International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

President's Message

Posted 25 November 2013 in StressPoints by Nancy Kassam-Adams, PhD


It is fitting that the very first goal in the ISTSS Strategic Plan is about nurturing and sustaining professional community and interchange.

Goal #1: Professional Community - ISTSS inspires innovation in the various activities of traumatic stress professionals. We provide a unique forum for respectful exchange among a diverse membership. We strive to ensure that ISTSS feels like the “right professional home” for our members.

Community and respectful exchange are central to my experience of ISTSS, and I would argue that they are the foundation for all other aspects of our mission as a Society. So how is ISTSS doing in meeting this goal? Are our exchanges respectful? Is our membership diverse? Are we inspiring innovation?

By several measures we are doing pretty well. Those of us fortunate enough to attend the Annual Meeting return to our “real lives” energized with new connections and ideas. ISTSS is beginning to be more active in sustaining a lively professional community online and in ISTSS meetings around the world. Our online interactions and global meetings will be a major focus in the coming year.

We owe the founders of ISTSS a huge debt of gratitude for creating an organization nearly 30 years ago that still promotes interaction and community across geographic and professional boundaries. We should not underestimate the importance of these connections, nor take this community for granted. As a young clinician in the 1980’s, I worked in small local non-profit agencies – a domestic violence shelter, a rape crisis center. My colleagues and I saw the struggles, and the strengths, of the women and children we worked with, but would never have thought to connect our work with the struggles of combat veterans and the new PTSD diagnosis that we’d heard about. This crucial shift in perspective would come soon, made possible in large part by the founding of this Society. The professional community of passionate and committed trauma professionals that has always formed the core of ISTSS enabled real advances in science and in clinical care.

How do we sustain and strengthen a diverse and vibrant ISTSS community now and into the future? Join the conversation online and share your ideas. We're listening. @ (#ISTSScommunity):

  • How does the ISTSS community inspire you? Help you do your work?
  • How can we promote frequent and respectful exchange among a diverse ISTSS membership?
  • What are YOU doing to connect across boundaries? How can ISTSS help?

And speaking of social media, here is a collection of some notable tweets from members shared at the ISTSS 29th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia (#istss2013)

"ISTSS conference has been great! It's amazing to meet people who love helping first responders!" 

"One of my favorite things about ISTSS is all of the great research ideas you get through talking to people!"

"Thanks for the great meeting. Time to get to work on the next big idea."

"Reflecting on the close of ISTSS on why this is my home: wonderful colleagues and friends, great science, and promising students."

"What made #istss2013 a fantastic meeting: neuroscientists, clinicians, social workers, epidemiologists, journalists + all focused on trauma."