Letter From The President

Volunteering with ISSTD

Hello My Fellow Trauma Therapists and Researchers,

Today I would like to visit the notion of volunteering for the ISSTD. We are quickly approaching that time of year where we begin to contemplate our next year’s Board and Executive Committee with our nominations. This is the time of year that we look towards our colleagues, or ourselves, and decide if dedicating time to the ISSTD would be a worthwhile undertaking. For me this is an easy one to answer. Emphatically, yes!

The ISSTD is an international organization with the purpose of training, educating and supporting clinicians and researchers in working with and studying the issues of complex trauma and dissociation. We are the oldest organization that tackles this subject. We are the people who know the difference between simple PTSD, Complex PTSD, DD, OSDD, USDD, BPD and DID. We are the world’s leading organization in disseminating the science that explains the difference between the above disorders. We are also the people that can inform you as to why it is important to know this information in applying treatment modalities. We are full spectrum trauma informed practitioners and researchers and if you don’t know what that means – belonging to and obtaining training from the ISSTD will educate you on what a full spectrum trauma therapist is.

Understanding the nuances of the notion of a full spectrum trauma therapist will also inform you on how much work is still left to be accomplished. There are many who only consider flight and fight responses, so few understand the freeze response to stress, neglect, fear and trauma. The difference between the active and inactive defences are huge and not enough therapists know this. We also understand why more aggressive techniques can be hurtful, and so many do not know this. We also have a really good theoretical foundation as to why some types of interventions are totally useless and why others seem to work better. We understand and really are the intersectional place between the fields of trauma, neurobiology, attachment child development, shame, grief, pain, neurochemistry, sociology, anthropology, psychology, physiology, individual, couple, group counselling, community programs and public policy. We work with people in every setting and throughout every stage and age of development. We are trained in many modalities because we know that not one size fits all.

I would be willing to bet that if you were to ask 100 complex trauma therapists who are well-trained in dissociation and the dissociative disorders ‘What is the key component to your treatment?’ –  they would all say something similar. No matter what field the therapist was trained in, or what modalities they use, the answer would be surprisingly similar. Deep human kindness, patience, attuned attention to the client’s deepest wounds and most upsetting experiences, dignity and compassion. These are the keys to what we do. We basically work with those who have been through the worst types of human-to-human harm and we care with respect, dignity and compassion. What we do will change the world. What we have learned about humans, if disseminated on a grander scale, could and should affect policies and health systems everywhere.

But the problem is we do not have enough money, research dollars and people, to take us to a higher level of visibility and influence. We still do not have the research to show others what we have learned in the last 36 years. We do not have a ton of resources for the individual who deals with these torturous experiences. If every one of our members did one thing for and with the ISSTD this could change. The human potential within our organisation is enormous.

Currently there is less than 5% of our membership volunteering for the ISSTD. Less than 5 % of the ISSTD membership is accomplishing so much. Just imagine what it would be like if more of the membership took an active role within the ISSTD.

We need people to help with our conferences.

We need people to help with marketing.

We need people to help with our UN committee.

We need people on our Student and Emerging Professional Committee.

We need people to help with our Book Clubs.

We need people to help organize the volunteers.

We need help with the Awards we disseminate throughout the year.

We need people. Each and every one of you can participate in an area that you are good at, or have passion for, so that you can help move this Society into the next decade.

I wanted to bring a perspective to the membership that can profoundly change the trajectory of how things move in the field of complex trauma and dissociation. In our world writing articles and books is an effective way to distribute your ideas or research to the greater world. However, I would also suggest that volunteering for the ISSTD is another grand way to move things along in the world.

We need Leaders.

We need movers.

We need shakers.

If you are interested in volunteering please let us know, and remember there are only a small group of us rowing this beautiful ship. The more help we have the easier it will be to take us into the next decade and truly be the leaders that we know how to be.