Trauma & Dissociation in the News

Trauma, Dissociation and Disability: A double-dose of complexity

Valerie Sinason, PhD MACP MInstPsychoanal FIPD

The Author Valerie Sinason, in Cape Town

Today, December 3, is International Day for People with Disabilities. What does it mean to have an international disability day?

For those I have spoken to in the U.K., Europe, Australia and South Africa – being named means being seen, valued, represented. We know the impact on black citizens in the U.K. before black actors appeared on television. What does it mean to see no one like you in magazines, comics and films? For your name or your condition only to be known in hospitals? To have therapy and not play?

In America, one disability rights groups called “ordinary” people the “temporarily unimpaired” which I find extremely helpful- it has the deep truth that humour provides.

Joanna, aged 15, when asked about this day, said “It is my day. You have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and my birthday but disability is all of us – people in wheelchairs with good brains and me who can walk with half a brain”.

And what of our language for this International Day? The word “Disability” has not caused furore in the way “handicap”, or even more stigmatising language such as ‘retarded’ and ‘subnormal’ has done. It is worth reflecting that when a label changes every few years we know, psycho-linguistically, that something is not bearable. Subnormal to handicap to special needs to learning difficulty to intellectual disability. . .

Tuki, religious leader of the Bushmen in Nieu Bethesda ready to bless the Bushman Heritage Center where Valerie and her husband, and Professors Joan and Julian Leff are the Trustees.

As we celebrate this International Day for People with Disabilities, I am in South Africa, where the population deal with mass illiteracy and a significant number, through social-political trauma, develop mild intellectual disability.

When I was first invited in 1994 to help address this process, painful issues emerged. Many township mothers had refused to let their children become literate, fearing they would be made to sign false confessions by apartheid police.

Slowly, as a result of Mandela’s influence when he was freed, this lessened. However, the system of making a child who was educationally “behind” repeat a year in school continues to shame and damage progress. Additionally, although Mandela banned the beating of children, and that is enshrined in law, schools continue to do this illegally. Outside of major centres of excellence there are little resources for disability services.

However, Cape Town is blessed with a fine psychology training at UCT and projects to help children and adults with intellectual disability are world class, despite the lack of resources and the enormity of the problem. Brian Watermeyer, a lecturer there, is visually impaired and uses his experience of his own disability to aid his clients. Professor Leslie Swartz of Stellenbosch University, together with his Cape Town and Lenteheur hospital colleagues, created a joint disability International Day on December 1st, where I had the privilege to present a half-day workshop and provide supervision.

How does all this relate to our field? Tragically, people with disability are much more likely to experience abuse, with the highest rates being among those with intellectual disability. In addition, the impingement on attachment, due to depression in parents, and the bodily and mental discomfort in the child leads to an extra vulnerability.

In a world where there is impatience and fear over non-comprehension, slowness and deformity, it is not surprising that behaviours that come from trauma such as self-injury and rocking are seen as an innate part of disability and therefore ignored.

In fact, these groups have high rates of unacknowledged and untreated trauma and dissociation. Kate McMaugh, an ISSTD Member, who has worked within both disability and trauma services in Australia, said to me, when talking of her experience in disability services:

“I was amazed by the amount of complex trauma amongst this group of people. People often lack the ability to speak out, yet they have certainly had a lot of abuse. Often it is the carers or group home staff, who know the clients really well, who get told of the abuse – sometimes decades later and often only in ways that people close to them can understand.

One of my clients had such idiosyncratic sign language and severe speech problems that only those who knew her really well would understand her story. When I got to know her she was able to say (actually ‘sign’) that her father touched her in the shower, that he was bad, that he showed her his penis and even more detail. Yet 99% of people on the planet could not understand her communicate.

I felt so sad that so many of these clients never got the care they needed, or the therapy they needed. But I know they do respond to counselling – it might be slower or we might need to use creative methods, but it can work.”

Professor Leslie Swartz of Stellenbosch University (in blue shirt) who organises Disability Day with two of his PhD students

To illustrate just what is possible I will discuss a case of mine, Eve, aged 19, who had profound multiple disability and was paralysed from her waist down. She was blind in one eye from eye poking and had a collapsed bowel from anal poking. She had no verbal or sign language and yet she was able to communicate the deepest issues. Abandoned at birth and moved from home to home where no records were left, she was referred from a community home who noted she screamed most at Christmas, which was when she was abandoned. Every night the staff put her to bed and, with no 24 hour shift, they would find her the next morning, covered in feaces, with the walls all smeared. Smearing of menstrual blood occurred each month.

After two years of therapy, where I would wonder aloud about what I was observing, her self injury lessened, yet there was a wish to sterilise her to avoid the moods that came with her period, as well as the menstrual smearing.

In one session, sitting on her wheelchair, she pulled down her tights and a little drop of menstrual blood fell on the floor. I felt enormous sadness. I said: “Why Eve- all this time we have worked together you didn’t want me to know you were a woman with a period, which means you are not pregnant.”

She pointed to a baby doll and I passed it to her. She threw the doll on the floor and a tear ran down her cheek. I said she had been thrown away by her mother as a baby and here she was in the room, a woman without a baby. But also – here we were two women in the room and she was my therapy baby, as well as a woman without a baby. She pointed for the doll and hugged it and then drew the tree from the front garden. I said the tree would be there after we had died and how comforting she found it.

That night there was no smearing and all calls for an operation stopped. Later she was able to reveal anal rape.

In other words, this case shows that psychoanalytically informed therapy can be applied to extreme disability. The only difference in application was to show more affect in face and voice rather than “neutrality”.

When I discussed this with Kate, she mentioned how important it was for her, working with people with intellectual disability and brain injury, to be trained in augmentive and alternative communication strategies, such as key word signing or Boardmaker. When needed, these extra communication tools are typically not that difficult to learn. Kate said:

Zulu dancers in Cape Town

“Since many people with disability need an individual communication approach, a therapist can actually learn this communication as part of getting to know the client. I believe specialist trauma and dissociation therapists would be complete naturals at working with traumatised individuals who have a disability, as they are already used to individual and creative approaches.”

Where someone has intellectual disability and DID, the process of treatment is harder. Judy Williams from the U.K., Aafke Scharloo from The

Netherlands and I have presented on this dilemma at past ISSTD conferences. Again, access to treatment is crucial and people with this double disability can be helped. Extra time is needed to help process the complexity of this double situation.

For example, Jon, the male alter in a 30 year old woman, found “inside” and “outside” even more intellectually difficult to grasp. He wept for his “lost” penis when he came out and his level of intellectual capacity made the predicament of DID unbearably complex. He felt his carer or therapist must have magically removed it. This led to violence until turning the light switch on and off created a clue for him as to how different states co-existed. Once this was identified he was able to make progress.

The good news is that therapy and meaning work for people with all levels of disability, whether with or without DID.

Valerie Sinason PhD, is a child and adolescent Psychotherapist and an adult psychoanalyst. She is chair-elect of ISSTD’s RAMCOA Special Interest Group. She was recipient of the ISSTD lifetime achievement award in 2016. In the U.K. she was Founder of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies and Founder President of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Disability. She is the first recipient of the IPD Valerie Sinason award.

Intellectual Disability and Psychotherapy: The Theories, Practice and Influence of Valerie Sinason, Ed Alan Corbett (2018) has just been published by Routledge. See NYCU this month for more information.

Sinason,V (2012) Mental Handicap and the Human Condition; an analytic approach to intellectual disability, Free Association Books

Letter From The President

I Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me

Kevin Connors, MS, MFT

“When I paint I am influenced by the texture of the paper, the viscosity of the paint, the condition of the brush. I reach down to make a thin line and it comes out plump. Then the picture takes a new direction – I influencing it; it influencing me.”

Hugh Prather
I Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me

I find it funny how the projects I take on; take on a life of their own. I am not talking about household repairs, although my wife will attest to most projects growing beyond the original 2 or 3 hour estimate.

I am thinking about the nature of collaborative process and the evolution of ideas that comes about when creative people come together. I am certain the clinicians among us see this process unfold everyday as we meet with our clients. Treatment plans to address specific issues grow into larger life lessons, while attempts at psychoeducation shift into dealing with triggered trauma. I imagine researchers find similar shifts as the data reveals new and unconsidered information.

I am also thinking about projects organized at the board level promoting the strategic plan and the mission of our Society. At the all-day, face-to-face Board meeting held last March, we initiated the Public Health Task Force; chaired by Board members, Heather Hall and Michael Salter.

The initial thought was to help ISSTD explore ways to reach outside of our silo and to collaborate with other organizations that also addressed ways of researching, treating, and training people addressing complex trauma. We have a tremendous wealth of knowledge; we are the premiere organization addressing the role of dissociation in complex trauma. Failing to recognize and assess for dissociative phenomena accounts for a significant number of complications compromising treatment success. We have a lot to offer. We need to go beyond preaching to the choir, finding ways to reach new audiences.

Even as this idea was being presented at the March Board meeting, Heather and Michael were running with this idea. They excitedly looked to reframe and reimagine dissociation and complex trauma as a public health issue. Going beyond the original concept they started talking about the differing impact of and responses to trauma among marginalized populations.

In early August, they formalized the Public Health Task Force Mission Statement:

“The mission of the task force is to examine the public health dimensions of complex trauma and dissociation, and to identify opportunities for the ISSTD to contribute to primary prevention and early intervention for those at increased risk of complex trauma and dissociative disorders.”

In discussion with the ISSTD Board of Directors, Heather and Michael were charged with four tasks:

  1. To advance an intersectional public health framework that recognises the contribution of oppression, disadvantage and discrimination to complex trauma and dissociation,
  2. To promote evidence-based strategies for primary prevention and early intervention for those at risk of developing complex trauma and the dissociative disorders,
  3. To champion interagency collaboration between the ISSTD and other organisations to reduce risk factors for complex trauma and dissociation, and
  4. To work with the ISSTD Board and organization as a whole on the long term goal of addressing the public health implications of trauma and dissociation.

One development growing out of their work is a pre-conference workshop on Complex Trauma and Dissociation (CTD) from a public health perspective, focusing on their belief that “the prevalence and burden of CTD in the population can be reduced through the reduction of risk factors, and the promotion of protective factors, at the community, institutional and social level.”

Addressing cyclical factors whereby CTD maintains and exacerbates social inequalities which in turn negatively impact opportunities for treatment and other vital services, this workshop speaks to the need for systemic responses to individuals and communities.

A key element in understanding and informing what underlies the impact of CTD across the lifespan is the concept of dignity. Violation of dignity is seen as a critical risk factor contributing to CTD and developing dignity at personal and systemic levels is an essential part of both treatment and prevention.

This workshop promises to be an exciting and innovative look to the future of ISSTD and the trauma field.

Further, the recommendations coming out of the Public Health Task Force will hopefully guide and inform the ISSTD Strategic Plan; broadening our focus to include the spectrum of complex trauma, to focus on new areas of service delivery including community level services, especially those delivered to marginalized populations, as well as increased training in these areas.

They make another key recommendation: The ISSTD should identify a core list of values to guide ethical decision making and collaboration.

I am excited to see more from this dynamic duo, from this task force, and from ISSTD as we expand our ability to network and influence the study, treatment, and prevention of complex trauma and dissociation.

The Public Health Task Force’s workshop; Dissociation and Public Health, is one of many powerful and dynamic in-depth workshops offered in the two days leading up to our 2019 annual conference – The World Congress on Complex Trauma: Research, Intervention Innovation – to be held in New York City.

A full list of the pre & post conference workshops is available on our conference website. The full conference schedule will be available in mid December.

I look forward to seeing you in New York.


PS: If you are excited as I am about the direction that ISSTD is going; with our growing library of webinars, our ever-developing PTP classes, the new SIGs; please consider doing as I do and making a donation to our $35 for the 35th Campaign. The money supports so many important ISSTD projects and helps keep our Society functioning. You can donate easily by clicking here!

News You Can Use

News You Can Use

Kate McMaugh, Editor, ISSTD News

Paul Dell article wins Important Award

An article by ISSTD Fellow, Paul Dell, PhD, recently won the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis’ Ernest R. & Josephine R. Hilgard Award for Best Theoretical Paper on Hypnosis: “Reconsidering the autohypnotic model of the dissociative disorders [Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 19(5)].

The article challenges the hypnosis field and the dissociation field to re-think (1) the link between autohypnosis and dissociation, and (2) the nature of the dissociative disorders. The article contends that the dissociative disorders are forms of hypnotic psychopathology.

This is the second year in a row that Dell has won SCEH’s Hilgard Award for the best theoretical paper on hypnosis. Last year, Dell’s article, “Is high hypnotizability a necessary diathesis for pathological dissociation?” [Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 18:1, 58-87], won the Hilgard Award. That article refutes the longstanding belief that there is no meaningful relationship between high hypnotisability and psychopathology.

To access both of these articles, 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 202-803-6332, or email for assistance.

Welcome ISSTD’s New Members in November!

Christina Mardirossian
Kristen Wold
Maureen O’Connor-Strout
John HOrton-Young
Will Warren
Urszula Kelley
Esther Perez
LaShaun Williams
Amanda Marotz Roemer
Patricia Doherty
Mary Ann Sokolowski
Brittany Edgar
Regina Cantrell-Kinzfogl
Hillary Walker
Lee-Anne Francois-Dornbusch
Stacey Senko
Lana Seiler
Joni Fisher-Canham
Gabriella Black
Tammy Summers
Paul Gibson
Tammy Scaramuzzino
Sheri Waldrop
Morgan McCowan

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. (Please be aware: we do not offer book reviews, but a chance to share with others that your book has been published.)

Submission Deadline: 20th of the month
Send to ISSTD Editor, Kate McMaugh:

Clinical E-Journal

JTD and Frontiers Table of Contents (November 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 19, 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 202-803-6332, or email for assistance.

Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma & Dissociation

Table of Contents


  • The Relationship of Mental Telepathy to Trauma and Dissociation (Sharon K Farber, PhD)
  • A Simple Algorithm for Medication of Patients with Complex Trauma-Related Disorder (Andreas Laddis, MD)
  • Healing Emotional Affective Responses to Trauma (HEART): A Christian Model of Working with Trauma (Benjamin B Keyes, PhD, EdD)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in Complex Trauma and Dissociation: Reflections on Safety, Efficacy and the Need for Adapting Procedures (Anabel González, MD, PhD)
  • 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

Partner News

7th Biennial ESTD Conference – Rome: October 24-26, 2019

We are delighted to invite you to Rome for our 7th biennial conference, October 24-26, 2019. The theme of this ESTD Conference is “The Legacy of Trauma and Dissociation – Body and Mind in a New Perspective”: a challenging notion for both clinicians and researchers! Throughout the program we will explore these issues from many different perspectives, and across all developmental phases, from childhood to old age. Go to to learn more about the conference.

Abstract submission is now OPEN. Click here for Submission Guidelines

Registration is now OPEN with lower ‘early bird’ registration fees dedicated to ISSTD members
Register Online Now!

Keynote speakers

On Thursday evening we will open our conference with two exciting plenary talks: Michela Marzano, a famous Italian philosopher, will introduce us to social aspects of the fragility of the human condition. Then Kathy Steele will present her latest ideas on the treatment of trauma and dissociation. On Friday and Saturday, plenaries will be offered by Benedetto Farina (brain studies on trauma, disintegration and disorganized attachment), Martin Dorahy (on DID, episodic autobiographical memories and the sense of self in different dissociative identities) and Ellert Nijenhuis on his new approach to trauma treatment (“Enactive Trauma Therapy: Bridging mind, brain, body and world”). A few words about the background of the main speakers can be found on the ‘keynote speakers’ page.


2019 Webinar Schedule and Full-Year Webinar Pass

ISSTD is pleased to announce the 2019 Webinar Schedule!

Make the most of our training opportunities by taking advantage of our Full-Year Webinar Pass! Participate in a full-year of webinars for a discounted price. Those who purchase the pass have access to all live and recorded webinars in 2019. CE Credits are included for live webinar participation but must be purchased for recorded webinars for an additional charge through our CE Co-Sponsor, CE Learning Systems. Discounted pricing is available for students and emerging professionals! Act now, this offer runs through April 5, 2019 only!.

To learn more about the Full-Year Webinar Pass, click here.

2019 Webinar Schedule

The Progressive Approach of EMDR Through a Case Example
Date: January 25, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
Presenters: Dolores Mosquera
1.5 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

The Disconnected Brain: Understanding Brain- Behaviour Relationships in Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders
Date: February 21, 2019
Time: 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
Presenters: Jan Ewing
1.5 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

Attachment in Children and Adolescents
Date: April 26, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 3:00PM Eastern Standard Time
Presenters: Niki Gomez-Perales

3 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

Attachment, Dissociation, and Unresolved Mourning of Trauma or Loss
Date: May 17, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Presenters: Paula Thomson
1.5 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

How the Creative Arts are Useful for Working with Trauma and Dissociation
Date: June 7, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Presenters: Tally Tripp
1.5 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

Stabilization of DID
Date: September 27, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Presenters: Colin Ross
1.5 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

RAMCOA Half Day Workshop
Date: October 2019
Time: TBA
Presenters: TBA
3 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

Phase II of DID Treatment
Date: November 1, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
Presenters: Lynette Danylchuk & Kevin Connors
1.5 CE Credits (APA & ASWB) pending

Note: All dates and times are subject to change. Additional webinars are expected to be added in the coming months.  

Special Interest Groups

SIG Update: Creative Arts Therapy SIG

Tally Tripp, CAT SIG Chair

The Creative Arts Therapies Special Interest Group (CAT SIG) is one of the “youngest” of the Special Interest Groups of ISSTD. Founded in 2017 by three art therapists (Tally Tripp, Linda Gantt and Eva Young), this enthusiastic group was formed to highlight the unique and important contribution that the creative arts (visual art, music, dance, drama, poetry) can make to the treatment of trauma and dissociation.

Our 70 or so members include creative arts therapists from across the globe, as well as clinicians from all backgrounds and disciplines, who either use or appreciate the role of the arts in healing trauma. Our members include past ISSTD presidents, past and current board members, and many long-standing ISSTD members who have worked extensively with traumatized populations.

Our membership is open to any ISSTD members who support, or are curious about, how creative arts can be integrated into trauma treatment. We are encouraged by the current neuroscience research that demonstrates the strength of these experiential “bottom up” approaches which can access traumatic memory more directly than with words alone. We hope to encourage discussion, generate ideas, promote research, and share resources in our CAT SIG listserv and in our meetings.

The CAT SIG has been active in the organization’s annual and regional conferences with presentations of various workshops, panels and papers. Last year in Chicago we spearheaded the “Create and Connect” event as an opening program where we facilitated a painting session for about 75 participants. The evening was a tremendous success and individuals who never thought of themselves as “artists” thoroughly enjoyed connecting with others via the creative process. We hope for a repeat of this event at the upcoming New York conference in March 2019.

Also in 2019 the CAT SIG is looking forward to hosting a 1.5 hour Introduction to the Creative Arts Therapies ISSTD webinar which will be available on June 7th.  More information to come at a later date!  (Bethany is there any link to post here?)

The CAT SIG is happy to have ISSTD members join our group and spread knowledge and information about the creative arts in treating trauma and dissociation. Please contact CAT SIG Chair, Tally Tripp at to join us or for more information.

Founding members of the CAT SIG including (R-L) Chair and Founder, Tally Tripp (3rd from right), Secretary Eva Young, and co-Chair Linda Gantt.

Board Member and Artist Dr Heather Hall, MD (Right) at Create and Connect, 2018

Artworks, Create and Connect, Chicago, 2018.

Board Members Dr Michael Salter and Paula Thomson create some masterpieces.

ISSTD Past President Dr Lynette Danylchuk, PhD shows off some of her creations, Create and Connect, Chicago, 2018.



Committee Spotlight

News from the Professional Training Program

Su Baker, MEd, Professional Training Program Chair

It has been about a year since our last update to members and it has been busy.

The teleseminar format for teaching in a “virtual classroom” continues to grow and is very successful. There are currently two courses on adult complex trauma and dissociative disorders available in the teleseminar format, with two parts to each course. Currently, there is at least one section of each of these four courses being taught and in some cases several sections are currently being taught. More will open early in 2019. The Master seminar continues in the DC area and hopefully will be available as teleseminars in the future. There is a steady stream of enquiries concerning these courses and we foresee that their popularity will continue to grow. This means that professionals from all over the world will have access to quality education in complex trauma and dissociative disorders. Our instructors also hail from all over the planet and we are hoping to continue adding to our faculty.

We have also changed the names of our courses, to more accurately reflect both the curriculum and that they are at a graduate level of knowledge. The former “Intro” course will now be called: “The Complexities of Complex Trauma, Parts 1 and 2”. The “Standard” course will now be called: “From Complex Trauma to Dissociative Disorders, Parts 1 and 2”.

In addition, courses requirements will ensure that students start with the first level course (Complexities of Complex Trauma, Part 1) and proceed through the courses, as each course builds on the previous. We have had many students request advanced standing, but we have set strict limits on this so that students have a solid base upon which to build. Of course, there may be some few exceptions, but, in general, we will apply this policy. Each course carries both continuing education credits i.e. for Psychology and Social Work in North America. (Students from other countries will need to check with their individual licensing board). They also count as credit hours toward the Certificate in Complex Trauma and Dissociation from the ISSTD Center for Advanced Studies in Trauma and Dissociation.

In order to encourage students to follow the program of study and to give a discount on our courses, we will now be offering a “bundle package” for courses leading to the Certificate. The 4 adult courses (Complexities of Complex Trauma, Pt. 1 and 2 and From Complex Trauma to Dissociative Disorders, Pt. 1 and 2), if purchased as a bundle, will give a 10% discount and will include 2 free webinars. Students who purchase this bundle will have 5 years to complete the classes, and they will have sufficient credits to apply for the Certificate from ISSTD. More information on the bundle and registration is now available on the ISSTD website!

We are hoping to have the Advanced Course complete, accredited and available as a teleseminar by the Spring of 2019. More information will be forthcoming.

The online child and adolescent courses will continue, as in the past. However, due to new continuing education credit restrictions, only APA credits will be available. (Again, students from outside North America will have to check with their individual licensing boards.) These restrictions do not apply to any teleseminar or in-person courses, just asynchronous online courses. Please see the web site or contact headquarters for more information

In addition, Sandra Baita, along with Paula Monero, are offering the Spanish language version of the Child and Adolescent class for the first time this year. More information on Spanish courses are also on our website.

We continue to look for new instructors, especially those who would be interested in teaching in the teleseminar format. There is information online on the Professional Training Faculty Page.  In addition, those who are accepted will be assigned mentors, take part in a 3 hour PTP faculty training webinar and are encouraged to “sit in” on a teleseminar being taught by current instructors. In other words, we want to assure you that should you become a PTP instructor, you will have the support you need. We are excited to welcome these new instructors for the PTP courses:

  • Dawn Hinton
  • Holly Maddy
  • Willa Wertheimer
  • Ed Groenendal
  • Richard Cross
  • Kirsten Stach
  • Carol Heffer
  • Kate McDowell
  • Gail Straw

And we welcome back, Peter Maves, a former instructor who has returned to the fold.

We are very excited with the program and its growth. We hope that as word spreads, we will have many more teleseminars and new courses to add to our offerings.

Upcoming Courses

Committee Spotlight

Certificate Committee

Lynette Danylchuk, PhD, Certificate Committee Chair

Participants receiving the Certificate at the 2018 ISSTD Annual Conference in Chicago, IL

ISSTD’s Certificate Program began in 2012. Paul Dell created a document outlining the Core Areas of Knowledge for professionals working with people with complex trauma and dissociation issues.

A Certificate from ISSTD’s Center for Advanced Studies in Trauma and Dissociation is the gold standard in trauma education. It reflects the standards of ISSTD, the oldest professional organization that is dedicated to the understanding and treatment of severely traumatized people.

Clients presenting with complex PTSD and dissociative disorders present a unique challenge to the clinician and the researcher. The goal of the Certificate Program is to increase the professional’s level of knowledge and competence in the Core Areas of Knowledge. The Core Areas cover subjects at a graduate level, and people are encouraged to look through the Areas, highlight those in which they have had the least exposure, and take courses in those areas, resulting in a self-directed course of study.

Certificate credits are given for Annual Conferences, Webinars, and PTP courses – and yes, you get credit for teaching any of those. Credits represent hours of study and are updated at Headquarters twice a year. Seventy-two credits are needed for a Certificate, and 100 for the Advanced Certificate (28 additional credits added to your first 72). The easiest way to get the credits is to take the PTP (Professional Training Program) courses, newly revised this year – The Complexity of Complex Trauma, 1 & 2, and From Complex Trauma to Dissociation, 1 & 2.

Logan Larson receiving her Advanced Certificate at the 2018 ISSTD Annual Conference in Chicago, IL

This year, the PTP has run twelve courses, with close to 200 students, and the goal is to increase that number next year, with courses offered in person, online, and through teleseminars. There are already two teleseminars and one online class that will start in January. Registration for these upcoming courses can be found here on the ISSTD Training Calendar.

To date, 21 people have been awarded the Certificate and 19 people have been a

warded the Advanced Certificate. We are currently tracking credits for 1,215 individuals.

It would be my pleasure to see you on stage receiving your Certificate, so start accumulating those credits and add to your knowledge and expertise in treating the people who come to you for help.

Special Interest Groups

The 2018 RAMCOA All-Day Webinar

Alison Miller, PhD, Registered Psychologist (retired)

Professor Warwick Middleton

Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, my “all-day” webinar began at 6 a.m., when Professor Warwick Middleton, from Australia, began his presentation at midnight, Australian time. As I sat bleary-eyed in front of my computer, Warwick kickstarted the day, with his talk: A Life Sentence: How the Study of Ongoing Incest During Adulthood Informs us About the Nature of Organised Abuse. This informative talk was amply illustrated by pictures of news reports of convicted abusers from all over the world, demonstrating links between ongoing incestuous families and organized abuser networks.

We truly are an international group, and so too, unfortunately, are the organized groups of abusers of children. I found it reassuring to know that thanks to the internet, law enforcement is now able to detect the organized groups whose survivors we RAMCOA (ritual abuse/mind control/organized abuse) therapists have been treating since before the false memory advocates began diverting us from the reality we have seen in our clients. Although it’s also thanks to the internet that these abuses are so widespread.

Sue Richardson

Next was UK’s Sue Richardson’s wonderful presentation: Clinical Supervision of Work with RAMCOA: An Attachment-Based Perspective. Throughout her presentation I felt she was talking to me; it was as if I were her supervisee, as she explained how this incredibly challenging client population dysregulate our own attachment systems and plunge us into emotional chaos. Supervision can provide that secure base from which we can receive enough support to allow us to venture out into the world of organized evil which our clients open up to us. I have also supervised and consulted to a number of therapists. Sue reassured me that I was on the right track, and helped me realize how important it is that those with expertise in our field learn to be supervisors. If you weren’t present at Sue’s webinar, make sure you register to watch it later (and her handouts are available online); it will help you even if you don’t treat RAMCOA survivors, and whether you are an experienced trauma therapist or a newbie. It will also make you aware of the importance of the peer supervision provided in the ISSTD’s online discussions, especially our RAMCOA special interest group.

Richard J Loewenstein, MD

After the “lunch break” (which happened at 9:15 a.m. my time), Dr. Rich Loewenstein of Sheppard-Pratt presented on mind control transference in his talk entitled: Negative Therapeutic Reaction and Stuck Cases: Mind Control Transference in the Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Over a short period of time, he covered a great many client behaviors which indicate a client is regarding a therapist as trying to control his or her mind, a situation which is exacerbated if the client has already been abused by a therapist. I recognized pretty well all the behaviors as ones I’d encountered with my RAMCOA survivor clients. I’m happy that this senior consultant recognizes that organized abuser groups are real and often pursue their victims into adulthood, even though I think he underestimates how much they torture adult survivors and coerce them into beliefs and behaviors deliberately designed to undermine therapeutic relationships. These organized abuser groups recognize therapy as a danger to their security, so they target the therapeutic relationship in their training of their victims. I have written extensively about these issues.¹

Joyanna Silberg, PhD

We don’t often see RAMCOA survivors when they are children, since most child victims are abused and controlled by family members as well as other members of the organized group. For our last presentation Dr. Joyanna Silberg presented her work with a large cohort of children (from previously healthy families) who had been abducted on a regular basis from a badly secured school in Jerusalem in her presentation: Symptoms and Treatment Considerations for a Group of 70 Children Abused in a Presumed Child Pornography Ring. It amazed me how she was able to think up instant appropriate interventions for any abused child’s presenting problem. All child therapists can learn from her presentation about indicators of organized abuse and about doing the work with kids and families.

This was a very informative day (or perhaps ‘night’ for some!), and I thank the ISSTD for allowing RAMCOA to receive the amount of education exposure which it deserves. The large size of our SIG indicates the importance of understanding these abuses and their survivors, and indeed many therapists who are not (yet) SIG members have also seen such clients and could benefit from the SIG and from such presentations. Now we need a course on RAMCOA work as part of the Professional Training Program!

For more information on the RAMCOA SIG contact our Chair: Associate Professor Michael Salter at:
To purchase the webinar recordings, click here. Please note that you will need to sign in to the ISSTD website in order to access the member discounted webinar recordings.

¹ Miller, A. (2012). Dialogue with the higher-ups. Pp. 111-132 in Vogt, R. & Vogt, I. (Eds.) Perpetrator Introjects: Psychotherapeutic Diagnostics and Treatment Models. Kroning: Asanger Verlag.
Miller, A. (2014). Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Mind Control and Ritual Abuse. London: Karnac. Chapters 6 to 8.

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