Presidential Voice – Spring 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Diane Castillo, PhD
Greetings fellow Division 56 members. For the four short months of being President of the Division, I have been allowed to gain a perspective of Division and APA functioning and politics, which is quite a different angle than being a member. We have a broad membership and we face a number of issues—not all of which we agree upon. I see this as a good thing. We are a new Division, only 10 years old, and we are evolving. Many of us have come from other divisions. Others are from other organizations, such as ISTSS. Some of us are new to the trauma field. Others of us have been doing trauma work for many years. Some scientists, some practitioners, some of us are both. Our professional diversity can serve to enrich us or divide us. As difficult as some of the discussions have become regarding the PTSD guidelines, I hope we can all maintain perspective on the goals while recognizing and accepting our diverse perspectives as we continue to grow and evolve.

Which dovetails with my initiative as President—Diversity. We all know diversity comes in many forms—ethnic, cultural, gender, and on and on. While APA is no stranger to diversity and often has led the way in recognizing and educating on diversity issues, I felt the need to raise the flag again in our context of trauma. We know it is the case that the rate of trauma and PTSD dramatically increases for members of the non-majority group. For example, Hispanics have consistently shown the highest rates of PTSD when compared to other ethnic minority samples. Women also show higher rates of PTSD, even though men may experience more trauma events. It is important for us as trauma psychologists to have a special eye on the impact of diversity on the psychological expression of trauma in the form of PTSD and understand how trauma is expressed. How to do this at a practical level? For our part, convention programming, including a call to action presidential address, hopefully has served to direct attention to the impact of diversity on trauma expression. Additionally, Dr. Bryann DeBeer and I are spearheading a CODAPAR grant with Divisions 22 (Rehab), 35 (women), 44 (LGBT), and 17 (Counseling) to develop a video series to train clinicians to identify the unique presentation of trauma in interviews. The videos are intended not to assess PTSD symptoms, but rather to take a step back in encouraging diverse clients to describe and divulge trauma events. Briefly, the videos consist of a transgender male, African American female, a male with MS, and a Hispanic male combat Veteran. We hope to add to these 4 with individuals representing other diverse backgrounds with the hopes to publish these videos with free CEUs available. A journal and possibly a book are other potential outcomes.

Each of you as trauma professionals knows trauma and PTSD from your own diverse background and can contribute in your own corner of the world, whether it be through research or practice, in how to recognize and educate others in recognizing the impact of diversity on trauma.