Special Interest Groups

Transitional Aged Youth SIG

Katie Keech

The Transitional Aged Youth Special Interest Group is a special interest group for members of ISSTD who are interested in the treatment of complex trauma in Transitional Age Youth (TAY), generally defined as clients between 18 and 24 years old.

The need for mental health workers who specialize in this age range has been highlighted recently, as our current environment is impacting TAY extremely hard. The CDC recently released a study this summer stated that 25% of 18 to 25 year olds reported they had seriously thought about suicide within the last 30 days. This is a large leap from last year’s CDC study and shows that TAY have been impacted by our current health, economic, sociological and global political issues.

The TAY SIG is currently rounding its second year as an official SIG. We have successfully completed a few projects in 2020. These included an ISSTD webinar in April led by myself and Regina Cantrell-Kinzfogl. I went over the fundamentals of brain development in young adults as it impacts their ability to navigate the world and then how that combines with the impacts of PTSD. Regina discussed working with TAY who are managing dissociation in a community-based clinical setting, and we both talked about the sociological impacts that TAY face as well as the increased appearance of mental health symptoms during this developmental period.

I presented a daylong pre-conference training in May for the ISSTD Virtual Congress, which focused on the breaking down why young adults are different than either teens or older adults, specifics on brain development, and how trauma and dissociative disorders combine with the developing brain for young adults and how best to engage TAY in treatment when working with dissociative disorders. I also focused a portion of the training on young adults from LGBTQQIT-S communities and how that can intersect with experiences of trauma. For those who are not familiar, LGBTQQIT-S stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed, and Two Spirit. Two Spirit may be the most unfamiliar term for readers here. It is a term that first-nation tribes in the Americas have used for community members who are either transgendered, attracted to individuals of the same sex, or both. The meaning can shift slightly from tribe to tribe. The recognition of transgendered individuals within first nations communities goes back over several thousand years. It is not a term that individuals who are not part of the first nations tribe can claim to describe themselves.

In the SIG, we have recently started a discussion exploring possibilities to collaborate on creating a book which would focus on working with young adults with are managing PTSD and dissociative symptoms. Currently there is no literature dealing with this specific issue, but there is a need for it. In addition, we are exploring how to create treatment guidelines which would specifically address working with TAY who have symptoms of dissociation and complex PTSD.

If you have any questions or would like to join ISSTD’s Transitional Age Youth Special Interest Group, please contact Catherine Keech at