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International Society for Traumatic Stress StudiesTraumatic Stress Points
In this Issue...
President's Message
30th Annual Meeting
ISTSS Clinician Directory
Membership Demographic Questionnaire
Bank Robbery – A Neglected Potential Traumatic Exposure?
Leaving Home to Become Stronger: Maori LGBT (takatāpui) in New Zealand
Disseminating Cognitive Processing Therapy
Trauma and World Literature
Bridging the Trauma Research-Practice Divide: Juvenile Court Trauma Audits
Importance of Considering Culture Series: Culture and Traumatic Symptoms
Women as Warriors and Caretakers
Become a Traumatic StressPoints Contributing Editor
Do You Know?
Upcoming Events

Traumatic StressPoints
Leadership Team

Patricia Kerig, PhD

Contributing Editors:
Cherie Armour, PhD, CPsychol
Lynnette Averill, MS
Kathryn Becker-Blease, PhD
Claudia Catani, PhD
Brian J. Hall, PhD
Patrice Keats, PhD
Harold Kudler, MD
Jessica Lambert, PhD
Rocky Liesman, PsyD, ABPP
Howard Lipke, PhD
Julia Müller, PhD
Jonathan Purtle, MPH, MSc
Paul Reynolds, PhD

Stefanie Smith, PhD


Executive Director
Rick Koepke, MSW

Marketing Communications Manager
Heather Fineman 

Administrative Director
Krista Baran

Traumatic StressPoints
Managing Editor

Donald Rolfe

March 2014

Volume 28  I  Issue 2


President's Message
How We Work Together: An Inclusive, Transparent, Sustainable ISTSS
By Nancy Kassam-Adams, PhD

In each issue of Traumatic StressPoints, I will highlight one of our Society’s strategic goals, hoping to spark conversation about how these goals shape our work together.

In preparing for this edition of StressPoints, I came to realize that I had a challenge – organizational issues are just not that exciting. Is it possible to be passionate about the processes we use to do our work? I hope so. Explicitly naming organizational excellence as a goal speaks to our deeply held values about how we work together. Like the framework of a well-designed building, when we get this right we provide the structural foundation for everything else we do.

Goal #6 Organizational Excellence
As a scientific and clinical society, the ISTSS operates within a model that is inclusive, transparent and sustainable.

Do you have ideas about how ISTSS can achieve this goal? Follow @ISTSSNews on Twitter, and join the conversation (#istsscommunity):

  • Why did you join ISTSS?
  • How would you like to be more involved? 
  • Which goals would YOU most like to help ISTSS achieve? 
  • Promoting excellent science and practice
  • Sustaining professional community
  • Building global relationships
  • Ensuring societal impact
  • What suggestions do you have to improve ISTSS’ decision-making and leadership structure?

Read full article...

ISTSS 30th Annual Meeting -
Keynote Speakers Announced

Preparations for the ISTSS 30th Annual Meeting are underway and we are pleased to announce the highly-respected speakers we have lined up so far. Presentations will focus on the theme Healing Lives and Communities: Addressing the Effects of Childhood Trauma Across the Life Span, and will highlight advances in understanding the impact of childhood trauma across neurobiological, individual, family and social levels – and what this means for intervention.  

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr. Martin Teicher, Director of the Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program at McLean Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School will talk about the current state of research on neurobiological consequences of childhood trauma for children and for adults, and the implications of this body of research for clinical intervention.

  • Dr. Maggie Schauer, Director of the Center of Excellence for Psychotraumatology at the University of Konstanz in Germany, and co-developer of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), will focus on psychological and social aspects of childhood trauma across the life span and the important role of the community in healing.  

Keynote Panel
Pioneers in Child Trauma: What to Learn for the Future
Lenore C. Terr, MD, University of California San Francisco, USA
William Yule, MD, University of London, United Kingdom
Irene V. Intebi, MD, Past-president ISPCAN, Argentina
Moderator: Michael Scheeringa, MD, Tulane University, USA

Master Clinicians
Christine A. Courtois, PhD
Alicia Lieberman, PhD
Sean Perrin, PhD

Master Methodologists
Jean-Phillipe Laurenceau, PhD
Maria M. Llabre, PhD

We'd also like to thank those who submitted abstracts for this conference. The response was incredible and our reviewers will be quite busy over the next few months!

We look forward to seeing you November 6 - 8 in Miami, Florida!

NEW! Introducing the ISTSS Clinician Directory – Enroll Today & Get Listed!

ISTSS has many professional clinician members and recognizes how challenging it can be to ensure the public knows how to find help. ISTSS would like to make that search easier and is proud to introduce the ISTSS Clinician Directory.

This new member benefit enables ISSTS Regular Members to make their contact information accessible to the public via the ISTSS website. The ISTSS Clinician Directory will allow anyone (including nonmembers) to search for ISTSS Regular Members who identify themselves as a clinician, counselor or mental health professional. This is an excellent tool for ISTSS Regular Members to make themselves available to their communities and best of all, it’s FREE! 

We look forward to seeing our network grow with your participation and encourage you to enroll today

Joan M. Cook, PhD
Co-chair of the ISTSS Membership Committee

Jon D. Elhai, PhD
Co-chair of the ISTSS Membership Committee

Getting to Know You – Update Your Member Demographic Questionnaire

ISTSS would like to better serve your professional needs. We need your help collecting the most current information about you and your professional activities.

The information provided by your Member Demographic Questionnaire is important because it helps ISTSS enhance existing and create new member benefits that make ISTSS an even more valuable resource to members and the traumatic stress community.

Updating your information takes only a few minutes and makes ISTSS stronger.

Take me to the Member Demographic Questionnaire!

Bank Robbery – A Neglected Potential Traumatic Exposure?
A Brief Introduction to Existing Research
By Maj Hansen, MSc

The annual number of bank robberies in Europe and the United States (the European Banking Federation, 2013; The Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013) has decreased in the past 10 years. But even though the number of incidents has decreased, many bank robbery victims do exist, as there is often multiple victims per incidence.

Victims of bank robbery can be people either directly affected by the robbery (e.g. employees, customers and security guards) or indirectly (e.g. relatives, random people on the street and police officers). Employees are most often the primary victims, as often it is they that are held at gun-point and threatened with violence. When held at gun-point, most people fear for their lives and experience helplessness and intense horror (Elklit, 2002). However, little is known about the psychological impact of bank robbery.

Read full article…

Leaving Home to Become Stronger: Maori LGBT (takatāpui) in New Zealand
By Paul Reynolds, PhD, Cherryl Smith, PhD and Leonie Pihama, PhD

Having to go away from my family to find myself was the best thing I ever did. As a family, we had been very close. I discovered that I hadn’t really had my own life. I now had the space to find some acceptance of stuff, particularly my sexuality, which I had been ignoring and not dealing with. I was different from my family. This connection, or reconnection, with myself was extremely maturing and spiritually balancing. (Reynolds, 2007, p.118)

I think a lot of people leave home to live their lives. Well that's what's happened with me. If I had of stayed there I don't think I'd be living the life I am now. (Participant cited in Pihama et al, 2009)

For some takatāpui (a term utilized by many Maori who are LGBT) leaving home is necessary because of rejection and abuse, or the perception that this will happen if they come out to their families. Sometimes leaving home is also a way to live more honestly and to know what it feels like to be accepted (Reynolds P, 2007; Hutchings & Aspin, 2007; Pihama et al, 2009).

For some it is about seeking to 'find' who they are or to come to understand more fully what being takatāpui means. For some who find non-acceptance of their sexuality an unbearable burden, exiting home can take the form of suicide. This article will examine the potential vulnerability of takatāpui who decide to leave home and their iwi (tribe), why some choose to stay, and how they reconnect to home if they decide to return.

Read full article...

Disseminating Cognitive Processing Therapy:
Lessons Learned in the Community
By Katherine E. Miller, MA,  Elana Newman, PhD, Joanne L. Davis, PhD

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied” (Carnegie, 2004). The same could be said about trauma-focused treatments—the treatment’s power derives from its use. The Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health care system has several initiatives to train VA providers on evidence-based mental health interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including cognitive processing therapy (CPT; Chard, Ricksecker, Healy, Karlin, & Resick, 2012) and prolonged exposure (Karlin et al., 2010).  While these endeavors enhance services throughout the VA, service members using non-VA resources may not access providers who know how to effectively utilize such treatments (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).  

Thus, one of the potential barriers to assisting military personnel is a lack of skilled community providers. This past year, a team of researchers and community partners initiated the dissemination of CPT in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding community. The initiative’s goal was to increase community providers’ capacity to be a veteran-ready community by being equipped providers in CPT and military culture. This is an exposé of lessons learned.

Years of groundwork had been completed to prepare for the dissemination of CPT.  Previous community experience in training trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN, 2004), had increased interest among community-based clinicians in utilization of trauma-focused treatments. Thus, the next step in the community was to increase this practice for all trauma survivors, including military personnel. We determined that our mental-health community had the desire to use evidence-based practices for military personnel. Community collaborations and partnerships were formed to make our community veteran friendly. Additionally, a community needs assessment was conducted (Miller, Finn, & Newman, under review). 

Read full article…

Trauma and World Literature
The Film: In a Better World
By Howard Lipke, PhD

This month’s contribution is a scene from the film In a Better World. In his March 11, 2011 review in The New York Times, A. O. Scott wrote:

In a Better World, directed by the Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier and written by Anders Thomas Jensen, is an elegant, somber scourge for the guilty conscience of the affluent, liberal West. Or, to put it another way, In a Better World is the winner of the 2011 Academy Award for best foreign language film. I’m not trying to be glib — well, maybe a little — but rather to put my finger on the merits and limitations of this ethically serious, aesthetically graceful and curiously bloodless movie.”

There are a variety of opinions about the film as a whole. I, for example, thought the quality of the story telling was somewhat better than did Scott. Regardless of the overall evaluation the film, the interchange quoted below between father and son about the death of their wife/mother powerfully addresses the question of how to prepare children for loss.

Claus (Father): All done with your computer game?
Christian (Son): If I died would you stay here?
F:  Christian, I don’t want to  argue.
S:  Stop looking at me like that.
F:  You’re not going to die.
S:  I might, you never know. Would you move back to London or stay here?
F:  I don’t know, I’d be too devastated to live anywhere.
S:  You’d have to live somewhere, even if I wasn’t here. You never give me a straight answer.
F:  What do you want me to say?
S:  As if me dying would make you homeless. Why do you always lie?
F:  This is crazy, I don’t lie. I’ve never lied to you… Look at me, I’ve never lied to you.
S:  You said mom was going to get well. You said she wasn’t in pain.
F:  Look, I’m just as unhappy as you.
S:  No, you wanted her to die. I know you did. Admit it. You wanted her to die.
F:  Okay. You’re right, I wanted her to die. At the very end, because she wanted to. I couldn’t take it anymore, and neither could she. She cried out in pain every night, and the cancer had eaten her brain. She kept asking me to help her end it, but I knew you’d be devastated. And if that’s giving up then sure, I gave up. But that doesn’t mean I wanted her to die.

Christian punches his father hard in the chest and runs off.

Bridging the Trauma Research-Practice Divide: Juvenile Court Trauma Audits
By Carly B. Dierkhising, MA, and Shawn Marsh, PhD

More than ever before, juvenile courts and their affiliated stakeholders are coming to appreciate and understand the impact of trauma on social and emotional functioning among the children and families they serve. This increasing awareness in local jurisdictions is paralleled by a growing focus on utilizing trauma-informed practices in juvenile justice system reform at the federal level (e.g., Defending Childhood Initiative).

While juvenile courts are striving to be trauma-informed, they are finding it challenging to translate research to real-world courtroom practice. Ultimately, recognizing the prevalence of trauma histories in system-involved youth and families and understanding the developmental implications of trauma doesn’t necessarily help a judge or an attorney in the courtroom. Rather, juvenile courts need to know how to connect trauma research to courtroom practices and policies in order to help improve the lives of children and families.

To bridge this research to practice gap, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) in collaboration with affiliates from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) launched a formative project with select courts across the United States to develop a trauma audit protocol for juvenile court settings. With funding support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the development team worked with six pilot courts from a range of diverse geographical and socioeconomic jurisdictions to explore how to define and assess what it means to be a trauma-informed juvenile court at a conceptual and operational level.

Read full article… 

Importance of Considering Culture Series: Culture and Traumatic Symptoms
By Bita Ghafoori, PhD,  Yael Caspi, PhD,  Ateka Contractor, MA, and Stefanie F. Smith, PhD on behalf of the Diversity and Cultural Competency SIG

What is the role of culture in the mental health of help seekers who have experienced traumas? Given that trauma occurs in every culture, knowledge of how culture may impact symptom expression is of crucial importance in understanding the psychological difficulties and strengths of trauma survivors. This knowledge can also expand our appreciation of the range of ways all people may respond to trauma and provide insight into the nuances of traumatic symptoms.  

Cultural shapes the subjective meaning of trauma and pain and this in turn influences symptom expression (reviewed in Cohen et al., 1998; Frey, 2001; Kirmayer & Sartorius, 2007; Marsella & Christopher, 2004; Marsella, Friedman, Gerrity, & Scurfiled, 1996; Pole, Gone, & Kulkarni, 2008; Wilson, 2007). The rituals, values, and norms associated with culture guide perception and individual responses, including psychiatric symptoms (Hofstede, 1982; Schubert & Punamaki, 2011).  

Differences in individual and cluster-level PTSD symptoms and other comorbid symptoms could lead to differential relations between symptom clusters cross-culturally. For example, one study using a sample of Hispanic, non-Hispanic Caucasian, and African American survivors of sudden physical injury found that the Hispanic group reported higher levels of overall posttraumatic distress, and also different patterns of symptoms (Marshall, Schell, & Miles, 2009). The results of studies such as this lead to questions regarding whether certain cultures truly have higher levels of distress after experiencing a traumatic event, or whether cultural factors have an impact on the manifestation of mental health symptoms, particularly the type of symptoms actually being measured.  

Read full article...

Women as Warriors and Caretakers
A Reflection on Be Safe I Love You, by Cara Hoffman
By Karestan Chase Koenen, PhD, ISTSS Past-president

I have a confession. I avoid reading anything about trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when I am not working. I read a lot of fiction – but if the book’s description even implies the focus is on a trauma narrative, I will not be downloading it onto my Kindle. I see enough trauma in my research and advocacy activities, I don’t need to read about it before I sleep at night.

I read Be Safe I Love You because the author, Cara Hoffman, asked me to. She has been studying trauma with me for the last year and wanted my input on her description of Lauren Clay’s PTSD. I also agreed because I was intrigued at the idea of reading a novel about a FEMALE soldier returning from Iraq who suffered from combat-related PTSD. There are very few, if any, novels about women warriors. Those that exist seem to focus on sexual rather than combat trauma.

Read full article...


Become a Traumatic StressPoints
Contributing Editor

Traumatic StressPoints
is recruiting new Contributing Editors (CE) to help solicit (or generate) content for the following columns: 

  • Biological Perspectives
  • Book Reviews
  • Clinicians' Corner
  • Student Perspectives

This is an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable way to connect with other ISTSS members around the world and to stay on the cutting edge of new developments in our organization and the field. CE’s are members in good standing of ISTSS with good writing/editing skills who agree to assist with contributions to two newsletters per year. 

Please contact Patricia Kerig for more information; or submit a cv, statement of interest and professional writing sample to

Do You Know?
ISTSS Live and Recorded Webinars

Do you know that you can participate in an ISTSS webinars live as they take place, or as recordings?

ISTSS webinars are presented online with accompanying materials and audio provided via telephone. Webinars offer the full educational value of a conference session, but without the hassle and expense of travel. Plus, when participating live, you also have the opportunity to interact directly with the presenter during the Q&A period.

Webinar prices vary according to membership type and product selected. You can even preview recorded webinars before you purchase them.

View upcoming webinars

View the complete list of recorded webinars  

Upcoming Events


May 16 - 18, 2014
Japanese Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (JSTSS)
13th Annual Conference
More information

June 5 - 7, 2014
Canadian Psychological Association 75th Annual Convention (Congrès annuel)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
More information

August 14 - 16, 2014
TRaCS conference on Human Resilience
Changi General Hospital, Singapore
More information

September 11 -12, 2014
Australian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ASTSS)
2014 Conference on Traumatic Stress
Melbourne, Victoria
More information

October 17 - 19, 2014
Post-Traumatic Stress: State of the Art Research and Clinical Implications for China
Hangzhou, China
Download the First Announcement
Download the registration form for Non-Chinese Attendees

November 6 - 8, 2014
ISTSS 30th Annual Meeting
Pre-Meeting Institutes Nov. 5
InterContinental Miami
Miami, FL USA
More information

Visit the ISTSS website for more upcoming events, webinars and continuing education opportunities.

 Become a Traumatic StressPoints Contributor

To submit a story or information for inclusion in a future issue of Traumatic StressPoints, contact Editor, Patricia Kerig, PhD, or a Contributing Editor from the list below.

Biological Perspectives (this position is open)

Book Reviews (this position is open)

Clinicians' Corner (this position is open)

Developmental Traumatology
Kathy Becker-Blease, PhD:

Global Perspectives
Cherie Armour, PhD, CPsychol:
Julia Müeller, PhD:
Claudia Catani, PhD:

Human Rights and Policy
Jonathan Purtle, MPH, MSc:
Jessica Lambert, PhD:

LGBT Issues
Paul Reynolds, PhD:

Media Matters
Patrice Keats, PhD:

Research Methods
Brian Hall, PhD:

Student Perspectives (there is an additional position open)
Lynnette Averill, MS:

Trauma and Diversity
Stefanie Smith, PhD:

Trauma and the Military
Rocky Liesman, PsyD, ABPP:

Trauma and World Literature
Harold Kudler, MD:
Howard Lipke, PhD:

Have feedback about the content of Traumatic StressPoints? Please submit your comments and suggestions to

Thank you!


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