Presidential Voice – Fall 2019

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Sylvia Marotta-Walters, Ph.D.

Sylvia Marotta-Walters, PhD

The 2019 APA Convention was a huge success for Division 56, a success that was shared with non-participants through the efforts of our program chair Delishia Pittman and our social media chair Bryann DeBeer. Through Facebook and Twitter posts during the convention, participants could access the excellent content of our poster sessions, symposia, and discussions in Chicago and elsewhere around the country.

The Presidential Symposium on psychotherapy outcomes covered topics such as how one defines symptom reduction and developmental repair among adult and child clients, and how functional improvement plays out concurrently and separately in the course of a therapy trajectory. A big thank you goes to the panel participants, Terry Keane, Laura Brown, Anthony Mannarino, and Michelle Bovin for sharing their expertise with a full meeting room of participants at the convention center.

The hospitality suite was also put to good use, thanks to the work of Lynsey Miron and Susan Hannan. It was especially gratifying to see how many students and early career psychologists came for networking, mentoring, and socializing with division leaders and members.

As the call for next year’s convention is open now, I encourage all of you to consider submitting a proposal. The 2020 theme for President-elect Allard’s convention is “Advancing Trauma Research, Practice and Policy through Reciprocal Collaborations.”

Every year Division 57 recognizes significant contributions to the field of Trauma Psychology through its award ceremony and social hour. This year’s awards are:

Dissertation Award: Viann Nguyen Feng “A randomized controlled trial of a mobile ecological momentary stress management intervention for students with and without a history of emotional abuse.”

American Psychological Foundation Award for Trauma Psychology: Kit Elam, PhD. “Culturally sensitive trauma informed care: Learning from Latino families.”

Outstanding Contribution to Trauma by Early Career Psychologist Award: Alyson K. Zalta, PhD. Her research program addresses ways to alleviate the mental health burden of trauma through enhancing resilience factors.

Early Career Award for Racial/Ethnic Minority Psychologist in Trauma Psychology: Delishia Pittman, PhD. Her research centers on racial and ethnic disparities in health behaviors and outcomes, including substance use, coping, and the stress continuum among African Americans.

Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Trauma Psychology: Phyllis Cohen, PhD. Her career involves a lifelong focus on helping diverse and disenfranchised individuals through pro bono community intervention programs.

Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Practice of Trauma Psychology: Lillian Comas-Diaz, PhD. As private practitioner in the Washington DC area, her career focus is on ethnocultural approaches to mental health, intersecting identities, social justice, and international psychology.

Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Science of Trauma Psychology: Bethany Brand, PhD. As the principal investigator of a longitudinal international treatment outcome study of dissociative disorders, Dr. Brand contributes to the literature on distinguishing dissociative conditions from other mental disorders, and on the use of psychological tests to accurately classify dissociative spectrum disorders.

Award for Outstanding Contributions to Trauma Psychology: Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a prolific writer, having authored more than 450 articles, or chapters, is the senior editor for the division’s journal, and has authored or edited 38 books. Her two main areas of study are family violence and perinatal health. Her work on the long term health effects of childhood abuse is interdisciplinary and reaches both professional and popular audiences.

The Division’s Lifetime Achievement Award: Laurie Ann Pearlman, PhD. Dr. Pearlman engages in research, service delivery, training, and education. Her theoretical framework, the constructivist self-development theory is a way of understanding the intersections of human development, attachment, and trauma. Internationally, Dr. Pearlman has spent decades working at the societal level with trauma victims in Rwanda and the Congo.

We awarded two media awards this year: An external award for Outstanding Media Contributions: Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, who provides a voice for diverse individuals exposed to trauma, including immigrants and disaster survivors. Our internal award for Outstanding Media Contributions: Bryann DeBeer, PhD, for chairing our Social Media Committee and ensuring that trauma psychology stays in the forefront of our members thoughts throughout the year.

As the fall semester unfolds, the division continues to be actively involved in inter-organizational projects. President Julian Ford of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and I are in conversations about involving pediatric and family medicine, health education, and legal/forensic professionals in a coalition to address child maltreatment and child welfare. The task force on moving the trauma competencies to subspecialty status continues its work, meeting during the convention with APA staff Catherine Grus and Toni Minnitti from the Education Directorate. I hope to have an initial framework for the division to consider at the mid-year meeting.

Our new Division Fellows Chair, Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, is encouraging all Division 56 members to consider applying for Fellow status. Details can be found on both the Division and APA websites.

Happy Fall everyone!