- by Stacey Prince
Well, some of the best things I did at APA* were personal—spending time with old friends and new, jogging by the marina in the cool ocean breeze, watching batters hit home runs at the Padres game. But the best thing I did professionally was to attend Laura Brown’s Division 56 (Trauma Psychology) Presidential Address. As many of you know, Laura is a psychologist, supervisor, teacher and author in Seattle. I believe she is one of the most innovative, prolific and committed psychologists around. Her many accomplishments include being the foremother of Feminist Therapy, battling the false memory movement in order to have the truths of her trauma survivor clients be heard, and recently creating the Fremont Community Therapy Project, which offers high quality, low fee assessment and psychotherapy to individuals with limited means as well as outstanding, social justice oriented training to pre- and post-doctoral psychology trainees.
In addition to all of these stellar accomplishments, Laura recently took on the challenge of being President of APA’s Division of Trauma Psychology, and on August 14 I attended her presidential address. In a packed room of current and former students, supervisees, colleagues and trauma psychologists, Laura began by saying that at an earlier time in her career she had utopian visions of being able to eradicate trauma simply by telling the truth about its existence: “I did not want us to need a Division of Trauma Psychology”. She also asserted that abuse exists and persists because it is supported by systemic inequities that are much bigger and more difficult to change than is the behavior of individuals. But then she went further, and challenged us as trauma therapists to think about the relationship between our livelihoods and social injustice. “This field of ours, trauma psychology, requires the presence of social injustice in order for us to exist. That’s a problem. That’s a fact about which we need to do something, because we need more justice.” This was so uncomfortable to think about, yet it rang so true, it couldn’t be ignored.
* APA is the American Psychological Association, and this was their annual convention, held this year in San Diego, CA.
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