International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

2003-04

Trauma Experts Worldwide to Present at 2003 Annual Meeting in Chicago

Julian D. Ford and Onno van der Hart

We hope you plan to attend the ISTSS 19th Annual Meeting in Chicago, beginning with a full day of Pre-Meeting Institutes Wednesday, October 29, which continue Thursday until noon. The regular meeting program starts Thursday afternoon, October 30, and continues through Saturday, November 1. Several special events will be featured, including Wednesday's premeeting miniconference, "Turning Trauma and Recovery into Art: Creative Languages of Injury and Resiliency"; Thursday's opening reception; Friday's documentary films; and Saturday's annual awards ceremony and closing reception.

The program features an array of integrative multicultural presentations by traumatic stress experts from around the world. The presentations address the biopsychosocial aspects of posttraumatic fragmentation and shed light on the paths taken in the field toward integrative approaches to addressing the complex dilemmas involved in living with and recovering from traumatic stress across the lifespan and in different cultures.

Pre-Meeting Institutes include full-day presentations on three topics of critical interest to clinicians and clinical researchers:

  • How to Implement Prolonged Exposure for Chronic PTSD: Edna Foa, chair
  • Movement and Action in the Transformation of Trauma: Bessel van der Kolk, chair
  • Emerging Practices in Early Post-Trauma Intervention: Josef Ruzek, chair


Half-day Institutes on Wednesday and Thursday will address cutting-edge clinical and scientific issues that reflect:

  • Diversity of traumatic stress theories (cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, experiential, sensorimotor and self/relational development)
  • Populations (bereaved children and communities, torture and disaster survivors, asylum seekers, military personnel, domestic and community violence survivors, survivors who become perpetrators, indigenous cultures and inner-city residents)
  • Clinical syndromes (complex and cardinal PTSD and dissociative, comorbid, psychiatric and addictive disorders)
  • Modalities (psychometric assessment, prevention, individual, group and family psychotherapy, nightmare therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy)
  • Practice issues (therapeutic alliance, practice guidelines, risk management and developing large-scale systemic infrastructures)


The regular program ranges widely and delves deeply into issues of science, clinical practice, health services, prevention, human rights, social policy, advocacy and education that are on the cutting edge for traumatic stress specialists.

The opening plenary by Laura Prescott of Sister Witness International brings these issues to life with a personal account of challenges facing scientists, clinicians, and advocates who seek to work collaboratively with trauma survivors. The goal of this work is to inform and effectively mobilize public and professional awareness to simultaneously support the needs and enhance the resilience of people who live with trauma and who are recovering from trauma.

Several forum presentations, panels and symposia, case studies, and workshops will highlight the interplay of scientific, professional and political issues and forces facing traumatic stress specialists. Survivors from several countries and cultures will give voice to the struggle for transformation in the midst of societal trauma. The experience of survivors and their societies will be described by traumatic stress specialists from around the world who work as advocates, program developers, clinicians and scientists. Scholars specializing in philosophy, the arts, the media and social sciences will offer additional perspectives on the nature and complexity of surviving and recovering from extreme forms of trauma in childhood and adulthood.

Practitioners have a choice of more than 50 practice-oriented case presentations, consultations and workshops addressing gender, developmental, somatic, spiritual and cultural issues in the assessment and treatment of PTSD, complex PTSD, dissociative disorders, comorbid psychiatric and addictive disorders, traumatic grief and intergenerational trauma.

Clinicians and scientists will be intrigued by cutting-edge findings on the empirical bases for traumatic stress assessment, treatment and prevention that are the focus in more than 30 forum, symposium and panel presentations. Clinical trial, effectiveness and treatment development studies will be described with new therapies and with innovative modifications of empirically validated interventions for children, adolescents, and adults. Several controversial questions will be revisited with new findings:

  • How well-validated are "evidence-based" treatments for PTSD, and can these findings and treatments be generalized to correspond with complex disorders and individuals encountered in the real world?
  • Can it be predicted who will benefit from different treatments?
  • What are the pros and cons of the different paradigms for evaluating the outcomes and dissemination of treatment models?
  • Can PTSD be prevented, and when, how, and for whom should early intervention be provided in the wake of acute traumatic exposure?
  • In addition, psychometric studies will explore the phenomenology and constructs and the technology and instrumentation necessary for the psychosocial and biological conceptualization and measurement of the increasingly complex domains of traumatic stress. Neuroimaging, psychophysiological and cognitive neuroscience studies will examine the biological and psychological bases for altered information and emotion processing in PTSD, complex PTSD, dissociative disorders, and comorbid PTSD and psychiatric disorders.


Child traumatic stress specialists will find more than 75 clinical, forum, symposium, panel and workshop presentations focused on acute and chronic trauma disorders from infancy through adolescence. Many of these presentations are sponsored by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a U.S. federally funded (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) consortium of more than 50 academic and community practice programs across the United States led by a bi-coastal national center under the auspices of UCLA and Duke University. Key issues to be addressed include the impact of cultural trauma, traumatic grief and ongoing mass and domestic violence; the effects of trauma in early childhood on neurobiology, moral and self-development, and relationships and attachment capacities; the development and validation of a range of empirically based models for psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and community and school-based preventive interventions for children and adolescents.