Letter From The President

Reflections and Transistions

Martin Dorahy, PhD

Endings bring the opportunity for reflection, and as 2017 moves to an end, we may each begin to reflect on events and changes over the past 12 months in the world, in our own private and professional lives, and in the ISSTD.

At the full day, in person meeting in March, the Board adopted the idea that in our considerations and deliberations, we need to protect against our enthusiasm clouding our vision and our fear stopping our progress. With this in mind the Board worked to bring to completion several ongoing initiatives, including the publication of our Clinical E-Journal Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma and Dissociation, the full integration of the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse SIG into the ISSTD by moving the listserv discussion group to our Basecamp platform, and increasing our webinar and regional conference offerings. The Board also worked on newer initiatives, including making our presence more evident outside our membership by making public statements relevant to issues associated with trauma and dissociation, including those on trauma and memory, as well as the movie Split. The Board has also worked with the Professional Training Program to change and solidify its leadership structure, and worked to have more connection with the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation. Much has been achieved and much is still to be achieved.

As we start to wind down for the holiday season, and I hope for you all, some time for well-earned rest and rejuvenation, the ISSTD begins to prepare for its annual phase of transitions, where members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors change, and goals for the coming year are considered as the new president takes charge of the Society. This period marks the loss of our most experienced leader, where the immediate past president retires from Board responsibilities after dedicating many years to the service of the ISSTD.

On December 31st we will sadly wish Warwick Middleton goodbye as he takes his leave from the Board. Warwick has been a leadership behemoth over the past three years, and before that as a very active member of the Board. He has changed the structure and activities of Executive and Board meetings to increase the scope, function and focus of the goals and leadership within the ISSTD. He has, during his tenure, continually brought creative ideas and ways of achieving them to the Board, and has the incredible capacity of turning to gold whatever he touches. Warwick has led the Board to think more carefully about leadership by modelling leadership and vision in the true senses of these terms. He takes charge and brings people with him, always being the first to roll up his sleeves, and providing guidance so tasks get achieved. Of his many contributions, he has worked to instill into the ISSTD the idea that a key goal of any committee is to have a transition plan for its next leader. Thus, as he would say, all chairs need to find ways to make themselves redundant! This philosophy ensures the smooth transition of leaders and the seamless functioning of committees during change.

It is perhaps fitting that this edition of the newsletter relaunches the International Spotlight, where the activities of a particular region of the world are explored, and that Warwick has written it. Warwick, on behalf of the members of the ISSTD, we thank you for what you have done for the Society over many years, and what you will continue to do in the committee work you remain involved in.

Two other Board members will leave the Board after dedicated and very appreciated service. Christa Krüger has endured late Saturday night Board meetings over more than six years, and beyond many other tasks has been the ISSTD’s ‘all seeing eye’ with regard to our annual strategic plan, leading its development and implementation over several years. Christa’s thoroughness and ‘behind-the-scenes’ work will be missed greatly. Mike Dadson will also finish his term on the Board. Mike’s capacity to listen intently to complex arguments and positions, and cut through them with thoughtful clarity to summarise the general themes and offer directions for action, has been of tremendous assistance to the Board during numerous deliberations. Thanks to both Christa and Mike for all they have contributed to the Board.

Kevin Connors will take charge of the ISSTD on January first, and will have working with him Christine Forner, who has become our new President-Elect. Few members of the ISSTD have dedicated as much to the leadership of the Society as Kevin and Christine, with both working for years in senior Executive posts (Kevin as Secretary and Christine as Treasurer). It is a great pleasure to also have joining the Board Michael Salter (Australia), Dana Ross (Canada) and Lisa Danylchuk (USA). Dana and Lisa continue a long and prestigious history of leadership involvement from the Ross and Danylchuk families.

As I ‘pen’ my last president’s report, I would like to thank all ISSTD members for what you have each done to support the Society, and to ease the burden of suffering for those carrying the wounds of trauma, neglect and mistreatment. At this time of reflection, we not only keep in mind our patients/clients, and our efforts to assist them, but also how our engagements with those in our daily life provide the foundation for understanding, care, dignity and passing warm, kind, thoughtful and sensitive interactions forward.

Yours sincerely

Martin Dorahy
ISSTD President


Welcome ISSTD New Members – November 2017

Ms. Jennifer Lois Barbieri
Jessica Campbell
Jean S Cannon
Dr. Irina V Diyankova
Holli Richey
Mark Sideman
Rebecca Szymanski, MA
Dr. Rhett K Brandt
Ms. Alexis K Brown
Dr. Nicole D. Christiansen, MD
Dr. Rebecca Ann Golding
Alison Hernandez
Mrs. Jillian Hosey
Sandi Plant
Dr. Susan Pollard
Edith Resnik
Ms. Eleanor Gloria Rosenzweig, LCSW
Christine Rothberg
Sandra Shuleshko

Ben Adams
Jennifer Copeland
Dr. Lauren A. M. Lebois
Dr. Melissa Noel
Tiffany Peterson

Alexis Arbuthnott
Ms. Linda F Rogers

Board Briefs

The Latest News from Your Board

Willa Wertheimer, Psy.D

As a first-term board member, I have been amazed at all the goings on behind the scenes. The ISSTD Board is a busy group of people who meet every month for 90 minutes, to oversee the activities of the Society and drive many projects to help our Society grow and develop. This quarter has been thrilling, with many new developments ongoing.

The Board has been overseeing our growing conference program and planning well-ahead for a busy schedule. In the past year, we have had regional conferences in Anchorage, Alaska; Brisbane, Australia; Denver Colorado; Syracuse, New York; and Baltimore, Maryland. There are planned regionals in 2018 in New York City and Chester, United Kingdom.

Although you are hearing about the upcoming Annual Conference in March of 2018, we are already planning for the plenary speakers and venue for the 2019 Annual Conference in New York City. It is amazing the intricacies involved in planning something so large.

As the 2018 conference is our 35th, the Board and conference committee have also been interviewing past presidents to gauge the history of the ISSTD over the last 35 years. The project has resulted in videos which will be played at our conference as well as available later to members unable to attend the conference.

Very recently the Board has been dedicated to implementing a code of conduct for all members, to foster collegial communication and protect the dignity of all members. This has been emailed to all members and a copy is here.

The Board, especially the President, has also been working to bring closer ties between the ISSTD and our European sibling, ESTD. A memorandum of understanding has been signed where the president of each organization, or their representative, will attend the others’ conference. Our president recently attended the ESTD conference in Bern and met with the ESTD Board to provide updates on current joint projects, most pressingly the joint research task force.

The board has also been excited to oversee the development of a new EMDR training module. This is just one part of our expanding Professional Training Program which has been adding faculty members to the program. We now will have a much further reach, providing professional development to clinicians around the world. We have both in-person training, as well as teleseminars and asynchronous online courses. Our webinar program is expanding to include all-day programs such as the recent Ritual Abuse, Mind Control, Organized Abuse (RAMCOA) Webinar. If you missed it, you may access the recording for special member pricing by following these instructions: Log in to Member’s Corner.  About halfway down the left side of the page, click on “Webinar Library”. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and all of the RAMCOA sessions are listed in Series VII.

In addition, the Board has been active in improving our links to the United Nations. We are now recognized by the United Nations as a consultative member. Together, we have a voice in the international community, regarding traumatic issues in current events.

Lastly, we have been able to over-see the expansion of our Virtual Book Club, which this year has studied several books as well as articles. The Board has also been delighted to launch ISSTD’s new clinical e-journal Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation. If you have not already done so, check out the latest edition by logging in to Member’s Corner and clicking on the Frontiers image at the top right of the page.

These are the latest headlines of what the Board has been working to provide. We are striving to offer a rich and multifaceted array of educational opportunities to trauma clinicians around the world. Our last Board meeting of the year will be December 16th.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season.

Warm Regards,

Trauma & Dissociation in the News

Trauma, Memory and Human Dignity

The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) is the oldest organization supporting and educating therapists, researchers, and other professionals in dealing with complex psychological trauma in the world. Over the last century, the subject of psychological trauma, especially in the form of child abuse and neglect, and the sequelae on its victims, has been controversial. Yet, in the last 25 years there has been an increased research and medical evidence base on how such trauma has significant and sometimes catastrophic impacts on the physical, emotional and psychological health of its victims.

The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) studies which examined over 17,000 participants has documented the extraordinary physical and psychological impacts that childhood trauma and neglect have. These results include increased heart disease, cancer, depression and substance abuse. Subsequent research replicates these findings. Multiple studies have shown heightened dissociative symptoms and disorders in those exposed to childhood abuse and neglect.

The Treatment of Patients with Dissociative Disorders (TOP DD) studies, conducted with the cooperation of hundreds of therapists and patients from all over the world, have demonstrated that improvements can be made in a large range of symptoms via treatments that follow the guidelines for complex trauma disorders set out by the ISSTD, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), and the Blue Knot Foundation. These guidelines provide the most cutting-edge methods for the treatment of complex trauma. The ISSTD is proud to be a supporter of international efforts to better understand and successfully treat complex trauma presentations.

Several studies indicate that traumatic events, especially early in life, have a significant impact on the size and function of parts of the brain, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. All of these brain structures impact memory, emotional regulation and perception of social interactions. A study published in 2015 by Northwestern University’s School of Medicine indicated the way in which the brain suppresses traumatic memory as a means of coping, essentially causing such memories to be stored along a different neural pathway that may not be accessed unless something cues it to be triggered.

Whilst memory functioning associated with trauma has been the focus of controversy, scientific evidence has accrued to the point where conclusions can be drawn. Memories for childhood abuse can be remembered continually, forgotten partially, and sometime forgotten fully to be recalled at a later date. The earlier the abuse, the more frequent or repetitive the exposure, and the more closely associated the perpetrator was to the victim (e.g., a caregiver, a family member); the more likely memory retrieval is impacted for a period of time. Amnesia of variable durations has been unequivocally documented with a large range of traumas, including war, natural disasters, serious assaults, “crimes of passion” etc., along with a range of childhood traumas. Amnesia for trauma has remained long-term as one of the diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Whether always remembered or recalled again after a period of being forgotten, trauma memories are not immune from the normal processes of all memory, so may be accurate and also colored to some degree by distortion and inaccuracies. To reject or deny a person’s account of childhood abuse simply because the memory for such abuse was not remembered continually is factually erroneous and a terrible disservice to all victims of trauma.
Because of the robust number of studies exploring the connection between trauma and various forms of physical and psychological problems (e.g., alcohol and drug addiction, eating disorders, dissociative disorders, suicide, in-patient psychiatric problems/illnesses/disorders/issues, legal problems, intimate partner violence), it is clear that expertise in treating trauma goes far beyond just a narrow field of endeavor. In order to truly understand what might be the underlying cause of any one of a number of psychiatric conditions, and then to provide effective treatment, it is very clear that an understanding of the person’s experiences of trauma is vital.

The existence and pervasive extent of child physical, sexual, and emotional abuse is a well-documented phenomenon. This abuse occurs in the home, in child-care facilities, in global sex trafficking, and in major respected institutions, including, but unfortunately not limited to scouting groups, major religious organizations, institutions of higher education, and other assemblies. The victims of these kinds of trauma who wish to remain private have the right to do so. Just as importantly, those who wish to go public have the right to have their grievances heard wherever they may be and whenever they are ready to do so. Implicit in our efforts to promote a greater understanding of the nature and impact of childhood abuse on memory and dissociative disorders is the human value that we place on supporting the dignity and respect of those who have been victimized.

Committee Spotlight

Professional Training Program

Su Baker, MEd

Professional Training Program Leadership Reflects on its Past and Paints an Exciting Picture for Future Training in ISSTD
Back in 2000, our Society’s then president, John Curtis, MD, initiated the “Education 2000” project, in an effort to broaden the education mandate of the ISSTD (then the ISSD). Elizabeth Bowman, MD generously donated her curriculum for training psychiatric residents in Dissociative Disorders. This curriculum became the basis for the first course of the newly minted DDPTP (Dissociative Disorders Psychotherapy Training Program), designed by Richard Chefetz, MD. This course became known as the Basic Course and was first taught by various selected instructors in 2001.

And, as they say, the rest is history.

Since then, we have changed the name of the program to the Professional Training Program. Multiple courses, at varying levels, have been designed, updated and re-designed by many dedicated volunteers. We have moved with the times, embraced online technology, and have gone from teaching just face-to-face classes, to also including asynchronous online courses and teleseminars. As befits an International Society, we now have instructors from all over the world (and in various languages) and hundreds of students, from all corners of the world, have taken the courses.

With that history in mind, I would like to bring you up-to-date on the program and share some exciting plans for the future.

Many PTP Courses Are Now Available
There are currently four levels of Adult courses: The Introduction to the Treatment of Complex Trauma, Parts I & II; The Standard course in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Complex Trauma and Dissociative Disorders: Parts I & II; and The Advanced course in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Complex Trauma and Dissociative Disorders (under development and hopefully ready to begin teaching in early to mid-2018); and the Masters Seminars in Complex Trauma and Dissociative Disorders.

These courses are mostly taught in person, but we have now added some of these courses as “teleseminars”, so that those who do not live near a major city, or in a country that has no instructors, can have access to the courses online, in real time, through the Zoom platform. In the past, some of these courses have also been taught as “asynchronous online courses”, meaning that students used a “bulletin board-type course”, where they could contribute to discussions according to their own schedule, and interact both with other students and course instructors through text discussion.

In addition, there is a popular course on the Assessment and Treatment of Traumatized Children and Adolescents with Dissociative Symptoms and Disorders, which has been mostly online. Students from around the world have studied together, discussed cases and supported each other, under the expert guidance of their trainers. This course has enabled many health professionals to not just improve their skills, but develop supportive networks, which continue long beyond the course duration.

We are also proud to have two courses entirely in Spanish: Introducción a los transtornos postraumáticos graves, trauma complejo y disociación and Diagnóstico y tratamiento del trauma complejo y disociación. For more information on any of these courses, please see here.

In the future we hope to expand our course selection and we aim to update the current courses every three to five years.

All US-based in person courses, as well as teleseminars and online courses, have continuing education credits attached. The courses also contribute to the necessary credits for the ISSTD Certificate in Complex Trauma and Dissociation, for those who are working toward that goal.

Opportunities for Teaching
With so many courses and an increasing demand from professionals for our courses, we are looking for more instructors who would be willing to teach the courses.

Instructors will be supported by an extensive infrastructure. Every course is well-planned, with set readings and objectives. Part I of both the Intro course and the Standard course, also includes a provided case history, which naturally unfolds over four classes, and an instructor’s manual on the use of the case. The new Advanced course will consist of nine modules (each covering a certain topic), with six modules that are required to be taught and three modules to be chosen from a list of about 15 different modules, based on the knowledge and training of the instructors. As with the Intro and Standard courses, the Advanced course will have the full curriculum provided by the PTP directors.

In other words, we are looking for ISSTD members who would like to teach courses where there is a set curriculum to support them. To this end, we have recently updated the criteria for instructor selection and this document is available here.

While we can’t guarantee fame or fortune (though instructors are paid), the experience of teaching eager mental health professionals is a reward in and of itself. We are lucky to have excellent back-up from headquarters and new instructors are provided with mentors for their first year of teaching. We encourage those who meet the criteria to consider applying to become a PTP instructor, via the application form.

Training for Instructors
We recognize that many of our colleagues, who would be excellent instructors, have hesitated to apply because they feel that they are not sure of their capacities as teachers. Be assured that ISSTD provides a very supportive environment. Not just is the mentor provided for the first year, but training is also provided. We have designed a new 3-hour workshop, to be given for the first time at the upcoming ISSTD conference in Chicago. This workshop will be held immediately after the PTP instructors (and future instructors) luncheon on Saturday, March 24. The workshop is mandatory for all present instructors, so if you will be at the conference, and are thinking of becoming a PTP instructor, you are invited to attend both the luncheon and the workshop.

If you will not be at the conference, the workshop will be available online after the conference and all instructors who did not attend in person will be expected to follow the online workshop (at a time of your choosing). The workshop will include training in andragogy, information about the methodology of the various courses, how to use the necessary technology and will provide a forum to answer any questions you might have.

If you are not yet an instructor but would like to attend the luncheon and workshop at the conference, please contact me via email subaker@videotron.ca

Three Chairs and Course Directors
Over the years, and with the expansion of the PTP, the role of the PTP director became increasingly time-consuming and complex. A task force was set up and suggested that there be a Chair, Chair-elect and Past-Chair, who could together handle the many duties of the administration of the PTP. Each serves a 2-year term, meaning that from the election of the chair, to that person’s retirement, the person would serve a total of 6 years. This was to ensure continuity in the program. Currently, the Past-Chair is Victor Welzant, PhD and the Chair is Su Baker, MEd.

We are still looking for a Chair-elect, so if you have experience with the PTP (even if you are not currently teaching) and would like to volunteer to be in this position, please contact the chair.

The course directors have been responsible for the development of the course curriculum and the current directors stand on the shoulders of the previous directors. Current directors are Su Baker (Intro, Standard and Advanced), Joan Turkus (Standard, Advanced and Master), Fran Waters (Child and Adolescent) and Sandra Baita (Spanish courses). Please feel free to contact any of them for more information on the courses.

PTP in the Future
With the re-energized PTP, new courses, new instructors, new chairs and new media, we are looking forward to further developing the educational mission of the ISSTD which was first set in motion 35 years ago when we were founded, and then expanded upon with the vision of Education 2000. We encourage our members to follow our courses, and eventually to become instructors themselves as they develop their knowledge and skills.

See you in Chicago in 2018!

Su Baker, MEd
PTP Chair

2018 Annual Conference

Annual Conference Update – Plenary Speakers

Ken Benau, PhD

For those of you able to attend the upcoming annual ISST-D conference in Chicago, Illinois, March 24-26, you are in for a real treat with respect to our plenary speakers. With Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D., Edward Tick, Ph.D., and Donna Hicks, Ph.D., we will explore death, grief and trauma (Neimeyer), warrior trauma, moral injury and the soul (Tick), and how dignity informs our understanding of individual and collective conflict and healing (Hicks).

Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis, and is best known for his extensive research into and clinical work with death and grief. He has published 30 books and nearly 500 articles and book chapters and is currently working to advance a theory of grieving as a meaning-making process. As perhaps the most renowned researcher into the psychological responses to death and loss, Dr. Neimeyer will assist us in plummeting the depths of grief processes both normative and traumatic, and enable participants to better understand what we, as human beings, need in order to process common and catastrophic loss. As a constructivist, Dr. Neimeyer emphasis is on how we give death and loss meaning, something essential to our work with complex trauma survivors who, in many cases, lost much before ever having achieved a secure relational foundation.

Edward Tick, Ph.D. is co-founder of Soldier’s Heart, a comprehensive program aimed to heal the hearts, minds and souls of warriors. As observed on his website, “At Soldier’s Heart, we do not consider PTSD to be a mental disorder. Instead, we believe it is a normal reaction to a traumatic experience. It is the expression of anguish, dislocation, and rage of the self as it attempts to cope with its loss of innocence and reformulate a new personal identity.” Dr. Tick is best known for several books about war and the soul, including War and the Soul, Warriors Return, and Restoring the Warrior’s Soul. Dr. Tick is not being merely poetic when he writes about the soul. His approach integrates traditional and non-traditional pathways to healing warrior trauma and moral injury, with particular emphasis on understanding and working creatively with the collective and mythic aspects of the warrior’s journey and his or her return. Dr. Tick’s plenary address should give us much to think about with respect to our work with survivors of both war and other life or soul-threatening experiences.

Finally, Donna Hicks, Ph.D. work on dignity has transformed how we think about working with individual, collective, intra-national and international conflict. Dr. Hicks, author of Dignity: It’s Essential Role in Resolving Conflict, is a leading expert in working to define and restore the dignity of individuals, groups and nations. Based at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University for more than two decades, Dr. Hick’s clients include the World Bank, the United Nations, and governments worldwide. As she remarks on her website, “Learning about dignity is no longer an option. It’s a human imperative. We know now that the desire to be treated with dignity is universal. Even though we were all born with dignity, we are not born knowing how to act like it.” As clinicians and researchers working with complex, relational trauma, we know all too well the toll taken on the survivor’s sense of inherent worth or dignity. Shame and its pernicious effects both overt and covert dominate the intrapersonal and interpersonal landscape of these survivors. As some have written, dignity can be understood as the best antidote to shame [cf. Chefetz, R. A. (2017). Dignity is the opposite of shame and pride is the opposite of guilt. Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis. 11, 119-133]. Dr. Hicks’ unique perspective will teach us much about how dignity is both lost and restored, individually and as a society.

News You Can Use

News You Can Use

Kate McMaugh ISSTD News Editor

Volume 3 of Ellert Nijenhuis’s Trinity of Trauma Now Available

World renowned trauma expert and ISSTD member, Ellert Nijenhuis completes his epic three volume “Trinity of Trauma” with volume three: The Trinity of Trauma: Ignorance, Fragility, and Control, Part III: Enactive Trauma Therapy.

This recently released book provides the treatment focus to the trinity and is a must-read for any clinician interested in healing trauma. The previous two volumes have focussed on conceptual, theoretical, and empirical aspects of both trauma and dissociation. This latest book can be read either as part of the three volume series, or as a stand alone book.

By way of background, Enactive Trauma Therapy, Nijenhuis’s unique therapy model holds that all people, including therapy survivors, are both embodied and environmentally embedded, their brain, bodies and environment both dependent on each other and co-occuring. As such trauma survivors bring forward a self, a world, and a self as a part of this world, in ongoing action.

Thus, whenever interpersonal traumatization by significant others occurs, individuals may get caught up in affective and relational conflicts they cannot resolve on their own. What starts as a courageous effort to navigate a traumatizing life may at a later point in time become a serious problem.

This book outlines the approach of Enactive Trauma Therapy as comprising the collaboration of two organism-environment systems: the patient and the therapist. Together the patient and therapist spawn new meaning and adequate actions – an interaction that resembles dancing: It takes pacing, mutual attunement, good timing, a sensitivity to balance, movement and rhythm, courage, as well as the ability and willingness to follow and lead.

Therapy is indeed a dance and this book is an essential tool in both understanding that dance and enhancing our skills in doing that dance well with our clients. This book, and the previous two volumes of the ‘Trinity’, are available on Amazon. Remember to use your Amazon Smiles to make a donation to ISSTD!

For those interested in an introduction to Enactive Trauma Therapy see Ellert’s article in the most recent edition of Frontiers (Click Here).

Book Release: Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling

ISSTD Fellow, Heather Davediuk Gingrich, together with her husband Fred Gingrich, have edited a recently-released book: Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling.

The book discusses best practice treatment approaches for a vast range of traumas including military trauma, disaster recovery trauma, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, complex trauma, child abuse and intimate partner violence. There are additional chapters on working with child and adolescent trauma and neuropsychology and trauma. It contains specific information about clergy abuse, trauma and missionaries, and trauma care in developing countries. Dissociative disorders are explored as an integral part of the book. These topics are addressed, while also incorporating aspects of Christian spirituality (e.g., making use of clients’ spiritual resources in treatment, understanding therapeutic resistance couched as spirituality, and a biblical view of suffering. An extensive annotated bibliography of religion, spirituality and trauma that extends beyond Christian spirituality is included as an appendix.

The book includes a chapter on ritual abuse and mind control co-authored by Heather and Alison Miller, (ISSTD Fellow and current chair of the Ritual Abuse Mind Control and Organised Abuse SIG). By adopting a sensitive, trauma informed and evidenced based approach to Christian trauma counselling this book aims to better equip Christian counsellors and church staff to deal with the complex issue of RA/MC/OA and other clients with DID, who may be unintentionally wounded through interventions such as exorcisms/deliverance prayer or even the promise of quick fixes.

The book will be launched on December 19th at which point it will be available on Amazon and other on-line booksellers. Remember to use your Amazon Smiles and money is donated to ISSTD.

Alternatively the book can be ordered from the publisher’s website, Intervarsity Press Academic (available now). It will also be available as an e-book at some point over the next couple of months.

New book: From the Trenches: A Victim and Therapist Talk about Mind Control and Ritual Abuse
by Wendy Hoffman and Alison Miller

Psychotherapist and ISSTD Fellow, Alison Miller, has collaborated with one of her clients, an American licensed clinical social worker and survivor of mind control and ritual abuse, Wendy Hoffman, to write From the Trenches. Described as ‘a story in two voices’ this book provides a rare opportunity to have a dual insight into therapy from both therapist and client perspectives.
In the introduction Wendy and Alison describe themselves as “two old women in our 70s who are still labouring and fighting in the trenches of the psychological and spiritual war against the evils of mind control and ritual abuse.”
While Alison and Wendy worked very hard in therapy to undo Wendy’s mind control, they were each writing small articles, poems or essays on various topics related to ritual abuse and mind control.
These pieces have been gathered together to form From the Trenches. Rather than having a logical development of ideas from chapter to chapter, this book has collected the essays into topical sections, ending with Wendy’s odes to the different kinds of inner parts who lived her mind-controlled life, and also live in other survivors’ inner worlds.
The book can be read in any order. Some essays are directed primarily to survivors, others to therapists and support people. Alison reaches out to all survivors, pointing out the lies they may believe, giving them hope and skills for recovery; and Wendy talks about her own experiences as a slave and marionette, and also offers hope for healing and understanding of how to overcome the many obstacles on this path to freedom.
For those inexperienced with the subject matter, it is suggested to read some of Alison and Wendy’s other work first as the material in this book is quite advanced and requires some preliminary understanding of mind control and ritual abuse.
The book (and the authors’ previous publications) can be ordered from Karnac books:

Exciting new live discussion resource for parents and carers of children with trauma and dissociation.

Integrate Families, the National Centre of Child Trauma and Dissociation in England, which provides services to children with trauma and dissociation, as well as their families/carers, has developed a unique video learning resource. “Conversations with IF” is an initiative by Integrate Families, and their training division BICTD, to help provide up to date and relevant information to parents/carers who are struggling with children who suffer from dissociative and other trauma related difficulties.

Clinical Lead Therapist and ISSTD Fellow Dr Renée P. Marks has been integral to the development of twice monthly interactive discussions by trauma and dissociative specialists to assist parents and carers in managing the behaviours of their traumatised and dissociative children.

Visiting specialists involved in the discussions include ISSTD Fellow Fran Waters who recently visited the UK for a two-day national conference on child trauma and dissociation. During the broadcast Fran Waters discussed the symptomatology of dissociative children and broke down the complexity of this problem into accessible and understandable terms for the parents. This information will empower parents and professionals to identify dissociative symptoms in the children and seek and deliver appropriate help for them.

This wonderful resource airs live two evenings a month at 8:30 PM GMT for one hour. Parents and carers can access the video from the comfort of their own home and ask questions or make suggestions for further discussions via LIVE chat, or email questions in advance that may be answered during the live session or in a future broadcast. The discussion sessions are archived and these video episodes can be viewed at any time, making this resource uniquely accessible all around the world. The present discussion centres around the Star Theoretical Model which was developed by Fran Waters and the necessity of implementing each part of this model in the treatment of the children. This enables parents and professionals to gain a broader understanding of the integration of different essential theories in the treatment of this group of children and adolescents. This topic will be followed by the impact of medical trauma.

This is an excellent resource that child and adolescent therapists can refer parents and carers to, for extra information and support. However it is also informative for the therapists themselves, and other professionals, to enable them to better understand dissociative children and adolescents.

Website Link: www.cwif.tv
A current discount is available using discount code: WatersUSA (Total discount: $3 off subscription)

International Spotlight

ISSTD Spotlight on Australia

Professor Warwick Middleton, ISSTD Immediate Past President

Of all current Australian members of the ISSTD, when I last checked, it seemed that I had been a continuous Society member for longer than anyone else bar one, which does tend to position one as an active participant in the field in this country, before there really was one.

Whilst there had been the occasional case report or anecdotal reference to Multiple Personality Disorder in the Australian medical literature, there had been no systematic research here into dissociative disorders until the early nineties.

In June 1953, David Maddison reported in the Medical journal of Australia what may be the first detailed case report of Multiple Personality Disorder in the Australian literature. In keeping with the then prevailing psychiatric views, features of the case were described as “unique” or “rare”. The reported developmental history given is scant, but the reader is told the patient had an “unhappy” childhood in a household where the father participated in “recurrent alcoholic excesses” resulting in frequent quarrels and where the mother dabbled in “spiritualism, occult philosophy and fortune telling”. An older sister was reported to be “severely maladjusted”. In 1980 as a first year trainee in psychiatry I attended the last teaching session David Maddison (then Dean of Medicine at the University of Newcastle) ever gave before his untimely death.

A potted history might serve as a reference point for reflections:

In 1992 the newly established Australian Association for Multiple Personality and Dissociation (AAMPD), which was subsequently renamed the Australian Association of Trauma and Dissociation (AATD), held the first of six consecutive annual conferences, the first being in Melbourne and the final one in Brisbane in September 1997, at which point the AATD merged with the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ASTSS). Plenary speakers at these conferences that Susan Henry, Naomi Halpern and colleagues organized, included Sandy McFarlane, Bessel van der Kolk, John Briere, Colin Ross, Derek Silove and Warwick Middleton.

In 1993 the Australian False Memory Society (AFMS) was founded with its most prominent early spokesman being psychiatrist Dr Jerome Gelb who in subsequent years encountered major professional sanctions in respect to plagiarism, firearms offences and a sexual relationship with a patient.

A national well-attended, sell-out mainstream conference, “Trauma, Memory and The Self”, was presented by Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapy and the Department of Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatry, at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, in November, 1994. The international plenary speaker was Bessel van der Kolk.

In 1996 Richard Guilliatt, a journalist, published “Speaking of the Devil”, a book taking a sensationalist approach to the claimed ravages of “recovered memory therapy”. His thesis didn’t seem to resonate in Australia and within a few weeks his book was being offered cheaply in bookshop remainder bins.

In January 1997 what is now known as the Trauma and Dissociation Unit (TDU), Belmont Hospital opened with six beds. In time a day-program was developed. Subsequently inpatient bed numbers increased to nine and then to twelve. TDU this year celebrated its 20th anniversary of continuous operation, with this author remaining in the position of Director up to the present. Throughout, TDU has been heavily involved in supporting research into dissociative disorders and related subjects, as well as taking an active role in supporting professional educational endeavors. It is very much oriented to being a mainstream specialist mental health unit and it takes referrals from all over Australia.

In 1998 the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry published the first case series of Australian patients with DID to appear in the scientific literature. This study by Middleton and Butler examined closely the abuse histories and clinical phenomenology associated with 62 individuals with DID (with data collected over the years 1992-1997). On all major parameters they conformed closely with descriptions reported in US and Canadian studies. The published case series provided a local benchmark for what DID looked like in Australia and established that it was far from uncommon, while a hospital program was an attempt to offer a congruent accessible treatment model. The study included preliminary findings on the prevalence of a phenomena that was later to become, for the first time, the subject of systematic research, by this author – ongoing incestuous abuse during adulthood.

Martin Dorahy was in 2001 awarded the first PhD in Australia based on research subjects with a diagnosis of DID. His thesis was titled, “Cognitive inhibitory functioning in dissociative identity disorder” and data collection was carried out while he was employed as a psychologist in TDU.

Subsequent to their involvement with the AATD, Susan Henry and Naomi Halpern established The Delphi Centre which for two decades has offered a continuing set of conference and seminar offerings presented by international and nationally based presenters that have done much orientate Australian mental health professionals to trauma, dissociation and dissociative disorders. Nearly all such Delphi Centre offerings have had the Cannan Institute and/or Belmont Hospital as a supporter and/or co-convenor, and from time to time the Cannan Institute has taken a lead role in organizing such conferences. International presenters at seminar series offered by The Delphi Centre have included Jennifer Freyd, Colin Ross, John Briere, Elert Nijenhuis, Christine Courtois, Janina Fisher, Julian Ford, Bethany Brand, John Arden and Susan Hart. Nationally-based presenters have included Warwick Middleton and Naomi Halpern. Some sense of the penetration of trauma and dissociation into the Australian mental health field is reflected in many of the total attendances in seminar series that have been offered.

The ASTSS was involved in organizing and hosting the 2000 World Congress in Melbourne on behalf of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), which was attended by over 1000 delegates. There was a significant focus on dissociation.

The Delphi Centre in collaboration with The Cannan Institute, and The Trauma and Dissociation Unit, Belmont Hospital et. al. at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne 12th-14th September 2003, presented “Transforming Trauma: Critical, Controversial and Core Issues”, a conference that drew 625 attendees and which featured plenary speakers from USA, Canada, Australia, Asia and Europe. Janina Fisher’s three-city seminar tour in 2010 drew a collective attendance of 1,300. John Briere’s 2011 four-city tour attracted 1,600 attendees. [In June 2015, this author was part of a Mental Health Professionals network (MHPN) webinar, “Supporting the Wellbeing of People Experiencing a Trauma Response”, which attracted 3,500+ registrants, a record number for any MHPN webinar.]

An attempt to disrupt the conference program at the Grand Hyatt in 2003 by a few members of the AFMS was very short-lived. Subsequently a few AFMS activists managed to lobby the Victorian health minister of the time into launching an inquiry examining the extent that “recovered memory therapy” was practiced in the state of Victoria. The inquiry, which engendered no support from the mental health community reported in 2005, finding that the term was not used by health professionals but was being used by lobby groups for political purposes. For all intents and purposes the AFMS has long been a defunct organization and its very bargain basement website has not been updated since the year 2000.

Following the lead of The Delphi Centre, a number of other organizations [including the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the Australian Child Foundation, the Centre for Mental Health Education, the Byron Centre, the Australian College of Psychological Medicine, and the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Section of Psychotherapy] have convened seminar series or conferences featuring national/international speakers from the trauma and dissociation field.

The Cannan Institute, established in 1998 has provided assistance to a number of organizations associated with the trauma and dissociation field. In 2000 in conjunction with TDU it offered a seminar at Belmont Hospital featuring Onno van der Hart. In February 2002 it hosted a conference featuring Jennifer Freyd, “Blind to Betrayal: Forgetting, Unawareness and Interpersonal Trauma”. In April 2002 it organized and hosted a national conference on “Boundaries” featuring Glen Gabbard. The Institute gave a grant to support the work of Nick Bryant (author of “The Franklin Scandal”), as well as supporting a number of other local research projects. It assisted with the organization of the landmark conference, which brought together survivors, therapists and members of the clergy, ““Child Abuse & Religious Organizations: The Sacred and Profane: An Interdisciplinary Seminar”, convened by Carolyn and Philip Quadrio et al. and held at the University of NSW in June 2008.

The Institute was the first declared major supporter of the recently launched ISSTD E-Journal, “Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation”. The Institute sponsored the recent publication of the JTD Special Issue on “The Abused and the Abuser: Victim – Perpetrator Dynamics, and it was a major sponsor of the ISSTD Regional Conference in Sydney in November 2015. The Institute took a primary role in organizing the successful 2017 regional TDU/Cannan/ISSTD Conference in Brisbane in March 2017, which was structured as a fund-raising initiative for the ISSTD. As a consequence of the enormous goodwill and generosity of colleagues, over $15,000(US) arising as profits from the Brisbane conference was transferred to the ISSTD. The Cannan Institute will be a major sponsor of the ISSTD bi-national regional conference scheduled for Christchurch in November 2019.

Trauma and dissociation featured prominently in the program of the World Congress for Psychotherapy, “World Dreaming”, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, 24th–28th August 2011, with featured presentations by Colin Ross, Russell Meares, Martin Dorahy, David Leonard and this author. The Cannan Institute was a sponsor and supporter of “World Dreaming”.

On 11th November 2012, following years of lobbying by individuals and organizations and some excellent investigative journalism and principled stands by key individuals, it was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard that Australia was appointing a national Royal Commission to investigate the institutional aspects of child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission chaired by Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM, QC will sit one final time on December 14, 2017 to publicly mark the conclusion of the ground-breaking five-year long inquiry. Since the inquiry got underway in 2013 there have been 57 public hearings, involving 444 days of sitting time and where evidence was heard from more than 1,300 witnesses. Commissioners have also listened to the personal accounts of almost 8,000 survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions through “private sessions”. The scope and competence of the Royal Commission has been unique in human history, and what it has comprehensively laid bare is of immense relevance to all societies.

It is perhaps not by chance that very close to the time that Cardinal George Pell, (who potentially would be the highest ranking Catholic priest to ever stand trial in a civil court in 2,000 years), was to appear in a Melbourne court on 6th October 2017 to set a date for his committal hearing, that the Murdoch-owned newspaper, The Australian, via Richard Guilliatt and others, launched a series of newspaper articles, very dated in their content, raising again the specter of “recovered memory therapy” and using this to attempt to attack the Royal Commission. They failed to incite much public anguish. On a positive note this rather unscientific spread of articles was somewhat countered by other articles written by qualified mental health experts, appearing in a range of publications, including in The Australian.

There has been a growing awareness about complex trauma in Australia and many organizations seek to become more trauma-informed. The Blue Knot Foundation has done much work educating health, legal and educational services around Australia in trauma-informed practice. Despite these positive changes there is still a widespread lack of knowledge about dissociative disorders, as is the case elsewhere in the world and undoubtedly many Australians with a dissociative disorder remain undiagnosed and untreated. Practitioners in the field can feel professionally somewhat isolated, while the TDU remains Australia’s only specialist trauma and dissociation inpatient unit.

However, we continue to move forward, with the support of international colleagues through organizations like ISSTD and through internet communities such as DISSOC. The ISSTD took the opportunity, early in the life of the Australian Royal Commission, to formally write to the Commission supporting the work it was undertaking and offering to assist in any way it could. Justice Peter McClellan was a featured plenary speaker at our three-day ISSTD bi-national regional conference in Sydney in November 2015, his address receiving a standing ovation. Our ISSTD Sydney conference which attracted 386 attendees, also had as featured plenary speakers Richard Kluft, Bethany Brand and Joyanna Silberg, as well as the then ISSTD Immediate Past President, the President, and the President-Elect. The Sydney conference also featured presentations by the EMDR Association of Australia. In the wake of the Sydney bi-national conference resident Australian ISSTD membership peaked at around 174 members and that of New Zealand-based members, at 22.

Australia is the birthplace or home to a vibrant community of academic and clinically oriented colleagues who continue to make major contributions to our Society and to the field of trauma and dissociation in general. In fact they are heavily embedded in the Society. At least six Australians are Fellows of the ISSTD, three currently serve on its Board, and most committees have one or more Australians actively involved. For example, one of these, Michael Salter, is exemplary Society member who plays a very active role on the Executive of the RAMCOA SIG, is a member of the Scientific Committee and continues to write and publish books on organized abuse. He is a candidate for election to the 2018 ISSTD Board. He was a presenter in the recent highly successful whole day webinar offered by our RAMCOA SIG. Our ISSTD Newsletter is edited by another very energetic Australian – Kate McMaugh. Board member Joan Haliburn recently published the text, “An Integrated Approach to Short-Term Dynamic Interpersonal Psychotherapy: A Clinician’s Guide” (Karnac, 2017).

This part of the world is honored by the fact that for the past two years, you have placed the fortunes of your Society in the hands of Boards chaired by two successive Australian ISSTD Presidents. There are many achievers: Dr Cathy Kezelman for the last 15 years has headed the Blue Knot Foundation (formerly known as Australians Surviving Child Abuse), Australia’s largest and most successful organization representing the survivors of child abuse. Professors Martin Dorahy and David Gleaves have senior academic appointments and continue to contribute landmark publications to the field. (Martin, among other notable achievements, has been a recipient of no less than four ISSTD Pierre Janet Writing Awards since 2008.) It is noteworthy that a third of the papers contributed to the recent special double issue of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, “The Abused and the Abuser: Victim – Perpetrator Dynamics” were authored by Australians.

I recall that on 22nd September 1996, one day short of his 25th birthday, I met a young countryman and former electrician who clearly demonstrated enormous aptitude. I am very proud that Martin, with whom I have worked and collaborated with for over two decades, is our 2017 ISSTD President. He and our many very valued colleagues from “down under” never fail to deliver, to energize and to maintain a sense of humor.

Come and join us at the 2019 bi-national (New Zealand-Australian) regional conference in Christchurch in November 2019. It will be set in a spectacular part of the world. Rather fittingly, we are planning a program that will cover the changing landscape of our field, incorporating themes of treatment innovations as well as trauma and memory.

Melbourne conference “Transforming Trauma”, 2003: Many familiar faces including Colin Ross, John Briere, Russel Meares, Warwick Middleton, Susan Henry, Naomi Halpern and more!

Warwick Middleton Martin Dorahy and Colin Ross, World Congress of Psychotherapy, Darling Harbour, Sydney 26th August 2011

Susan Henry, John Briere and Naomi Halpern, 25th May 2008

Frank Putnam, Warwick Middleton, Winja Lutz & Rick Kluft, ISSTD Annual Conference, Baltimore 18th Nov 2013

Rick Kluft plenary presenter, ISSTD Sydney, 28th November

ISSTD Member, President Blue Knot Foundation, Dr Cathy Kezelman with the then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard,

Martin Dorahy, Cathy Kezelman John Feneley, Joan Haliburn & Phil Kinsler,
Sydney ISSTD Regional Conference, November 2015

Naomi Halpern, Eileen Averi and Valerie Sinason, President’s reception 1st April 2017

Dr Joan Haliburn, ISSTD Board Member and featured workshop presenter, TDU/Cannan/ISSTD Conference Brisbane, 19th March 2017

Dr Jan Ewing, workshop presenter, Rozz Nutting – long-term ISSTD members, TDU/Cannan/ISSTD Conference Brisbane, 19th March 2017

Letter From The President

Fishing and Begging in the Service of ISSTD

Martin Dorahy, PhD

As a younger ISSTD member I fondly remember reading the president’s reports written by Rich Chefetz. Each edition of the newsletter would start with Rich’s piece, that often took us readers on a fishing expedition with him. He used to take us through the trip, helping us understand the art of fishing and the tactics that helped attract the fish to the bait and ‘convinced’ it to bite. But biting is not the end of the story, the angler then has to successfully reel the fish in, delicately working the line to ensure the fish does not get off the hook, get snagged on rocks, or break the line. Getting the fish in the boat is the end of the psychological and physical strain, and what’s left is the pleasure of enjoying the spoils. To enjoy the spoils of being a vibrant Society that grows and fully supports its members, the ISSTD needs to go on an annual ‘fishing’ expedition, not entirely dissimilar from Rich’s trips, that helps us ‘bag’ funding so we can plan, execute and grow the ISSTD well into the future. This year’s activities are about to start, as we open our donation drive.

When passing on the mantle of president to me earlier this year, Warwick Middleton, our 2016 commander-in-chief, told me that a key element of a presidency term is to at times adopt the position of ‘beggar-in-chief’. I’m not sure whether the fishing analogy or the ‘beggar-in-chief’ moniker is most helpful in encouraging members to donate to the society, but I hope one of them might assist you in making a contribution to ISSTD’s funding push. We must continue to progress the activities of ISSTD, which this year have included our new clinical e-journal, Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma and Dissociation, a vibrant program of webinars, an energetic and engaging book club, increasing numbers of training courses via our Professional Training Program and regional conferences, and a revised newsletter. With our 35th birthday next year, we are centering our donation drive around the number 35. So please consider donating $35, $135, $350, $1035, $3500… should I go on?! Or don’t limit yourself to these derivatives, any amount will be gladly received. If my fishing or begging has convinced you, please click on this address to make a contribution. DONATE NOW It will be most welcomed, very appreciated and of great benefit in moving the ISSTD forward. Thank you. Some of the areas where the funds will be used include revitalizing our website (see below), expanding our virtual training offerings, including more livestreaming options, and increasing our resources for students and emerging professionals.

Board News:
The Board of Directors over the last several years has engaged in a large-scale exercise of reviewing and revising the policies and procedures for how the ISSTD operates. This is a central task for the ongoing operational security of ISSTD, and was one of the focuses of Lynette Danylchuk’s presidency, was continued by Warwick Middleton last year and remains a focus of the Board this year. We are moving towards completing this round of reviews, under the guidance of Kevin Connors, our current president-elect. As part of this bigger task, we noticed that unlike many other organisations, the ISSTD did not have a well-developed code of conduct that protected the safety of members and ensured the ISSTD was a safe and congenial environment in which members could interact with each other. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the development and dissemination of this code comes shortly before our 2018 conference, which will feature Donna Hicks, PhD, giving a plenary presentation on the topic of dignity. The code of conduct is the ISSTD’s way of trying to promote, encourage and maintain dignity for all members. You can see a copy of the Code here. CODE OF CONDUCT

Website Upgrade Project:
Like our policies and procedures, which we are revising to make them fit for purpose for this time in the ISSTD’s history, our website is also being targeted for major revision. Michael Coy is leading a task force looking into how we can bring our website into the new age, with more interactive capacity, easier programming capabilities and more user-friendly interfacing on various devices. The website is a chief tool for engaging with the public, and both members and non-members, so its appeal and functionality are key to ISSTD’s growth and connectivity.

Finally, to mark October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the US, we include in the newsletter two articles on intimate partner violence.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Dorahy
ISSTD’s head fisherman and current beggar-in-chief.


Welcome ISSTD New Members – October 2017

Susan Adams
Laura Ballard
Cassandra Bransford
Todd Coryell
Noula Diamontopoulos
Heather Hruby
Amy Huddleston
Cathy Kezelman
Veronica Mollere
Jennifer Raymond
Rachel Thomas
Sophie Fink
Natile Hung
Kristi Lynne Koerner
Brooke Lopes
Andrea Scudder
Paula Soto
Jennifer Cochran
Cassandra Colbert
Christine Hill
Liz Ornelas
Michelle Saelin
Lee-Anne Woznak
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