International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

PRESIDENT'S COLUMN

Posted 1 April 1997 in StressPoints by Terence Keane, PhD

We have made remarkable strides as an organization in the past few years. With this maturity has come a dramatic increase in the size of our membership, the increasing prominence of our journal internationally, the visibility and high quality of our annual conference and the large number of organizations that have begun the affiliation process with us. The field of psychological trauma has developed into a remarkably rich professional area. The vision of our founding members is certainly in the process of being realized. It is now in our hands to elevate our efforts to the next highest level.

It is our mission to provide an opportunity for professional growth and development for mental health professionals concerned about the psychological problems associated with exposure to traumatic events. How we realize or attain this goal depends, in part, on how it is defined. Accordingly, the board of directors will be dedicating its mid-year meeting to devising a mission statement for the Society, articulating goals and objectives for the short and long term, and deciding upon implementation plans for achieving these goals.

Past President Matt Friedman, MD, commissioned a survey of the membership last year to derive input from all members about their professional objectives and those for the Society. John Fairbank, PhD, ably worked with the executive committee to devise, implement, analyze and report on the results of that survey. The findings from the survey will be used as the foundation from which the board will function during the strategic planning session. It promises to be an exciting time. We will report on the efforts of the board at the annual business meeting in Montreal and in a future issue of StressPoints.

Affiliations. Evidence for the international growth in our field comes from various milestones. Chief among them is the proliferation of local chapters, affiliates and like-minded organizations worldwide. We are pleased that many of these groups are looking to ISTSS for guidance in establishing their charters, bylaws and goals. Recent groups that are gaining in prominence in their regions include the societies from Africa, Kuwait and Canada. Each is looking to affiliate with us in order to more fully actualize the objectives we hold in common. As these groups develop, the presence of professionals who are committed to assisting those who have been traumatized will be observed in educational institutions, government halls and in the very communities affected by trauma. This is truly a remarkable achievement.

Traumatic memory. Past President Susan Roth, PhD, has worked tirelessly on the development of the Society's response to the vitriolic debate surrounding the nature of traumatic memory. At the mid-year board meeting, the board will review a document for concurrence before publication. In constructing the document, Roth solicited input from various members, representing the divergence of opinions within the Society. It is the objective to distribute the document widely to all interest groups so that a reasoned voice representing an organization committed to the betterment of traumatized individuals is heard. I must extend my sincere appreciation to Susan and all the Society's members who helped on this project, as well as to our consultants, who contributed their intellect to an issue that has been characterized to this point as yielding more heat than light.

Promoting ISTSS. The clinical,
educational and research accomplishments of ISTSS members are noteworthy not only to us, but also to the professional community at large. In order to more fully recognize the efforts of our membership, Susan Solomon, PhD, chair of the Scientific Publications Committee, and Jessica Wolfe, PhD, chair of the Media Committee, initiated a relationship with a center whose mission is to disseminate behavioral research findings to legislators, policy makers and constituents of all types (patients, clients, mental health professionals, etc.). Working with Journal of Traumatic Stress Editor-elect Dean Kilpatrick, PhD, the Media Committee is attempting to get the finest work published in JTS the media attention it deserves.

Curriculum efforts. Under the able direction of Lyndra Bills, MD, the Curriculum Committee is embarking on the large undertaking of updating the work of prior committees to develop course curricula for each of the disciplines represented in the Society. This Committee is interested in assembling course materials that would supplement existing courses on psychological trauma and assist professors and teachers in assembling new courses. Clearly, the training of the next generation of trauma clinicians, researchers and educators is a key mandate for the Society. If you are interested in contributing materials for consideration to the committee, please feel free to contact Lyndra.

Conference update. Danny Kaloupek, PhD, chair of the Program Committee, has introduced many new facets and features to our annual meeting. As a result, the committee received the largest number of submissions ever for one of our conferences. Commitments from many of our most prominent members to conduct preconference institutes, nightly receptions for all attendees, joint sessions with the International Society for the Study of Dissociation and a sterling list of invited speakers will result in a conference that will truly be international in the spectacular venue of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. Make plans to attend!