Spreading the Word

The Trauma Therapist Project

Shelley Hua

Hello and welcome to this brand new section of ISSTD News. Here we hope to showcase the best of our members in ‘spreading the word’ about our mission to alleviate the impact of trauma and dissociation, and in bringing this important work to the fore.

Putting my hand up for the recent call-out for a ‘spreading the word’ coordinator, I knew there’s excellence and wisdom within this organisation of ours that deserves visibility. Clicking through to the 35 for 35th campaign in my inbox, my mind wandered to the rich legacy that stands behind us and the wide vista that stands before us.

My mind also wandered to Guy Macpherson from The Trauma Therapist Project, which I’d been lucky enough to know as a student in a career transition. So I had to talk with him.

Guy Macpherson has a doctorate in clinical psychology. In 2014, he founded The Trauma Therapist Project to raise awareness of trauma and to create an educational supportive community for new trauma workers.

For the past 5 years he had been working under a licensed clinician, assessing and treating young people with early signs of psychosis. Now Guy has dedicated himself to The Trauma Therapist Project full time.

“Time and time again trauma was coming up in my clinical work,” he told me “It was inevitable. And yet it wasn’t really talked about and it’s a bit of a hidden topic. Despite it being pervasive, such as being the heart of addiction and things like that, it remains a difficult topic.” He felt that there weren’t the skills and experience to deal with it. “I wished there was a Master Therapist in my ear imparting wisdom.”

And that was what he created in The Trauma Therapist Project. Of particular importance to ISSTD members, it’s one of the few places that acknowledges and understands the links between complex trauma and dissociative disorders.

Guy told me that he was inspired by podcasts for entrepreneurship to bring together a community that’s open to hearing and talking about complex trauma and dissociation – “Something needs to be done, I need to start something.” He certainly took that entrepreneurial spirit in putting these important topics in the centre of the conversation, and creating a suite of resources around that.

The most enduring feature of The Trauma Therapist Project in my mind was an atmosphere of openness and sharing – it’s a platform that defines itself not only through its connection to the field but also its connection to the shared struggle, support, love and community that is the fabric amongst us all.

The website describes itself as “a membership community where new trauma therapists gain confidence, get inspired and learn”. But don’t let that fool you – it’s also opened wide arms for associated artists, experienced therapists, advocates and survivors.

“It is so energising and refuelling to listen to others who have been doing the healing work much longer than I,” says Dr. Leah J. Herman, PsyD. “The podcast became the home of many mentors for me and the Facebook community is a great place to connect with others to share ideas and quandaries.”

Leah recently participated in Guy’s online course, Inner Work for the New Trauma Therapist, and comments “it was an opportunity to reflect on aspects of myself that are developing. I love the work that Guy is doing!”

Soon-to-be graduate Jessica Culp agrees, “The podcast truly made me feel like I had good friends in the car on my commutes to school. Listening to the Trauma Therapist project in the Fall of 2015 was a huge deal to me as I entered my graduate studies for counselling. I was entering into a second career after leaving non profit marketing and the experts were awakening me to how I had provided ‘counsel’ as a friend and mentor and some of the boundary mistakes they had made had also been familiar in my past relationships. I also learned that there was a good possibility that my own traumas in life had drawn me to the work.”

It’s welcoming and diverse, much like the community that is already out there, that you are already a part of. It’s a place where the depth of our members’ experiences in other fields, other communities and other parts of their lives can come together to lend itself to the conversation.

Experienced ISSTD Members and Fellows, including Kathy Steele, Ed Tick and Lynette Danylchuk (to name just a few) have lent their time and wisdom to the community through its podcast and educational material.

Well worth listening to are the following podcasts from a few ISSTD Members and Fellows:

Check it out. The podcast is free. You can also find it on Apple’s Podcast app.

Or, if it tickles your fancy and you have some words to share, you can get in touch and request a podcast.

Asked if he had any final words for our readers, Guy says “I feel it’s about being proactive and doing, at least something, one thing!” And to staying connected? “Meet regularly with colleagues, get into a consultation group, and if you’re out of school, find someone, perhaps a mentor, or supervisor, to check in with regularly. Trauma Therapist | 2.0 is also a good option!”

Do you have something to share?
It’s my job to showcase what you do. Do you reach out and spread the word about trauma and dissociation? Do you know of someone who is raising the profile of these issues? Please get in touch and let us know.

Enquire if you aren’t sure whether something is a good fit: rest assured that we welcome whatever champions our common cause. You do what you do best, and I hope you’ll allow me to tap into that and champion you.

Tell me more or nominate an unsuspecting colleague: shua@myune.edu.au

Until next time: adios, do good, fly high.

Committee Spotlight

Finance Committee

D. Michael Coy, MA, LICSW, Chair, Finance Committee

Greetings from ISSTD’s Finance Committee! What a year it’s been thus far—and it’s only August. Thankfully, mid-year is a relatively quiet time of the year for finance in ISSTD, and so maybe the best time to offer an update on goings on.

Looking backward to the start of 2018, there were big changes afoot: long-time Treasurer Christine Forner shifted into the role of President-Elect, leaving an open spot for a new Treasurer. Having already been a Board and Finance Committee member during 2017, I was approached with the prospect of taking on a larger role. I was excited by the chance to both continue Christine’s steady, thoughtful guidance as Treasurer over the past eight years, and to explore what may lay ahead for us.

Since January, we’ve seen notable, overall growth in revenue, exceeding what our budget forecast suggested was possible, based on the past few years’ numbers. This is a good thing, indeed, because it means that we, as an organization, are providing training and related resources of great value both to members and non-member professionals alike.

Over the past number of years, sound fiscal management has been a heightened priority within ISSTD, and the Finance Committee has worked hard to support and encourage both cost containment strategies and prudent, strategic spending.

As such, ISSTD as an organization is contributing a set amount to savings on a monthly basis, in perpetuity. An equal amount is deposited monthly to nurture the Education & Research Fund (formerly the Development Fund).

Of course, as the old adage goes, ‘You have to spend money to make money’. Certainly, we’re a not-for-profit organization. However, continued revenue growth means improved benefits for all of us as members, and the capacity to reach out to more non-members with training and resources hewing to the high standards that ISSTD has become known for in the field of complex trauma and dissociation.

So, here’s a snapshot of the goings-on thus far in 2018:

1. The Finance Committee approved funds to be invested in overhauling ISSTD’s website—a long overdue (and, alas, costly) process. The new website is on its way to going live in early 2019, in time for next year’s annual conference. It’ll be a lot more user-friendly, and my gosh are we excited about this.

2. The committee also approved for the use of funds to adopt a platform called Higher Logic, which more smoothly integrates membership management with the new website. Among other things, this creates more dynamic opportunities for members to connect with one another, as well as for our members to be found by those seeking support in their healing journey via a much-improved and greatly expanded Find A Therapist directory.

Where are the funds for these two initiatives coming from? In part, YOU! Read through to the end of this update to find out more about how to invest in your future as an ISSTD member. For now, though, back to goings-on…

3. Strategic Plan goals relevant to the Finance Committee were given a freshening up—in particular, the committee got quite a bit more to do, in an explicit way. (Really, truly, there was little new under the sun; it was simply put in writing…with deadlines!)

4. Members of the Finance Committee (in collaboration with the Executive Director and the Board) are tightening up the Finance Committee policies and procedures to streamline Committee responsibilities and workflow, as well as clarify how the Committee interacts with the Board and other committees.

5. In addition we are also in the earliest stages of revitalizing the Fundraising Committee, which includes exploring possible volunteers for the positions of chair and committee members; and implementing a small fundraising effort in collaboration with another, yet-to-be-determined committee by the close of 2019.

6. The Finance Committee continues to monitor the progress of the “35 for the 35th” fundraising campaign. This is our primary vehicle for offsetting the costs of overhauling the website and adopting Higher Logic, both of which are–dare I say it?–HUGE value-added improvements for all of us. We still have a way to go to meet our goal of 35,000 USD by the close of 2018, so if you haven’t already contributed as a one-time or monthly donor, please seriously consider doing so. Think of it as an investment in yourself—and, of course, your prospective future clients. (Mind you, I speak of this not as some sort of shameless huckster; I’m a clinical social worker, myself. I figure that, if my access to resources increases/improves, my clients will ultimately benefit, so I’ve chosen to donate on a monthly basis.)

In all, this has been quite a year for finance within ISSTD. The Finance Committee continues to thoughtfully guide the organization, all the while beginning to bring the best of ISSTD’s past into the present, and explore the ‘what ifs’ that the future might hold for us with further growth.

If you’ve found yourself reading this and wanting to take a more active role in being a part of ISSTD’s financial future, then please feel free to contact me either directly at dmcoy@dmcoy.com or via ISSTD headquarters at info@isst-d.org, and they’ll pass word along to me. I’d be happy to chat with you about the possibilities.

If you would like to make a donation click here.

Special Interest Groups

Working with TAY (Transitional Aged Youth) aka Emerging Adults

Catherine Keech, LMFT

After a recent promotional article in ISSTD News, I am really excited to announce that ISSTD is in the process of launching a Special Interest Group for members conducting therapy, research or training around the subject of Transitional Aged Youth (TAY). It is also a group that promotes discussion for those curious to learn more about this population and their specific needs.

The term TAY may not be familiar to all members. Similar groupings have been referred to as Emerging Adult Populations or Young Adult Populations, and the designated age range can run from as young as 14 to as old as 29. But the most commonly-used age range is from 18 to 25, which defines the group in a way I personally find most useful: by 18 individuals no longer qualify for teenage or adolescent mental health services, and research indicates that by age 25 most of the significant parts of the brain have finished growing and developing.

I began specializing in TAY when I was assistant program director at a residential clinic which focused on social rehabilitation for persons with severe mental health diagnoses. A shift in county funding necessitated our transition to working exclusively with TAY, making us the first such facility in the country focused exclusively on TAY. Although I had little clinical experience in this area, we were tasked with establishing programs tailored to the specific needs of this population. As might be guessed, I learned a great deal very quickly, and spent the next four years developing and refining our programs.

I currently supervise Stars Behavioral Health Group’s TAY mental health program in Alameda County, California. Stars is a statewide agency, and among the first anywhere to develop programs tailored specifically for TAY. They continue to do groundbreaking work and I’m proud to be a part of this organization.

I suppose I could say that the TAY age range charmed me and I ultimately decided to make them my focus. Or I could say that I easily remembered my own chaos when I was at that age. It’s easier for me to remember what it was like, so it’s easier for me to connect and to relate.

I was surprised to encounter bias against TAY among some clinicians and agencies. TAY clients were sometimes looked at with suspicion, as the usual issues around youth and varying levels of development and maturity were compounded by mental health issues. TAY clients were often labeled as impulsive, unstable, self-centered, chronic substance abusers and sometimes even dangerous. And while there was certainly some truth to this, my experience had taught me that those same labels could as easily be applied to any number of clinical populations. For me, the more critical distinction about TAY is that they are often highly curious, resourceful, funny, inspiring and capable of rapid change (both good and bad).

Experimentation and boundary-testing are a part of normal development for any young person, and a lack of experience may leave them less able to self-advocate when dealing with elders. Among those with mental health diagnoses, co-morbid mental health and drug addiction can be present or emerging during this time. Because of the rapid development of areas of the brain dealing with impulsivity and executive functioning, complex PTSD, psychosis and dissociative issues that may not have been apparent before can come blazing to the foreground.

Those with complex trauma histories, those experiencing issues with voice hearing, and those who begin a pattern of repeated hospitalizations face a greater risk of misdiagnosis because of a lack of general understanding in public mental health services around trauma and dissociation. They face difficulties around being misdiagnosed and/or having their symptoms labeled incorrectly, which can set them up for years of ineffective treatment. Complicating matters, this age range is also at the highest risk of homelessness and sexual exploitation. I was recently present at a county mental health meeting for clinicians who work with the TAY population and it was discussed that the largest segment of the segment of Alameda County Jail inmates with mental health difficulties are TAY.

This is a population that can be slow to show trust, and can act out in ways that may appear difficult or downright cantankerous at times. But this is also a population where a clinician’s passion to connect and intervene can make a crucial difference. Like all youth they are at a crossroads of life, where everything is changing. They have attained the perks of adulthood without having the experience to take best advantage of it, and this can exacerbate their frustration and impatience. With proper support, we can lessen the sense of chaos they perceive around them, and they can become empowered to move away from exposing themselves to unsafe situations, to self-advocate, and to move toward a perspective where they are confident in setting boundaries, feeling grounded and making positive choices while continuing to navigate the challenges of young adulthood and the responsibilities of self-determination.

This is a growing, dynamic area in mental health and it’s my hope that this group will facilitate discussions and enlightenment on the unique aspects of how trauma and dissociation manifest with this population, and effective ways to treat them. If you are interested in joining the new TAY Special Interest Group contact me on:

“Transitional Aged Youth: A New Frontier in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry” Timothy E Wilens, M.D and Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, M.D. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Sept. 2013; vol 52 issue 9 pp 887-890

“Adult Mental Health Disorders and Their Age at Onset,” PB Jones, British Journal of Psychiatry. Jan., 2013; vol 202 issue s54 pp s5- s10

“Brain Growth – Adolescent Maturity and the Brain: The Promise and Pitfalls of Neuroscience Research in Adolescent Health Policy,” Sara B. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H,a,* Robert W. Blum, M.D., Ph.D,b and Jay N. Giedd, M.Dc The Journal of Adolescent Health Sept. 2009 vol 45 issue 3 pp 216- 221

2019 Annual Conference

Introducing our Exciting Plenary Speakers

Abigail Percifield

Throughout its history New York City has been home to a diverse array of cultures and people, making it an ideal spot for ISSTD’s 2019 World Congress on Complex Trauma. The conference will take place on March 28 – April 1 and will feature Gabor Maté, MD, Stephen Porges, PhD and Allan Schore, PhD as plenary speakers.

Dr Gabor Mate
Dr. Gabor Maté is a renowned speaker and author, who co-founded Compassion for Addiction, a non-profit organization focused on addiction. Dr. Maté was born in Hungary and worked as a physician in Vancouver with a special interest in addiction, stress, and childhood development. His books have been published in over 25 languages. He has won numerous awards and is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.

A strong advocate for social change, Dr. Maté’s clinical approach emphasizes the importance of a person’s early life experiences on their mental and physical health. The accumulation of stress and trauma can lead a person to become disconnected to themselves and it is this disconnection that leads a person to develop symptoms characteristic of a range of disorders. Dr. Maté will open up the 2019 conference with an experiential plenary address on how therapists can help guide clients to find and see the truth. This psychotherapeutic method, Compassionate Inquiry, reveals unconscious dynamics to promote deep healing and transformation.

Stephen Porges

Dr Stephen Porges
Dr. Stephen Porges will journey with us into our collective evolutionary history as he presents on The Polyvagal Theory. Dr. Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. He is a leading researcher in the field of neuroscience whose Polyvagal Theory has significantly reworked our understanding of how our bodily systems respond to trauma.

This theory links the evolution of the autonomic nervous system to affective experience, emotional expression, communication, and social behavior. It both acknowledges and provides an explanation for the states of hyperarousal and dissociation that so many of us see with our clients who are living with the consequences of trauma. Dr. Porges will present a strategy to understand the neural processes that are embedded in therapies to enhance the regulation of bodily and behavioral state. His approach emphasizes the importance of the interpersonal relationship inherent in therapeutic work alongside the ‘neural’ exercises involved in a specific therapy.

Dr Allan Schore
Dr. Allan Schore, who has been described as “a monumental figure in psychoanalytic and neuropsychoanalytic studies” will present on new ways to consider the paradoxical process of regression that often occurs during the psychotherapy of early relational trauma. Dr. Schore’s interdisciplinary studies have been directed towards integrating psychological and biological models of emotional and social development across the lifespan.

Dr. Schore will walk us through the neuroscience that details the critical role of the right brain in attachment mechanisms, dysregulated emotional states, and the dissociative defense. Rather than viewing regression exclusively as a sign of clinical deterioration, this process may represent a creative return to fundamentals that allows reorganization. This understanding will help facilitate therapists’ ability to remain psychobiologically attuned and use moments of heightened affectivity to increase safety and trust in the therapeutic relationship.

For more information about the Plenary Speakers and their presentations, visit the Conference Website!

Want to be part of ISSTD’s 36th Annual Conference? Call for Proposals is open through 17 September, 2018! Check out the Submission Guidelines to get started.

Early Bird Conference Registration is open 31 August 2018 through 24 January 2019.

Regional Conferences

Regional Conference Offers Holistic Approach to Treating Trauma

Join ISSTD for “Treating the Dissociative System: Healing Body, Mind and Culture in the Wake of Complex Trauma” a regional conference in San Francisco, CA on October 20, 2018!

Located in the new Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF, this one day conference features excellent presentations from Lisa Danylchuk, Lynette Danylchuk, Christine Forner, julie graham, A. Steven Frankel, and Ericha Scott.

The day will kick off with “How Dissociative Patients Found Me and Taught Me What I Needed to Know,” a joint presentation in which Lynette Danylchuk and Steve Frankel will discuss how they stumbled into the world of dissociation and offer tools and approaches they have found helpful in working with this population.

After a short break, the conference will reconvene with another joint presentation by Lisa Danylchuk and Christine Forner. “Using Yoga, Mindfulness and Meditation Practices with Complex Trauma and Dissociation” will discuss the foundations of mindfulness and how it can be introduced with clients coping with complex manifestations of PTSD, developmental trauma, and dissociative symptoms.

Following lunch (which will be provided), julie graham will present “Losing Ground: Working with Gender and Sexual Minorities – Understanding Stigma and Minority Stress”. In this presentation Julie will discuss the vital role trauma therapists play in healing cultural harm and assisting gender and sexual minorities in understanding institutional discrimination as well as the effects of abuse on physical and mental health.

The day will conclude with “One Case Study: Art Therapy and Sand Tray Constructions by a Client Who is Dissociative Disordered” with Ericha Scott. This presentation is an intensive visual case review of art and sand tray constructions by a client with a history of multiple treatment failures and relapses.

Full conference abstracts, speaker bios, venue details, and more information can be found on the Conference Website.

Register now and take advantage of Early Bird Pricing through September 15!

Focus on ISSTD History

Colin Ross MD – Interview Conducted by Ken Benau and Warwick Middleton, MD

Edited by Warwick Middleton and Kate McMaugh

Dr Colin Ross MD, served as President of ISSTD (which was then known as ISSMP&D), during one of the most turbulent periods of ISSTD history. Colin became President Elect in 1992, served as President in 1993 and Immediate Past President in 1994. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was formed in 1992.

Dr Colin Ross, Sydney, 2011 (Photo by Warwick Middleton)

WM: How did you become involved in the dissociative disorders field?

CR: I was doing my psychiatry rotation as a third year medical student in 1979 when I was assigned to do an admission history on a woman I ended up diagnosing as having MPD. I talked to her alters and worked with her therapeutically, without any real supervision or guidance. Some years later she came to Winnipeg to be treated at the hospital where I was working as a psychiatrist. I published her case history in a 1994 special issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis on MPD. I then diagnosed a second case as a psychiatry resident and a third case shortly after completing my residency in 1985. Then I started getting referrals, and doing research and I was off and running. I had no interest in trauma or dissociation before seeing that first case, although I had decided to be a psychiatrist as a child (a true memory corroborated by my mother).

KB: Is there anything that you experienced during your term as President that was most memorable, or stood out for you?

CR: We were in the heat and thick of the false memory wars. … I really focused on keeping morale up and arguments as to why we could survive this … it was really a nice opportunity for me to try and be helpful to everybody else and support their morale. It was also a very stressful time.

Colin recalls that ISSTD, which was formed in 1984, grew very quickly, with approximately 800 people attending conferences in Chicago and Alexandria, Virginia. He recalls this as an exciting time in history, with a lot of interest in Dissociative Disorders. For Colin one of the challenging issues to face was the emotional issue of Satanic Ritual Abuse, which was increasingly being discussed at these conferences. Colin remains a strong advocate for therapeutic neutrality.

Drs Colin Ross and Rick Kluft, Chicago, 2018 (Photo by Warwick Middleton)

CR: I was trying to advocate for a position of therapeutic neutrality and that was taken as a “non-believer” position. I think that the field at large, made a couple of errors there, which I am very concerned about … the error was basically that the “believer” people, the therapists who took the “believer” position, were diametrically opposed to the “non-believer” people, which was the “false memory” people. …

If the ritual abuse actually happened or did not happen – that’s a whole diversion, a false premise which takes you away from your function as a therapist which is to maintain the position that you don’t know for a fact that it did happen, and you don’t know for a fact that it didn’t happen. You can’t prove it either way. We don’t have the resources to prove it. It all happened thirty years ago – and anyway it’s not your job, that’s a law enforcement issue. Your job is to help the person to get from Point A to Point B, which is helping a highly emotionally disturbed individual with mental health problems, to recovery.

The first error that we made as a Society was … we bought into this agenda of having to take the “believer” position. When you take the “believer” position, it seems nice: it seems to be supporting the survivors, it seems like we are the good guys because we believe. But it leads to a number of problems … implicitly you are taking the position of, “I have the ability to determine whether your memories are real or not and I determined that they are”, which you haven’t actually done – yet I am giving you the feedback that I know, I believe. When you take the position that you are a person who can validate a person’s memories … you are implicitly taking the position that you also have the power to say, “No, the memories are not real”.

Dr Colin Ross and Prof Martin Dorahy, Chicago, 2018 (Photo by Warwick Middleton)

So this is just setting up in the transference as a replay of the relationship with the perpetrator, except now you’re the sheep. But in the nice validating sheep, there can be a wolf hiding. … So you’ve just recapitulated that in the transference, by being the nice guy public persona but implicitly you’re holding to yourself the right to come out and be the wolf and say, “It’s not true”. That is one problem.

The next problem is it’s a complex DID system. In every single survivor with DID that I have ever seen, there’s always alters who are aligned with the

perpetrator, the Dad, with the cult, with the programming, and if you take the position that it never happened, you are alienating them and usually alienating the host. If you take the position that it did happen, everybody’s satisfied because you believed that it happened … but the error made was aligning with the “good” alters, the host personality, against the “programmed satanic alters”. They’re bad; they’re programmed. You have to reform them, get rid of them: they’re not on your team – you and the host personality…

So, when you’re trying to de-program the alters and you are aligned against them; we’re triangulated inside the system and you’re not therapeutically neutral then, you are missing the point that they’re holding the positive attachment. So it’s a problem of attachment to the perpetrator and you need to form an alliance with them just as much as you do with the good Christian host personality.

KB: Regarding the challenges facing the Society during your term, how did you weather the storms of the believers and non-believers and try to maintain a focus, not just for you personally, but as a Society at large?

CR: That was a pretty turbulent era and the stakes were high. Units were closing, people were losing their licenses, there were massive lawsuits, and the way I weathered that personally is just the way I weather my entire professional career which is having a life outside my professional career, maintaining a variety of other interests, activities, hobbies, relationships etc. Without that, you’d be a sinking ship pretty quickly. I knew therapists who had pretty much full-blown PTSD – from listening to all these stories and being overwhelmed and frightened that the cult was after them and that the cult was monitoring them, I just made a decision not to be overwhelmed, not to be scared, not to be beaten down.

KB: Can you say anything about how you helped the Society keep its balance, given they were dealing with the pressures within, in terms of people who may have been abused, and as well as without – in terms of people who claimed it was all false?

CB: Well, first of all, I don’t think I succeeded, because the membership dropped by over 50%. Most of the people who left were scared off by the threat of lawsuits, I tried to keep the field balanced through the President’s messages, through writing, through my general demeanour.

The other angle I took on it, was I saw it as my ethical, professional and moral responsibility to police the field itself. So, I firmly believe then, as I do now, that there was actually quite a lot of malpractice going on and that in fact not all the memories were real and that there actually was an epidemic of false memories. There was also an epidemic of real memories…

WM: You have been criticized by some for writing on the deliberate creation of DID by the CIA. You have attracted some controversy by this and by other actions – e.g. writing a book titled “The Great Psychiatry Scam”, having Elizabeth Loftus write an Afterword for your book, “Satanic Ritual Abuse”, by writing on energy fields, by giving expert evidence for the plaintiff in “False Memory” trials, and by appearing in a Scientology video etc. Do you have thoughts on how effective such stances have been, and, from the perspective of today, would you have done anything differently?

Dr Colin Ross receiving the ISSTD Lifetime Achievement Award, Chicago, 2018

CR: Basically, I wouldn’t do anything different. I thought that trying to form a working relationship with people in the false memory camp was worth trying. It turned out that they all had completely fixed positions and weren’t willing to budge. But it was worth trying.

I have no regrets about testifying for the plaintiff in a few false memory lawsuits – they involved clear malpractice.

As far as energy fields are concerned, no regrets there either – I have a patent and a paper in a peer-reviewed electrical engineering journal resulting from this line of thought. This line of thinking and research is a combination of philosophy and science – my human energy fields book includes numerous testable scientific hypotheses and I have published original EEG data using high impedance, non-contact electrodes, as a result of this thinking.

Concerning CIA mind control, no regrets there – my CIA Doctors book is based on documents that prove conclusively that artificial MPD was created by GH Estabrooks and these people were used operationally going back to WWII. This is clear and explicit in the documents and in Estabrooks’ writing. If people in the field insist that there are zero cases of artificially created MPD/DID that’s their right, but they’re wrong.

And, concerning Scientology, I agree with a lot of their criticisms of psychiatry, but I think they are too black-and-white about it and too over-the-top in their tone.

Interviewer Warwick Middleton with Colin and Dr Dana Ross, ISSTD Board member, and Colin’s daughter

WM: You have published more books on dissociative disorders than anyone in history. What generates your lines of scientific inquiry?

CR: My brain, my heart, and my solar plexus. I like writing in a variety of genres, so it’s not a chore for me. It comes naturally. Plus, the subject matter is so fascinating and challenging to figure out. I also like doing research. So, it’s a combination of creativity, focus, work ethic, intellectual challenge and the amazing fact that my profession is also my hobby, my recreation, and my work, all combined.

WM: You became involved in running inpatient programs for individuals with dissociative disorders in an era in which some other units struggled. What is the future, in your view, for inpatient programs which serve the needs of those with complex trauma/dissociative disorders?

CR: Keeping hospital trauma programs open is a big challenge. It takes a lot of working with hospital systems and personnel, being mindful of regulatory and managed care pressures, doing trainings for referral sources, and having a good treatment model – in my case, with published Level II treatment outcome studies. For such programs to exist in the future, they will have to adapt to the realities of managed care and regulatory pressures, plus hostility from elsewhere in the profession. I’d say it’s iffy that such programs will remain in existence once the leaders currently identified with them retire. On the other hand, being trauma-informed is now a buzzword and that may lead to system pressures in favor of such programs surviving. The question is whether such programs in the future will deliver quality trauma therapy or just provide lip service to trauma.

KB: I am interested in whatever advice you want to offer the Society, either about what you are describing or anything else in terms of our going forward.

CR: Well, going forward my number one advice is just, “Keep at it. Don’t give up. Don’t allow society to beat you down”. The core mission of working with trauma survivors and maintaining the reality of dissociative disorders, I’m 100% behind. But in order to reach those goals what do we need to do? As a Society we have absolutely got to recruit more energetic young people. The average age of the membership and the leadership, the people who are doing the public speaking, the writing, the research, which includes me, are getting older and older. We are not going to be around professionally thirty years from now. There’s not enough young, active, organisational, “get things done”, kind of people coming into the organisation. So we really need to focus on the recruiting of young professionals.

If you look at treatment outcome research in the dissociative disorders field, it’s basically me and my collaborators and Bethany Brand and her collaborators. So, in no other field in psychiatry are all the treatment studies being done by two groups. … We cannot maintain and build our credibility without more research published in reasonably high-ranking journals.


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 katemcmaughpsychology@gmail.com

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 sheppardpratt.org. EOE and smoke-free campus.

For more information, please contact Kathleen Hilzendeger, Director of Professional Services, at 410.938.3460 or khilzendeger@sheppardpratt.org. 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: katemcmaughpsychology@gmail.com

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 info@isst-d.org 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.

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