2025 Annual Conference

“Be creative! Be innovative! Be exciting!” Call for Proposals Now Open

It’s that time again, everyone!

The Call for Proposals is now open through Thursday, August 15, 2024, for the 2025 ISSTD Annual Conference in beautiful, historic, downtown Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Our 2025 conference theme is “From Invisible to Visible: Research, Clinical, and Cultural Evolutions in the Field of Complex Trauma and Dissociation.”

I’ve pondered on what I will submit for the conference this year and found myself thinking back to a much earlier period in my career. In those days, I can recall having thoughts along the lines of, “Hasn’t everything already been said?”, “Do I really have anything new to say?”, and, my favorite, “Who on earth would be interested in listening to me talk?” 

You see, I never really thought I’d be presenting at conferences.

For a number of years, I worked contentedly as a social worker in my little corner of the world, back in Chicago. (I currently reside in the Pacific Northwest in the US.) I suppose I kind of enjoyed working in my little hive. During this period, though, I was compelled to pay closer attention to complex trauma and dissociation, largely because my client base was rather rapidly evolving. Out of equal parts necessity and curiosity, I began reading more; I delved more deeply into this specialty via ongoing consultation with someone that had been doing the work for many years, and I more intently attended trainings that piqued my interest. And then, as I was enjoying cruising along, something happened: I was invited by my consultant to co-present an invited presentation, part of which would focus on a bit of my own work, at an ISSTD Annual Conference. Who, me? Despite feeling somewhat terrified of the prospect, I accepted the invitation.

Now, I wasn’t terrified of presenting, exactly. I studied voice in high school and college and performed in front of audiences a lot. In fact, I once forgot all the words to a solo piece, during a vocal competition, and I survived that humiliation! What I imagined happening during a presentation at an ISSTD Annual Conference was far worse: Disapproval or humiliation (!)—maybe even from ‘big names’ in ‘the field’. Alas, my fears were unrealized. It went pretty well and the feedback was encouraging.

As I further deepened my exploration of my clinical interests, something strange happened: Possibilities for exploring these began to bubble up, seemingly unbidden, into my consciousness. Some of the ideas seemed half-baked, while others just didn’t seem realistic as areas to present on. Again, I would ask myself things like, “Who wants to hear me talk? Do I really have anything original to say? Is there truly anything new under the sun, or will I just end up repeating others’ work?” At first, I’m not sure that I did—but as with so many things in life, there’s a wisdom in first mimicking the masters. Over time we grow and develop our own, unique voice.

I once heard a guitarist speak of his own early songwriting process.

He said that, for him, at first very little in the way of musical ideas came out of the faucet. But, once he turned on the tap long enough, exploring possibilities, new ideas began to flow in such a way that they just kept coming, to the point where he could no longer turn the tap off. 

Brains being what they are—and having studied music composition myself in college—I cannot help but notice that how the creative process manifests in music (and other arts) isn’t terribly different, in some basic ways, than the creative process in other pursuits, such as exploring aspects of treatment and research of complex trauma and dissociation. Most fully developed ideas grew out of a seedling of thought—an idea, a question, maybe even a frustration.

If you’re new to the idea of presenting, maybe you’ve noticed similar stirrings for yourself, intellectually speaking: Maybe it has happened as you read more literature, or attended workshops, or even during discussions with colleagues. Maybe you have ideas, or questions, or even a frustration that you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to develop into something more.

ISSTD’s Annual Conferences offer all sorts of opportunities for you to develop ideas.

These conferences feature poster sessions that (typically) explore research questions relevant to complex trauma and dissociation; paper sessions, focused on a theoretical, clinical, or research-based topic, where each person presents for 20 minutes; 90-minute and 3-hour workshops that give presenters more time to ‘play’; and even panel discussions, in which a group of presenters band together, divvying up the work, to discuss a shared topic of interest.

Now, if you’re a seasoned presenter, I want to invite you either to dust off some ‘mature’ ideas and consider giving them another spin around the block (ideally adding some contemporary references!) or to expand a previous presentation, say, from a 90-minute to a 3-hour session, and deepen your mark on a topic that matters to you. 

And remember, ISSTD records select conference sessions now. Think about it: Your work could find its way into our Online Learning Center for others to benefit from, significantly expanding the reach of your idea(s). Also keep in mind, though, that the 2025 Annual Conference will be fully in-person. We will not be livestreaming this conference. 

I’ll be ISSTD President next year, and I have to say that one thing I’m excited to do in that role, very much aligned with what current President Peter Maves did at this year’s conference, is circulate among different sessions to offer silent support to all our presenters. I hope you might be presenting one of those!

Eventually, you may find yourself wanting to share your ideas with others.

Maybe that time is now. Content levels of beginning/introductory, intermediate, and advanced are welcome. We encourage solid scientific and clinically grounded presentations. Be creative. Be innovative. Be exciting! We are seeking posters, papers, and presentations that represent all aspects of understanding, researching, and treating complex trauma, and dissociation, in addition to the conference theme.

The Call for Proposals for the conference is open through 11:59pm Eastern US time on Thursday, August 15, 2024. 

For a full list of submission requirements, please make your way to the Submission Guidelines page of the Annual Conference website. The Call for Proposals will not be extended beyond August 15, so make sure to get your submissions in early. All prospective presenters who submit before August 1 will be entered into a drawing for a free year of membership with ISSTD!

We look forward to receiving your proposals.

Encouragingly yours,