Konur, fíkn, áföll og meðferð
Konur, fíkn, áföll og meðferð

Conference on women, addiction, trauma and treatment

Conference on women, addiction, trauma and treatment Konur, fíkn, áföll og meðferð

Date: Wednesday, 1-2 September 2015

Grand Hótel Reykjavík



The purpose is to increase awareness and knowledge about gender issues in relation to addiction, trauma and treatment and gender-responsive treatment services. The conference will also create a venue for Nordic scholars and professionals focusing on women’s psychological reality and experiences of trauma in relation to addiction and treatment.

Conference Objectives

The conference objectives are:

  • To get together Nordic and international scholars and professionals in the treatment industry and social services to share knowledge on the connection between trauma and addiction, especially with regard to women
  • Learn about the importance of a trauma informed treatment approach and how to create trauma informed services
  • To energize and broaden potential networks on women and addiction
  • To offer workshops for women with addiction and trauma experiences
  • To organize a workshop for professionals working with young women with addiction problems

Target group

The conference will be relevant to all therapists, addiction counsellors, clinical counsellors, school counsellors, human resource professionals, mental health workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, psychiatric nurses, physicians, family therapists, social workers, rehabilitation/vocational counsellors and all other mental health professionals.

Laywomen and -men with interest in the theme are welcome as well as people with experience of the treatment system. Some of the workshops will be targeted at women in recovery.


  • Dr. Stephanie S. Covington is a recognized clinician, author, organizational consultant, and lecturer. She is a pioneer in the field of women’s issues, addiction, and recovery. She has developed an innovative, gender-responsive, and trauma-informed approach to the treatment needs of women and girls that results in effective services in public, private, and institutional settings.
  • Dr. Berglind Guðmundsdóttir, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland and a Chief Psychologist at Landspítali – The National University Hospital of Iceland. Dr. Guðmundsdóttir finished her doctorate in 2006 at the State University of New York in Buffalo, USA, specializing in anxiety disorders and the effects of trauma. She has been active in research and international research cooperation.
  • Grethe Kramer Berthelsen, director at the treatment center Katsorsaavik in Nuuk in Greenland.
  • Dr. Johan Edman, Associate Professor of History and Deputy Director of Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs – SoRAD – at Stockholm University. Studies of social exclusion and marginalization and the substance abuse treatment’s role in the Swedish welfare state have been the focus of his research. He has also carried out research on misuse and medicalization, and gender-specific problem descriptions in Stockholm’s substance abuse treatment 1916–2000.
  • MarieKathrine Poppel, Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work at the University of Greenland in Nuuk. MarieKathrine’s research focus is on domestic violence – men’s violence against women, gender and equality.
  • Sigrún Sigurðardóttir, Assistant Professor at the School of Health Sciences at the University of Akureyri and a doctoral candidate at the University of Iceland. Specialist in adverse childhood experiences and their influence on health and well-being in later life.


Research made in the last twenty years on trauma, and the effect of adverse childhood experience on health later in life, have drawn attention to the connection between trauma and addiction disorders. Early-childhood trauma is strongly associated with developing mental health problems, including alcohol dependence, later in life. People with early-life trauma may use alcohol to help cope with trauma-related symptoms.

Furthermore, treatment for women’s addictions is bound to be ineffective unless it acknowledges the realities of women’s lives, which include high prevalence of violence and other types of abuse, which increases the likelihood that a woman will abuse alcohol and other drugs.

This knowledge is changing the approach to addiction treatment and in recent years screening of women in addiction treatment shows that about 80% have been exposed to violence. This has called for changes in treatment methods and approach and in Iceland the founders of the Root are calling for more varied treatment offers based on evidence-based methods and a psycho social approach. There are still many unanswered questions about the cause and treatment of addiction. It is, however, now acknowledged that environmental factors, like adverse childhood experiences, have a great influence on the development of addiction problems.

Gender and addiction is one of the themes that have not surfaced in Iceland until very recently and there is a lot of work to be done in research and treatment to integrate knowledge of gender study into the field. Therefore, research on how ideas and institutions have changed from gender-neutral to gender-specific treatment in other societies is highly relevant. Recent research is dealing with how addiction treatment for women is and has been driven by various social, cultural, political and economic factors. On the basis of new research and an increased psycho social understanding of women’s substance abuse the significance of the traditional disease concept has been disputed. Accordingly, historical analyses of conceptual changes and innovations are of significance for new thinking in addiction treatment policy.

The Root has urged the authorities in Iceland to develop and apply guidelines and criteria for evidence-based practices for addiction treatment, not the least for women. The Root has also called for independent research and university level education for those working in the treatment sector.

Considering the above it is clear that it is time to broach the subject and get specialists from abroad with new knowledge with the aim of advancing the discussion of a better, more effective, gender -responsive and modern treatment system in Iceland and other Nordic countries.

Conference fees:

 Program  Time  Price
 Conference 1 September   8:30-16:00  3.000 kr.
 Workshops 2 September  9:00-16:00  5.000 kr.
 For both days    6.000 kr.
 Workshop 2 September  19:00-21:00  1.000 kr.


The initiator of the project is The Root – Association on Women’s Issues Relating to Alcohol and Addiction. RIKK – Institute for Gender, Equality and Difference at the University of Iceland organizes the conference and co-operators are the Centre for Gender Equality, Research Centre of Public Health Sciences at the University of Iceland, Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs at Stockholm University – SoRAD, the Ministry of Health, Greenland, the University of Greenland and the City of Reykjavík and the Reykjavik Academy.

Steering committee

  • Dr. Hildigunnur Ólafsdóttir, Independent Scholar at the Reykjavik Academy
  • Kristín I. Pálsdóttir, Project Manager at RIKK
  • Hugrún Hjaltadóttir, Specialist at the Centre for Gender Equality in Iceland

Advisers to the Steering Committee:

  • Dr. Berglind Guðmundsdóttir, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland and a Chief Psychologist at Landspítali – The National University Hospital of Iceland.
  • Dr. Arna Hauksdóttir, Assistant Professor, Research Centre of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland


For further information contact Kristín I. Pálsdóttir, rikk[hja]hi.is.