We are planning one for May - which I think that I mentioned.
This will by our 6th conference that we have 'hosted'. This forum is having its 11th anniversary this month - pretty cool - yeah?
So, we have been around for over a decade. We know well how all similar conferences operate - and, we (me) have been to many also - both 'clinician' based and 'survivor'. We listen to everyone and ask - "what do you want from a conference"? Of course, everyone wants something different based on their personal needs and opinions. We do our best to accommodate everyone's needs - to stay away from seeming 'exclusive' to any group - to realize that everyone is different.
What we have learned from thousands of folks:
Survivors don't like to be excluded from 'professional conferences' - but, they are. Survivors are also very often professional folks. They are caught between being a professional as well as being a survivor. Sharing this fact with clients is not an option - ethically. They just want to go to a conference where they are not judged either way, where they can meet people - regardless.
That said, most of our speakers are also survivors. They don't advertise that fact, and we hope that attendees will not judge them either way.
Clinicians who are not survivors - treat survivors. They want education on how to better treat them - because of their compassion, etc. They are also often advocates for survivors.
That said, our purpose as a nonprofit is to provide education and awareness for EVERYONE interested in learning how trauma affects folks - as well as providing supportive environments for everyone. That has been our purpose for well over a decade. And, this done with respect and inclusion of everyone.
With that idea in hand, we can understand why few people 'met each other' or take away lots of friends with similar experiences. If we look for only folks who 'fit into' each of our ideas of 'survivors', we never get to meet all the amazing folks who 'don't fit' to our idea - right?
So, there were approximately 100 survivors at the conference and some 90 clinicians (who I am aware were also survivors). Most of our speakers are also survivors. How many have DID? I have no idea - I don't ask. Not my business. About 55 attendees are members of this forum. We don't ask that any identify themselves.
So, we did sell out with about 230 attending.
When asked what ppl want in a conference:
Most of the attendees want to learn more about how trauma affects them/others, but also want to meet ppl.
They would like:
about 75% education - and 25% social.
professional speakers - research based information
professional books and speaker-availability
fun workshops - about 10%
10% 'survivor stories' - professionally presented
Affordable - for everyone.
This is overall - some survivors don't want therapists there - and some clinicians don't want survivors there - so there are other conferences to accommodate those needs that are clearly exclusive.
One can think and realize that clinicians have no need in hearing 'survivor stories' - they hear them day in and day out - right? And, some survivors don't need to hear them either - they have their own to tell. So, why would they travel anywhere to hear more?
Everyone wants to meet other folks - but, most not on terms of them passing a 'survival-criteria' or 'professional-criteria'.
The more you attend IG conference, the more you begin to understand that these conferences are literally 'planned' to be just as you experienced and purposefully different than any other that may seem similar. And, this happens because our Board of Directors is not made up of 'survivors', but people from all different walks of life - and, professional as well, but all with a drive to educate, provide support, and accommodate ALL who are interested in how trauma effects folks.
You cannot 'compare' IG hosted conferences with any other. Just saying. Because, our purpose is different from other conferences and nonprofit organizations.
The topic of trauma is huge with all different aspects - and all sorts of people involved.
For instance, I for one, am a survivors of severe abuse, but I am also a professional who has worked with traumatized children (in education) and clients (as a social worker) for decades. I am not as interested in hearing survivor stories as I am interested in hearing experts on the subject. I want to know the latest research and how to best help others recover and deal with and treat trauma survivors. I totally understand survivors ideas that they have all the answers - I have my own experiences and answers/opinions, but as I have learned - I certainly can learn more about myself and others from experts in the field - including the struggles that professionals experience in their practice.
I spent years trying to 'find' myself - at first, putting myself out there as a survivor - and, later as a professional. It is difficult to do both - as I will attest. But, important to be careful of excluding people based on our personal experience. All who are contending with 'trauma' should be able to find a place where everyone's needs are explored and met. And, that's what we attempt to do at the conferences.
And, so you will find all sorts of people attending - and, I do love meeting everyone - from all over the world with one interest - how trauma affects folks - period. And, everyone can find respect as credible and worthwhile.
So, you can find a variety of experiences at our conferences and no IG-driven agenda. I don't speak and none of our board directors do either. We find folks who are actual 'experts' in the field. And, those experts do volunteer, because they have a similar purpose as ours'. We don't 'make money' or attempt to 'exploit' survivors for our benefit - financial or otherwise. In fact, we never have made a profit, but barely break even financially - go figure. We provide services for the purpose of educating, bringing awareness, and providing support - just like our purpose states.
We have thought about doing an event for survivors only - problem being that does not fit within our 'purpose' - in fact, it goes against it. The same thing with trying to do one for clinicians only. Right? Doing something like that would mean that we 'are' like other similar conferences.
But, like you said, these conferences have been very successful - every year, they are getting better - this last one, an overwhelming successful. We also bring tons of professional background in planning events, etc. I
And, I am fairly certain that we will not be repeating it - at least not as we have in the past. We will let you know.
I am glad that everyone did enjoy it - again.
As I have stated - it is impossible to 'compare' IG conferences to others by simply being an attendee - for reasons stated above. There is so much that goes into planning - But, we do consider everyone's input.