The 2014 annual meeting is only a memory. However, from my personal experience, discussions with those who attended, and from the evaluations we’ve received, the memory we share is of an exciting and gratifying professional experience with old and new friends which demonstrated the quality of the organization and the importance of cultural psychiatry as a field. Congratulations are in order to those who made it happen: Jim Jaranson and the staff of Survivors of Torture International, Jeff Hugger and his staff at the Joan Kroc Center, and our team for making our stay in San Diego easy, rewarding, and fun; Liz who produced and directed the entire show, Roberto and his committee (Kenneth, Brandon and Liz) who developed a first-rate program; Connie Cummings, our newest board member, who designed the program book that’s a keeper; John Onate for the wonderful pictures, some of which you see in this newsletter, and Jaswant Guzder, for giving us permission to use one of her paintings for the cover of the book.
The meeting opened with a unique keynote panel on the theme of trauma. Three senior clinicians, reporting on the treatment of trauma victims in three cultures (Vietnamese, Jewish, and Sudanese) told us powerful stories — first as traumatized victims themselves and later as healers. Their presentations reminded us that telling personal stories, combined with lifelong work, demonstrates their resilience and their continued healing. The session was therapeutic for us all.
The first day included fine keynote addresses by historian Mark Micale, Hughes and Speigel award winners Claire Fantus and William Hartmann, two films, and a poster session. Days two and three were filled with 14 symposia and individual presentation sessions, many on the conference theme of “Trauma, Recovery and Culture”, others on training, the use of translators, the care of refugees, womanhood and many more. My brief summary here can’t do the program justice. Consult our website for a listing of all presentations and read full descriptions of the presentations in the official program, which (if you did not attend the annual meeting) is available on request.
The Program Committee has already begun to prepare for the April 23-25, 2015 meeting, which will take place at the Omni Hotel in Providence. The Brown University Department of Psychiatry will be our local host next year, with a team headed by Board member, Robert Kohn. The Program Committee has selected “Culture and Global Mental Health” as our theme. I hope you are already thinking about a presentation for next year and potential speakers from outside SSPC. A call for papers, with guidelines on the theme, a timetable and detailed instructions about developing your abstract is included on pages 5-7 in this issue of the Newsletter.
At the May Board meeting we welcomed three new members: Renato Alarcon, Artha Gillis and Connie Cummings. They joined SSPC Committees working to expand the benefits of membership and to provide additional services to the cultural psychiatry field. Steven Chan, a PGY 3 resident at UC Davis and APA SAMHSA Minority Fellow, under the supervision of Artha (Communications) is developing a second upgrade of our website, www.psychiatryandculture.org. Connie is designing a new membership recruitment brochure. Albert Yeung and his colleagues, including Renato (Research), are conducting a survey to identify potential mentors in CP research, clinical and administrative activities offering supervision to APA SAMHSA Fellows, younger SSPC members, and trainers in residency programs. This survey will be used to supplement your bio sketches in the Members Only section of our website, thereby enhancing communication between colleagues who share similar interests; Sadeq Rahimi (Education) intends to launch our videoconferencing project, providing live and archived clinical cases with senior SSPC supervisors and discussions of recently published papers with their authors.
I hope your summer is restful and rejuvenating. While the 2014 meeting memory may fade, we’re already dreaming of Providence in 2015. Best wishes to all.