From Linda Chapman:
We carefully considered this question several times. Here are some of my thoughts.
Forums that are “exclusive” to mental health professionals tend to leave others feeling excluded, even when that is not the intention. There is a power imbalance inherent in being a “helper”. Closing the doors to non-professionals reinforces the distinction between professionals and non-professionals. That is antithetical to the purposes for which this site was originally designed. My goal then (and what I hope to see continue at TWHJ) is to see all participants here as equals.
If you are going to have a “gate” you must have a “gatekeeper.” Credential checking is a pain in cyberspace. And… Who qualifies to participate? Standards are not uniform around the world. In some areas, people with 4-year college degrees (or less) can practice. Others require graduate degrees and licensure or certification. Ultimately *someone* will get excluded and feel hurt, discriminated against, left out.
In my experience running some small listservs for professionals, I saw that it was no panacea to limit participation to professionals. The more I hang around mental health pros, the more I know that we professionals are just people with letters after our names. Of course we have the same quirks, personality problems and issues as anyone else. (Ask any client! ) Maybe we’re a shade more likely to have worked on our stuff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the aggregate.
Limiting participation to professionals also means that you will have a very small number of people to draw input from. Occasionally a few mental health pros will hang out at TWHJ on a regular basis, but most people I know who are practicing barely have time to check their e-mail.
People who do not have abuse histories also tend not to be interested or motivated to hang around talking about it in their personal time. I would worry a little about those who do!
In my experience, it is much richer to have a give and take among all different kinds of people. There are people here without degrees who may be far more knowledgeable and articulate about the therapy process than 9/10ths of the actual “trained therapists” (I always think of “trained seals” for some reason when I read that phrase ) you’ll run across.
So… My vote is to encourage you continue using TWHJ as is. Let’s maintain a welcoming place for all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds, including therapists with trauma histories.