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ISST President´s report for the Executive Board term 2016 to 2018

This period saw the Executive Board putting energy into organizing two major events, the Summer School in Barcelona in June 2017 and the Conference in Amsterdam in 2018.  These activities are central to the work of the ISST as they provide a forum for disseminating the latest concepts and practices within schema therapy, providing research updates, and giving members opportunities for networking and expanding their clinical skills. We spent quite a lot of time at all our Board meetings discussing decisions that needed to be made as the organization unfolded, but apart from that, as President I played a limited role in their planning and implementation and I am very grateful to the Board members who put in large amounts of time in the organizing of these events as well as the many members who served on subcommittees that worked on the detailed planning.

An important development earlier this year was the release of the new Case Conceptualization form for use in training and as part of the certification process.  I was involved in this as a member of the Case Conceptualization Committee (details at https://schematherapysociety.org/Case-Conceptualization-Committee ) which has been working on this since May 2015. Some of you may remember this committee’s reporting at a panel at the Vienna conference in 2016 and a further presentation by Jeff Conway, who chairs the committee, and Jeffrey Young at the Amsterdam Conference.  Of course, my participation in this has not been due to my role as President, but. as President, I have been concerned to see that the roll out took place as smoothly as possible and I worked to deal with some obstacles that were delaying the process.  I have also concerned myself with the process of translating the three documents into all the different languages in use our Society.  We were a bit late in starting on this, but to help expedite the process I have taken on the task as Chair of the Committee that handles the translation process (https://schematherapysociety.org/Case-Conceptualization-Committee ) and have been involved in developing the policy document that you will find at this link.  We still have to launch a web page that will feature the translated versions but so far we don’t have any translations officially accredited by the ISST.

One of my concerns as President was understanding and then working to improve various structural aspects of our Society. We have been growing fast and we need to expand our infrastructure to keep up!  You can get an idea of the way we are expanding from the figures below:

Because of this expansion we were experiencing a lot of bottlenecks because individuals were overloaded with too many responsibilities and tasks.  This applied to the ISST Office staff and the Treasurer has reported on action to address this in his report.  It also applied to many Board Members who were contributing long hours to their work for the Society but often had more to deal with than they could cope with.  I have been encouraging Board members to delegate more, to make use of additional administrative staff (whom we have the funds to employ on an ad hoc basis), and to set up procedures within the ISST office to deal with routine administrative activities. We are making progress with this, but it will be an ongoing process to keep the momentum up in our expanding organization.

I also made an organogram of the various committees that report to the Executive Board and noticed that not all committees had clear terms of reference.  It seemed to me important that the terms of reference and responsibilities of each committee be clearly set out and that Chairperson’s be aware of these and accountable to the membership.

In the last few months I have been working with a website assistant to put it all online.  You can see the organogram at https://schematherapysociety.org/ISST-Committee-Structure as well as links to pages for all our committees.  This is still a work in progress.  There may still be committees or other organs of the Society that are not properly reflected, and we still have to enter details of several of them on the relevant pages.  You will also see that the ISST office staff who are a crucial aspect of our organization are not currently included on the organogram, though of course they are an essential aspect of our functioning.

As part of this I initiated several structural developments within the ISST as follows:

  • Regulations for National Branches and affiliated National Societies.  We had a number of enquiries about this and it became clear that we need an infrastructure for accommodating the needs of national or regional organizations working with the promotion of schema therapy and schema therapy training.  We now have a set of regulations and guidelines that are available at https://schematherapysociety.org/National-Branches-and-other-National-and-regional-bodies
  • Schema Therapy Development Programs Committee: It became clear that there is a need for the ISST to strategically support the development of schema therapy training programs in countries where there is interest but no certified trainers.  We established this committee to work on this and its membership and terms of reference are at https://schematherapysociety.org/Schema-Therapy-Development-Programs-Committee
  • Ethics and Conflict Resolution Committee: Our members are responsible to the professional bodies that licence their psychotherapy activity and these bodies will handle such professional and ethical issues.  Different bodies and bodies in different countries may have different ethical standards that members have to meet.  So the ISST cannot and does not seek to override these standards and the authority of these bodies.  However, from time to time important questions arise with respect to how ethical issues should be handled within the society and this committee was established so that the Board can refer such matters to them.  You can see the membership of this committee as well as the terms of reference at https://schematherapysociety.org/Ethics-&-Conflict-Resolution-Committee
  • Case Conceptualization Forms Translation Committee:  This was already referred to and I was active in developing the guidelines for this process which are available at https://schematherapysociety.org/CCF-Translation-Committee

In addition to these aspects, I was also concerned that some of the details in the statutes regarding the different membership categories for our organization were confusing.  I therefore initiated the development of a simplified set of definitions for the statutes which I am recommending.  Full members will have the opportunity to look at these and vote on whether they support the changes at our online General Membership Assembly (GMA) during the voting period from September 23rd to October 5th.  I have also made several other recommendations for updating the statutes, many of which are largely editorial – again you can look at the details of this on the GMA agenda.

As President I have been mindful of a sentence in our Statutes that tells us that the Executive Board “understands itself as collegial executive team of the ISST e.V. and makes its decisions following thorough and consensus oriented discussions. In their internal and external communication and conflict resolution, the members of the Committee also strive to realize the principles and knowledge of schema therapy.”

I understand this as part of what we call Healthy Adult functioning. Often conflicts arise when we are triggered and our Healthy Adult gets put on the back burner.  In guiding the deliberations of the Executive Board, especially when we are dealing with conflicting perspectives, I have always tried to keep in mind these values:  mutual respect, seeking understanding and working towards consensus,  in a manner that is transparent and accountable. I won’t claim that I always succeed or that my own Healthy Adult does not at times get dislodged!  But those are the values I try to live by and implement, values explicitly referred to in our ISST statutes.

David Edwards.

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