Whether we are training undergraduate students, international disaster volunteers, medical professionals, mental health practitioners in training, or others, the teaching of traumatic stress requires sensitivity and skill. ISTSS has aimed to create guidelines and resources to clarify the best practices in training trauma, where feasible, and to help assist with the more challenging elements of trauma training.
In 2000, ISTSS formulated best practice parameters for trauma professionals as teachers, clinicians, and scholars. The aim is to stimulate discussion and exchange of information within the traumatic stress community.
In 2002, the Task Force on International Trauma Training of ISTSS published the Guidelines for International Training in Mental Health and Psychosocial Interventions for Trauma Exposed Populations in Clinical and Community Settings
International trauma training defined as "training in mental health and psychosocial interventions for trauma-exposed populations, occurs when professionals with expertise in trauma mental health travel from one international locale to another to train local practitioners to respond optimally to trauma-related problems"(Weine et al., 2002, p. 157). This helpful document outlines the values underlying international training, contextual challenges in societies during and after conflicts, and core curricular elements of training including an outline of necessary techniques for monitoring and evaluation.
For those who are involved in classroom teaching, book chapters such as Susan McCammon's "Painful Pedagogy" in Self-Care Issues for Clinicians, Researchers, and Educators, may be especially useful. This chapter provides a sensitive review of some of the issues that arise when teaching about trauma. While clinicians are often seen as vulnerable to vicarious traumatization, this chapter suggests that teachers and students may be as well. It describes the pros and cons of student disclosure, and presents suggestions for faculty members who are navigating these challenges.
In the future, the ISTSS website will house a library of syllabi and classroom presentations to demonstrate the various ways that traumatic stress is being taught around the world. We will also gladly accept your personal accounts of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of teaching about traumatic stress for possible publication on the website. If you are a teacher or trainer and would like to submit your materials or thoughts to share, please send an email to our Web Editor.