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It is a huge pleasure and honor for me to wish you a happy new year from this spot in StressPoints, as the current ISTSS president following in the footsteps of our past president Ananda Amstadter.
Aside from being ISTSS president this year, in my daily life, I am working as a researcher in the field of traumatic stress at VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I am leading a research group that studies the prevention of mental health problems following exposure to trauma, early and low intensity interventions in the public mental health domain, with an emphasis on refugee and migrant populations and global settings. In my private life, I live with my husband, three teenagers and a cat in a small town just outside of Amsterdam.

The first time I attended the ISTSS annual meeting was in 2000, in San Antonio, Texas. Still a student, this was not only my first ISTSS annual meeting, but it was also my first conference ever, and the first time to visit the US. This all made a big impression of course. Being able to see in person so many experts walking around with names on their name tags that I had previously seen printed on research papers was exciting. I also noticed the friendly atmosphere, and how easy it was to get in touch with other attendees for collaboration. Since then, ISTSS has been my professional home, and since 2016 I have served as a member of the board.
Last November was special, since after two long years of pandemic, we finally met each other again at the ISTSS annual meeting, this time in Atlanta. What surprised me most, personally, is how easy it was to get back into the familiar rhythm of the conference: meeting old and new colleagues at the welcome reception, exchanging ideas, chatting, laughing, and attending exciting keynotes and concurrent sessions. For this experience, I would like to express my gratitude to the chairs of the 2022 annual meeting committee, Dr. Jennifer Sumner and Dr. Sierra Carter, who did a fantastic job in organizing the meeting together with the Kellen staff. Later this year we will meet again in Los Angeles, and I am confident that the 2023 annual meeting chairs Dr. Isaac Galatzer-Levy and Dr. Katharina Schultebraucks will compose a very exciting scientific program and related events.
At the annual meeting in Atlanta, we also held the board meeting, which included newly elected board members Michele Bedard-Gilligan, Jaimie Gradus, Jana Javakhishvili, and Rachel Liebman on the board for the first time. A substantial part of the board meeting was dedicated to beginning to update ISTSS’ strategic plan, and you will hear more about its development in the upcoming year. Although the mission of our organization (to promote the advancement and exchange of knowledge of traumatic stress worldwide), will not change, the society and settings in which we are all active as trauma professionals will pose new demands. Therefore, it is important for ISTSS to recalibrate the strategies and plans to achieve that mission every couple of years, which is an exciting and interesting process.
These times are challenging. Wars and conflicts, among which the current war in Ukraine, are forcing high numbers of people to migrate. As an organization we remain dedicated to promoting the advancement and exchange of knowledge of traumatic stress to inform clinicians and policy makers about the best available treatments, which are now timelier than ever. With this in mind, ISTSS, in collaboration with Phoenix Australia, has recently participated in updating the guidelines of the World Health Organization with respect to the effectiveness of psychological interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder.
For now, I wish you a good start to the new year and I look forward to sharing more in subsequent StressPoints columns.