Special Interest Groups

Organized and Extreme Abuse SIG Updates

It is always an honor to represent the ISSTD Organized and Extreme Abuse (OEA) SIG, and so I am pleased to have the opportunity to share with you more about who we are and our focus.

I am sure each of us here has our own personal story about how we came to do the work we embrace.  This is true, as well, for those of us who at some point encountered our first client with OEA background. This systematic, extreme, premeditated abuse is sustained over a long period of time; therefore, it is only to be expected that these clients will benefit from long-term and intensive therapeutic assistance.

Engaging with these clients challenges us as professionals to expand our understanding and to stretch our limits as we go, while in the session room, in ways beyond what the rest of the world “sees.” Our OEA SIG gives us as providers a space to collaboratively rest in a place of attunement. 

We encourage:

  • Asking questions
  • Asking yourself, “What am I needing?” and showing up to the OEA SIG meeting with exactly that
  • Creating a space together that feels safe and the opposite of alone
  • Challenging ourselves individually and collaboratively
  • Authenticity to accept that we, too, are not perfect

Our OEA SIG members are diverse. We strive to show up every day doing what we do, knowing very well we just don’t “know it all.” Whether we have experienced, ourselves, the effects of OEA abuse (and some of us have) or whether we are seated next to one who has, we come together with a united perspective to learn together through shared experiences. 

Our OEA SIG is an opportunity for us as professionals to nurture a setting available to us similar to that which we cultivate for others. We invite authenticity, vulnerability, and imperfection to the space we hold together. We meet regularly (sometimes monthly, sometimes bimonthly, with a predetermined schedule) for SIG Zoom meetings, which is an excellent opportunity to bring thoughts and questions related to current professional challenges. We have shared our calendar dates for meetings in our ISSTD World SIG discussion board so each of us can plan ahead! The discussion board is a great way to post a question or a thought and receive feedback consistently throughout the days and weeks. 

Every year we look for others in our OEA SIG who would like to join us by serving on our OEA Executive Committee. Please consider! We encourage you not to feel intimidated. We learn from each other there, we encourage one another, and we share one another’s capacity to serve within our individual gifts as we ask for help when we need it! Please, when you see a post asking for nominations to hold a position in leadership, CONSIDER! Keep an eye out for messages about this over the summer.

Are you asking, “How do I join the ISSTD OEA SIG?” All you have to do is contact Chris Rensch (our SIG secretary) at and request to join!

If you know us, you’ll love us! Come know us. We’d love to have you join us.


Amy Connor, OTR/L
Moderator / Chair Elect
On behalf of the OEA Executive Committee