Christine Forner, BA, BSW, MSW
Hello My Fellow ISSTD members,
I am recently home from the annual conference and as I write this, the most vivid feeling I am having is that I feel ‘full’. Full of new knowledge, full of hope from the new connections, full of love for each person I met, and full of new curiosity as new perspectives are presented.
For me these conferences are so much more than yearly learning. One of my favourite things about the annual conference is spending a week with my therapy family. Being surrounded with so many others who experience the world in a similar way to how I experience the world provides me with a deep feeling of communal connection. The community of the ISSTD fills me so that I am re-energized and this energy boost from the support I feel assists me in managing this very challenging work.
Thank you to all those who attended. I heard many times over that this conference is different than other conferences. Many people described to me the joy, heart and connection they felt. We are a scientifically based organization, that also values the heart of our community. If you have never been to a conference I would suggest you look into attending one of our annual conferences in order to relationally connect with others who share similar experience.
This year our current attendee number for the 36th annual conference is 595, but a few numbers are still coming in. This is the largest conference we have had in a while. I am so happy to see the growth. Our membership continues to grow and those of us who have been attending the conferences for a long time, have tangibly noticed that the Student and Emerging Professionals are very eager and engaged. Again, for me, the highlight of this conference was the many hugs and warm welcomes.
This year several themes came to the surface. In our full day Board meeting we reviewed our strategic plan to see if we have met our yearly goals, what we may need to do to if some goals were not met and what would we like to focus the direction that our society should go within the next year or two. I am happy to report that most of our goals for 2018 were met. We have been able to launch a new web site. We have the foundation for a universal way to communicate with each other via Higher Logic. We have organized and distributed several funds to assist those who are less able to attend the training, through the Goodwin Fund and we were able to support a impactful study by Dr. Simone Reinders. Last year our main goal was to look at what we can do to continue to bring the society into the mainstream. By making our trainings and other education material more accessible and by focusing our attention in areas that we typically have not focused on, we seem to have continued the trend of informing the wider therapeutic and scientific community about what we have to offer
This year we all, individually, brought to the collective of the Board the observation that we need to conceptualize ourselves in a much larger context. It was interesting to hear the notion, time and time again, that we need to move towards doing what we can to influence larger systems, such as public policies. Our Public Policy Task Force continues to grow and conceptualize a plan to move forward. It will be interesting how this group pulls together to develop a plan, tasks and goals to bring the plan into fruition.
The other major area that is taking form is how we develop our cultural diversity. A quote I heard in the Town Hall meeting was “There needs to be more ‘I’ (International) in the ISSTD”. A few of our newer members were so helpful in guiding us into this broader perspective. In the next few months the Board will be setting up a plan to better organize our committees and update our policies and procedures to reflect the changes that will be needed to move the ISSTD into the next decade. A large part of this goal is to add in cultural awareness and a deeper level of inclusivity.
I am looking forward to the impact that this conference will have on ISSTD and all of us as individual practitioners. I am excited to welcome our new members, and our new volunteers. Your vision, excitement, your passion and your dedication to the ISSTD is what fosters the special community that is found here.