Martin Dorahy, PhD
A key action point on the ISSTD’s current strategic plan is collaboration with other organizations that have similar interests, goals and agendas as us, or who complement the work we do. This allows ISSTD to share its expertise with other Societies, gain from what other Societies can teach us, and it increases our visibility internationally. The impact of chronic relational trauma is well known to members of ISSTD but has not fully pervaded mental health systems around the world. Where we might primarily see trauma and dissociation, others may see psychosis or characterological difficulties, biologically-derived suffering, genetically-based psychopathology or disorders that are unrelated to childhood maltreatment or victimization. The growing presence in mental health systems of structural frameworks like trauma-informed care are allowing a greater appreciation of the impact of trauma amongst professionals. But despite the widespread prevalence of child abuse and the relational dynamics that lead to complicated adaptations to trauma, the complex trauma and dissociation fields are relatively small in terms of their influence on mental health provision at local and global levels. Funding opportunities for research on chronic relational trauma and dissociative disorders are scant, and the clinical services that are available are often not well supported, not particularly specialized and often under-resourced. These challenges are not unique to the complex trauma and dissociation fields, but have a profound impact on the growth of well-grounded scientific knowledge, adequate and effective treatment, and widely available relevant education. Having meaningful, cooperative and trusting relationships with organizations whose members treat and study dissociative disorders becomes increasingly important, so we can work together to improve the reach and understanding of these disorders, and provide connected communities of support and resource for members of each group.
The ISSTD has at different times worked with organisations such as IVAT, ASCH, EMDR Australia, and Division 56, amongst many others, and several of these working connections remain in place and are solid. The ISSTD has had a long working relationship with the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD), and this relationship has been coalescing further and more formally in recent times. Andrew Moskowitz (President of the ESTD) and myself have now instigated a quarterly meeting, and are currently working to formalise the verbal understanding that both organisations have had regarding the president (or president’s representative) presenting at the conference of the other. To this end, Andrew and Dolores Mosquera will present a workshop at our conference in March, and this presentation will be part of the group of presentations that will be live streamed. So if you can’t make it to the annual conference please join us for the day via the live stream option. You will find more information here.
In line with the adage ‘great minds think alike’, the ESTD and the ISSTD have been independently working towards the publication of E-Journals to promote and support research and clinical work on trauma and dissociation. Fortuitously the launch of both these new and important outlets for cutting-edge information on trauma and dissociation will be over the next couple of months. The ISSTD E-Journal is called ‘Frontier in the Psychotherapy of Trauma and Dissociation’, while the ESTD E-Journal is called ‘The European Journal of Trauma and Dissociation’. You can find information on the ISSTD E-Journal, which will be a member benefit and will exclusively focus on clinical and therapeutic issues, here. The ESTD E-Journal will cover both clinical and empirical domains and will be published in English and French. More information can be obtained here. The ESTD editorial Board invites the submissions of papers to the ESTD’s new E-journal, and the ISSTD supports this endeavour enthusiastically, believing both the European E-Journal and our own E-Journal will provide crucial and contemporary information to support clinicians, researchers and ultimately those seeking treatment for complex trauma and dissociative disorders.
The ISSTD and ESTD have also been engaged in a joint collaboration to develop six papers designed to increase the mainstreaming of dissociation and the dissociative disorders. A full outline of this work and progress to date is provide here.
We in the complex trauma/dissociative disorders field are small fish in a big pond and we can grow in size and influence if we work together. In the parable of the long spoon, the same bowl of food that tormented the starving, fed the well-nourished because they learned how to overcome the limitation of their utensil to share and grow from each other. The ISSTD and ESTD are working to feed each other and grow together.
Martin Dorahy, PhD
Christchurch, New Zealand