President’s Column Spring 2022

Lisa M. Rocchio, PhD
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President's Column

Lisa M. Rocchio, PhD


Dear Division 56 members,

Let me start by saying that It is a privilege to have been a member of this division since its inception, and I am honored to serve in the role of president. I especially would like to thank Tyson Bailey, our immediate past president, and Dawn Hughes, our president-elect for their hard work and leadership. I am also thrilled to announce that one of our active members, Thema Bryant-Davis is the APA president-elect, and her initiatives include Healing Trauma and Loss, Spirituality, and Addressing Inequities and Oppression. Congratulations Thema! We are here to support your efforts.

Over the course of the past several years, we have been reminded again and again of the importance of trauma psychology as we experience the repeated impact of collective trauma, which as is so often the case, has a negative and differential impact on our most vulnerable and marginalized communities. We remain in the midst of a pandemic that has taken, and continues to take, so many lives worldwide; we are living in a time where there has been a marked increase in hate crimes of all types; we are bearing witness to the horrors of war and the targeting of refugees and immigrants; legislation and policy specifically targeting members of the LGBTQ communities, their families and health care providers; reproductive freedom; voting rights; and the impact of unprecedented climate change. And this isn’t even a complete list! These, and numerous other experiences of collective and societal trauma point to the ever-growing need for practice, research, policy, training, and advocacy in trauma psychology, as well as recognition of Trauma Psychology as a specialty area within psychology.


I want to inform you of a number of important and exciting initiatives that division members are working on at this time. Organizationally, our division is committed to making necessary changes to make it welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all. To achieve this important goal, in 2021, we retained the consulting firm of Dailey Innovations to work with us toward our goals of addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion and creating systemic change in our structure, governance and activities. I thank Ayli Carrero Pinedo who is chairing the I-DARE task force and those of you who have participated in surveys and focus groups. I hope you will continue to provide feedback and contribute to making systemic change in our structure, governance, and activities. Our Cultivating Healing, Advocacy, Nonviolence, Growth, and Equity (Change) grant has now been fully funded and transferred to the American Psychological Foundation (APF) who will be managing our funds and awarding these Division 56 grants on an annual basis, in addition to our other two division 56 grants (The Trauma Psychology Grant and the Christine Blasey Ford grant) in perpetuity.


Sylvia Marotta-Walters and the Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Subspecialties in Professional Psychology (CRSSPP) task force have completed the application for a trauma specialty and submitted to APA; Christine Courtois and Paul Frewen (former chair of our practice committee) have completed the complex trauma professional practice guidelines, and they have passed APA review and gone through a 60-day period for public comment. Those comments will be responded to and addressed in the final document. The guideline should be presented to the Council of Representatives at their next meeting. Elizabeth Carll has continued as chair of our International Committee and she and Melissa Brymer, chair of our Disaster Response Committee, are working to find ways to support our Ukranian colleagues and refugees and to respond to the refugee crisis in a culturally sensitive manner. Elizabeth has also continued leading the Refugee Mental Health Network, which provides free training and resources for working with refugees. Melissa and her committee will also be working to address the impact of the marked increase in hate crimes across our country. Our journal has continued to thrive under the leadership of Kathy Kendall-Tackett and her editorial team, and our revenue and impact factor have both continued to rise. Our division is in a strong financial position under the stewardship of our Treasurer, Barbara Niles, and we have been able to invest a significant amount of money in a long term investment account. I have recently announced the formation of a Presidential Task Force focused on Memory and Trauma that will produce a white paper about the most recent science and knowledge in the field. It is my hope that by bringing together researchers and practitioners with expertise in the area of memory, we can help to disseminate accurate information and dispel the numerous harmful myths about memory that have made their way into our textbooks, legal system, and training programs.


Finally, and after 2 years of covid isolation, I am excited that APA is holding an in-person convention, and am enthusiastic about our broad and diverse programming in Minneapolis. This year’s theme is interpersonal violence across the lifespan – stay tuned for an announcement of our full program, our suite programming, and our invited speaker. We will be hosting a social hour where we will be announcing our award winners and new fellows, and will have time to mingle, talk, and get to know each other. Please plan to attend, and bring a friend! Mary Alice Mills, our new Awards Chair, has sent out a call for nominations for our awards, and you can also find the call on our website. Please consider nominating a colleague. At the convention, we are planning to hold many events in our hospitality suite, where we can hold smaller and more intimate gatherings to talk and share about these important programs, topics of interest, and learn from and get to know each other, and of course, have a little fun! Thanks to our program chair Jessica Punzo for all of her hard work not only as program chair, but as our newly elected ECP representative.


Thank you again for electing me to serve. I am available and happy to receive your questions and concerns so and please reach out to me personally. I encourage all of you to become active in our division and to encourage colleagues to join. The more of us who become involved, the larger and more diverse our organization becomes, the more we can accomplish together. Our website is a great resource, and on it you will find information about division activities and committees. Please reach out to a committee chair, to me, or to any member of our executive committee to express your interest and see how to become more involved. It would not be an understatement to say that I have found my years of participation in the leadership of our division to be one of my most valuable professional activities, and I see Division 56 as my professional home.


Thank you again, I look forward to a very good, albeit complex, 2022.




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