PERSONAL STATEMENT-Jeff Conway- Running for president
Our Society is at a critical point in our history. While our members have seen invasions and war in the past, since our creation no international conflict has reached the scope of devastation, or has involved so many nations, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This violation of international law has shaken us to the core. It is essential that we heal whatever divisions that may be present in our Society and stay strong together. It is vital that we remember that ISST is a member organization, which means that membership is granted it is to each one of us. We take that membership with us wherever we go and wherever we happen to live.
Staying together is the most effective and powerful way that we can help our members who are most in need. Our Ukrainian members are suffering and terrified due to the continuing war atrocities. Many of our Russian members, some of whom have deep emotional and professional ties with Ukraine, long for the power to bring this war to an end. In some way all of us have been impacted by this war; it is impossible not to be.
I am grateful that many in our Society have reached out to support our Ukrainian members. When I think about the work that the EB has accomplished over this past year, I am most moved by the way in which the Resource Committee for Members in Crisis (RCMC) has provided training, supervision, support, and care for our Ukrainian members. So many of our members, too numerous to name, have been involved with this effort as well as other independent efforts to provide support. An important part of our legacy is that this committee will continue to assist our members in crisis well into the future.
I think this war has caused a bit an identity crisis within our Society. It has left some of us to wonder what our role is under such terrible circumstances. The role of the EB is clear: it is essential that the Society remain connected to the By-Laws that enable us to exist. ISST is registered as a non-profit society in Germany, which holds a very strict standard for non-profit organizations. ISST is not allowed to engage in activities that are political in nature. As President, I have been committed, along with the EB, to provide as much support to Ukrainian members as we can, given those regulations.
The mission of the ISST is provided by the statutes of ISST, particularly the statute regarding the purposeof the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST):
“The purpose of the ISST is supporting the public health care of the population of their members’ countries. This is achieved by promoting teaching, application, dissemination, research, quality assurance and further development of Schema Therapy as a form of psychotherapy, rehabilitation, and prevention. In this connection Schema Therapy is understood as a further development of cognitive behavioral therapies.”
It is essential that we hold to the democratic principles and values of equity and inclusion that the founders of our Society held as paramount when the International Society of Schema Therapy was established. I see more clearly why this was such an important principle for them, considering the current crisis, and ongoing global crises. We are long past the time when it was conceivable that war would come to an end. I am afraid that ongoing war and conflict is very much our reality. How we create a haven of safety for allour members, however, is our responsibility. As President, I have been guided by these facts. If I am elected President, I will continue to lead in this way.
Like many others in our Society, Schema Therapy was brought into my life through a personal route. It began in the late 90s when I read Reinventing Your Life. When I put the book down, I thought to myself this is a self-help book that actually helps! To offer my clients that type of healing, guidance, and possibilities for change has become my intention. Schema Therapy has continued to fascinate and inspire me with its complexity, humanity, practicality, and effectiveness. The trans-cultural nature of this model led me to participate in various ways to help disseminate the model throughout the world. As a gay man, who has experienced a different kind of marginalization throughout the various stages of my life, it is personally gratifying to be associated with a model that is predicated on the belief that all people are worthy of attention and respect. The Schema Therapy model has been an animating force of my work and the society that promotes this model has become my professional home.
One satisfying piece of being involved in learning Schema Therapy early in its inception is that I have witnessed the tremendous growth of the model throughout the world. What has also been exciting was learning that my excitement with Schema Therapy was shared by others all over the world. This excitement culminated in the inaugural international meeting in Stockholm, Sweden in the fall of 2007 and the beginnings of the Society as we know it today.
Just over the past couple of years, the ISST has grown tremendously, in numbers about 30%. We have expanded into parts of the world in which we had previously little or no presence, and we now have more certified schema therapists, supervisors, and trainers. We have changed the way that we train so that many of our certified training programs offer online training or some form of hybrid online/in person training. This has made it possible for more people to have access to schema therapy training, and more individuals to have access to well-trained Schema Therapists.
I am grateful and feel honored to have played a part in the cultivation of our Society. I was the Chair of the Supervisor Skills Development Committee that was responsible for developing the Supervisor Skills Development Webinar. This webinar continues to be used to train more Schema Therapy Supervisors every year. I am currently the Chair of the Case Conceptualization Committee that has worked to improve the Case Conceptualization Form and has recently introduced a new iteration of this very important tool of assessment and treatment. I began on the Executive Board as Training Coordinator and over the past 2 years I served as Vice President and then as President.
Inspired by the intended purpose of the ISST, and grounded personally and professionally in this model, I will continue to work with the EB and other society members and make tangible efforts to support research in Schema Therapy, to help facilitate the expansion of Schema Therapy Programs throughout the world, and to help implement the quality assurance processes to ensure that all the certification trainings are held to our high standard. I am also committed to supporting better communication and mentorship and in our society so that everyone has an opportunity to be heard and to contribute.
The most consequential days of Schema Therapy and our Society are ahead of us. There are opportunities for growth and development yet to be discovered. If chosen as your President, I hope to lead with kindness, generosity of spirit, and strength. This is how we all comport ourselves when we are at our best. It is also what I have so often witnessed in our Society.
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