International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies


Posted 1 October 1998 in StressPoints by Sandra Bloom, MD

The ISTSS 14th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. is almost upon us, and that signals the end of my presidency. A year turns out to be a short time, in the grand scheme of things, but it has been a pleasure to be a part of what ISTSS has accomplished. Congratulations to the Millennial President, John Fairbank and newly elected board members Rachel Yehuda, Susan Solomon, Bonnie Green, Roger Pitman, and Daniel Kaloupek.

The ISTSS pamphlet Childhood Trauma Remembered is being disseminated around the country and internationally, and the society can be proud of this terrific accomplishment. A press conference about the pamphlet should be held before year-end. The managed-care survey results are being tabulated as of this writing, and a report should be ready by the annual conference, Nov. 19-23.

The society is pursuing a plan, approved by the board and spearheaded by David Mackey and Ray Scurfield, to increase membership diversity. With the guidance of Bessel van der Kolk, the society also is developing a strategy to pursue a public policy initiative. A mammoth effort is under way, thanks to Edna Foa to have a draft of the Practice Guidelines for PTSD ready to present to the board at the annual meeting.

One of my saddest tasks is to say goodbye to Art Blank as the editor of Traumatic Stresspoints. Art has been a positive and stabilizing force in the society, at the board meetings, and as Stresspoints editor for many years. He has served as an important voice of institutional memory and will be sorely missed. The society wishes him well in his new and exciting endeavors. Art has chaperoned the new Editor, Elana Newman, through the initiatory process of putting out the fall issue. Welcome to Elana and thanks for pitching in, yet again.

As the annual meeting titled "Ending Cycles of Violence: Integrating Research, Practice and Social Policy" draws closer, I want to share a few thoughts about the meeting and the process involved in formulating the program. This year there were more than 450 submissions for 160 time slots. Not only has the quantity of submissions increased, but the quality was unusually good. This made the decision-making tasks almost impossible. ISTSS is extremely diverse -- multidisciplinary, multinational, and multispecialized, representing every known survivor group -- and every effort was made to address this diversity, while including as many submissions as possible. The society realizes how vital acceptance becomes when trying to obtain funding to attend the conference so the selection committee tried to accommodate as many members as possible. At the same time, if the society is to grow, it is important that new people are encouraged to join and cross-fertilize. The committee sought to address that need as well. The result is that, as in previous years, the schedule is packed. Many contributors will be disappointed that they did not receive the amount of time requested or had good proposals turned down. The committee had to make difficult decisions so that the conference could have something for everyone, and I think we have accomplished that goal.

I mention all of this to suggest that soon, we must consider how best to meet the needs of this expanding society. Should the conference be longer? Is there some other way to address quantity without sacrificing quality? These questions must be taken up by the board, but I hope members will share their opinions on the evaluation forms as well.

I am excited about the conference, but like everyone else, I am going to wish I could split myself in two (or maybe five). There will be a variety of tracks that attendees will be able to follow throughout the conference if they choose -- Liz Kuh's and my way of trying to impose a little more structure on this mammoth affair.

The posters will be on view throughout the conference, and a session will be scheduled for the presenters to be with their posters all at once. The specialty training course schedule is exciting, and I urge attendees to choose one. We have tried to make the theme sessions have a coherent thread, have named them, assigned them to a track, and appointed chairs for each one. Make a point to come to the banquet this year -- I arranged for a friend of mine, a West End performer, Simon Green, to do a piece of his cabaret show.

I hope to see you in Washington, D.C., and as I move aside and welcome our new and first truly international President, Sandy McFarlane, I hope that ISTSS will continue to pursue excellent research, dedicated practice, and a commitment to positive social change.