Letter From The President

Virtual Outbursts of Wisdom and Creativity

In a sudden turn of events our International ISSTD members have superbly mastered the art of remote engagement, social connectedness, and meaningful activities. Below is what our six Special Interest Groups (SIGs) would like to share with you about their recent 2021 Annual Virtual Conference Meetings!

Creative Art Therapy (CAT) SIG Meeting
The Creative Arts Therapist Special Interest Group (CAT SIG) was well represented at the 2021 “virtual” annual conference through presentations, workshops, social events, membership meetings and a virtual art gallery.

We were excited to be the first SIG to meet for our virtual annual meeting on Friday morning, April 9, where we welcomed old and greeted new members. We shared information about the mission of the SIG and talked about the support we have felt during our ongoing series of monthly virtual meetings where we make art, write poetry, and simply share ideas about working creatively in this field. Since we began holding these meetings during the pandemic, they have been a lovely way to feel support, and reduce isolation and burn out. We also discovered new talents among CAT SIG members including interests in the arts, music, dance and writing. We encourage nurturing creative approaches both for self-care and for our clinical practice.

There were two sessions during the virtual annual conference that were led by CAT SIG members. On Friday, Tally Tripp and Elizabeth Davis explored numerous creative arts inspired ideas that can be integrated in EMDR therapy in their workshop entitled: “When Art Therapy Meets EMDR: An Integrative Workshop.” Closing the conference on Monday afternoon, Elizabeth Davis also offered a wonderful presentation called “Integrating Art Therapy to Support Mentalizing Skills for Trauma Processing.”

An important aspect of our CAT SIG mission is to introduce clinicians to the unique role and value of the creative arts in working with trauma. We hope to demonstrate that all the creative arts: visual art, music, drama, poetry, and movement, have amazing healing potential. We enjoyed the diversity in the experience of our participants who asked interesting and stimulating questions via the chat. Of course, we missed the “hands on” aspect of an in- person session, but we feel we may have reached a wider audience in this virtual format.

This was also demonstrated through the CAT SIG’s popular social event entitled:  “Wish You Were Here: Virtual Postcards from our Community. “ This session was crafted as an opportunity for participants to create and share small art “postcards” that would then be displayed in the ISSTD “virtual art gallery” on the conference platform. We hope many of you were able to view the finished art postcards with their beautiful and expressive images and messages of hope and healing.

Tally Tripp, Chair


Organized Extreme Abuse (OEA) SIG Meeting
We had 23 attendees at the OEA SIG virtual meeting, some current members and some interested in joining. We introduced the SIG Executive and then opened with questions regarding working with this population. Some were treatment-oriented and some were about the availability of consultation. It was an enthusiastic discussion. A questionnaire was distributed virtually and the answers will come back to the exec and help us have some idea of our population. The group was very enthusiastic and indicated that they would like to have more meetings like this. It was also suggested that we update our book and resource list. The gathering was reluctantly adjourned after 55 minutes.

Susan Hykes, Chair-Elect


Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) SIG Meeting
During our one-hour PNES SIG Zoom meeting on April 9, the group had the chance to discuss a new survey that has been sent to all our members to better delineate the group’s interests and to plan for the upcoming meetings.  There was much excitement about the topics of the discussion and the possibility of future webinars and trainings in regard to working with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. Reflections on patients diagnosed with PNES that we have treated in the past and the most common difficulties they encounter resulted in the recognition that specific resources are needed. Some concrete ones were shared right after the meeting.  

The concluding points were that the SIG plans to put together an organized set of resources on PNES that might benefit clinicians and ultimately benefit the patients and to tailor the next meetings based on members’ interests.

Lastly, we welcomed a new member from Europe; her membership now brings the PNES SIG up to a total of 60 members!

Best wishes,
Lorna Myers, Chair


Child and Adolescent (C&A) SIG Meeting
During 2021, the Child and Adolescent SIG welcomed new group leadership to support the amazing work that built the SIG into what it is today. As a part of the ISSTD’s 2021 Annual Conference, the Child and Adolescent SIG met for their annual meeting. The meeting had a great turnout, with 20 members in attendance from all over the world!  This meeting allowed for people to connect and get to know each other as the SIG continues to grow and evolve. As part of this evolution, SIG members have expressed a desire to meet every other month as a group and ideas around building the SIG into a space that honors people’s needs were explored.  Next up, the SIG will explore how to accomplish meeting the needs of the group, present the survey results around members interests and goals, and timing for meetings will be explored.  We are looking forward to continuing to build the Child and Adolescent SIG as a space where those who work with or conduct research around children and adolescents who have experienced complex trauma and dissociation can find connection, community, and ongoing growth and professional development.

Jillian Hosey, Chair

Alexis Arbuthnott, Moderator

Billie Jo Bennett, Secretary


Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) SIG Meeting
The meeting was lovely. We did not hold official space, but rather we were present while individuals came through to talk about their interest and experience working with young adults. I showed off different tools that I utilize to engage the young adult population that straddles both the ‘difficult to engage’ and the ‘learning to launch as adults’ group.  Some of these things are tools utilized in TIP (Transition to Independence) and things that border on ridiculous but tend to break down walls and start discussion, like The Unicorn Affirmators series and Adulting Merit Badges that can be awarded for such achievements as “Putting on Pants” And “Starting A Checking Account.”  Some individuals who visited were also interested in helping with the future TAY International Guidelines which is a project that is underway currently. 

Katie Keech, Chair


Vicarious Trauma (VT) SIG Meeting
The Vicarious Trauma and Self-Care SIG’s Annual Meeting that was held at the conference this year was where we debuted our bimonthly support groups. We found it to be a great way to get more attendees to come, be involved with ideas and sharing professional needs and support for each other. The meeting’s core discussions were about the impact of zoom fatigue on vicarious trauma (VT) and simple ways to help prevent and heal from it. We had great discussions with the SIG members; normalizing, validating, sharing questions and ideas and we enjoyed being able to experientially practice some interactive self-care activities together. The goal was for attendees to come away feeling supported, encouraged and having learned some practice skills to use for self-care at any time. Based on the uplifting and refreshing comments we got from participants, it seems we indeed met our goal!  We plan to have more support meetings like this every other month via zoom for anyone in the SIG to be able to participate throughout the year. Let’s keep the support going and stay healthy and grounded together!

The presentation information, resources and interactive experientials are all available on our SIG forum through ISSTD World.

Co-chairs Faige Flakser LCSW and Cynthia Wilson PhD, ATR-BC


If you are interested to join any of these SIGs, please visit the SIG pages in ISSTDWorld in the Online Communities section under Member Resources to request to join our specialized academic Villages!


Spanish Corner
Alli donde hay temor es donde esta tu don.
Alli donde hay obstaculos es donde esta la bendicion.
Alli donde hay cambios es donde esta tu transformacion.
Alli donde hay silencio nace la musica de tu interior.
-By Arnau de Tera

English Translation
Where there is fear is where your gift is.
Where there are obstacles is where the blessing is.
Where there are changes is where your transformation is.
Where there is silence the music is born from within you.
-By Arnau by Tera