International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

President’s Message From iSTSS to ISTSS: Traumatic Stress Around the Globe

Posted 20 November 2014 in StressPoints by Miranda Olff, PhD

The First ISTSS Meeting in China - When the doors opened of the Boeing 777 that just landed in Hangzhou, China, humid warm air entered the plane. This was clearly a different atmosphere compared to the fresh temperatures that had been announcing autumn in Holland.

A few minutes later I was greeted with a big smile by our host from the 7th hospital in Hangzhou, Zhonglin Tan and later Dr Yonghua Zhang. The psychiatrist, who had spent a year in my lab in Amsterdam, has been more than willing to help organize the first ISTSS meeting in China. Of course I will never know if he would rather have said “no,” as the word for “no” does not exist in Chinese...

Here, we would have a meeting on PTSD. But did you know that PTSD is not a concept in the Chinese traditional medicine? And that Chinese traditional medicine may potentially be very effective, but is not so easy to study within the classical western RCT design?

About 300 people attended – mainly Chinese, but also with participants from Germany, Japan, Australia and the U.S. The event was fantastic, combining “Western” trauma concepts with “Eastern” traditional medicine. (Click photo to enlarge)

The abstracts of the meeting are published in EJPT1, and are available to anyone interested (open access). And, as I also wrote in the accompanying editorial, this has been a win-win situation with mutual learning involved for all parties.

From iSTSS to ISTSS - With trauma being a global issue, ISTSS has committed itself (ever since the global initiative started) to opening its doors to a broader international membership.

With the Annual Meetings being held successfully in the U.S. or Canada it comes as no surprise that the majority of ISTSS members come from the North American region. But now, 23 percent of its members come from Europe, Australia and other mostly western countries.

But it is in those regions where most disasters strike (e.g India, Indonesia, Philippines), where war and violence are ongoing (e.g. Syria, Iraq, Nigeria), where disease and poverty rule (e.g. Ebola areas) that ISTSS is hardly present. It is those countries that would benefit most from knowledge about traumatic stress and how to prevent or treat its consequences.

With all the support of the ISTSS Board my goal for ISTSS is to emphasize ISTSS more in these areas. So many people I spoke to at the Annual Meeting in Miami expressed their interest and support for this endeavor. Please contact me if you have ideas and suggestions that might help us reach this important goal.

Already, Annual Meeting co-chairs Tine Jensen and Markus Landolt (together with Nancy Kassam-Adams) were extremely successful in making the ISTSS Annual Meeting in Miami one of the most international meetings, with a Spanish track and participants from 42 nations.

Progress – I am proud to have served on the International Affiliations committee (now led by Danny Kaloupek and Diane Elmore), which has been successful in building relationships with our partners in traumatic stress societies. And equally proud of our work on the Global Initiative project team (see Schnyder, 2013; and Schnyder & Olff, 2013), which has made strategic thinking around the topic of how to better be a truly international society a high priority.

Now, a few years later, I think we can say we made good progress. We have begun hosting “Global ISTSS Meetings”– the committee chaired by Jon Bisson - in several places outside North America. These events are highly appreciated, as they bring ISTSS expert knowledge to places around the world while ISTSS gains multicultural insights.

In 2014 we were in Kenya, Singapore, China and Chile. In 2015 we plan to have meetings in Austria (with DeGPT), Japan, Canada, Lithuania (with ESTSS), Hong Kong, Singapore, Kenya, Australia and Georgia. Please let us know if you think of other opportunities to have a global meeting, big or small!

The Global Collaboration team consisting of representatives of ISTSS and its affiliates has shown itself to be able to work together. More about this next time!

And lastly free Corresponding Membership is there for all those in Africa. Please inform all you know in your network who live in Africa and would wish to link up with an international trauma society!

There is much work to do for all of us. Or as the Chinese would say: Work to serve the people!

Happy New Year, Feliz Año Nuevo, Glückliches neues Jahr , سنة جديدة سعيدة, Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, 新年あけましておめでとうございます、  שנה טובה,  Godt Nyttår, Bonne Année, Feliz Ano Novo, and over 30 languages I should add (and more hopefully in the future!). And no, I did not forget China (新年快乐), but their New Year starts Feb 19!

And remember to:

Visit www.ISTSS.org
Follow @ISTSSnews on Twitter
Check out ISTSS on Facebook

Join the ISTSS LinkedIn group

Being president of ISTSS and Editor-in-Chief of EJPT (the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, the official journal of the ESTSS) Miranda Olff will be thoughtful about acting in the interest of both societies.