The 5th ESTD conference in Amsterdam (April 14-16, 2016), titled Trauma, dissociation, and affect dysregulation across the life-span, was a resounding success with 450 participants, a warm atmosphere, thought-provoking and informative presentations and posters, as well as excellent care provided in terms of meals and snacks, in the beautiful setting of the Beurs van Berlage.
Some of the recurring themes were:
- Transgenerational trauma and the life stories of Holocaust survivors, child survivors, and children of survivors, with keynotes by Selma Leidensdorff on postmemory and by Ira Brenner on the effect of the passage of time on ageing survivors, as well as parallel sessions
- Conflict resolution and collaboration, social and self-regulation, with keynotes by Frans de Waal on social regulation and dysregulation in primates, by Kathy Steele on the psychotherapy of complex developmental trauma disorders and by Annemiek van Dijke proposing a model of affect dysregulation across the life-span, as well as many parallel sessions
- The assessment and treatment of traumatized and dissociative children, with a keynote by Karl Heinz Brisch on children with attachment disorders, preconference workshops by Renee Potgieter Marks on dissociative children and by Julian Ford on chronic survival adaptations in youth following complex trauma in childhood, and of course many parallel sessions.
Other frequent topics included assessment tools, structured trauma treatment, positive emotion and experience, the role of animals in situations of domestic violence and in animal-assisted interventions, attachment theory: trust and disappointment, psychosis and voice-hearing, implications of Porges' polyvagal theory for treating trauma survivors, integrating the body in trauma treatment, and somatoform and conversion disorders.
As is characteristic of the ESTD community, although many different models, theories, approaches, and techniques were discussed, it was always in the spirit of open-mindedness, curiosity and a shared concern for trauma survivors.
The conference was brilliantly chaired by Nelleke Nicolai, who expressed a thoughtful comment on each keynote and invited questions from the participants. ESTD president Eva Zimmermann not only did a great job of the opening and closing ceremonies, but was an attentive presence throughout the conference, as were all the other members of the conference organizing committee!
The award for the best poster was attributed to Professor Yoshikazu Fukui for his written presentation on the subject of Effects of experiences of abuse and insecure attachment on dissociative tendencies in analogue groups of adolescents.
The ESTD board chose to honour 4 people for their contributions to the field of trauma and dissociation as well as to ESTD: Onno van der Hart, who was given a Chinese painting, Kathy Steele, Suzette Boon and Bettina Overkamp, who received life-long memberships.
It should be noted that in the future, ESTD's biennial conference will take place in the fall on uneven years. Jan Gysi, president of the 2017 ESTD conference in Bern, Switzerland, presented the exciting innovations that are planned. The conference, titled Trauma therapy reaching out to prevention, justice, and police, will add to the usual presentations by and for clinicians, by inviting specialists from the fields of prevention, justice and the police. During parallel sessions, there will always be one session in German and one in French, and if possible, depending on financial resources and the number of participants, simultaneous translations of plenary talks into German and French will be offered. Find out more at www.emdr2017.org!