LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
As I launch my second year of presidency and, more importantly, as we enter NESTTD’s fourth decade, I’m very pleased to share with you a review of some of the year’s events, and a look at what’s yet to come.
Roberta Fortgang, LICSW
This has been a wonderful year for inspirational and informative presentations, including those of Stephen Porges, Frank Anderson, and Anne Hallward, and most recently, Dan Hughes' excellent workshop, which was held on the occasion of our 30th Anniversary celebratory luncheon. We were honored to be joined, at that celebration, by a number of past NESTTD presidents and other distinguished NESTTD luminaries, and to glean from each of them a piece of our history. Jim Chu, the organization’s first president, shared his recollection of gathering with fellow professionals in a clinic basement in 1984, an informal group that was to develop into the New England chapter of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation (now the ISSTD). Since then, our Society has grown from a couple of dozen participants into a community of almost 300, that nurtures and informs our shared interest in the ever-evolving ways to understand and treat individuals suffering from the impact of traumatic experiences.
Our mission (providing training, information and resources on the effective treatment of psychological trauma, complex trauma and dissociation), remains the same today as it was at the start, but our ways of pursuing the mission, of course, must evolve with the times and with the needs of our members and potential members. As a means of getting perspective and making course corrections, the NESTTD Board met for a strategic planning retreat this past August. With the assistance of professional organizational consultant Kim Comart, we focused on those key ingredients that have made NESTTD unique and successful, and how to enhance awareness and utilization of all that we offer. In order to keep the organization robust and sustainable, we concluded that we should place special emphasis on (a) attracting new and younger members, and (b) expanding education to therapists (beyond our existing and impressive Fundamentals Program) who might not identify themselves as trauma specialists and might not even have recognized, for example, dissociative symptoms in some of their clients. We have been discussing and taking early steps to implement a number of measures toward these ends, including plans to augment our web site with a section geared toward helping clinicians identify relevant signs and symptoms, and to make much fuller use of social media to spread the word. I have to say that, as this retreat and our regular meetings this year have made clear, we have a truly exceptional Board, and committee chairs/members -- an extraordinary array of astute, energetic, committed individuals.
We have also realized that our financial situation -- organizational income only slightly exceeding our expenses -- makes for added pressure on committee members and chairs, and tends to inhibit efforts to pursue more ambitious programming. Our Board is thus considering various potential remedies, such as re-examining our membership/fee structure and asking for donations – and, of course, drawing additional members would help to create a buffer in our budget. We want to be transparent about these circumstances, as we try new approaches designed to promote greater fiscal stability.
The past year, and the process of stepping into the shoes of all the past presidents since Dr. Chu, has been a whirlwind for me, full of challenges, stresses, new learning, and many sources of satisfaction, most prominently in recognizing the collective talent, insight, and capability of our members, especially when they work together toward a common goal. With increased perspective and experience, I am truly excited to see how we will move NESTTD forward in the year ahead.