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Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Archive for September 2010

LIVE at ATSS’ 2010 Conference: Day 1

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It was an emotional start to Day one of ATSS’s 2010 conference — “Safely in Our Hands:  Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy”– here in Toronto, Canada. During the conference’s welcome remarks, ATSS President Kent Laidlaw began to explain some of the cultural differences that exist between Canada and the neighboring United States.

Sure there are subtle but noticeable differences in the way both Canadians and Americans speak, the money is different, and we all know how much Canadians love their hockey, but as both countries have been entrenched in the war against terror in the Middle East, mainly Afghanistan, perhaps the greatest cultural divide is in the way each country views the return of their fallen soldiers.

While this conference is largely about you, the “helpers,” explained Laidlaw, it’s also going to focus on the military, and how we can help those who return with traumatic scars.

To expand upon both the military focus of the conference and the cultural divide that exists between Canada and the United States, Laidlaw showed a short but riveting video to all of this year’s attendees. The video was of Canadians citizens welcoming home their soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the conflicts overseas.

While the U.S. remains highly guarded and secretive in the manner in which their soldiers return to their final resting place, the video Laidlaw played this morning showed everyone just how different each country views the return of their fallen soldiers.

How is it different?

American soldiers who have perished on the battle field return in a plane that travels under the cover of darkness, explained Laidlaw. They fly directly into an enclosed hanger, and security is tight so that no onlookers can capture photos of the caskets.

Yet in Canada, citizens line the runway at Trenton Air Force Base, and they line the roads of the approximately 100-mile travel route from the Air Force base to the coroner’s office in Toronto. Proud and patriotic Canadians wave their native flag and they salute their fellow countrymen in an emotional sign of appreciation and respect.

Why is it different?

Laidlaw, a native Canadian, said he couldn’t really answer that question. It could be a cultural divide, or maybe it’s a political divide. What we do know is that citizens of the United States continue to be very divided on how their fallen soldiers should return home. While some have pushed for the openness the Canadians have shown, others believe that the transports should remain private, out of the view of the public eye. 

Cultural divides aside, the vast majority of each country remains committed to supporting those who have and will continue to serve, and especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.

As the video concluded, and as many wiped away their tears, Laidlaw said that “We wanted to start with this video to set the tone for the conference.”

Mission accomplished.

We’ll be sharing more about this year’s conference as the days go. Stay tuned.

Written by traumalines

September 30, 2010 at 11:03 am

Conference Presenter Preview: Eric Arauz

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Eric Arauz is a father, a veteran and a keynote speaker. Eric has also been diagnosed with Bipolar 1, PTSD, alcohol and drug addiction and was confined in a Veterans Administration maximum security mental institution as a disabled Navy veteran from Operation Desert Shield. Eric has experienced nearly everything negative life can throw your way. Yet, Eric has taken what he has dealt with and is now using it to help others.

On day two of ATSS’ 2010 conference (Friday October 1, 2010) — Safely in Our Hands:  Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy — Eric will be presenting “Death and Resurrection of a Veteran with Mental Illness.”

I could do my best and try to explain the nature of Eric’s presentation in my own words, but until you hear it from him, in his own words, you can’t really grasp his total resurrection.

For those of you who will not be attending this year’s conference, I suggest you check out As soon as you log onto his site, you will be greeted by a video titled, “Miraculous Story of Death and Resurrection Part 1.” This video is just a taste of what conference delegates can expect while attending Eric’s workshop. I encourage you to watch his video, send him an email or maybe even ask him to speak at your next conference or event.

Written by traumalines

September 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm

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ATSS Launches First Regional Meeting

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The Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists (ATSS) is a global organization. However, just last month, the first regional group of ATSS members and affiliates met to discuss the organization as it stands now, and where it’s headed in the future.

ATSS member Deborah Donnelly wrote the following article which discusses ATSS’ very first regional group meeting:

Thanks to the technology we have today, it is easy to look back on any date in time with and see that nearly each day of each year has a unique, historic semblance all its own. When looking back through history, it’s apparent that August 4 has its own unique and special history.

-August 4, 1892: Lizzie Borden was arrested after both of her parents were found murdered in their home.

-August 4, 1923: marked the start of the train journey that carried the body of President Warren Harding back to Washington D.C. after he died suddenly while on vacation in California. During this journey, grieving Americans waited by the tracks for the train to pass by and bowed their heads, paying respect to their beloved president.

-August 4, 1941: the Nazis marched within 50 miles of Kiev, Russia, where both sides clashed and suffered massive casualties.

-August 4, 1944: Ann Frank was captured while in hiding and transported to her final destination, a death camp.

-August 4, 1964: the bodies of three murdered Civil Rights workers were found.

-August 4, 1978: Israel attacked Lebanon in retaliation for a bombing in a Tel Aviv market place.

You are probably wondering what these events have to do with the beginning of the NJ/NY Regional ATTS group. Nearly all of these historical facts include traumatic deaths. It is occurrences such as these that have the potential to cause human beings some form of psychological stress. At the time that many of the above-mentioned events occurred, there was little information available to the potential tri-phasic impact that these events could have on people. With some of the events described above, there was a lack of concern and outcry to the injustices purposefully done onto others.

It is events such as these that would come to our attention in the present. In our roles as trauma/crisis responders, mental health clinicians, nurses, victim advocates, traumatic stress specialists, law enforcement and other disciplines, we would have been able to do what we do best: provide quality services to those impacted by any traumatic event. As members of ATSS, we come from a variety of disciplines; however, we share the common goal of helping people.

There is an additional historical event on August 4, 2010: the New Jersey/New York area officially had its first regional ATSS meeting in Hoboken, New Jersey. August 4, 2010 marks the official beginning of the NJ/NY Regional ATSS group. Our first meeting was geared to getting a sense of the needs of the group and its future plans. We also had an informative presentation on Self Care given by Barbara Maurer.

Our hope for the future is to continue to develop a strong and cohesive regional ATSS group. We are under the auspices of ATSS and follow the same mission and goals. It is up to all of us to contribute to the present which will eventually become the history that began on August 4, 2010. Let’s work together to have a strong and committed regional group, where we can network and support one another, and engage in activities that strengthen us as professionals. If you are not on our mailing list and wish to receive notification of upcoming meetings, please email us at Please also let us know if you would like to volunteer to do a presentation. If you have not yet joined ATSS, I encourage you to do so.

On behalf of Linda Diaz-Murphy, my co-chair, I want to thank Renee Burawski and Barbara Maurer who initiated and supported the efforts to form the regional group. This meeting could not have happened without the organizational skills of Lauren De Poto. Thank you Lauren and congratulations on earning your Masters Degree.

Written by traumalines

September 22, 2010 at 7:27 pm

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Conference Preview: Day 3

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Day three is the third and final day of ATSS’ 2010 conference: “Safely in Our Hands:  Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy.”

Day 3: Friday October 2, 2010

8:45‐9:00 Morning announcements
9:00‐12:00 Morning Workshop Selections

1. “Not One More!” The California Highway Patrol’s Suicide Solution (PART I) — Elizabeth Dansie

2. Crisis Intervention: Key Legislation Issues — Becky Stoll

3. Maintaining Ourselves in Good Condition — Traumatic Incident Reduction for Those Who Help Others — Marian Volkman

4. Caring on Two Fronts: When Helping Professionals are Also Family Caregivers — Jan Spilman

5. Reenergizing: The healing properties of music, art and education — Kath Murray, Bev Foster and Jennifer Wortham

12:00-1:30 Lunch and Certification Q&A with Barbara Maurer, Diane Travers and Kath Murray
1:30-4:30 Afternoon Workshop Selections

1. “Not One More!” The California Highway Patrol’s Suicide Solution (PART II) — Elizabeth Dansie

2. The Intergenerational Trauma Treatment Model (ITTM) for Complex Childhood Trauma — Valerie Copping and Katreena Scott

3. A More Holistic Approach to Trauma Recovery — Pam Fitzgerald

5:30pm—Toronto Outing

Still need to register? Still need to book your hotel room? Click here for more information.

Written by traumalines

September 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Conference Preview: Day 2

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On Monday, we laid out the agenda for day one of ATSS’ 2010 conference — Safely in Our Hands:  Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy. Today, it’s time for day 2.

Day 2: Friday October 1, 2010

8:45-9:00 Morning announcements
9:00-12:00 Morning Workshop Selections

1. Observed and Experiential Integration for Trauma (OEI)(Part I) — Rick Bradshaw and Laurie Detwiler

2. PTSD and Addiction Treatment for Occupational Hazards — Anne Pepper

3. Supporting Child Protective Staff Following Child Fatality and Other Critical Incidents —Mary Pulido

4. Souls Under Siege: Understanding the Long Term Effects of Working With Trauma — Bridget Cantrell

5. Breath, Water, Sound Yoga for Stress Release and Positive Growth — David Hartman Turner and Kathleen Turner

6. PTSD and Disabilities — Penny Arcey

12:00‐1:00 Lunch
1:00‐2:00 Plenary Speaker ‐ Lt Col Stephane Grenier —
Peer Based Mental Health Services: Giving Purpose to Lived Experience by Having Consumers Become Part of the Solution

2:15-5:15 Afternoon Workshop Selections

1. Observed and Experiential Integration for Trauma (OEI) (Part II) —Rick Bradshaw and Laurie Detwiler

2. Death and Resurrection of a Veteran with Mental Illness — Eric Arauz

3. Ethics of Trauma Practice: Creating standards, Identifying Values, Preventing Harm, Resolving Dilemmas — Mary Beth Williams

4. Family Dynamics — How to Share with loved Ones and Teaching Them how to Support “Us” —John Robertson

5. Testifying After Trauma — Barbara Anschuetz, Brad McKay and Fred DeWinne

6:30pm-9:00pm Pizza Social Event

Still need to register or book your hotel room? Click here for more information.

Written by traumalines

September 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Conference Preview: Day 1

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It’s almost conference time, and as promised, we’re going to provide you with an outline of what you can expect each day at ATSS’ 2010 conference — Safely in Our Hands:  Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy.

Thursday September 30, 2010

8:30AM Registration
9:00 AM Welcome Remarks
9:00-12:00 Morning Workshop Selections

1. Creative tools for transforming compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma — Françoise Mathieu

-We did a more in-depth preview of Françoise Mathieu’s presentation back in April. Click here to read it-

2. H.U.G.S. Helping Children Understand Grief & Trauma in Six Week Sessions — Christine Dernederlanden

3. Substance Use Disorders, PTSD and Veterans Special Considerations in Assessment and Treatment — Megan Sullivan

4. Meditation, Mindfulness, and Right-Brain Healing in the Trauma Crucible — Dawn Brett

5. Reformulating Our Approach to Psychological Preparedness in the Emergency Services — Lori Gray, Brad Coulback and Marc Kobrosli

12:00-2:00 Luncheon Speaker — Dr. Angie Panos, Safely in Our Hands: Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy

2:00-5:00 Afternoon Workshop Selections

1. Voices of Experience — Priscilla de Villiers, Kent Laidlaw and Ed Leonard

2. The Emergency Responder-Hero’s Journey: Growth and
Transformation at the West Coast Post Retreat (WCPR) —Marilyn Wooley

3. CISM in the Correctional Service of Canada — Pamela Scott and Dorothy Reid

4. “ I Feel Better Now!” The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children — Caelan Kuban

5. Exploring the Masks We Wear: Paths to Joy and Self-Empowerment — Jennifer Wortham

6. Preventing and Healing Compassion Fatigue Q&A — Angie Panos

6:30pm-9:00pm President’s Reception

Written by traumalines

September 13, 2010 at 7:47 pm

September 2010: National Preparedness Month

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Are you ready, are you prepared?

Prepared for what you might say. Are you prepared for emergencies in your home, business and/or community?

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council. NPM is held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

September 2010 is the seventh annual NPM. This year will focus on encouraging Americans to work together to take concrete actions toward emergency preparedness. We are encouraging all Americans to join the readiness team and truly help themselves, their neighbors, and their communities be Ready.

Register your organization

You can register your organization to become a member of the NPM Coalition (CLICK HERE to register). Coalition members help to create and promote “a culture of preparedness in the United States.” Coalition members agree to promote preparedness any way they can in September. Membership is open to all public and private organizations, and registration is free:

Once you register you will receive access to the NPM Website where you can find a toolkit that includes templates, resources, and tips to assist you with promoting emergency preparedness. You will also find an NPM calendar where you can post your events and see what other organizations are doing in your community. In addition, you can share your success stories and read about the successes of others.

Your organization will also be listed on our Web site!

Think about helping promote emergency-preparation awareness by becoming a Coalition member today.

Written by traumalines

September 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm