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ISTSS 37th Annual Meeting

Trauma in Context: Moving Beyond the Individual

VIRTUAL

November 2 – 5, 2021
Pre-Meeting Institutes: November 1

The global events of the past few years made it clear that trauma is much more than an individual phenomenon. Rather, traumatic events and their effects occur in the context of relationships, communities, societies and cultures. These recent global events created opportunities for our field to rethink the ways in which traumatic stress is conceptualized and addressed. In response, there has been a surge of innovation that has advanced our scientific understanding of trauma and improved access to effective trauma-focused treatment for those who need it most. However, much work in the domain of traumatic stress remains focused on individuals alone rather than attending to the role of context in trauma. 

The ISTSS 37th Annual Meeting showcased recent innovations in how we conceptualize and address traumatic stress. The meeting featured cutting-edge work that considered the many contextual factors surrounding who is most at risk for trauma exposure, how people respond to traumatic events and what methods are most effective to bring about resilience, recovery and growth in trauma survivors. To answer these questions, presentations examined intra- and interpersonal factors across all levels of the social ecology including relational (e.g., family, peer), institutional, community and global sociocultural contexts. We were especially interested in featuring work that focused on the intersection of trauma and systems of oppression. The goals of the meeting were to highlight recent innovations that spoke to a multifaceted and contextualized understanding of trauma and its effects, engaged a discussion about the state of the field with regard to its attention to the role of context, featured contextually focused interventions, and identified key avenues for future research related to social-ecological and systemic factors that impacted psychological adjustment to trauma. Through these goals, the 2021 Annual Meeting offered a space for thoughtful discourse on how we can incorporate broader contexts into our understanding and treatment of trauma. 

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify contextual factors related to trauma and traumatic stress within and across each level of the social ecology including relationships, communities, institutions and cultures.
  2. Describe how contextual factors related to trauma and traumatic stress can be harnessed to optimize treatment approaches.
  3. Discuss innovations in research and practice that incorporate social-ecological and systemic factors into a more holistic understanding of trauma and its effects.