Submission Guidelines

Guidelines and Policies for Abstract Submission

The number of presentation slots available this year has decreased, as the conference schedule will now only feature six concurrent sessions during the main conference days compared to 10 concurrent sessions in previous years. Due to this change, the submission process will be more competitive. We recommend tailoring your presentation to the conference theme when applicable to increase the likelihood of a successful submission.

Please read the guidelines and policies below carefully before submitting your proposal as there are some guidelines that have changed this year to comply with updated CE/CME guidelines. Failure to comply with guidelines could result in your presentation being declined.

General Guidelines and Policies
  • All presenters, including invited, plenary and pre-conference workshop speakers must submit proposals online. All presenters except for plenary speakers will be required to register for the conference.
  • Each individual is limited to no more than two (2) submissions. These submissions include any presentation where you are in the role of presenter or co-presenter. Poster sessions are not included.
  • We also suggest that one individual gather all the required information from all individuals (presenters, co-presenters, authors, etc.) ahead of time and be responsible for making the submission.
  • We strongly suggest that you prepare a document that contains all of your submission information from each individual involved in your submission in advance (i.e. presenters, co-presenters, authors, etc.). This will save time online and ensure that you have a backup copy of all of your information. The following information is needed:
    • Title and abstract of your proposal.
    • If you are submitting a symposium, you will need:
      • the title and abstract of the symposium, AND
      • the titles, abstracts, and authors of each paper that will be presented in the symposium
    • If you are submitting a three hour workshop, a Pre-Conference workshop, or a Post Conference workshop, you will need to submit a timed outline of the presentation.
    • The names, degrees, designation, unique email address, complete mailing address, and phone number of all individuals involved in your submission. A CV (Word or PDF) and financial disclosure is also required.
    • Three learning objectives that use acceptable verbs to complete the sentence, “Participants will be able to…” We recommend that you download and use the list of acceptable verbs.
    • Five citations from peer-reviewed sources from the last 10 years in American Psychological Association style. Half of all references must be from the last five years. Go to the American Psychological Association style Quick Answers-References Web pages. Please pay close attention to this requirement, as this is the most frequent error received in submissions.
    • The submission site will not allow you to submit your proposal until you have provided all items.
  • Abstracts must be relevant to and mention complex trauma and/or dissociation. Therapists may not present with their own clients at this conference. We do not accept first-person accounts of trauma. We request that details of clients’ traumatic experiences not be discussed during presentations, since explicit details of trauma may be distressing to the audience and do not enhance learning.
  • We highly encourage submissions with topics related to the conference theme. You will be asked during the submission process how your presentation relates to the theme, as well as how it relates to complex trauma and/or dissociation.
  • The most common reasons a proposal is rejected are for an incomplete, poorly written, or unclear abstract, and other failures to follow submission guidelines. Your submitted abstract must be complete, clear, concise, and grammatically correct in order to be considered by the program committee. For suggestions on how to improve your conference proposal, view our guide, Tips for Writing a Great Conference Proposal.
  • Those for whom English is a second language or who have expressive language difficulties may request help from someone on the Annual Conference Committee in editing their abstracts to meet acceptable grammatical standards. Such requests should be made BEFORE the proposal is submitted. You may contact Mary Pat Hanlin at to receive support.
  • Presentations should be original contributions (i.e., they have not been published prior to the date that you submitted the abstract).
  • Abstracts will be published in their original form, with minor edits where needed, in the conference app and online schedule.
  • Case material and biographical information must be disguised so that the client’s identity is concealed.
  • If you have difficulties with the online submission process please contact the ISSTD office at
  • You will be notified by e-mail about your proposal’s status in November 2020. All decisions of the Annual Conference Committee are final. 

Presentation Types
TypeDetailsWord Count# of PresentersDiscussant Required?
Single Paper or Case Study
Paper Sessions are 90 minutes in length and contain four (4) 20-minute papers
Research, theoretical, clinical, or case study. Authors of unaccepted submissions may be offered the opportunity to present their paper as a Poster (see Posters below).300 words1 or more presentersDiscussant n/a
Session Length: 90 minutes
Several presentations on a specific theme, issue, or question.Overview: 150 words   Each presenter’s abstract: 300 words 2–4 presenters, including discussantDiscussant Optional
Panel Presentation
Session Length: 90 Minutes
Expert panelists conduct an organized discussion of a specific theme, issue, or question. Note: Audience interaction is limited with the panelists discussing answers to audience questions.Overview: 300 words2–4 presenters, including discussantDiscussant Optional
Forum Discussion
Session Length: 90 Minutes
A 30-45 minute presentation followed by 45-60 minutes of discussion with the audience. Note: Audience interaction and discussion is encouraged.300 words1-3 presenters, not including the moderatorDiscussant Optional
90 Minutes or 3 Hours
Workshops help participants to increase their understanding and skill in a particular area of interest, or use case material to illustrate clinical, theoretical, or policy issues. Workshops should include both didactic and practical or experiential components.300 words1-4 presentersDiscussant n/a
PosterPaper presentation in poster form. Download & Save Details for Poster Submissions.300 words1-4 presentersDiscussant n/a
Session Length:
90 minutes
Film, videotape, music, artwork,
or other forms of media
300 words1-2 presenters, including discussantDiscussant Optional

Knowledge Level

Presentations must designate the knowledge/skill level required of the participant (i.e., Introductory, Intermediate, or Advanced). Although these are only general guides, they are required in order to comply with continuing education regulations.

  • Beginning: Suitable for all professional participants (including students). Introduces learners to a content area; includes information about a condition, treatment method, or issue; and involve learning and comprehending content.
  • Intermediate: Provides information that builds on knowledge practioners with some experience already have. Focus on skill-building or adding knowledge, possibly following a brief overview of basic information, and involve using information in concrete situations and understanding the underlying structure of the material.
  • Advanced: Provides content for participants who have been working in the content area and have a clear understanding of the issues. These cover and address the complexities involved in the work and involve synthesizing material to create new patterns or structures or evaluating material for a specific purpose.

Abstracts for presentations should include the purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions. Submission of findings is strongly encouraged. Other types of abstracts should include purpose, population, main points to be covered, and conclusions.

Learning Objectives

Each submission must include 3-5 learning objectives. You may ONLY use verbs that are in the list provided for you: click here to download and save a list of acceptable verbs. Each Learning Objective must be a complete sentence that begins with the words, “Participants will be able to…”

ISSTD Certificate Program Questions

Each submission, except for posters, must include 3 multiple choice questions and answers. These questions must have four answer options and cannot include “all of the above” or “none of the above” as an option.

Statement of Ethical Standards

All work presented at the ISSTD Annual Conference must conform to discipline-appropriate national or professional ethical standards. ISSTD strongly opposes the exploitation of patients for any purpose. Submissions wherein clinicians, researchers, or academics collaborate and/or co-present with their own patients are considered dual relationships and are wholly unacceptable. All case material, including biographical information, must be disguised so that the patient’s identity is concealed. All presentation contents should be appropriately cited giving credit to the original author when appropriate.

Potential to Distress

All submissions must declare whether the presentation has potential to cause audience distress. The conference abstract submission site will ask about this. The submission site will ask you about this issue; you do not need to place a statement about potential for distress in your abstract.

Reference Citations

Updated for 2021! Accreditation for continuing education specifies that you must include five complete citations that are relevant to your presentation’s objectives. Citations must be from authors other than those presenting and published in the past 10 years from peer-reviewed sources (i.e. professional journal articles). Please note that most books do not qualify as peer-reviewed sources. At least two of your citations must have a publication date after April 2016. For detailed information on APA Style, click here

Submissions that fail to follow these guidelines for references may be rejected.

Criteria for Review

All submissions are rated for importance, rigor (scientific, clinical or intellectual), scope of coverage of the topic, relevance to complex trauma and dissociation, and consistency with the conference theme. Training presentations (Workshops and Pre-Conference Workshops) are additionally rated for presenter qualifications and usefulness of the training objectives to the clinical or research work of conference attendees. Proposals must be sufficiently detailed to allow evaluation of these criteria.

Information About the Online Submission Site
ISSTD uses the CadmiumCD Abstract Management System for online submission of proposals for the 2021 Annual Conference. The button at the bottom of this page takes you to the Submission Site where you will log in and submit your proposal. Please follow each step carefully.  

Further Questions?
International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
Phone: 844.994.7783