Regional Online Communities

ISSTD Regional Online Communities: Connecting Locally for Support and Learning

Jill Hosey

This year ISSTD launched an exciting new member benefit: Regional Online Communities (ROCs). ROCs enable ISSTD members to connect, network and build community with other ISSTD members in their region. To form a ROC, a minimum of six ISSTD members are required, and a region can be small and localised, or cover a larger region, depending on the needs of your community. Members of a ROC can use this forum to network, study a book or article together, participate in an online training event, and so much more. The beauty of ROCs is just how flexible they are.

To find out more about ROCs and what a ROC can offer I spoke with Jill Hosey (pictured) who has established a ROC in Canada.

Kate: Jill, tell us where your ROC is located.

Jill: We are called the Ontario Regional Online Community (Ontario ROC). The community is Canadian and specific to the Province of Ontario.

K: What inspired you to set one up?

Jill: As a trauma therapist in private practice, working with complex trauma and dissociative disorders, I found myself isolated, without many referral options, and ‘battling’ with medical and helping systems that continue to disregard experiences of complex trauma and dissociative symptoms and disorders.  Canada had originally had its own ISSTD branch, called the CSSTD (Canadian Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation), but this had disbanded some years back.  In an effort to try and resurrect this, with the support and historical knowledge of past members, I discovered the new Regional Online Community initiative through ISSTD.  This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to start to recreate community and connection amongst those of us in Ontario, Canada doing this work, as well as to support and plan for a regional conference in Canada to start to address the larger systemic issues. (This has the overarching goal of improving client experiences and treatment outcomes with helping and medical systems that work with people who have experienced complex trauma and/or dissociative disorders).

K: How has it gone? What have you been using the community for?

Jill: It has gone very well so far, and we have 25 members throughout the Province.  After reaching out via email to all of the local ISSTD members to gauge interest in having an ROC, I initially started exploring the goals, interests, and scheduling needs of those who responded through the use of a Doodle Poll (for scheduling preferences) and a survey monkey (to assess the needs and goals of the individuals).

Not everyone attends every meeting, and a proposed agenda and the meeting minutes are all posted in the ROC for people to stay in the loop.  As of now, we meet monthly on a Friday morning to explore planning for a 2021 Regional Conference, watch webinars together, explore different articles and resources relevant to complex trauma and dissociation work, and to engage in peer consultation.  The ROC is also used for members to seek local referral sources for clients and to reach out to others for clinical and/or case specific insight, resources, and extra clinical support (while maintaining client confidentiality).  We also will be having an online tea/coffee gathering this month to simply engage and connect with one another, which may be something we do more often based on the feedback of the group.    

K: I am guessing in the COVID era it has been an important way of networking. Have you been able to have any in-person ‘events’ yet?

Jill: We have not had any in person events due to COVID and the differing provincial and local restrictions around in-person events.  So far, Zoom has worked well as a meeting venue, however, it is quite a disconnected way of connecting!

K: Any tips for those of us thinking of setting one up a Regional Online Community of our own?

Jill: I truly encourage anyone looking for connection and community to consider setting up an ROC! I have found using different platforms like Doodle and Survey Monkey to be great tools to initially explore the different needs and interests of participants, thus giving voice to the unique wants and needs of individuals in their clinical practices. 

ISSTD is also currently working on a structured system for the ROC’s to grow and thrive, so no one person is holding all of the responsibility. This will allow others to get involved and volunteer to grow the initiative and communities.

K: Thank you, Jill. We look forward to seeing ROCs grow throughout ISSTD.

For more information on setting up a ROC see this previous ISSTD News article.