Letter From The President

Growth and Integration in ISSTD: A Society on the Move

Martin Dorahy, PhD

Dear ISSTD Colleagues,

The Board of the ISSTD continues to work with members of the Society to solidify the strategic and functional elements of the ISSTD to provide different learning opportunities for members and a strong foundation for our ongoing growth. Most recently, our educational offerings have included a regional conference in Alaska, for which Kimber Olson and her hard-working organizational team deserve much thanks, and a webinar featuring past ISSTD president Richard Chefetz, who is one of the ‘giants’ in the field of trauma and dissociation. Joan Haliburn, a very dedicated Director on the Board of ISSTD and who has just published a new book on short-term dynamic therapy, will present the next webinar on July 14th (Register Today!) and regional conferences in Denver (Register Today!) and Syracuse will follow in September. These opportunities represent a means for members and non-members of ISSTD to come together in cyberspace and physical space, and learn from the presenters and each other.

Shortly, our new clinical e-journal, Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma and Dissociation, will be available. The finishing touches are now being put on the first edition and its editors, Andreas Laddis and Steve Frankel, are working to get everything in place as all the systems which underpin the e-journal are established and tested, including the submission, review and publication platform.

Two other exciting advances are currently occurring within ISSTD. The ISSTD News, which has been the main conduit for members to keep abreast of activities within the Society and which moved to a blog-style format at the beginning of this year, is about to get a new editor. The position has been vacant for some time and Sydney-based psychologist, Kate McMaugh will take up this crucial leadership role. She brings with her a wealth of experience clinically, working with complex trauma and dissociative disorders, as well as editing experience. She has several innovative ideas that will be unveiled in the coming months, and she and Mary Pat from headquarters have been discussing other features that could be introduced into the newsletter. Pam Stavropoulos will remain the editor of the newsletter’s ‘Members Clinical Corner’ section. I welcome Kate to her new role within ISSTD.

Since its creation as a special interest group, the Ritual Abuse and Mind Control (RAMC) SIG has had an active electronic discussion group operated from an independent server owned by Maureen O’Brien. At the time of the SIG’s initiation members felt this server would offer the most secure platform to share information on RAMC issues, their clinical work and the latest advances in this area. Myron Walters has been the listserv administrator. Both Maureen and Myron have provided an important service to the ISSTD and the SIG, and I thank them.

One of the challenges of having a SIG whose listserv is independent of the organisation to which the SIG belongs is that members can feel disconnected from the ‘mothership’, and those ISSTD members outside the SIG are less able to hear and access information about the SIG. Our efforts in working with people with DID are to facilitate as much integration as possible, ideally full integration. Dissociative identities came about for a reason and when that reason is no longer present moves towards connection can be facilitated with greater energy. The ISSTD now has a communication platform called Basecamp that is secure, and committees and task forces have been using it for some time now. Like moves towards complete integration in DID, moves towards integration of a SIG with ISSTD also take time. Lynette Danylchuk in her presidential year (2015) started this process, Warwick Middleton moved it further forward last year during his presidency and this year the SIG executive and the ISSTD Board of Directors are to take the final step, with the SIG listserv beginning to operate on the Basecamp platform. This will represent the SIG’s full integration into the ISSTD, and it is a welcomed transition. I recognize not only the work of Lynette and Warwick in bringing this about, but also successive RAMC SIG executives, and especially Alison Miller, Eileen Aveni and Willa Wertheimer, who are current executive members and have been heavily involved in this process.

Excitingly, the move to the Basecamp server will also bring with it an extension in the SIG’s name to capture the centrality of organized abuse associated with RAMC dynamics. The SIG will be called the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organized Abuse (RAMCOA) SIG. Thus, the SIG will provide a space for discussing the clinical challenges of organized abuse in its many guises. A full-day RAMCOA webinar series will take place on Friday, October 6th. This will be ISSTD first full-day webinar and will include as speakers, Alison Miller, Lynette Danylchuk, Valerie Sinason, Eileen Aveni and Michael Salter. Registration for this webinar will open shortly.

We should all take the opportunity to celebrate growth, it is typically hard-fought, and an achievement. The growth of the ISSTD is no different and relies on the hard work of many volunteers. In addition, the activities and growth of ISSTD continue to be underpinned by our very hard working and dedicated staff of Therese Clemens, Mary Pat Hanlin, and Diamond Heeralall.

Happy summer to those in the Northern Hemisphere, and to my colleagues below the equator, keep warm.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Dorahy, PhD
ISSTD President
Christchurch, New Zealand

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