Dear Colleagues and fellow members of ESTD.
As your newly elected President, this is my first contribution to ESTD’s quarterly newsletter. It’s an opportunity to look back as well as forward to the evolving development of your organisation that was given life at our inaugural meeting in April 2006.
Our need to periodically look back is crucial in relation to our organisation as it is in our work with clients. In dissociation there is so often no ‘time line’; no ability to deal with anything other than the present, often the current immediate crisis. As an original survival mechanism, this is highly effective. As a means of living in the adult everyday world, it leaves the person with no intrinsic sense of self, identity or continuity.
I believe the same can apply to organisations. Your ESTD board had to deal with this very issue at our first joint ESTD/ISSTD board meeting in Belfast in April 2009. Eli Somer, Suzette Boon and I have been active members of the ISSTD board in years past. It was during our time in office that the vision of a more truly ‘International’ role for the ISSTD (then called the ISSD) was developed. ISSD would become the equivalent of the UN in its role. Under this vision, Europe (ESTD) would be the first continent to be established under the umbrella of ISSD and the favourable fee structure established for joint ESTD/ISSTD membership was a crucial factor in the development of this new vision. The hope and expectation was that other ‘continents’ would follow (South America, Asia etc) with representation on the ISSTD board.
A few years elapsed, ISSTD board members came and went, and this historic evolution was forgotten. To be fair, ISSTD went through a fundamental financial crisis that threatened its very existence. Unfortunately, with this history forgotten, ESTD were seen as being given unfair and unjustified favouritism at the expense of North American members.
Luckily, once face to face with the ISSTD board members at our joint board meeting, all projections from both sides were reality tested and a new healthy cooperative atmosphere created with excellent joint projects established into the future. Developmentally, we needed, and have, moved from relative independence to complete independence.
With this in mind, I have set as one of my main objectives, the continuity of ESTD’s future by a clear reminder of its evolving past. To this end, the board has endorsed my suggestion that all departing Presidents (after their 2 year term) write up a brief history of their term in office to be archived on our website. In addition the board have approved the formation of a new ‘upper house’ composed of past presidents. This will be an advisory council available at any time to be consulted by board members but will not have any voting rights. They will carry and be a reminder of the history of the organisation and hopefully be invited at some point during the board’s annual meeting to be briefed and to give constructive comments.
You will note on the website that the first member of this new ‘chamber’ is Suzette Boon. Suzette has shown such energy and dedication during the early nurturing years of ESTD. This may well be my way of making sure she doesn’t completely disappear off the radar! Perhaps eventually, like aging grandparents, we will become an ever larger bunch of grumpy old activists resisting being told what to do!
Thanks to Eli Somer’s presidency the current board has both energy and direction. Each member has taken on a well defined role bringing to our organisation the richness and diversity of Europe. They are also great fun to be with.
My second objective, now in place, is the creation of a Research Committee which Andrew Moskowitz has kindly agreed to chair. He will shortly be sending the detailed objectives for ratification by the board but the main outline may well be as follows:
1. A resource for people in Europe interested in doing trauma and dissociation research - to help with advice.
2. The future possibility of some large scale research projects to sponsor or develop?
My third and last objective is the hopeful formation of a committee dealing specifically with issues relating to children and adolescents. It seems to me that both ISSTD and ESTD historically focus on adults more than children and that this inequality in treatment and training needs to be addressed. Renee Marks has offered to chair such a committee and is in the process of recruiting committee members. She will shortly be reporting her suggestions back to the Board.
Before I finish by introducing the board, I’d like to invite you to do whatever you can to help increase our membership. Dissociation is still very much unacknowledged in Europe and increasing membership, apart from anything else, gives weight to its importance. Now for your Committee:
Eli Somer: Immediate Past President. Most of you will have known Eli for many years. He’s the shoulder I cry on when it all gets too much!
Manoëlle Hopchet: President Elect & Chair of the Membership Committee. Manoëlle, during her time in office, has made great strides in developing the role of contact people for each country represented in the organisation.
Bettina Overkamp: Treasurer. Tina has not only kept the finances in order since 2006 including the complicated dual membership finances between ISSTD and ESTD, but maintained an updated list of members by country for the benefit of contact people.
Jan Soukup: Secretary. Jan has now officially taken over this position having shadowed me for virtually the past year. He has already developed more effective procedures for archiving files and documents.
Arne Blindheim: Chair of the Website Committee. The whole appearance and effectiveness of the ESTD website and ‘Members Only’ section has radically changed since Arne’s involvement. Both sections are regularly updated regarding news items and articles as well as audio and video additions.
Eva Zimmermann: Chair of the Education Committee. Her Mission statement is to facilitate the provision of quality professional education, consistent with the ESTD aims. This will be achieved through dissemination of information on the ESTD website a series of one-day professional development seminars on alternate years to the ESTD bi-annual conference to be carried out in major European cities. This first one is in Paris this December (see information on the website). the encouragement of local national educational events
Anna Gerge: Anna, as a member of the Education Committee, has taken on the difficult and complex task of exploring the possibility in the future for an ESTD approved training programme. This will first require finding out the existing training in the various countries of Europe.
Adelheid Eijsink: our newest board member has replaced Suzette as a Dutch member (required as ESTD was registered in Holland). She will be shadowing Tina’s role as treasurer with a view to taking that role over once Tina leaves the board.
As is common in new organisations, it’s not been possible till now to organise elections with several candidates running for vacancies on the board. Unlike ISSTD which employs a management firm to run its whole administration and conferences, we have had to try to organise everything to do with ESTD alongside our busy professional lives. We are finally at a place where future elections can be planned with enough time ahead to encourage you all, as members of ESTD, to put your self forward.
Finally, a thank you on behalf of the Board for your continued trust in us representing ESTD on your behalf.
From ESTD Newsletter Volume 1, Number 2, February 2011