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

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