Promoting Resilience: Treatment or Prevention?

Panelist: Ulrich Schnyder and Stevan Hobfoll
Chair: Dean Ajduković

Please note: We are very sorry to inform you that Stevan Hobfoll will unfortunately not be able to attend the conference, as he has fallen ill.  But we are happy to announce that Dean Ajduković is going to debate the prevention position instead of Mr. Hobfoll, while Berthold Gersons will overtake the debates chair.

Date: Friday 03.06.2011, 4.15-5.30 pm
Room: Auditorium Maximum (Audimax)

Ulrich Schnyder
President ISTSS
Ulrich Schnyder, M.D., psychiatrist and licensed psychotherapist. Professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Switzerland. Head, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Zurich. Research activities are currently focused on different aspects of traumatic stress research such as epidemiology and neurobiology, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for PTSD, and resilience to stress. Past President, European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS). Past President, International Federation for Psychotherapy (IFP). President, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies ISTSS 2009-2010.

“Treatment” Position:

In addition to trauma-focused approaches, psychotherapies for trauma-related mental disorders, should aim at promoting resilience. Well-Being Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and the mindfulness-based approaches appear to be promising conceptualizations of such treatment strategies.

Dean Ajduković
Chair // Croatia
Department of Psychology, University of Zagreb, Croatia and Society for Psychological Assistance, Zagreb, Croatia; past president of ESTSS (2003-2005).

Dean Ajdukovic, Ph.D., is professor of psychology and Head of the Chair of Social Psychology with extensive experience in working with refugees, community-based psychosocial interventions, and domestic violence. He directed several major international research projects and published over 100 papers. He serves as international consultant on trauma and violence, psychosocial program development and evaluation, community crisis interventions.

"Prevention" position:

Public mental health approach to promoting trauma resilience

The starting position in this debate is that public mental health should create and promote environmental conditions that: 1) Support, enrich and protect the resources of individuals, families and groups, 2) Prevent loss of people’s resources by intervening in the circumstances that contribute to their loss. Potentially traumatic events (PTE) threaten people’s capacity to cope with trauma and therefore public mental health approach is warranted with interventions that extend far beyond professional treatment of individuals. The aim of such interventions is to foster resilience and thus prevent development of posttraumatic disorders. They need to be based on the scholarship about personal and collective psychosocial resilience factors. Such interventions aim to enhance: safety, predictability, social support, sense of belonging, sense of coherence, sense of mastery, and individual purpose and meaning, and social roles. To maintain these factors, professional treatment is not necessary except in a minority of cases that develop disabling psychiatric disorders. The five elements that support people’s resources in the wake of individual and collective trauma (after Hobfoll et al, 2007) include creating sense of safety (physical, psychological), providing calming and reassurance, reestablishing sense of self- and community efficacy coupled with strong beliefs and values, promoting connectedness with the ability to accept and provide social support, work on hope-building based on practical solutions, and facilitating the individual and community orientation towards the future. Within such framework community-based interventions are a strong mechanism to enhance people’s and community threatened coping resources.

Dean Ajdukovic, Ph.D.
Past President, European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS)Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, University of Zagreb
Email:  dean.ajdukovic@ffzg.hr


Stevan Hobfoll
The Judd and Marjorie Weinberg Presidential Professor and Chair Department of Behavioral Sciences, Rush Medical College Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.; Senior Fellow, National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa Israel Member, Mental Health Subcommittee of the (U.S.) National Biodefense Science Board

Dr. Stevan Hobfoll has authored and edited 11books, including Traumatic Stress and Stress, Culture and Community, and over 200 journal articles and book chapters. He has received several lifetime achievement awards, as well as awards for his public mental health interventions in inner-city women’s lives. He is currently the Judd and Marjorie Weinberg Presidential Professor and Chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush Medical College in Chicago and a Senior Fellow of the Center for National Security Studies at the University of Haifa, Israel. Encyclopaedia Brittanica cited his book, The Ecology of Stress, as one of the leading contributions to human knowledge. He is a member of the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the United States National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB). His recent work on mass casualty intervention was designated as one of the most influential contributions to psychiatry.

Creating, Sustaining and Promoting Resource Caravan Passageways:
A Public Health Battle Against Trauma-Toxic Environments

Resource caravan passageways are the environmental conditions that support, foster, enrich and protect the resources of individuals, families, and organizations, or that detract, undermine, obstruct, or impoverish people’s resource reservoirs. Public mental health must be a public watchdog, must create resource enriching environments, and must intervene in the social circumstances that undermine personal, social and material resource accumulation, and that contribute to resource loss, in particular where environments are trauma toxic.



Mental health professionals and the media: collaboration or conflict?

Panelist: Miranda Olff, Frank Nipkau, Thomas Weber
Chair: Bruce Shapiro

Date: Saturday 04.06.2011, 1.30-3.00 pm
Room: Auditorium Maximum (Audimax)

One day in March 2009, a young man went on a killing spree in Winnenden, a small town in Germany. The shooting left sixteen people dead and tore a sudden hole in a community. Such high profile, critical incidents, be they school shootings, terrorist attacks or highly-mediatised child abuse scandals, challenge journalists and trauma care specialists alike. On the one hand, the prolonged media attention provides opportunities to give the public crucial information on the management of trauma, and it may even offer some space for those not directly affected to gain valuable insight into the experience of those who are. But bad reporting may compound individual distress and give credence to inaccurate myths with adverse consequences for public health. Journalists and health professionals speak their own languages and start from different places. It can be hard to fully appreciate the constraints that the alternate side operates under.

In the months that followed the shooting in Winnenden, local journalists and trauma professionals began a series of conversations that shaped the way that those involved responded to the story’s continuing aftermath. Drawing on insight gained from that situation, this debate will broaden out to discuss the conflicts and opportunities that may arise on other occasions when journalists and mental health professionals need to speak to each other. Where, if anywhere, is the common ground?


Miranda Olff
President ESTSS
Dr., Assoc. Professor in Psychotraumatology Head Center for Psychological Trauma, Dept of Psychiatry Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam

Miranda Olff, PhD, is Associate Professor in the field of psychotrauma. Her major areas of research have focused on the psychological and biological responses to traumatic stress and (early) interventions. Research includes randomized controlled trials on the effects of debriefing, of early trauma interventions, and of different forms of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in PTSD patients. Psychobiological research includes neuroimaging and neuroendocrine studies of PTSD and the effects of therapy on neurobiological variables. Further research includes large study on psychopathology of injured patients admitted to the trauma unit, disaster related research, epidemiological surveys on trauma and PTSD, gender differences in PTSD, the effects of oxytocin, the impact of threat and personal protection on politicians, and the coordination of a large EU funded project on post disaster psychosocial care all over Europe.
Miranda Olff currently is head of the Center for Psychological Trauma at the department of Psychiatry at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam. Miranda Olff has a visiting professorship in Norway. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Traumatic Stress. She is the current president of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS).

Bruce Shapiro
Dart Center // www.dartcenter.org
Executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York;  and contributing editor at the Nation. 

An award-winning reporter and commentator on human rights and criminal justice issues, Bruce Shapiro runs the Dart Centre, an organisation dedicated to  encouraging innovative reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. Since the mid-1990s, he has covered terrain ranging from inner-city neighbourhoods to the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court, and has documented the intersection of politics and violence on issues from capital punishment to combat trauma. He is the author of  Shaking the Foundations: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism in America, and co-author of Legal Lynching: The Death Penalty and America's Future, with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. He also teaches investigative journalism at Yale University.


Frank Nipkau
Managing Editor of the newspaper publishing company Waiblingen, releasing the Winender Zeitung among others.

Studied history in Bielefeld, volunteer and editor of the Westfalen-Blatt, leader of the local editorial office Cottbus of the Lausitzer Rundschau, since 2002 managing director of the newspaper publisher Waiblingen. Awards: Theodor-Wolff-Preis, Deutscher Lokaljournalistenpreis.

“The editorial office has no need to write everything they know, has no need to show all they have: victims should not become victims twice. This was the orientation of the Winnender Newspaper after the killing spree of Winnenden.

The award-winning reporting is documented at: www.zvw.de/amoklauf


Thomas Weber
Germany // www.trauma-info.de
Certified Psychologist, Management of TraumaTransformConsult
He led the aftercare on behalf of the accident ensurers after the rampage of Emsdetten and Winnenden. Development of the Structural Interdiciplinary Aftercare Concept (SIN).


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