Presidential Voice – Fall 2018

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Diane Castillo, PhD

Greetings Division 56 members.

In this note, I have two topics of focus.  First, I wish to congratulate you all for a wonderful convention at APA in San Francisco. As Program Chair, Dr. Bryann DeBeer did a wonderful job of organizing our outstanding Division programming and making it all public as the Chair of the Social Media Committee. I wish to acknowledge her efforts and the efforts of the many others which contributed to a great convention. Bryann expanded our social media efforts by posting a live stream of the Expert Panel on the Evolution of PTSD by Drs. Keane, Schnurr, Resick, and Fairbank and the Presidential Address on our Facebook page. The recordings have been viewed close to 800 and 400 times, respectively, allowing those who did not attend to view these talks. Additionally, she tweeted many Division 56 presentations in both regular and hospitality suite programming. All this media attention allows us to be more responsive to our members and to those outside our division, highlighting the outstanding work we do as trauma psychologists. We are working with our President-Elect, Sylvia Marrotta-Walters, and her Program Chair, Delishia Pittman, to further extend what we’ve accomplished.

And now I wish to express my thoughts beyond our Division and APA into the politics facing us in these troubling times.  I have read the many posts on our listserv and seen the proactive efforts of our members regarding the experience of Dr. Ford and the treatment she received when testifying on her sexual assault as a teen. I applaud your efforts. For over 25 years I treated female Veterans who experienced sexual trauma in their youth and as adults. Historically, before we acknowledged the psychological effects of trauma in the diagnosis of PTSD, people often viewed trauma with a “blame the victim” mentality. While this blaming occurred in Vietnam Veterans, it was also obvious in women who experienced sexual assault. I am disheartened that as far as we have progressed as a society, it takes so little to regress into old ways of thinking. It reflects how many more people in our society have not changed. I see this lack of change as our challenge as trauma psychologists. How can we continue to educate the people around us and our world with the message that trauma survivors are not to blame? We are in a unique position to educate our peers and our nation. This is therefore, my call to action to each of you. I realize the work you do every day as trauma psychology therapists, administrators, and researchers is terribly important and active. We need to do more. Please think about what you can do. Can you add one more action to your daily activities? It is clear that we as trauma psychologists will continue to lead the world in educating people in how to better understand and conceptualize how trauma affects everyone. This is our responsibility.