EMDR UK seeks safer and more effective alternative to JISCMAIL

The sharing of experience, information and ideas with generosity has long been a feature and a strength of the EMDR community.  This currently happens both formally and informally in a wide variety of ways.  Within the EMDR Association, this includes the website and President’s mailings, EMDR Therapy Quarterly. It also occurs outside through a variety of networks.

COVID has limited our in-person meetings and placed an even greater reliance on online methods of communication.  JISCMAIL is an academic forum which was set up many years ago, independent from the EMDR UK Association at a time when our membership was much smaller. Although convenient and ‘low tech’, it does provide an important means of communication between those who have ‘signed up’.  Note that not all members of JISCMAIL are members of the UK Association.

However, JISCMAIL does have its problems. It sometimes clutters our inboxes with requests for information that has already been posted. There are sometimes issues with maintaining confidentiality and complying with GDPR, not to mention the occasional lapse of etiquette!  Some people have also commented that they don’t feel confident in posting questions because they are unsure of how they will be received.  However, we know that many do find JISCMAIL a valuable source of information and, despite its limitations, it does keep its members ‘connected’.

EMDR UK’s Communications Committee, which I chair, has been grappling with the issue of how to improve communications for Association members in a way that is safer and more effective than JISCMAIL. There are a number of options including creating new email lists and using social media, but the solution we are currently investigating is a ‘forum’. 

The vision is for a platform that facilitates the exchange of information and ideas more efficiently. Members would be able to find useful documents (a resource handout, for example) without emailing all members. Most of all, the Forum would provide a safe and moderated space to discuss and share knowledge.

We are currently in the early stages of testing an ‘off-the-shelf’ product that would be customised for our specific needs in terms of look, feel and functionality.  Very little money has been committed so far, and the screenshot below gives a very rough idea of what this might look like.  Note that text size and colours etc are elements that have yet to be customised!

A screenshot of progress so far on the Forum homepage

We would envisage that this forum would sit within a members’ ‘Hub’, which would also contain a file repository for useful (open access) information that becomes populated by you, the membership, and is actively managed by moderators. This EMDR Hub would be part of the Association website, evolving to include other member-related information that is currently on the website.

But a staged approach to development is required, and there are also several important considerations to ensure that this becomes an accepted and helpful method of communication. First, whatever platform is provided must be easy to use and not rely on members having to access a website – we know that in the busyness of our lives, this is less likely to happen. One solution is to allow members to specify their interests, enabling a weekly digest of relevant posts to be sent to each member by email. This would offer a good alternative to email overload! Secondly, we recognise the importance of having a clear policy about what can and can’t be posted, along with timely and effective moderation. This is vital to ensure that the forum remains a safe space for members. The implementation plan would also probably involve having a trial of enthusiastic ‘early adopters’ who could contribute files and open access papers (e.g. EMDR protocols) that would be of interest to others.

As our ideas develop, we will be seeking further input and involvement from Association members, so watch this space!

I am always enthusiastic to discuss ideas and opinions with members, so please email me at j.havens@emdrassociation.org.uk if you wish to get in touch.

Dr Justin Havens chairs the Communications Committee of EMDR UK