Dear ESTD members,
I am writing this, my second presidential message, having just completed my role in a very special conference in Kristiansand, Norway. For the past two days, eminent clinicians and researchers from the fields of trauma and dissociation, and psychosis and schizophrenia, gave presentations and participated in discussions in front of almost 500 participants, primarily Norwegians. This was the 2nd International Conference on Trauma, Dissociation and Psychosis, the first having occurred in mid-2015. Presenters included Ellert Nijenhuis and Janina Fisher, along with Jim van Os – a very well-known and highly respected schizophrenia researcher (who made headlines last year after declaring that schizophrenia – as an entity – does not exist!). Also Renée Potgieter Marks was there, presenting a fascinating case of childhood dissociative disorder. My role was to chair the discussion sessions – four ‘conversations’ between two or three of the presenters and myself, along with a final 75-minute discussion between all presenters.
This was a most stimulating and rewarding event, demonstrating to me how far we had come (and how far we still have to go) in understanding connections between trauma, dissociation and psychosis. It was particularly rewarding to hear about the ongoing level of interaction between trauma and dissociation services on the one hand, and psychosis services, in Kristiansand and other parts of Norway. They clearly are ahead of the rest of the world, in this regard.
For me, it was great to attend this event, 20 years after I gave my first talk on the relations between trauma, dissociation and psychosis – at Bessel van der Kolk’s Trauma Center in Boston, and a year before the publication of the 2nd edition of our ‘Psychosis, Trauma and Dissociation’ book. There is some really great thinking and clinical work going on in this area.
In early April, Dolores Mosquera and I attended the ISSTD conference in the United States, at Arlington, Virginia. As representatives of ESTD, we presented a 3-hour workshop on understanding and working with voices from a dissociation perspective. It was very well received. In exchange, Martin Dorahy, the current president of ISSTD, will come to Berne in November, and present his important work on dissociation and shame. There were also meetings between ESTD and ISSTD representatives working on the task forces to address important questions about the meaning of the term dissociation and the current state of knowledge about factors relevant to the development of dissociative disorders. All in all, it was a very inspiring time.
In my capacity as ESTD president, I have been dealing with transitioning to the new website, and with issues around the journal. The website is almost ready, with one of the final issues – translating automatic member emails into the main European languages – almost completed. It should be online before 1 July. One of the changes will be that membership fees will be able to be paid by credit card, as well as bank transfer and PayPal. We are also looking at allowing for automatic bank transfers, but are not sure at this point whether we can do this. The new website should make many things, including accessing membership resources, so much easier.
You all have been able to access the first issue of the journal, and I hope you found it as stimulating as I did. The second issue will be out soon, perhaps by the time you are reading this, and will continue to raise the profile of ESTD (and AFTD) in the trauma and dissociation world. Please remember to pay your fees so you can continue to receive the journal.
In other news, the election for the vacant ESTD Executive Committee place was held in May. The psychologist Igor Pietkiewicz was elected to fill this slot, and will join us at our board meeting in Barcelona in July, after the EMDR Europe conference. Igor is a very talented researcher and University teacher at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, in Katowice, Poland, where he runs the Research Centre for Trauma and Dissociation. He is also clinically involved and supervises therapists at a Day Care Psychiatric Unit. So, he is a real ‘scientist-practitioner’ and we are very happy to have him on the ESTD board.
Finally, the November 2017 conference in Berne Switzerland (estd2017.org) is approaching and has generated great interest. Many submissions for presentations have been received; it will be a challenge for the conference committee to find places for them all, but they will do their best to make sure all the good presentations are represented. This will be a one-of-a-kind conference, unlikely to be repeated any time soon in any part of the world! So please check out the program on the website (there will be streams in English, French and German), and plan to attend this unique and important event. I hope to see you there! I wish well in your practice and your life, and will ‘talk with you’ again in three months’ time!
From ESTD Newsletter Volume 6, Number 2, June 2017