International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Diversity and Cultural Competence SIG



The Diversity and Cultural Competency Special Interest Group (DCC-SIG) of ISTSS focuses and addresses both content and process issues surrounding diversity. While the DCC-SIG recognizes the unique contribution, experiences and perspective of all individuals, we are strongly committed to examining and recognizing the importance of such historically and currently relevant group- and community-level factors as race, ethnicity, tribal/cultural group, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, and nationality, among others. The DCC-SIG believes that these factors mediate, moderate and in many cases, even determine traumatic exposure and post-traumatic response, such as through exposures to hate crimes, general community violence, forced internment, enslavement and other trauma or via contributing factors occurring within societies hostile to particular groups, such as social attitudes and actions contributing to a hostile environment. However, demographic characteristics may also be proxies for or directly countervail the effects of trauma through culturally-specific strengths and resilience factors.

The process issues which the DCC-SIG addresses are multi-fold, but centrally focus on enabling ISTSS as a whole to become more representative of the many groups and communities who are and can make contributions to the field of traumatic stress studies and allied fields.

The DCC-SIG also recognizes that cultural "competence" is a goal to strive for and not a readily reachable static endpoint. Cultural competence has as its starting point awareness of one's own cultural framework and culturally induced blind spots. This may be the beginning point for the development of cultural sensitivity.

Since its inception four years ago, the DCC-SIG has addressed and continues to address the above concerns through a variety of means:

  • Organizing diversity and culturally-related presentations at the ISTSS Annual Meetings - Encouraging and supporting the submission of diversity- and culturally-related presentations at the ISTSS Annual Meeting
  • Reviewing abstracts for potential presentations at the ISTSS Annual Meeting prior to submission, providing editorial comments and suggested revisions as requested
  • Providing DCC-SIG endorsement of those presentations deemed to highlight or focus on matters of interest to the SIG
  • Enabling and promoting diverse representation among peer reviewers for the Annual Meeting
  • In close partnership with the Diversity Task Force, promoting and sponsoring the ISTSS Meeting Mentors and Orientation Meetings program
  • Providing feedback to other and higher levels of leadership regarding mechanisms for increasing participation and membership of diverse individuals
  • Through the DCC-SIG listserv, e-mailing job postings of potential interests to SIG members in partnership with the Diversity Task Force, forming links with other groups with similar concerns



Stefanie Smith, PhD
CSPP at Alliant International University

Jerell Hill
Pacific Oaks College

Student Co-Chair
Sandy DiVitale
Emory University

Diversity and Cultural Competence SIG Listserv Address
Members of the Diversity and Cultural Competence SIG can use the SIG listserv to share information with the full SIG.