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The 2002 annual meeting in Baltimore resulted in record attendance. More than 1,200 people from 28 countries attended the highly anticipated November 7–10 meeting, which explored Complex Psychological Trauma: Its Correlates and Effects. Familiar conference features and some new ones shaped the meeting into a meaningful and memorable occasion.

Opening the meeting with his presidential address, John Briere talked about the complexities of psychological trauma and the clinical implications of an evolving paradigm. “We now know that traumatic events can cause or contribute to an interacting cascade of biological, psychological, and sociocultural processes that may result in PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, somatization, dissociation and some forms of psychosis and personality disturbance,” Briere said. He discussed the broad implications of this for the entire field of mental health.

Always a popular attraction, the plenary sessions discussed treatments for people with complex trauma resulting from a wide range of causes. New formatting provided simultaneous scheduling for some plenary sessions, allowing for more topics without using additional program time.

One plenary in particular, “Trauma and Reconciliation: the Case of Northern Ireland,” drew large crowds, who were moved by watching reconciliation take place during the session.

The day preceding the meeting featured a full schedule of premeeting institutes that drew impressive attendance. Additional meeting highlights:

  • A special disaster track featured educational programming related to September 11.
  • Poster sessions, held by track during regular meeting sessions, featured poster authors available for discussion.
  • Sixteen Special Interest Groups held meetings during the conference. Becoming stronger every year, the SIGs gave their endorsements to several sessions and PMIs, and once again, the Spirituality and Trauma SIG sponsored the Quiet Reflection Room.
  • Expert clinicians demonstrated particular therapeutic approaches to a client with complex trauma in the Clinician Master Sessions.
  • The Expert Clinical Consultation Sessions provided group consultation sessions with experts’ answers to clinical case questions.
  • A special satellite meeting, Biologic Concepts Related to the Etiology, Pathophysiology and Treatment of PTSD, drew more than 160 people.
  • Increased programming focused on child trauma, including a plenary on treatment of complex child abuse trauma, which drew a standing-room-only audience.
  • Forums featured representatives from several government agencies, including NIMH, NIDA, NIAAA, and SAMHSA, who provided information on ways to apply for funding in research and services.
  • The Gala Awards Reception recognized members who have made outstanding contributions to their fields.
  • Following the awards reception, The ISTSS Friendship Banquet provided members an evening of dining and a sense of community. Recorded music by Bruce Springsteen and the Cleaning Ladies kept with a trauma-related theme.

Meeting evaluations are still being tabulated, but a preliminary look shows them to be exceptional, reflecting the quality and value of the 18th annual meeting, chaired by Eve Carlson. Hundreds of oral and poster presentations, personal contacts with friends and colleagues and interaction between researchers and practitioners continue to make the ISTSS meeting unique.

ISTSS thanks 18th annual meeting supporters: GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceutica, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Center for Mental Health Services-SAMHSA, National Center for PTSD, National Institute of Mental Health, the Sheppard & Enoch Pratt Hospital.

Start planning now for the 19th annual meeting in Chicago, Oct. 29–Nov. 1, 2003, chaired by Julian Ford. The meeting theme is Fragmentation and Integration in the Wake of Psychological Trauma. See the Call for Presentations at http://www.istss.org/meetings/2003CFP.htm.

Presentations: Stats at a Glance

18 premeeting institutes
7 plenary sessions
5 expert clinical consultation sessions
3 master clinician sessions
43 workshops
8 forums
3 case presentations
20 panels
68 symposia, with 221 total presentations
4 media presentations
184 posters