International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Clinical Excellence, Research and Service Acknowledged with Awards

Posted 1 October 2004 in StressPoints by ISTSS

This is the last of a series of articles on the 2003 ISTSS award winners, featuring recipients of the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence and the Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award. These awards were presented at the ISTSS 2003 annual meeting.

Sarah Haley Award
The Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence is presented to a clinician or group of clinicians in direct service to traumatized individuals. Christine Courtois, PhD, exemplifies the dedication to her patients that was characteristic of Sarah Haley.

A counseling psychologist for 25 years, Courtois has always been determined to speak the truth about what her patients tell her, and to communicate this to her colleagues. Her books: Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy and Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines speak to the excellence that has been the hallmark of her approach to clinical work. She has been author and co-author of articles and book chapters that represent an evolving standard of care for the treatment of complex trauma patients.

Her patients’ interests are Courtois’ primary concern. She also is concerned with training (or lack thereof) that therapists receive regarding the treatment of traumatized individuals. She routinely conducts training programs for therapists, and her writing has been directed toward an articulation of treatment models and strategies for working with the traumatized.

Richard A. Chefetz, MD, a former consulting psychiatrist at the CENTER: Posttraumatic Disorders Program, where Courtois is co-founder and clinical consultant (formerly clinical director), spoke of Courtois’ dedication and service: “Chris is a thoughtful, dedicated clinician. In the many years that she has treated patients, individually and in groups, she has remained honest, principled and respectful of the people who have entrusted their healing to her.”

Chris Courtois has served her patients with excellence and dedication and has inspired numerous clinicians throughout the years. She exemplifies Sarah Haley’s work and the qualities ISTSS looks for in a person when presenting the Sarah Haley Award.

Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award
The Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award recognizes excellence in service or research in the field of traumatic stress by an individual who has completed training within the past five years. The award was installed by Yael Danieli in commemoration of her father.

Jon Elhai, the 2003 award recipient, is a promising young investigator who completed his PhD in clinical psychology in 2000, followed by a predoctoral internship and two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina. Currently he teaches and conducts research at the Disaster Mental Health Institute at the University of South Dakota.

Elhai’s contributions to the field of traumatic stress are noteworthy for several reasons. First, he has made a remarkable contribution toward interpreting symptoms and symptom profiles of people with PTSD, including the development of a novel MMPI-2 scale for use with military veterans. Second, Elhai has studied psychopathology in different PTSD populations, such as veterans, childhood sexual abuse survivors and people who have been affected by disasters. Third, he has taken a health services perspective to his work, examining issues related to satisfaction, barriers to care, difficulties faced by rural populations, and trauma-related disability. At this early stage in his career, he has made a significant contribution to the traumatic stress field, having published numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and a number of important book chapters.

“Jon has become the most prolific investigator I have supervised in my 11 years on the faculty of the MUSC and VA Charleston Internship Consortium,” says B. Christopher Frueh, PhD, who supervised Elhai in his postdoctoral fellowship. “Jon’s career holds great promise for the future.”