A chronicle of the ESTD Trauma Conference in Romania, 2015
Written by Anca Sabau
Child psychiatrist, psychotherapist
In April 2015, Timisoara, the city of roses or “little Vienna” as it was called in the 19th century, the third city of importance in Romania, happily held a series of ESTD events that made “trauma” a much used word.
A large number of clinicians (442), mostly young ones, from all over Romania and also from neighbour countries (Hungary, Serbia, and Poland) came to listen to the speakers at the first ESTD Conference in Romania. The conference “Beyond the Trauma Faces” focused on the assessment of complex trauma and dissociative disorders on the first day and continued with more specific work on traumatic memories on the morning of the second day. In the afternoon, Romanian clinicians presented different trauma and interdisciplinary papers (Epigenetic aspects in PTSD, Preliminary study results on ADES and The role of interdisciplinarity in genetics-neuropsychiatry - psychological aspects in cases of Rare Diseases).
The main speakers from the Conference were well known names from ESTD: Suzette Boon, Liora Somer and Eli Somer –we all, even if we had heard them before, were delighted by their high-class teaching, the atmosphere of magic and communion that they created.
Before and after the conference there were also teaching classes: Suzette Boon was presenting the TADS Q and Anna Gerge gave a workshop on the Ego State Model – it was a real “marathon of trauma classes” as some of the participants called this series.
In organizing the event, we had as partners the main Universities from Timisoara (Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the West University, The Faculty of Sociology and Psychology) and the City Hall of Timisoara. Four NGOs were collaborating as partners in preparing the event: ARSIT (The Romanian Association for Study and Intervention in Trauma), Dianoia (The Institute for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice), SRGM (The Romanian Society of Medical Genetics) and Casa Faenza, a local community centre. It was a collaborative effort for everyone and most importantly, we succeeded in creating a good place for learning.
The Conference and workshops series also created a kind and warm place for networking among clinicians from inside Romania and also abroad. Here is some of the feedback from participants regarding the event.
Bogdan is a resident doctor in child psychiatry; he had already participated in different trauma courses but the Conference brought him new things:
“I especially benefited from the video examples given by lecturers Suzette Boon and Eli Somer that showed us switching of self parts and also how an integrated trauma patient looks and feels after therapy.
The huge amount of information made an impact on me even though I am not new to the field of trauma and I have attended other events organised by ARSIT in Romania. This was by far the best in the sense that I could actually hear first hand the level of dedication and years of work these patients need. Thanks especially to Suzette Boon: I can truly say that I can now identify trauma better and understand what it does to a person experiencing it. The bonus was the questions from the audience, the exchange of practices and the ideas that the lecturers brought to our attention.”
Here are some testimonials from colleagues from Poland (Radek and Igor) who came by car through Europe to participate in the “trauma” series: “It was worth driving almost 900 km form Poland to attend both Suzette Boon’s workshop and the conference. We were offered speeches delivered by exquisite clinicians who not only covered their chosen topics, but also gave numerous precious clinical and therapeutical observations. What was also important to us, was the possibility of making contact with other clinicians and scientists in the trauma field to develop a further fruitful collaboration.”
A very interesting team was the Hungarian one, with very skilled clinicians who asked interesting questions and made comments during the second day of the Conference.
Here are some words from Judit Havelka, the Hungarian representative of EMDR: “There was a small group of colleagues from Hungary at the ESTD Conference. They were therapists who work with severely traumatized people and also members of the Hungarian EMDR association.
The point of this conference is very important, especially in the regions of Central and Eastern Europe, where a several hundred-year old culture of traumatisation (from the individual level to the level of the whole society) and neglect are just starting to change.
We are very pleased to see Timisoara as a very dynamic developing progressive college town. We very much appreciate the great efforts of the Romanian Trauma Association (ARSIT) and we hope it will become a close cooperation in the future between Hungarian trauma therapists and ARSIT.”
Also another colleague from the Hungarian Trauma Therapist group:
“In April our four-person group from Hungary attended the ESTD conference in Timisoara. Three of us are clinical psychologists, two of us teaching psychology at the University of Debrecen, Hungary, and one of us a Ph.D. student conducting research on adverse childhood experiences. Besides the academic job, we work in private practice with traumatized, dissociative patients, mainly according to the concept of the structural dissociation of the personality. Sometimes we feel a bit isolated in this field so we were looking forward to the conference and hoped to gain a lot of new information about these states. Frankly, we learned much more than we expected... We were (and we still are) greatly impressed by Suzette Boon's, Eli Somer's and Liora Somer's lectures that were highly professional and gave a lot to enhance our knowledge about dissociation and its treatment. Furthermore, the attitude and commitment toward patients and to our profession that were transmitted by the lecturers were also an uplifting experience that gave us a lot. These two days were very confirmative and inspiring.... If we were to summarize this conference in keywords, we would choose: professionalism, commitment, deep empathy - and a very fruitful integration of academic knowledge and empirical, practical experience.”