Trauma Psychology News

President’s Column – Spring 2023

Dawn Hughes, PhD, ABPP
Dawn Hughes, PhD, ABPP

It is with great pleasure and honor to start this year as your President of Division 56 Trauma Psychology as this has been my professional home since its inception in 2006. Many thanks to our past-President, Dr. Lisa Rocchio, for shepherding me through this past year and holding us in good hands, and a warm welcome to our President-elect, Dr. Carlos Cuevas. As your Presidential trio, we look forward to leading the division and continuing the Division of Trauma Psychology mission. It is equally exciting that one of our members, Dr. Thema Bryant, has taken the helm as APA President and we look forward to having trauma psychology, especially in addressing inequities and oppression, front and center. Let me also warmly welcome our new and existing committee chairs and members for 2023, and I am grateful that many members are volunteering their time to grow and support our division. There is still room for committee members, and I encourage you to volunteer and become more intricately involved with us. It is a wonderful way to contribute, make friends, and feel the camaraderie that is so special in our division. We are especially interested in having more members of marginalized or minoritized groups in our executive committees and boards as we recently adopted a strategic mission and plan to address diversity, inclusion, and equity. I look forward to serving with you all! Feel free to reach out to me and I will happily connect you to the committee chair of your interests.

As I write this, as have so many presidential columns before me, I am saddened by the collective trauma and adverse life happenings in today’s world that directly impacts so many people and awakens our professional consciousness that trauma healing work still needs to be done. Individuals are struggling with the war in Ukraine, continued mass shootings and gun violence, racial trauma and discrimination, the rise of antisemitism, the third year of the pandemic, childhood abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, inequities in the workplace, and on and on. I feel so grateful and honored to be part of our group which works tirelessly to disseminate information about the psychological impact of trauma and actively assists individuals and communities in healing and recovery. And even though there is so much more to do, and sometimes that feels overwhelming and disheartening, I continue to err on the side of hope that positive change is possible – that healing is possible – and that we can meaningfully contribute to psychological recovery.

As traumatic world events unfold, it is unsurprising that scholars, clinicians, and academics have turned to our journal, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, to enhance their knowledge base to understand trauma, making our journal the highest-ranked APA journal and the seventh rank clinical journal across publishers.

Moreover, two of our articles are among the top ten downloaded articles and our impact factor continues to rise. We continue to receive high-quality submissions that reflect a diverse range of articles focusing on recovery and the impact of COVID-19, racial trauma, transdiagnostic conceptualizations about trauma and not just PTSD, differing perspectives and representation of diverse groups, racial trauma, and international contributions. We continue to satisfy our mission with Psychological Trauma, which is to disseminate trauma psychology to a wider net of professionals and the broader world. I am so grateful to the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Kathy Kendall-Tackett, and her team of editors for making Psychological Trauma one of the most respected journals there is!

We are continuing to work on our division’s deep commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and action to make our division welcoming and accessible and to identify and remove structural barriers to leadership. We have completed our consulting relationship with Dailey Innovations for now and are utilizing the findings and recommendations to make a formal strategic plan which will allow us to reach our goal of creating systematic change in how we operate our division and open the path to governance for members of our BIPOC, marginalized, and minoritized members. We have had some success moving us in a corrective direction but there is still much more to do. We have increased funding to support our Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (I-DARE) Task Force chaired by Dr. Ayli Carrero Pinedo; we have created a diversity slate for our Member-At-Large position; we have increased the reimbursement rate for Cultivating Healing, Advocacy, Nonviolence, Growth, and Equity (CHANGE) grant reviewers to address inherent financial inequities; we have increased grant funding for Early Career Psychologists (ECPs) to address economic inequality that may also dovetail with marginalized groups; and we include regular articles on diversity and marginalized perspectives in Psychological Trauma. We endeavor to have a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic plan that incorporates nurturing leaders and governance within our division and that is up to all of us—not just members of the DEI communities. Self-nominating is excellent, but we need more. We—and you—need to actively approach, involve, nurture, and encourage those intelligent, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic members to become part of our division leadership pipeline. Please keep your eyes peeled for the Division 56 executive board positions nomination email which comes out at the beginning of each year and have this front of mind for committee positions which are an excellent way to become involved in the division.

I am so excited for the 2023 APA Annual Convention, which will be held in Washington DC this year on August 3-5. Registration opens on April 25! I am optimistic that the pandemic that has kept us away and apart for too long will be manageable and that many of you can attend in person so we can share space and reconnect with friends and

colleagues. This year’s theme is Trauma Healing and Recovery, and our illustrious program chair, Dr. Chuck Benincasa, is diligently culling our submissions to provide us with an enriching, enlightening, and diverse APA program. We will have symposia and skill-building sessions that tackle issues such as cultural betrayal trauma in BIPOC communities, indigenous trauma-informed approaches from the classroom, victimization of Latino youth and adults, co-occurring PTSD and substance use in transition-age youth, disaster response, postpartum PTSD, and so much more. My invited speakers are Dr. Mary Ann Dutton and Dr. Steven N. Gold who will address what we may have lost sight of in the field to help people heal from the traumatic effects of victimization. Dr. Gold and Dr. Dutton will reflect upon the trajectory of the field of trauma psychology after over 40 years of research, clinical interventions, forensic practice, and graduate-level teaching and training in trauma, specifically in areas of childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence, respectively. Again this year, the majority of our APA programming has been approved for continuing education credits. We encourage you to attend events in our hospitality suite and join us for our social hour and awards ceremony which is traditionally a blast with great food, drink, and fun! As the summer approaches, please watch for emails regarding our final division programming. We look forward to seeing you in DC!

In closing, as the Trauma Division of APA, we are in good shape. Our attendance at Division 56 programming at APA in August 2022 was stellar, our membership is growing, we are expanding our online webinar series to increase the dissemination of trauma psychology, we are actively confronting longstanding DEI barriers, and we are in solid fiscal shape thanks to the rise in Journal subscriptions. We are committed to our mission of promoting scientific research, professional and public education, and the exchange of collegial support for professional activities related to traumatic stress.

I am honored to be in this leadership position, excited to serve, and committed to being responsive to you. Please feel free to reach out to me with any thoughts, suggestions, questions, or anything else that impacts our division. May you be safe, healthy, and have peace of mind.

Dawn Hughes, PhD, ABPP

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