Desire to expand into the region:
The need for learning about working with trauma has been increasing in the recent years in India. Though there is much less awareness about dissociation, there has been increasing interest in learning more about working with it. At the EMDR Asia Conference in January 2020 in Bangkok, where I had conducted a mini-workshop on how to start working with dissociation with EMDR, there was a lot of interest from almost all the Asian countries represented there, indicating that many mental health practitioners in Asia would be interested in further education in working with dissociation.
How it got formed:
At the Membership Committee meeting of May 2021, I was invited to present about expanding the ISSTD membership in India and the region, by the Committee Co-Chair Dr. Warwick Middleton. At the Annual Conference in April 2021, it was observed that the membership numbers from Asian countries were really low. I enquired with a few colleagues from India about how ISSTD could better serve professionals from the region. The need and scope of expansion was presented to the membership committee. As soon as the new tiers of membership was announced in June 2021, the Membership Committee started the plan to reach out to professionals from his region. Since virtual meetings had become a norm, we planned a membership information meeting for Asia along with publicity by media.
What happened at the meeting:
At the meeting on 15th July 2021, there were about 108 participants live, most from India. In the 500 plus RSVPs, there were representations also from Bangladesh, Canada, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, UK and USA.
From the Membership Committee, there were Co-Chair Abigail Percifield, Director of Membership & Marketing Bethany Bjur, members Hvovi Bhagwagar, and Adithy as panelists, also President Rosita Cortizo, Treasurer D. Michael Coy, and CEO Mary Pat Hanlin.
Rosita gave a warm welcome. Abigail did an amazing job of presenting who ISSTD is, taking us through the website pages, and answering most of the questions. Guest speaker Dr. Shekhar Seshadri (Senior Professor from NIMHANS (National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, India) in his brief talk, touched upon many key points about trauma and dissociation and emphasized the need to work together and offered the support of the institute NIMHANS. Hvovi gave her perspective as a new member from India, highlighting how ISSTD and its structured trainings could support professionals. Michael talked about ISSTD’s EMDR training. We got a bunch of questions, and many of us chimed in with answers. The live participants were given the surprise gift of access to the recording of the webinar ‘Dissociation 101’ by Christine Forner and Mary-Ann Kate. The recording of the meeting was made available to those who confirmed.
An attendee shared this: “Very impressed with the scale, the professionalism and the inclusivity of ISSTD”
What is planned next:
In November 2021, ISSTD will host an online conference, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, including presentations and participation from this region. This has evolved from the planned Australia-New Zealand Conference, which was going to be held in Melbourne. A recent outbreak of COVID-19 meant that this conference was made online. The Committee seized the opportunity to expand the focus to the wider Asia-Pacific region and build upon the recent membership drive. We are excited about this and hopeful it will help educate people about complex trauma and dissociation, as well as promote ISSTD to the region.
Stay tuned to hear more about this and other membership activities in the region.