Presidential Voice – Summer 2019

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Sylvia Marotta-Walters, PhD

A Timely Convention Program

It’s almost convention time and we have an excellent program awaiting us as participants in the Division’s August annual meeting in Chicago! In the last edition of our newsletter, I wrote about the multiplicity of potentially traumatic experiences (PTE’s) that we read and view daily in popular media. I am excited to report that this year’s convention program has some innovative ways to address PTEs, presented by scientists, practitioners, and policy makers among others. Our division’s membership is diverse, committed, and willing to share their expertise with each of us in Chicago. Let’s make it a great meeting.

As an example of our excellent programming, as we read about migrant children still not reunited with their parents after being separated from them by our government, we will hear about best practices in treating developmental attachment injuries among children in my invited symposium. The symposium will offer continuing education credit for participants. Attachment injuries can produce complex clinical presentations for children and adults. These complexities require individualized treatment plans that go beyond symptom reduction for a specific disorder, as important an issue of symptom reduction is for treatment-seeking populations. Comorbidities are the norm for treatment seeking populations as well, and can often be traced to deficient environments such as children being forcibly removed from parents in infancy and childhood. We will have expert panelists, Terry Keane, Christine Courtois, Anthony Mannarino, and Michelle Bovin, who will share with us their accumulated wisdom on the outcomes of psychotherapy for people with a history of exposure to PTE’s.

On a separate but related note, two of our programs will focus on refugees, with presentations about how psychologists can fulfill multiple roles when working with individuals who have been forced to leave their homes because of untenable conditions of violence. Past President Elizabeth Carll has been working on these issues for many years, and her program will focus on treatment providers, on advocates for policy change, and for assessors in forensic settings. Many of you will have participated in Dr. Carll’s webinar series that she began as part of her presidential initiatives and which continues to serve the division with regular webinars. Thank you, Elizabeth, for your service to one of society’s most vulnerable groups.

The second program to focus on refugees will address the problem from the community level perspective. It’s helpful to understand that our systems are challenged alongside the many individual sufferers and this can contribute to the problems of individuals. This presentation will show participants how to build resilient communities, thereby strengthening the ecology of refugees, society, and policies that affect all. There are multiple misconceptions about refugees that we as psychologists can clarify depending on our roles. One of our foundational competencies as psychologists is understanding and accepting diversity and fostering inclusion. This means viewing refugees, who often do not choose the situations that require them to leave their homes and countries, as “us” rather than as “them”.  In a world where the vast majority of people experience PTE’s, it is perhaps more helpful to view the issues surrounding refugees from the perspective that we are all In this together as we seek to build a just society.  One only has to look at our planet from space to know that there are no ‘aliens’ inhabiting this beautiful green earth. And that leads us to another one of our foundational competencies, the role of psychologists as advocates for systems change. I am looking forward to an educational and formative program to help us in our professional development.

We announced the results of the Division 56 Election for 2020 on our Listserv in June. We had a strong slate of candidates and you have elected an equally strong slate of division leaders who will begin their service in January 2020. The officers are:

President-Elect:  Tyson Bailey

Member-at-Large:  Lisa Rocchio

ECP:  Katharine Lacefield

Professional Affiliate:  Julia Seng

Student Representative:  Ayli Carrero Pinedo

Council Representative:  Constance Dalenberg

Our new leadership is a blend of psychologists who have served the division in many roles over the years, as well as new leaders who stepped forward to begin their service to the division. We have had a long tradition of encouraging early career psychologists to be in leadership positions, and I’m happy to say that we are continuing that tradition. Welcome to all, and I look forward to working with you all in 2020. You will be entering a leadership community that is strong financially, strong in memberships, and strong in its research, practice, and policy.

For those of you who will be in Chicago, come socialize in our hospitality suite, come do your professional development through our excellent 2019 program (thank you, program chair and co-chairs, Delishia Pittman, Lynsey Miron, and Susan Hannan), and just enjoy hanging out in Chicago.