Presidential Address from Jana Javakhishvili

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Dear ESTSS members, 

I am honored, as a newly elected president of ESTSS, to directly address you, distinguished members of our professional society.

Jana Javakhishvili

Let me introduce myself to those whom I did not have a pleasure to meet during recent years. I am a clinical psychologist by background, working in the fields of psycho-trauma and addictions since the 1990s. In recent years I have worked at Ilia State University, in Tbilisi, Georgia. I am heading Institute on Addiction Studies and, with colleagues, we started two innovative Мaster's programs – an MA in Mental Health with the emphasis on Psychotraumatology, and an MA in Addiction Studies. My major hobby is playing guitar and singing (sometimes in restaurants and pubs for enjoyment and to prevent professional burnout). From the very beginning of my professional career, I have been working with individuals, families, groups and communities which are traumatized as a result of military conflicts and displacement, natural disasters and terrorist attacks. They include Georgian internally displaced persons, refugees from Chechnya and other neighboring regions, Beslan tragedy survivals, war-affected populations in Ukraine, etc. My research interests concern mental health problems (including addictions) of war-affected populations. In addition, for the last several years I have focused on studying the impact of the Soviet repression on the mental health and well-being of the family members of the repressed. I am currently writing a book reporting the findings of this research.

Between October 13 (the last Board meeting in Tampere, Finland) and December 18 (general membership meeting), the new ESTSS Board of Directors was formed and endorsed. It will become operational at beginning of 2019.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the ex-Board members and special thanks to ex-President Prof. Ingo Schafer for their excellent contribution to the fulfillment of our society’s mission and priorities.

At the same time, I do hope that together with the newly elected ESTSS Board, we will succeed in further realization of these and new priorities. We will do our best to obtain, accumulate and share the latest evidence in the field of trauma prevention and care; disseminate knowledge and skills via ESTSS training & certification; diversify joint platforms for professional exchange; create opportunities for stronger engagement by a young generation of psychotraumatologists in ESTSS activities; achieve stronger influence on trauma care policies at the European level. In these regards, I am looking forward to your active involvement and new initiatives – joint research ideas/proposals, initiation of new task forces, positioning ESTSS towards socio-political developments influencing the European region, etc.

This year we mark the 25th anniversary of ESTSS. Since its inception, our rapidly developing, vibrant professional society transformed from a single nuclear society to an umbrella organization for 13 European national/local societies, as well as 24 affiliated societies. We are proud to have a strong institutional mechanism for professional exchange – the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, and our bi-annual Conferences. The title of the next ESTSS Conference in Rotterdam involves the theme of building bridges. Probably this title reflects our journey in these 25 years: what ESTSS was and is doing is all about building and knitting connections between different countries and actors to promote high professional values and assure the best possible service to the traumatized people in need.

Each of you and we together are contributors and co-authors of this still developing success story, which started with a smaller group of dedicated, brave and forward-thinking colleagues 25 years ago. The journey will continue, and I am happy and honored that I will have a chance to facilitate it and to be at your service for the next two years.

With this message I would like to congratulate you in this holiday season, and wish you a happy, healthy, steady, wealthy, peaceful New Year! Let us hope that there will be less human suffering in 2019 around the world. At the same time, I am sure that to those who suffer, we will be able to provide the best possible care, as we usually do.

Looking forward to our cooperation over the next two years!

Jana Javakhishvili, President of ESTSS

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