International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies


Elana Newman, PhD
President, ISTSS

For many of our members, this is a creative time of year as ISTSS members decide which current work or ideas to submit to the ISTSS Annual Meeting. As many of you know, the submission process is open now with oral proposals due March 15 and poster proposals due March 30. I am extremely appreciative of the ongoing work conducted by the program chairs, Program Committee, headquarters and the Annual Meeting Committee to make this upcoming conference a success. Much of the success of the conference, however, is directly attributable to the quality of the submissions that you, our members, generate for the conference. 

The ISTSS mission reads:
“ISTSS is an international multidisciplinary, professional membership organization that promotes advancement and exchange of knowledge about severe stress and trauma. This knowledge includes understanding the scope and consequences of traumatic exposure, preventing traumatic events and ameliorating their consequences, and advocating for the field of traumatic stress”

Thus our primary mission is to promote the advancement and exchange of knowledge about severe stress and trauma. One of my goals this year is to increase the quality and breadth of this dialogue within ISTSS; our annual conference is certainly one important place to work towards this goal. 

Our conference theme is, “Preventing Trauma and its Effects: A Collaborative Agenda for Scientists, Practitioners, Advocates and Policy Makers” was selected to help us promote advancement in the area of prevention. In my experience, many of ISTSS’s discussions of prevention have focused on preventing aversive outcomes once exposed, reduction of re-exposure to traumatic events, and resiliency. “Prevention of traumatic events” has been less investigated, with some notable exceptions (e.g., the statement against torture, the work of the U.N.).  By thinking about all our work from a prevention framework, my hope is that we can propel the field forward expanding the ways we understand, intervene and help survivors of traumatic events. 

To help promote this type of dialogue, our Annual Meeting Committee has worked to create mechanisms to help members connect with colleagues for the purpose of jointly planning a presentation. Consider using it to reach out to colleagues interested in presenting with you. Since this Colleague Connection is an experiment this year, we look forward to your feedback. 

To further enrich the dialogue at the conference, I encourage those of you considering submitting a proposal to involve a colleague who does not typically submit to ISTSS. By expanding the pool of presenters, we can extend the quality and scope of our conversations. I hope that by extending the range of our conversations, we can individually and collectively further improve science, interventions and policy on behalf of trauma survivors. I also hope you will tell all your colleagues about this conference and encourage them to submit and/or attend. 

Program chairs Joanne Davis and Jon Elhai have noted that one of the difficulties inherent in soliciting more proposals is that rejection rates could be higher this year. We have no idea if this will be the case or not, but we want to experiment for the benefit of broadening our shared concerns about science, interventions, policy and advocacy related to traumatic stress. We believe this effort will benefit all our members and the field.

The Program Committee, future conference delegates and I look forward to your submissions to understand what you think is important to discuss and share at this year’s annual meeting. I urge you to share your knowledge and skills at the upcoming conference. 


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