magical pottery creations of Rosita Cortizo entitled Earth, Water, Air.

And the poetry of Dr Jan Ewing in response to Rosita’s Earth Water Air.

Inside and out
You moulded me
With pain

Day in and out
You left behind
Your stain

In silence I shout
My shape I will

Jan Ewing

Its your turn now!

Do you write poetry or prose? Do you paint or doodle? Collage or anything else?

I would like to keep this thread going for the next edition and invite you too, to respond to Rosita’s art work in any way you wish and send me your contribution directly to my email as above.

Until next time
Keep inspired!
Noula Diamantopoulos

Letter From The President

A Holiday Message from ISSTD

Kevin Connors, MS, MFT

Greetings ISSTD Members,

2018 has been an eventful year. Outstanding steps were taken towards meeting our Mission: “To advance clinical, scientific, and societal understanding about the prevalence and consequences of chronic trauma and dissociation.” I would like to share some of them with you and to acknowledge all the hard work done by our volunteers.

Your Board worked diligently to develop our Strategic Plan, informing and guiding our steps through 2018 and into 2019. We set important and impressive goals and have worked hard to realize them and I am confident that these goals will continue to be met.

In authorizing financial support for the ground breaking research of Simone Reinders and her team, we began to fulfill the promise of the Education and Research Fund (formerly known as the Development Fund). Some of the results of her work can be found in this article.

The Directors of our Professional Training Program took steps to stabilize their leadership for the next few years with Sandra Bouabjian as the Chair-Elect. Joan Turkus, Su Baker and others have worked hard to sharpen the focus of the classes; restructuring and renaming the adult courses to improve the scheduling and ability to deliver these classes.

Our clinical e-journal, Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation, continued to grow under the careful guidance of Andreas Laddis (and in the first half of the year Steve Frankel). Andreas continues as editor, maintaining a positive publication schedule. He will be adding an editorial assistant to his team in the near future. He hopes to bring our publication even more into the mainstream by utilizing DOI locators assigned to each article thereby making online searches for cutting edge information on trauma and dissociation that much more accessible. Steve will be moving on to new adventures.

Marilyn Korzekwa and her team developed a schedule of Webinars featuring some of ISSTD’s best and brightest. This past year, Marilyn recruited presentations from child and adolescent experts, from our RAMCOA Special Interest Group, and many others. Marilyn and her team have already lined up an outstanding selection of presentations for 2019 and again we are offering the Annual Pass they introduced this year so you can catch them all. You can check out the 2019 Webinar Schedule here and sign up for the Full-Year Webinar Pass here.

Treasurer D. Michael Coy, Jennifer Madere, President-Elect Christine Forner, Past President Lynette Danylchuk, Rochelle Sharpe-Lohrasbe, Marilyn Korzekwa and Gary Peterson have toiled intensely over many months in the continuing development of what will become an EMDRIA-accredited basic training in EMDR therapy that incorporates fundamental dissociative principles in line with ISSTD-endorsed treatment guidelines. This ISSTD EMDR Therapy Training Task Group will conclude its work in 2019, at which point the training will be submitted to EMDRIA for review/approval, and ultimately will be offered as a brand-new training opportunity from ISSTD in 2020.

In June, September, and October, we were able to organize and run four Regional Conferences flung across the globe from Chester, UK to Hobart, Australia; from New York, New York to San Francisco, California. Plans are already in the works for 2019, with a Regional Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Our Communications and Marketing Committee, under the careful direction of Secretary Bob Slater, took significant steps to make the general public more aware of ISSTD and of the impact of trauma and dissociation on peoples’ lives through two very important activities. First, our Social Media Subcommittee has steadfastly found interesting articles and posts; sharing them on ISSTD social media pages. Accordingly, the number of followers we have on our various social media platforms has grown astronomically. Second, Bob heads our Rapid Response Team. Supported by Board Members Michael Salter and Christine Forner, together they craft important educational press releases, informing the public of the psychological and emotional aspects of key current events.

Last month’s message focused on the important and groundbreaking work of Board Members Heather Hall and Michael Salter, and the Public Health Task Force, as they push us to look beyond the consultation clinic and beyond the classroom in seeking to have a greater role in responding to trauma and dissociative disorders.

The Membership Committee spearheaded by Warwick Middleton and Abigail Percifield has helped us turn an important corner. Addressing critical issues to grow our ranks they have succeeded this year in building a steady increase in membership numbers in almost all categories. Working hard to engage new members and to help them access the many benefits of membership has paid royal dividends. Their work is augmented by the efforts of the ISSTD News Editor, Kate McMaugh. Since taking the helm, Kate has managed to produce or procure interesting articles every month on a consistent basis. Her ability to corral and coax articles from numerous authors and keep the ISSTD News coming out on deadline is astonishing.

The Annual Conference Committee has also worked diligently and dutifully. The 2019 World Congress on Trauma: Research | Intervention | Innovation promises to be one of the finest learning experiences and networking events in our history. The opportunity to meet in New York City with such a global collection of experts and thought leaders is not to be missed. Garrett Deckel has brought an entirely new aspect to the conference schedule by organizing a whole day track dedicated to training psychiatric residents and interns on recognizing and understanding dissociation and dissociative disorders. Hopefully, we will continue to educate health care professionals and ultimately first responders, helping them identify trauma survivors and being able to respond with more effective interventions. Check out the conference line-up and register for this important event here.

The success of these and so many other ISSTD projects could not have been accomplished without the tireless and extraordinary efforts of our Interel Staff, Executive Director Mary Pat Hanlin and Program Manager Bethany Bjur. They give much of their time and energy to helping us fulfill our Mission and Vision.

Your ISSTD Board of Directors keeps careful watch over all of these myriad and diverse activities. This year we are sad to see Paula Thomson and Joan Haliburn leave the Board as they complete their terms. Dana Ross has also needed to step away from Board responsibilities to focus on other pressing projects. If you run into them in New York at the Annual Conference, please be sure to thank them for all their hard work and dedication.

We will see other changes. Martin Dorahy completes his term as Immediate Past President and will get a chance to rest after many years of weekly meetings with the Executive Committee. His gentle and careful leadership has served ISSTD so well. Also leaving the Executive Committee is Secretary Bob Slater. Bob has done so much to put a public face to ISSTD with organizing and speaking for the Society as we developed videos about critical issues and insights that ISSTD can offer.

The Board will experience fresh ideas and insights from new Directors Rosita Cortizo, Valerie Sinason and Tally Tripp. Their energy and enthusiasm combined with a globally conscious awareness will greatly benefit our Society. We are also fortunate to have Peter Maves and Rick Hohfeler returning to share their wisdom.

The Executive Committee will also be undergoing changes. Christa Kruger from South Africa joins us as the President-Elect in 2019 and Lisa Danylchuk steps into her new role as ISSTD Secretary. Christine Forner will take over as President to guide ISSTD forward.

I invite and encourage you to make 2019 the year you consider contributing to ISSTD through serving on one of our committees, or by becoming an officer of our Society.

There is one more important change to share with you. Life has ways of altering plans and realigning one’s priorities. I am called to meet personal challenges brought about by health issues within my family. Needing to meet those challenges I am fortunate to be offered an exciting opportunity to take a position with a local university developing an institute on treating and studying trauma and dissociation. The chance to influence the education of so many students, to bring knowledge and awareness of complex trauma and dissociative disorders into an academic setting is a lifetime dream for me. Alas, to take on this role and to address family obligations I must step away from my duties and position with ISSTD. Serving as your President this past year has been among the greatest of honors. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of all ISSTD stands for.

I am in awe of what we all have accomplished. I am excited about how together we might shape the future. Most of all, I am appreciative of the people who make up our Society and what you give each day to helping others and making our world better.

All the best. See you in New York in March.
Kevin Connors, ISSTD President 2018

Clinical E-Journal

JTD & Frontiers Table of Contents (December 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 19, Issue 5

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

For full access to the entire library of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation (your member benefit) visit the Member’s Only section of the ISSTD website and log in with your member username & password. Need help to access? Call ISSTD Headquarters at 202-803-6332, or email for assistance.

Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation

Table of Contents


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


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

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

News You Can Use

News You Can Use

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

ISSTD Fellow Inspires a New Book Exploring her Influence

ISSTD Fellow Valerie Sinason, PhD, is a world-renowned pioneer in the field of therapy for those with disabilities. Editor Alan Corbett has produced a book in tribute to her influence on this emerging and important field. The book Intellectual Disability and Psychotherapy: The Theories, Practice and Influence of Valerie Sinason, 1st Edition, has just been published by Routledge.

The book is a combined effort of a gifted group of contributors who have worked in the challenging area of disability and found creative ways of communicating and doing therapy. Giving testimony to Valerie’s wide-reaching influence on the field, contributors span the world, including South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Valerie is well-known for acknowledging the huge impact of often undisclosed trauma on those who have a disability and this book is an important contribution to the disability field, as well for trauma workers.
Available from Routledge here.

And from Amazon here (remember to use your Amazon Smiles to raise money for ISSTD!)

EMDR-based Children’s Book Stimulates Interest among Therapists.

ISSTD Member Lowen Clarke has written a book based on EMDR principles. The book entitled Sam the Tram’s Dance Club is a unique children’s book, written using Empowerment Script, created by Lowen. The requires each line in the book to be read in an alternating fashion, with one line being read in one direction and the other line being read in the other direction.

Lowen explains: “Empowerment Script is what I call the forwards/backwards reading script I created in 2003. Empowerment Script is a bilateral stimulant (BLS) in itself. Combined with the color, story and art of Sam the Tram, it seems to do more (than reading a typical book can do). It can be used as a start to a session if a client is distressed, and then EMDR BLS can happen, or it can be used after the EMDR BLS, to ground the client. Observation and measurement of Suds is the key to a practitioner seeing what is going on.”

He adds, “The book is used by adults or children in therapy or is read to children. If a child cannot read, just them following the reader’s finger helps.”

The book has been released in a new edition with bright coloured graphics, assisted by Art Director Adrian Masterman-Smith. Adrian advises on the use of colour in text, which Lowen feels is assisting empowerment script become more effective.

Lowen and Adrian are also in the process of producing an adult book to add to the collection of empowerment script books.

Empowerment Script is new to EMDR circles and has not yet been researched in a formal way. Lowen is hoping to generate interest in it. Lowen and Adrian have teamed up with EMDR therapist, Mary Sutton to present on empowerment script and the book at conferences and are currently working on an academic paper on it.

The book is available direct from the author:
e-book versions are available from Amazon here and iTunes here.

Welcome ISSTD’s New Members in December!

Jennifer Osborne
Svetlana Tikhonova
Daniel Schechter
Karen Cockrill
Michelle Gerbozy
Alisa Huffman
Nancy Thorson
Sherry Winternitz
Claire Harrison-Breed
Stacy Athens
Kylie Svenson
Laura Maher
Kim Kubal
Jennifer Keller
Lesley Rickman

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. (Please be aware: we do not offer book reviews, but a chance to share with others that your book has been published.)
Submission Deadline: 20th of the month
Send to ISSTD Editor, Kate McMaugh:

Board Briefs

Introduction to the 2019 Board of Directors

Christine Forner, BA, BSW, MSW

Hello ISSTD Members,

I would like to take this time to introduce myself and all of our new 2019 Board Members. Before I introduce your new leadership, I would like to send my heartfelt gratitude to the Board Members who have completed their service commitments to the ISSTD.

Dr. Paula Thompson served on the board for 6 years. Paula was dedicated to expanding our language and understanding of dissociation, dissociation within the creative arts and dissociation and attachment. Paula worked diligently on the Professional Training Program. She was also a constant within our annual audit committee. Paula’s heart, which has lived in CA for a long time, but still held onto her deep Canadian roots, will be greatly missed. Thank you Paula.

Dr. Joan Haliburn served on the Board for 3 years. Joan brought with her a passion to educate others, especially students and emerging professionals. Joan was a very steady voice of reason and guidance while she served on the Board. She also was instrumental in putting on our first regional conference on the Island of Tasmania. Thank you Joan for your dedication to the ISSTD and the grander field of dissociation.

Bob Slater has served as our Secretary for over 3 years. Bob’s deep desire to educate the masses was evident in his role as coordinator of the rapid response team and Chair of the Marketing Committee. Bob was a steady presence during the weekly Executive Committee meeting and the monthly Board meetings. Bob was able to help this grand organization be a bit more organized. Thank you Bob for all of your hard work and your giant heart.

Kevin Connors, I would like to thank for his years of dedication to the ISSTD. Kevin put in hundreds of hours helping this organization grow and expand. As he was Chair of the Conference Committee since 2011 he was instrumental in developing and executing our annual conferences. Kevin was also able to step in and assist in 2010/2011 when our beloved colleague and President, Don Fridley, passed. We wish him luck on his new adventures.

Dr. Dana Ross was only able to serve for one year, but within this year she made a great impact. Dana brought with her a calm and wise presence that helped when the Board had some larger decisions to make. Thank you Dana for all that you do within the field of Dissociation and for all of the dedication to the ISSTD that you consistently show. Thank you for your work on the Student and Emerging Professional Committee, the Goodwin Fund Committee and the Marketing Committee.

I would like to now welcome;

Our new president elect, Dr. Christa Kruger, who hails from South Africa. Christa brings with her a very solid set of skills. As Christa has already served 6 years on the Board, she is familiar with the leadership responsibilities of this organization. Christa also brings excellent organization skills, a strong scientific background and a very level mind. I am sure that under her leadership next year the ISSTD will grow, expand and continue to be a leader in the field of complex trauma.

Lisa Danylchuk is our new Secretary. Lisa brings with her a lot of experience such as the UN task force, the Student and Emerging Professional Committee, her leadership on the Volunteer Committee and her experience from being a board member for the last year. I am sure that Lisa will continue to serve the ISSTD with the heart, integrity, humanity and humour that she has brought to all of her other leadership roles within the ISSTD.

Dr. Valerie Sinason will be serving her first term on the ISSTD board. Valerie has shown a lifetime of dedication, passion and wisdom in her work in the UK with individuals experiencing complex trauma, dissociation and extreme cases of abuse. Valerie has been a strong presence in our RAMCOA SIG and we are thrilled that she has joined our leadership family.

Dr. Rosita Cortizo is also joining us this year. Rosita has shown a great deal of leadership potential within her role on the Conference Committee. Rosita was instrumental in organizing an international panel on trauma and dissociation for the NYC annual conference. Rosita is a conscientious person who has a lot of passion for the field of dissociation and for the ISSTD.

Tally Tripp, MFT, ATR-BC, comes to her first term on the board as the co-founder and Chair of the Creative Arts Therapy (CAT) Special Interest Group. Tally has been vital in launching the Create & Connect social event at the Annual Conference, and made it a roaring success in Chicago in 2018. Her international teaching experience and dedication to ISSTD make us thrilled to welcome her to our 2019 Board.

Dr. Lynette Danylchuk, Immediate past president (2.0). With Kevin’s departure we were left with the position of Immediate Past President needing to be filled. With a great deal of Board discussion we approached several of our past president and Lynette very generously stated that she would be happy to volunteer her time for another year. Her exact words were “If ISSTD needs me, I’m there”. This is an example of the spirit of your leadership. Lynette was unanimously voted in to fill this one year term. Welcome back Lynette.

I am Christine, your new President. I have been part of the ISSTD leadership since 2010, and I feel so very grateful to serve as the leader of this amazing organization. Thank you for entrusting me and thank you for the opportunity to move this organization into the next decade. I’m sure the ISSTD will continue to grow and consistently show why we are the oldest and wisest organization that specializes in complex trauma and dissociation.

If and when you have time, please take a moment and introduce yourself to our leadership. The hard work and dedication that our leadership has consistently showed over the last 9 years that I have been on the board, is unwavering.

Thank you all for your hard work and I’m really excited for this up and coming year. I think the future of the ISSTD is very bright.

Donate to ISSTD

Consider a Gift to ISSTD this Holiday Season

The ISSTD exists to better understand those with dissociative disorders and complex trauma and it naturally has an interest in all forms of psychological trauma. It provides guidelines, training, accessible literature, and ongoing professional development for those who work, and do research in our field. Our Society endeavours to make membership of our field career enhancing and as professionally safe as possible. Our office bearers are volunteers and they do many things including writing the Treatment Guidelines for DID, organising regional seminars, writing the ISSTD Newsletter, putting together the components of our Professional Training Program (PTP), and convening great conferences incorporating cutting edge speakers and a vibrant social program.

Our Society’s revenue comes primarily from membership subscriptions, registrations for our conferences and seminars, and enrollments in our PTP and webinars, supplemented here and there by hotel block booking bonuses, exhibitors’ fees etc. We are frugal and very much prioritize spending and potential spending. At the end of the accounting year, we just about break-even, give or take a little. The increasing costs of conference expenses is a financial challenge that we address with care. It is gratifying that overall our membership numbers have been increasing, and that we are able to do things we have not done before. Our retired membership has grown as a considerable number of our valued senior members have continued to provide strong support and involvement to the Society.

To celebrate the 35th Annual Conference, held in Chicago in March of 2018, we endeavored to raise $35,000 by the end of 2018 to honor this achievement. We came close to our goal, but we can still use your help now that the campaign is over to continue to provide excellent resources and training to members and the public.

By donating to ISSTD, you will help the Society continue to grow. Money raised through donations will help with three major projects:

  • Redesign of the ISSTD website, creating a place for both the public and mental health professionals to find valuable resources on complex trauma and dissociation, as well as a virtual environment that can foster closer connections amongst our members
  • Expansion of virtual training opportunities, including more half and full-day webinars and teleseminar-format Professional Training Program Courses.
  • Expand programming for Student and Emerging Professional Members, including the development of a mentorship program for students. We are happy to announce that our membership now boasts 100 Emerging Professionals and 90+ Students, consisting of 10% of our overall membership!

If you approve of what your Society has been trying to do to advance our field and to provide a safe and supportive professional home for colleagues who work with those who are the victims of severe long term trauma, and if your circumstances permit, any donation for any amount that you make to the ISSTD will, we assure you, contribute to making a positive difference.

With very best wishes this holiday season to our members in the 35 countries currently represented within the ISSTD.

D. Michael Coy, ISSTD Treasurer

Thank you to our 2018 Donors!

Linda Alexander
Su Baker
Kathy Barclay
Wendy Bauman
Torrie Benson-Pryor
Karen Binder-Brynes
Bethany Bjur
Monica Blum
Elizabeth Bowman
Sandra Buck
Thomas Carlton
Richard Chefetz
Therese Clemens
Juliana Cocola
Mandy Coghill
Adrian Connolly
Kevin Connors
Frank Corrigan
Christine Courtois
D Michael Coy
Jessica Culp
Lisa Danylchuk
Lynette Danylchuk
Paul Darnell
Charme Davidson
Garrett Deckel
Martha Dennen
Martin Dorahy
Kathryn Downing
Marcia Dunn
Nancy Ellis
Janina Fisher
Brad Foote
Christine Forner
Julie Friedman
Linda Gantt
Ursula Gast
Paul Gibson
Katherine Glenn
Richard Greenfield
Edward Groenendal
Joan Haliburn
Heather Hall
Mary Pat Hanlin
Hollie Hannan
Kirsten Harrison-Jack
Stephanie Hawotte
Brenda Hayes
Richard Hohfeler
Elizabeth Howell
Shelley Hua
Susan Hykes
Eileen Isaacson
Jacqueline Kabak
Fredlee Kaplan
Terry Kerler
Phyllis Klein
Marilyn Korzekwa
Deirdre Kramer
Andreas Laddis
Ulrich Lanius
Wendy Lemke
Richard Loewenstein
JoAnn Majesky
Peter Maves
Regina McCaffery
Kate McMaugh
Warwick Middleton
Janet Migdow
Rosalind Monahan
Elisa Monti
Amy Mozolik
Robert Muller
Laura Mullis
Lorna Myers
Randall O’Brien
Caroline Onischak
Erdinc Ozturk
Andrew Pari
Jane Parker
Joan Pollak
Julie Prince Dagenais
Valerie Pronovost
Sheree Riley-Violon
Maggie Robbins
Deborah Rubin
Dana Ross
Adah Sachs
Michael Salter
Heidi Sammons
Vedat Sar
Satyendra Satyanarayana
Ruth Schofield
Ericha Scott
Linda Skillingstad
Robert Slater
Genine Smith
Marilee Snyder
Sylvia Solinski
Eli Somer
Kirsten Stach
Paula Thomson
Grace Tomas-Tolentino
Joan Turkus
Onno van der Hart
Frances Waters
Marcia Weiner
Victor Welzant
Willa Wertheimer
Frank White
Mary Wiley
Janet Wilson
Roxanna Wolfe
Jonathan Wolf-Phillips
Sally Wood
​Eva Young

Clinical E-Journal

Editorial Assistant Needed – Frontiers Clinical E-Journal

ISSTD’s clinical E-Journal, Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation, is looking for an editorial assistant! This is a great opportunity for all members, including students or emerging professionals to get involved with ISSTD and receive discounted and free trainings with ISSTD! This person will provide support to the Frontiers Editor Andreas Laddis and the ISSTD staff as we continue to grow the e-journal. Job description and requirements are below.

Job Description: Under the direction of the Frontiers Editor and ISSTD staff, the editorial assistant will:

  • Troubleshoot and answer all questions regarding the online submission process with prospective authors.
  • Check each new manuscript submitted through the online portal to ensure that all required forms and information have been submitted and that it adheres to required format (APA style).
  • Maintain a record of the progress of all manuscripts submitted through the online portal and helps to establish deadlines for all steps in the review, copyediting, typesetting, and publication process.
  • Support the reviewers assigned for each manuscript and the guest editors for special issues.
  • Correspond with the Editor about choice of reviewers and mediate the exchange between reviewers and authors until the Editor makes a determination. Notifies reviewers for each manuscript about the Editor’s determination and thanks them.
  • Oversee the process for accepted manuscripts through to publication, including serving as the point of contact with the Editor, Copyeditor, Typesetter, ISSTD staff and authors.
  • Work with staff to establish, maintain, and carry out transactions with databases.
  • Ensure editorial information for articles and website is up to date at all times.
  • Collaborate with Editor to ensure timely submission of Annual Report for Frontiers
  • Attend quarterly zoom (video call) meetings with ISSTD staff and Editor.

Other related duties may be assigned as needed.

Knowledge and Skill Requirement:
The individual serving in this role will be a professional (or student professional) familiar with mental health care who has experience in publication, marketing, and administration. The administrator should also have:

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, including strong email responsiveness
  • Ability and willingness to learn online communication platforms including CadmiumCD, Higher Logic, Google Docs, and others as needed.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks
  • Organizational skills

Compensation and Term of Service
This position will be for a term of one calendar year with annual review and possible renewal for subsequent years.
ISSTD will provide:

  • A stipend of $1200 paid in two installments of $600 in June and December.
  • Complimentary membership
  • Complimentary registration at any ISSTD conference, Professional Training Program course, or webinar.

To apply, please submit a copy of your CV and a 1000 word or less description of why you are interested in and qualified for the position. All applications must be received by January 31, 2019. Final candidates will be notified in early February and be required to participate in a video conference interview. We anticipate the applicant to begin in this position in mid February 2019. Please send all applications and questions to

Spreading the Word

The Trauma and Mental Health Report

Shelley Hua

Welcome back. This month I’m delighted to interview Dr. Robert T. Muller, PhD.

Dr. Muller trained at Harvard, was on faculty at the University of Massachusetts, and is currently at York University in Toronto. He is a Fellow of the ISSTD for his work on trauma treatment, and his bestseller, Trauma & the Avoidant Client won the 2011 ISSTD award for the year’s best written work on trauma. It has been translated widely.

He has a new book – Trauma & the Struggle to Open Up – which we’ll get into in the interview and is available on Amazon.

Dr. Muller has lectured internationally and has been keynote speaker at mental health conferences in New Zealand and Canada. He founded an online magazine, The Trauma & Mental Health Report, which we’ll also talk about. The Trauma & Mental Health Report is now visited by over 100,000 readers a year – an impressive number for a niche topic! With over 25 years in the field, he practices in Toronto.

Shelley: The first thing I noticed about The Trauma & Mental Health Report is that it’s so dynamic. It’s not only about news and information but just as readily engages with the arts and culture, creative works and perspectives.

Dr. Muller: Yes, I’m glad you mention it because I’m trying to engage with different audiences. I’m trying to have a wide appeal to diverse audience groups. Not only therapists and researchers, but younger audiences and the general public as well. For example, high school students, college students. The content is often written by my doctoral students, where the writing can be well-informed and educated, but still connect to the general audience. It’s written in plain English and can be read and understood by anyone.

Shelley: That’s awesome. What does spreading the word mean to you? How do you see that connecting to your work?

Dr. Muller: To me, ‘spreading the word’ is about knowledge dissemination. That is, bringing an accurate understanding of trauma to a broader audience. Trauma is both so important and so widely misunderstood. I’ve tried to do this in both my writing and in my online work. In my new book, Trauma & the Struggle to Open Up, I try to speak to both therapists and clients. I make the writing understandable to both, while still being useful to the therapist. In my writing, it means “walking a tightrope,” so to speak.

Shelley: Can you elaborate on what walking on the tightrope involves?

Dr. Muller: Well, my parents were immigrants, my father was an upholsterer, they weren’t in the field of mental health at all. So, I imagine them sitting in the audience. I imagine people with broad life experiences sitting there, and I ask myself: Am I able to connect with them in my writing? Would they understand it? These are issues I grapple with.

Shelley: I love that. That’s such a human way to connect with your writing too. Do you feel that there is a theme you come back to, that you think particularly needs spreading?

Dr. Muller: Absolutely, yes. In my book I really focused on the therapy relationship. That’s a theme that really needs spreading. I think we have done a really good job in the field of helping people understand that you don’t just go in there with a therapist and ‘blaah’ spill your guts, and then everything’s going to be okay! We’re making progress in making it clear that strategies to stabilise and build a sense of personal safety prior to opening up excessively in trauma therapy is very important.

Unless you engage in self-regulatory strategies, it’s going to be extremely difficult to do trauma work. I think we’re doing better in teaching that. And also, we’re doing better in making it clear that trauma memory is fragmented. I think people are learning that trauma memory doesn’t work the same way as everyday memory. Trauma memory can be both hyper-focused on little details and large patches of memory will be absent, and it’s highly inconsistent. I think we’re doing better as a field in communicating that idea.

What we’ve not done so well is teaching that in trauma work, people get better when the therapy relationship is navigated well. And this is true regardless of therapy modality. If you don’t have a good psychotherapy relationship, if you don’t build safety in the relationship and if you don’t navigate the ups and downs of the relationship with a certain degree of finesse, you’ll lose the client and the client will find themselves in another situation where they have yet another unsatisfying therapy experience.

So that’s why I wrote the book, to really dig down and focus on the nuances of the psychotherapy relationship in trauma treatment. Yes, I focus on transference and countertransference, but also what are the enactments that happen, what are the ruptures and how do we repair those ruptures and see those moments of repair as an opportunity for change. And how does that become a corrective emotional experience in its own right. That’s what I really focus on.

And there isn’t a lot out there focusing on this issue. There are books on transference and countertransference that talk about patterns, but do they walk you through the nuance of what happens in the therapy relationship? Not so much. In my writing, I use many case examples. I also use a story-telling approach to go through what happens in the therapy relationship, how the story reflects the crisis that occurred in the relationship, and how that crisis was resolved. That’s how I focused the writing. I don’t think we’ve done that as a field.

I think we can get better at teaching about common factors – there are a lot of silos. For instance, this person does CBT, this person does EMDR, this person does attachment – that’s fine, but there are a lot of common factors. Psychiatrist David Scharff says “good therapists are more alike than different,” and I think the common factors are important especially in trauma therapy. So much of what we do isn’t so focused on those technique-y pieces, but are in the process of sitting with, engaging with the person, validating, dealing with the sense of threat the person might feel both when they feel you validate or invalidate them and when they start to feel dependent on the relationship. If you’re empathic with them they may feel threatened even by that. We haven’t done well at drilling down into the common factors in trauma therapy.

Shelley: Do you see this kind of conversation in your teachings, and in talking with others?

Dr Muller: Yes. I lead a workshop ‘The relationship is your most powerful tool and biggest pitfall.’ It focuses on relational strategies in treating trauma clients. I’m certainly not the only one who does this. David Wallin does this and is fabulous. I think a lot of folks who are in the area of attachment do look at this, and of course I have an attachment focus in my own work.

Shelley: Thank you for participating in this month’s Spreading the Word.
For more information check out the Trauma & Mental Health Report. Dr Muller also has an Amazon page profiling his work.

Spreading the word into the future

I’m sad to say this is my final article as coordinator of Spreading the word. I’m honoured to have met so many great people and I’m pleased to wrap up the year. Thank you to Kate McMaugh for all of her support and encouragement. Spreading the word will soldier on into the future, just as soon as we get a new volunteer to coordinate/edit the feature! As for me – I won’t be far and I’ll always be spreading the word.

If you feel you’re spreading the word about trauma and dissociation, out into the wider community, then we still want to hear from you! Tell us about your work by contacting ISSTD News Editor Kate on:

If you are interested in meeting specialists in the area of trauma and dissociation, from all around the world, and talking to them about their work, then consider coordinating Spreading the Word. Contact Kate at the address above if you are interested.

Trauma & Dissociation in the News

And more on the Wildfires

Kate McMaugh, ISSTD News Editor

Just as we reflect on how the Wildfires have come so close to some ISSTD members, and effected the very therapists who are usually there to support others in their trauma, some feel-good news surfaces.

ISSTD Member Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW was contacted by a childhood friend, who is a Social Worker in California, who wanted to know if she could get some copies of Sue’s book: The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out (Quest, 2012). Susan sent two boxes of 26 books down, one to her Social Worker friend and another to the National Association of Social Workers regional office in Chico, CA near the Paradise fire. She also asked her publisher, Quest Books if they could send an additional 100 copies because there were so many requests. Fortunately Quest Books agreed to do so!

Susan has also managed to send free PDFs and Audible copies of The Trauma Tool Kit to any clinicians from the fire areas who are asking, and she will continue to do so for as long as is needed.

In addition, on December 7, Susan was able to visit Chico for a day long trauma training for about 100 social workers dealing with the fires. Susan gave a presentation based on her book which included: trauma informed care, the stages of healing from trauma, working with people in the earliest stages of trauma shock and dissociation, the uses of energy techniques such as grounding and clearing in crisis work, self-care for the social worker who is both personally in crisis and helper, and mindfulness techniques among others. She offered a Reiki healing meditation to the group that was described as nurturing and helpful.

Susan reported that this was an incredible experience, stating that, in a room full of Social Workers, “about 40 percent had been personally affected by the fires, as well as professionally affected. Yet they were so committed and attentive. It was really moving!”

Trauma & Dissociation in the News

Fire is the Greatest Purifier: A Therapist Reflects on Surviving the California Wildfires

Ericha Scott, PhD

One block from Ericha’s home as she evacuated

I have wondered, before now, if the dystopian stories embedded in our lives and creative culture prepared us or numbed us for disaster. Now, I can say, they do not do either.

The day before the fire, I noticed and commented on an odd vacuous energy in the air – as if the oxygen had been removed. My colleague noticed it as well. We both knew about the fires in Thousand Oaks, but neither of us imagined the fires were coming our way with a wall of flames – sometimes 100 feet high – in less than 24 hours. There is a whole mountain range in between us.

Fire is the greatest purifier. The fear of fire acts as an accelerant for the psyche, touching the deepest recesses of the primal mind.

In the end I had less than two hours to pack and load my car. For some reason, I had not received any disaster alert notifications, neither did my housemate. My city of Malibu text notice did not arrive until I was already on the highway. The firestorm arrived just a few hours after that. The thick wall of toxic smoke arrived before I left.

Early Friday morning, I heard loud pounding on my bedroom door, “Wake up, mandatory evacuation. NOW!”

My first thought was one of denial, the logic did not make sense. I was not alone in this, it seemed that even the local and experienced firemen were surprised.

It took me a few minutes to wake up fully, watch a bit of news, digest the information, and move into action.

The View from Ericha’s Driveway – car packed and ready to leave

Lara and her husband Michael live on the property and help take care of it. Lara shouted down to me from the floor above and said, “Ericha you need to hurry and get in your car; I can see that the fire just crested the ridge”. I said, “Lara, you need to do the same, you’re a mother with two little girls!” Later, Lara reminded me of my words as she recounted her escape from the fires, after the smoke was so black she could no longer see.

I tried to pack as if I might lose everything, with attention to my most immediate needs. My housemate, who had been through more evacuations than I said, “You do not need to pack much, we’ll be back in two days”. Intuitively, I knew this was not accurate. Ultimately, it was twelve days or more before I returned home.

Therefore, I packed all of my vitamins and supplements, food from my refrigerator to share, comfort clothes such as my favorite sweats, a few books, my computer and powerpoint lectures duplicated on thumb droves, plus lecture outfits for presentations scheduled for the near future. I threw in a few of my recent paintings that have no monetary value whatsoever. I forgot to include items that I could have sold to get back on my feet in case I lost everything. This was one of my biggest concerns during the evacuation.


Saturday was the most difficult day. On Saturday I thought I had lost everything, my home and my office. Both my home and my office were located in the firestorm corridor as it blew into Malibu. Saturday, I thought erroneously that the newscasters and film crew were on my street, listening to their commentary and with one look at their videos, I assumed that all I owned was ash and cinder. I also heard incorrect rumors that my office building burned to the ground.

The thought that you have lost everything, even if only for one minute, clarifies what you value. Of course, always people and loved ones are first, after that, survivorship. The two items that I knew I needed in order to rebuild my life included my computer and my powerpoint lectures. My fear of survival showed up in a rather amusing way, I took my computer everywhere and did not leave it out of my sight for 12 days. I joked at one dinner gathering with colleagues, “If I could handcuff it to my wrist I would”. Fortunately, they were very tolerant of my trauma related idiosyncrasies.

I found that I could not pray, at least not in a traditional manner.

I have built almost everything I have from nothing. At age thirty, I quietly left a relationship that frightened me. Without much evidence at all, but trusting my intuition, I walked out of a relationship with a weekend’s worth of clothes. I started over in another city, in another state, with four hundred dollars and my bank accounts suddenly empty.

In hindsight, I made the right decision but at the time I felt as if I was flying blind. I now know that I saved my life.

After the Fire

The scars of 34 years ago, scars that have been largely but not completely healed, seemed to rise up with the flames and remind me of how difficult it can be to have absolutely nothing.

My prayer was more of a conversation, “God, I cannot do this twice in one lifetime.” Six hundred homes were destroyed in Malibu, a very small town, and many of those homes were close to my office and residence.

Too many of my friends and neighbors have lost everything. Many of them are not wealthy, instead, like most of us, they live paycheck to paycheck. Local artist and actor Leigh McCloskey said it so well, “We may not be friends, but we are neighbors,” after some neighbors (with polarized politics) surprised him with heartfelt gifts and support.

Twelve days later was my first visit back to Malibu since the fires. A colleague graciously offered to join me for the first visit back. When I entered my office, I made a mandala (circles of healing and community) in the sand tray. My colleague held up her phone for light, while I worked arranging stones and shells.

Sandtray Mandala by Ericha

It was my visual prayer of gratitude. Against all odds, my house and my office survived. I am used to seeing miracles in the eyes of my clients, but this one was beyond my expectation. I have not often thought of myself as lucky or blessed.

As I was making the tray, my colleague exclaimed, “Ericha, the lights came on!”. For twelve days the power had been turned off, and it was turned back on Tuesday night around 7PM, as I was rejoicing in gratitude.

There is much to do. So much of my life and the lives of others have been disrupted. The cell phone service, texts and emails have been interrupted and delayed, clients cannot make it to sessions due to mudslide risks or understandable and new financial concerns. The main post office burned and has been shut down so I don’t have access to most of my mail. My home, and especially my office, still smell like smoke and may hold that lingering reminder for a very long time. Cleaning up ash, while also preparing for a second evacuation for mudslides, is an odd paradox. I am claiming all paradoxes as much as humanly possible.

I have been gifted a week long intensive with a talented therapist to process these weeks of trauma and stress in order to help prepare me to help others.

Today, my greatest joy is a plan to offer a free art therapy workshop for fire survivors, with two of my colleagues. For now, we plan a mosaic workshop, with found items burned in the fire. It is exactly that isn’t it? If you think about it, we are taking the charred pieces of our lives and fitting them back together in a mosaic, not the same as before, but into another whole.

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