Values lie at the foundation of the ATSS’s Ethical Statement. Values to which we ascribe are:

  • We are an organization of people caring for people at all levels of intervention; 
  • We will do no harm (non-­‐malfeasance);
  • We will promote human welfare (beneficence);
  • We will be fair (justice);
  • We will fulfill commitments (fidelity);
  • We will strive to model empathic, engaged, responsive interaction and a high degree of professionalism;
  • We will engage in acts intended to assist in the normative healing processes of trauma recovery through multiple levels of interaction;
  • We are sensitive to and respectful in our interventions with persons who have experienced trauma;
  • We acknowledge that human beings as individuals or in families, groups, communities, or nations can be overwhelmed by traumatic events and display a traumatic stress response.


The International Association of Trauma Counselors (IATC) was created in 1987 as an organization dedicated to excellence in training, education, and experience.  The founding leadership of IATC included Vietnam veterans, firefighters, emergency workers, psychologists, public safety officers, nurses, and crime victim assistance providers. They all recognized the critical need for special training, experience and education required by trauma victims and survivors, and that these resources were often very limited and frequently non-existent.

IATC leadership was determined to ensure that victims traumatic events received the most compassionate, appropriate, and effective care as possible.  To reach this goal, IATC developed standards of service, education, and recognition to for individuals who provided such critical care to victims and survivors of traumatic events. The Association changed its name from IATC to the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists in 1992 by vote of the membership at a national conference held in Charleston, SC.

Tom Williams, a founding member first president of ATSS, was a Marine officer in Vietnam who lost 13 men in combat. After the war he became a clinical psychologist who edited two seminal books on the subject published by the Disabled American Veterans: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders of the Vietnam Veteran” (1980) and “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders: A handbook for clinicians” (1989). Other founding and early leaders were Bob Baker, Jerry Brakeman, Mary Lou Salston, Pamela Porter, Robert Bray, Melissa Slagle, Megan Berthold, Carol Hacker, Patricia Sheehan, and Mary Beth Williams.

ATSS continued priority is to emphasize and to recognize the experience, the continuing trauma-focused education and training of service providers who represent, trauma treatment, trauma response and trauma services.  Historically, ATSS has had various management companies.  ATSS is currently managed by the ATSS administrative assistant, an Ex-Officio Board Member who reports to the ATSS Board of Directors.