By Meredith Branagan, Member Service Director
With a fascinating program titled Identifying and Treating Internalized Oppression Mark Nickerson LICSW kicked off our 2020-2021 program year on Saturday, October 3. The day included a morning program which included about 100 attendees and an afternoon intensive with a smaller, more intimate audience. The Nickerson program begins what may be the most unique year in NESTTD’s history, as we move to a completely virtual platform for the first time.
While I know that our organization’s primary objective is to deliver to mental health clinicians substantive and affordable training relating to the treatment of trauma and dissociation, in my short tenure as Member Services Director I have witnessed a level of professional networking amongst our members that may be as, or even more, important than the training they receive. The hugs at the registration desk, the heads together at lunch, the heated discussions over coffee during program breaks, and the sincere warmth shared between our board members at our monthly meetings have impressed me as one of the great strengths of our organization. The virtual programs deny us the human presence so vital to our program, and that loss cannot be understated – NESTTD is its people, and the value of networking opportunities we’ve lost to the global pandemic is high.
What then of our 2020-2021 year? Should we bother? Are the virtual programs worth our time and expense? Our program with Mark Nickerson proved that the answer to those questions is most certainly yes! We had strong interest in both parts of the day, evidenced not only by strong attendance but by the active participation in which our registrants engaged. There were numerous provocative and well-thought out questions throughout the day. The smaller size of the afternoon session allowed for meaningful dialogue amongst participants. Our technical support minimized any limitations in technology and allowed for seamless inclusion of multi-media components which augmented and enhanced Mr. Nickerson’s well-researched presentation.
Of course, we all missed the delicious boxed lunches and coffee-break snacks, and all of those wonderful hugs, handshakes and hellos. However, I daresay no one missed the Route 128 traffic, we got to see each other’s faces without masks, and -- best of all -- not one of us was exposed to Covid-19. In my view, we are very fortunate to have this incredible technology available to us so that we can continue our important work during this challenging period in history.
We have much to accomplish this year as we begin on a path of becoming a truly anti-racist organization, now recognizing in a meaningful way the critical importance of addressing the trauma of racism not only within NESTTD but in the deeper context of our clinical work. We hope you’ll join us this year as we move forward with this critical work in the virtual environment.