Letter From The President

Boundaries in Therapeutic Relationships

Dear ISSTD Members,

Treating persons with complex trauma histories and dissociation is complicated, challenging, and at times dangerous. The complex relational nature of this work may result in vicarious traumatisation of therapists. Another difficulty for healing professionals arises in managing the therapeutic relationship within appropriate emotional, physical, and psychological boundaries. Consultation and supervision are essential to assist a clinician through these challenges.

ISSTD’s mission is to advance clinical, scientific, and societal understanding about the prevalence and consequences of chronic traumatization, attachment wounding, and dissociation. Within this mission, ISSTD offers resources to assist clinicians in the treatment of patients who suffer from complex trauma and dissociation.

The Professional Training Program (PTP) of ISSTD offers courses at three different levels that cover the complexities of complex trauma, the dissociative disorders, their treatment, and related topics. These courses, offered both in-person and in teleseminar formats, comply with continuing education requirements. Some parts of these courses specifically cover transference, counter transference and boundary issues. Boundary issues are covered from the beginning stage of treatment, through the middle stages, and through the end stage of treatment.

ISSTD’s Webinar program contributes to the mission of ISSTD by providing accessible, affordable educational events, both in live and asynchronous formats, which offer continuing education credit via web-based video technology. Two webinars planned for later this year, by Robert Muller and Peter Maves, respectively, will focus significantly on professional boundaries in therapeutic relationships. The schedule of upcoming webinars is available on the ISSTD website under Training & Events, or at this link.

The Nashville Regional Conference to be held in Nashville, TN, September 11-12, 2020, will also be an invaluable resource for therapists with regard to professional boundaries. Its title is, ‘The Therapeutic Relationship is Your Most Powerful Tool (& Your Biggest Pitfall): Relational Strategies to Treat Challenging Trauma Clients’. This practical two-day workshop, led by Robert Muller, author of Trauma & the Avoidant Client, is aimed at building our understanding of the psychotherapeutic relationship with challenging trauma clients.

In addition to the above, several of ISSTD’s Regional Communities (formerly called Component Groups) have also offered, and will continue to offer, presentations relating to the therapeutic relationship and professional boundaries.

It may happen from time to time that clinicians fall short of the accepted standards of clinical care and practice. Although many shortfalls can be repaired within the therapeutic relationship, some might be irreparable and can have profound consequences.

ISSTD wishes to contribute towards reducing negative consequences for patients and clinicians alike, and, to this end, we encourage you to access the aforementioned, upcoming opportunities for professional growth and self-reflection. We will continue to strive to meet our members’ needs for professional connection and support, and educational opportunities relevant to the challenges we face in the field of complex trauma and dissociation.

See you in San Francisco!

Best regards,

Christa Krüger, ISSTD President, Pretoria, South Africa