ISTSS conference

“Major advances have been made in the assessment and treatment of traumatic stress in the past 20 years.

Despite these advances, the vast majority of those affected by traumatic stress still do not receive any type of services or care.”


The opening sentences on the flyer of the rapidly approaching conference of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies ask for action. The meeting is one of the biggest yearly events in the field and it goes well beyond studies only; it includes many clinical workshops and contributions by journalists, policymakers, and (other) advocates. The program looks promising, especially the parts on outreach and innovation, its focus on mental health instead of mental disorders, and its keynote speakers.

And this year there will be more opportunities to follow the conference from afar! The hashtag is #istss and hopefully we’ll have a good group of people tweeting about their insights, available online resources, and shared interests (maybe next year we’ll welcome our first Twitter-born ISTSS initiative/project…?). The society tweets as @ISTSSnews and is also building its presence on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Are you at the meeting and would you like to learn how you can make best use of Twitter for your work? Come join us on Thursday (noon – 1.15, Diamond Salon 3, abstract 1211)! You can already start following ISTSS members (even when you don’t use Twitter yourself) via this link.

I hope some plans of action will be born or furthered next week. Let’s bridge those service provision gaps together.

Highlights of the ISTSS conference in Baltimore

Last week’s conference of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Society was a success. A lively conference with a number of excellent and thought-provoking presentations, where some insights kept on popping up. For me, the highlights of the conference with regard to children and youth all related to interventions:

New, large studies on early interventions

Researchers from Switzerland and Australia presented the outline of large, rigorous studies to measure the effect of early interventions for children who have been accidentally injured. These studies will lead to insights into the effectiveness of a short intervention and a longer one. Continue reading

ISTSS conference about trauma

The annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies is approaching. Early November the Mariott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore will be crowded with psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, journalists, policy makers, victim advocates, counselors, and many others. This year’s theme is “Social Bonds and Trauma Through the Life Span”. The meeting may not be in the most beautiful city of the US (although, even Baltimore has its hidden charms), but it looks like there will be quite a number of interesting presentations.

Judith Herman, a pioneer in traumatic stress research, will give a keynote lecture. Her book Trauma and Recovery was probably the only textbook that really touched me during my studies. As always during the ISTSS conferences, there will be an overwhelming amount of research presentations and posters. One that I look forward to regards a meta-analysis on the relation between parent functioning and child posttraumatic stress, by Morris and Delahanty. It will be interesting to hear what they think about the ways parents influence their children; and where we can intervene. Another one that sounds promising is a symposium on challenges and successes in evaluating community-based interventions for children (Jaycox and colleagues). Continue reading

Conference snapshot: update on Japan

Masaharu Maeda was one of the keynote speakers of the European Conference on Traumatic Stress. He is the president of the Japanese Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and, not surprisingly, heavily involved in helping survivors of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March. Maeda provided some firsthand information about inhabitants’ losses, their reactions to the disaster, and current problems in the shelters.

According to the latest figures, about 15.000 people died and 10.000 people are missing. Because of this large number of missing people and the long and difficult process of retrieving and identifying bodies, many people are still uncertain about the fate of their loved ones. Almost all of them will have died, but there is no confirmation of their death, which makes it difficult to start to mourn; it puts the process of grieving ‘on hold’. Continue reading