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The 3rd World Conference of ISTSS, held in Melbourne, Australia, in March 2000 proved very successful based on having achieved its stated goals, attendee statistics and feedback.

The Scientific Program Planning Committee selected the conference theme, "the long-term outcomes of trauma in individuals and society," to reflect on the past and examine paradigms that currently guide thinking in the field of traumatic stress and to highlight longitudinal studies, many of which were coming into maturity after two decades of intense research activity. The aim was to look at different groups of traumatized people at different developmental stages, approached from a wide variety of therapeutic angles, with practices open to scrutiny and debate.

Program Review
The conference's final program featured preconference workshops, keynote speakers, plenary sessions, symposia and a thematic poster session. There also were video presentations, a meet-the-expert session and Special Interest Group meetings.

Keynote speakers' topics came from a broad scope of conference themes and were well received, though some attendees felt that the addresses were more weighted toward historical/ social/clinical aspects of trauma rather than the empirical. An additional plenary session, the Core Treatments Panel, redressed the imbalance, highlighting differences of opinion about empirically based vs. clinically driven approaches to treatment.

Panel size and time limitations stifled the desired panel and audience interaction of the World Forum, where speakers addressed many issues facing those who work with traumatized communities around the globe. Still, Norman Swan guided a panel through a hypothetical clinical scenario that changed the audience's view of victim/perpetrator and forced them to confront the kind of ethical and moral dilemmas that often are intrinsic to this work. And an interview with author Brian Keenan had the audience perched on the edges of their seats.

Themes examined in symposia and workshops were the paradigms of past and present; the context of trauma, with particular reference to experiences in different cultures; mind-body relationships in response to trauma; biological investigations and treatments; therapeutic issues and approaches; and longitudinal studies. Areas of focus included developmental issues across the life span in relation to trauma, personality, dissociation, memory, media, research methodology and ethics. Although most of the detail of the program had been sketched out by early 1999, two sessions were added to address the three major humanitarian crises of 1999 - Kosovo, Turkey and East Timor.

Breaking Down the Numbers
In our initial planning stages, we estimated an attendance of 600 to 800 people, but by conference time there were 1,100 registrants.

International delegates came from the USA, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada, South Africa, Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Thailand, Japan, Norway, Israel, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, Finland, Germany, France, Brussels, Korea, Kuwait, Cambodia, Spain, Ireland and Poland.

Workshops that addressed therapeutic strategies and processes attracted the most registrations; also popular were Paul Valent's conceptual workshop and the review of the response to the crises in Kosovo, East Timor and Turkey.

The conference was a resounding financial success although the final figures cannot be given until an auditor's report is complete. Under the terms of agreement, two-thirds of the profit will be forwarded to ASTSS and one-third to ISTSS.

The atmosphere of the conference was extremely positive, and delegates were lively and enthusiastic. Many delegates wrote messages of congratulations following the conference.

A conference, of course, is more than a scientific program - it is a gathering of different personalities from different backgrounds, persuasions, theoretical frameworks and allegiances who come to perform and to watch others perform their work. The 3rd World Conference stimulated a vigorous discussion among members of ISTSS, ASTSS and ESTSS about the identity and future directions of trauma organizations and the role of ISTSS in relation to the local planning committee in the development of the program.

Each world conference has its own defining character, intersecting at a unique time in the professional and personal lives of participants. In acknowledging this, inevitably there will be some useful advice to impart to the tyros, and the 3rd World Conference Planning Committee would be happy to act as a reference source in planning the next world conference in 2004.

ESTSS 7th European Conference on Traumatic Stress

May 26-29, 2001
Edinburgh, Scotland

Hundreds of forms of therapy currently are available for the treatment of traumatic stress disorder, from pharmacotherapy, psychodynamic interventions and cognitive-behavioral therapy to the newer therapies including EMDR. Asking the question, "What works for whom, and why?" the 7th ECOTS conference aims to synthesize a wealth of information about the efficacy of these interventions.

A wide range of issues will be addressed, such as: origins of trauma both biological and psychosocial; children and trauma; early intervention; community responses to trauma; treatments of all types: integration of different models and treatments; and legal issues in trauma work, combat/war veterans, refugees and sexual trauma survivors.

Keynote addresses will be given by David Alexander, Rachel Yehuda, Stuart Turner, Bas Schreuder, Arieh Shalev, Atle Dyregrov and Alistair Ager. There will be a number of scientific sessions as well as more informal opportunities to meet the experts.

The conference will be accompanied by a trade exhibition featuring companies/organizations working in the field of traumatic stress. We will look at the role of the media and the movie industry in the portrayal of traumatic stress, and we will explore legal aspects through a mock court trial. The conference will be held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), one of Europe's top conference venues, situated in the heart of the city, where there is something to delight every visitor. From exploring the narrow wynds and visiting an ancient castle, to shopping on Princes Street or visiting some of the city's wonderful variety of bars, cafes and restaurants.

For more information, please visit the conference Web site at www.ecots.org.uk or e-mail ecots@meetingmakers.co.uk.