By Jessica Punzo, PsyD
We are excited to finally share our amazing line up of programs for this year’s APA Convention in Washington D.C.! We have been working hard since last year to deliver an innovative and captivating program for you all this year and hope you enjoy. Below is a brief summary of what we have in store for this August. It has been a great pleasure to be the Program Chair for the convention! As some of you may know, I will unfortunately not be able to attend convention this year, as I am due to have a baby boy on July 30th! However, I know I am leaving things in good hands with Robyn Gobin, our Suite Coordinator for this year, and Bryann DeBeer, the incoming Program Chair for next year. I hope you all have a great time this year and I look forward to seeing you all soon!
This year’s overarching convention theme is international perspectives on trauma psychology with a focus on the plight and support of refugees.
This year’s invited address titled “The Global Refugee Crisis: Addressing Civilian Trauma and Mental Health”, will be given by Kenneth Miller, PhD, Senior Psychosocial Advisor for War Child Holland in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. War Child Holland is a non-profit humanitarian organization focused on the impact of conflict on children. The address will occur on Saturday, August 5th from 10:00-10:50 AM in the Convention Center in Room 206.
According to Miller, prolonged and devastating wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa, as well as drug and gang-related violence in Central America, have led to the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in 25 years. The level of internal displacement due to armed conflict is at a 50 year high. The so-called “laws of war” have done little to stop the intentional and widespread targeting of civilians by militaries and non-state actors. While Europe and the United States struggle with how best to respond to increasing number of people seeking refugee from organized violence, low and middle income countries adjacent to the war zones are hosting vastly greater numbers, with far fewer resources to address refugees’ material and psychological needs.
Research has consistently shown that refugees experience high levels of psychological distress and a heightened risk of enduring psychiatric disorders, including depression, trauma, and anxiety, as well as various indigenous idioms of distress. There is, therefore, an urgent need to develop evidenced-based and scalable interventions that can alleviate distress and foster resilience among civilians displaced by war. Recent developments that have led to a shift in how we understand the various sources of stress affecting refugees. This shift has been from a “war-exposure” model to a more comprehensive, ecological framework. The implications of this newer model for the development of effective mental health interventions and strategies for overcoming obstacles will be discussed in his presentation.
President’s Invited Symposium
This year’s presidential symposium is titled “Successful Strategies for Intervening With Refugees in the United States and Worldwide” which will occur on Friday, August 4th from 10:00 AM to 11:50 AM in Room 152B of the Convention Center. The panel includes six distinguished psychologist from across the world. Leonidas Castro-Camacho, PhD from University of Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia will be presenting on post-conflict in Colombia. Specifically on intervening with victims of armed conflict and sexual violence. Brigitte Khoury, PhD from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, will be reviewing on the do’s and don’ts of group interventions with male Syrian refugees. George F. Rhoades, Jr., PhD from Ola Hou Clinic, in Aiea, Hawaii, will be presenting on trauma work with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Germany. Betsy A. Gard, PhD from Emory University, will be discussing how to promote mental health and wellness in refugees. Elaine LeVine, PhD from New Mexico State University will be presenting the use of psychotropics with trauma and displaced and refugee populations. And our president, Elizabeth Carll, PhD, will be presenting on the APA Interdivisional Refugee Mental Health Resource Network, as well as chairing the symposium. It is truly a wonderful panel you do not want to miss!
This year have ten fantastic symposia and one discussion hour lined up for you. We are happy to announce that all nine programs that were submitted for CE credits were approved! The topics of these symposia include: posttraumatic growth, attachment trauma, co-occurring PTSD and SUDs, betrayal trauma, dissociation in forensic contexts, emotional resiliency in environmental trauma, intimate partner violence and measure validation, cultural and creative expressions to heal trauma, and hospital based secondary prevention of PTSD. We are also co-sponsoring three separate symposia with divisions 44, 12, and 9. The titles of these symposia are: Understanding the Struggles of Immigrants Seeing Asylum: How Psychologists Can Help, The American Election and Political Trauma: The Psychologist’s Role in Healing America, and Policing Race, Policing Disorder: The Impacts of Broken Windows Policing. Finally, we are proud to share we are a part of four collaborative programs as well. Program titles are as follows: A Systematic Intervention to Reduce Sexual
Violence on Campus: What Do We Know? How Do We Impact?, Innovative Solutions to Preventing and Responding to Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault, Promoting Integrated Primary Care Through Interprofessional Education, and Sex Trafficking: Human Rights Violations on a Global Scale. Please refer to the Programming Schedule for more details on these fantastic programs.
We were pleased received a great number of rigorous and innovative posters this year. We accepted the maximum allotted, which is 80 in total. They will be up for display on Thursday August 3rd, from 10:00-10:50 AM and Friday August 4th from 2:00-2:50 PM in Hall D and E of the Convention Center. We hope that many of you can stop by and see the hard work that many of our colleagues are doing out in the field.
Social Hour & Awards
Our ever so popular social hour and awards ceremony will take place on Friday, August 4th from 6:00-8:00 PM in the Mint Room of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. We hope you will join us for food, conversation, and celebrating some of the outstanding work our colleagues have done.
Last, but certainly not least, we are happy to announce another wonderful year of suite programming. We have scheduled eight excellent discussions to happen in our suite this year, which will be located at the Marriott Marquis Hotel (please check signs in lobby for suite number). Topics for discussions this year include: human trafficking, board certification, systems centered therapy, international research, trauma and LGBTQ+ populations, treating IPV with survivors with disabilities, political trauma, and the APA clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD.
Jessica Punzo, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of the Anti-Violence Project at the Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to securing the well-being of Chicagoland LGBTQ people. The Anti-Violence Project provides support to LGBTQ survivors of violence through counseling and advocacy. Dr. Punzo is also an adjunct faculty member at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her clinical and research interests include aspects of sexuality/sexual functioning that are affected by sexual trauma, the impact of trauma on spirituality, specific needs of bisexual individuals, and the efficacy of evidenced-based trauma therapies within the LGBTQ community.