Spotlight On Germany

 

OVERVIEW OF THE STATUS ON TRAUMA AND DISSOCIATION IN GERMANY

By Ursula Gast and Bettina Overkamp, ESTD representatives for Germany

From ESTD Newsletter Volume 5 Number 2, June 2016

There are mainly two German societies involved in the field of dissociation and trauma:

The eldest, the DGTD (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Trauma und Dissoziation; www.dgtd.de) was founded initially as the German component society of ISSTD in 1996 in Frankfurt, among others by Michaela Huber, Arne Hofmann, Thorsten Becker and Ursula Gast. It is the pioneering organization for research and practice on Dissociation in Germany. Main interest and meeting opportunities for practitioners are the annual conferences. The next one will be held in Berlin, 23-24 September 2016. The topic will be Trauma and Dissociation in Children and Adolescents, with Fran Water as a key speaker. All conferences are in cooperation with an organization or a clinical/psychosomatic hospital treating dissociative disorder patients to strengthen the cooperation in the field. Michaela Huber is the president and head of the board of the DGPT since the beginning. For her commitment and her voluntary work on dissociation, the German government honored her with the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz). The DGTD was part of initiating the idea of a European Trauma Society, and Bettina Overkamp, together with Suzette Boon (NL) and Remy Aquarone (UK), founded the ESTD in 2006 in Amsterdam.

DGTD also supports research on a regular basis like the initiation of a pilot study about the prevalence of dissociative disorders in Germany (Gast et al., 2011), a thesis on the validation of the DDIS for Germany (Overkamp 2005), a survey on ritual abuse with inspiration of further research (e.g., Kownatzky et al., 2011). The validation of the German version of the SCID-D was supported financially by DGTD to write the research grant, which was then accepted from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The SCID-D validation study was conducted at the Medical School Hannover (DFG-Abschlussbericht) and was followed by several publications in Germany (e.g., Rodewald et al., 2006; Gast et al., 2006) and internationally (Rodewald et al., 2011).

The DeGPT (Deutschsprachige Gesellschaft für Psychotraumatologie; www.degpt.de) has nearly 1800 members and is the largest trauma society in Germany. Since 2010 there is a quite active task force on Dissociation, with 20 members meeting twice a year under the guidance of Ursula Gast und Gustav Wirtz. The main project was the new translation of the ISSTD Guidelines for Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder in Adults, 3rd Revision. The guidelines were first published as “Expertenempfehlungen” in the Journal of “Trauma und Gewalt”, and were out of print soon after publication. Now they are available online (http:// www.degpt.de/Expertenempfehlung_DIS.pdf), but also published in a book, with added case reports (Gast & Wirtz 2016). The “Expertenempfehlungen” were presented at several psychotherapeutic, psychosomatic, and psychiatric conferences nationwide. Since 2014, the DeGPT is a cooperating society of the DGPPN (the German Society of Psychiatry), and a dialogue is beginning concerning different trauma issues, particularly dissociation.

The next projects of the DeGPT Dissociation task force will be the revision of a homepage to inform patients and therapists about complex trauma and dissociation and to help find a therapist (www. infonetz-dissoziation.de). Furthermore, a new multicenter SCID-D-Research project with Judith Daniels, now University of Groningen (NL) Julia Schellong (Dresden), Astrid Lampe (Innsbruck, Austria) and Ursula Gast (near Flensburg) is planned.

There is a good cooperation and overlapping commitment between DGTD and DeGPT and strong ties to other (trauma) societies, especially to EMDRIA (the German EMDR society). In February 2016, Eva Zimmermann (ESTD president) came to Berlin to talk about an even closer cooperation in the future with a better integration of ESTD into the current German "Trauma Szene". Quite promising ideas, like explicit ESTD presence on the German Conferences or joint research projects, were discussed. All these activities were helpful to overcome still existing skepticism about dissociative identity disorder and “almost-DIS” and to improve the professional acceptance of the disorder.