Like many of you in this post(?)-COVID era, I have been slowly and selectively venturing into public spaces. As a socially awkward introvert, I admittedly welcomed the pandemic shutdown with relief. Sweatpants and slippers became my work outfit. Though previously resisting the idea of conducting sessions with clients via videoconference, I muddled my way through the transition and my clients followed – some more willingly than others. I was also in the first year of my PhD program in Counselor Education, giving me the unprecedented opportunity to work with professors as they transitioned their in-person courses into an online environment, while I was experiencing the same transition in my own coursework. Fortunately, webinars and professional conferences also made the transition to a virtual environment. It felt to me like the world was simultaneously shutting down and opening up…accessible in ways that time, money, and distance had previously made beyond my reach.
It was during the pandemic that I became a member of ISSTD, and in the two years following I have become actively engaged in the organization. I am a member of various SIGs, have attended webinars and other meetings, both ask and respond to posts in discussion forums and am halfway through the PTP Advanced Certificate in Complex Trauma and Dissociation training program. Through this engagement, I have fostered professional relationships with many like-minded trauma clinicians and researchers. In 2022 I attended the ISSTD Annual Conference virtually. While I enjoyed the presentations, I was able to attend, not all sessions were videoconference-accessible, so I missed several presentations of interest.
This year, after reading positive statements from other ISSTD members about the benefits of attending the conference in person, I packed my bags and headed to Louisville…and I am glad I did! The array of available presentations was impressive. Like last year, some sessions were video recorded while others were not. No problem! I attended several presentations that were not recorded and saved the recorded sessions to view later. It was like having two conferences for the price of one! I enjoyed one-on-one chats with people, some of whom I “knew” from Zoom meetings, classes, and discussion posts. I also have a notebook full of ideas, books, and articles to read, and a study (Bethany Brand’s Finding Solid Ground) in which to participate.
I left the Conference with a full heart, a stimulated mind, and an increased sense of community. As we battle widespread denial of the importance of our work in the field of complex trauma and dissociation, it is clear how much we need each other to maintain the support and energy required to continue to move forward. It is also clear how much ISSTD needs all of us to share our experiences, wisdom, and knowledge with each other.