Presidential Voice – Winter 2017

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Helping to Alleviate Trauma Around the World

Elizabeth Carll, PhD

Coping with traumatic events have been at the forefront, both globally and nationally, resulting in much needed work by those trained to help in such dire situations. Globally, in August and September  more than 650,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar due to ethnic persecution resulting in killing of families, rape, and burning of villages. The Rohingya still continue to flee their dangerous environment.  It is unfathomable to think about so many people fleeing their country in such a short period of time.  An imploding economy has driven almost half-a-million Venezuelans to live in Colombia. Gangs and violence resulting in families fleeing Central America are also examples of the trauma of forced migration.

Within the U.S., we have had our share of disasters and crises this year, with hurricanes, floods, wild fires, and shootings.  In October, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert goers in Las Vegas killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 people and was described as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Given these tragic global and national events, the need for psychologists trained to work with trauma can be expected to increase and there is much work that can be undertaken by our members to help alleviate the pain and suffering and the long lasting effects of such incidents.  Trauma psychologists are in a unique position to help deal with these increasing events and can be expected to be called upon increasingly in the future.

For example, the consequences of forced migration gave rise to my proposing the development of the Refugee Mental Health Resource Network, a project funded by CODAPAR to create a database of volunteers to begin to deal with the consequences of these events. See article in another section of this newsletter.   The Division is also fortunate to have received another CODAPAR grant proposed by Bryann DeBeer and Diane Castillo for 2018 addressing diversity issues and training, which in the long run can contribute to the reduction of xenophobia and prejudice and ultimately reduce conflict.

Trainings and publications are key to informing the public and professionals about trauma.  Division 56 has been at the forefront of developing webinars for training in a variety of areas related to trauma and offering APA CE credit has been a great benefit.  We are now in the process of applying for CE credits for Home Study which are on demand webinars.  This is a laborious and slow process which has been spearheaded by George Rhoades and only a few of the Divisions have Home Study CE currently in place. Once finalized, this will enable those taking a webinar from the many in our archives to receive APA CE credit.  George is also completing the current renewal application for APA CE for our live webinars and training.

Our Division has received excellent feedback about our publications, including our Newsletter, Trauma Psychology News, edited by Bryan Reuther and Tyson Bailey who edits our website. The Division Journal continues to grow under the leadership of Kathy Kendall Tackett.

This year three Division 56 monograph books were completed under the watchful eyes of the co-chairs of the Monograph Series, Anne DePrince and Ann Chu. APA Books has released Understanding Elder Abuse: A Clinician’s Guide by Shelly L. Jackson in October. Creating Healing School Communities (Santiago, Raviv & Jaycox) and Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress (Nadal) will be available in January. Check them out.

Also be sure to take a look at the photos from the convention and our lively and successful social hour and awards ceremony at which there was standing room only with people flowing out into the corridor. Many thanks to the Awards chair, Kathy Kendall Tackett, Program and Hospitality chairs Jessica Punzo and Robyn Gobin, and Membership co-chairs Ilene Serlin and Lesia Ruglass, and secretary Amber Douglas, whose roles all contributed to the success of the convention activities, along with our program participants.

It truly tales a village and the above are only highlights of the many activities taking place. We have been encouraging the participation of early career psychologists (ECPs) as leaders in the village and have 14 ECPs serving on the Division 56 Council, which includes elected members and committee chairs.  Our dedicated chairs and executive committee are the backbone of our success and many thanks to their efforts. The Division will be in good hands with our incoming president Diane Castillo and president-elect Sylvia Marotta. We thank Joan Cook for her dedicated service to the Division as she rotates off as past president.

The Division is always in need of new volunteers and talent and we encourage you to become active, join a committee or project, and run for office, so we can continue to be a vibrant Division.  We look forward to your participation.