by Processed by Shmuel Erlich
1. We received 19 responses, with the following breakdown: 4 Germans, 1 German- Polish, 5 Israelis, 1 Palestinian, 1 Polish, 1 Canadian, 1 UK, 1 Netherland, 2 Serbs, 2 Italians.
2. It is quite difficult to draw general conclusions from these responses, since they are very personal statements and highly personalized perspectives of the experience they each had. This is of course to be expected. We know that each person has his/ her very intense and personal conference experience.
3. Interestingly, all but one are very positive.
4. The negative one (Dutch) makes an interesting point. I will quote it in full because it pertains to the heart of our work and something we struggle with: “What really wonders me is that the setting that includes an organisational dynamic, does not address the role an organisation plays in traumatizing actions.
I don’t think that the Leicester Conference model is as such the appropriate model to address issues about deep trauma. This is obvious in the Leicester Conference as well, but the Leicester Conference is not there to address trauma.
No, because I do not think it is an appropriate model for addressing these issues, when it handled like it was done.”
5. One thing that stands out in many responses is the definite spill-over of issues from last conference. There is a theme of staff having been hurt or unable to contain some aggression or conflict in the last Cyprus conference. There is some notion of an attempted cover-up that failed, and that staff finally “faced” and “owned” their mistakes. This was certainly on the minds of many members and played a role in their perspective and perception of the conference issues.
5. There is a positive and even enthusiastic adoption of the conference approach as applicable to other conflict and traumatized areas: e.g., Ukraine, Ireland, Basques, Canada.
6. One innovation in this conference was the Social Dreaming Matrix, which the staff was quite enthusiastic about. It is interesting that it received only scant mention.
7. The most referred to and experienced as significant were the SSG and RAG. The LSG was seen as important but difficult. These perceptions are very much in line with what I noted above, namely the highly personalized character of the conference experience.
8. There were sharply divided reactions concerning the venue: some found it unattractive, others thought it was great and very fitting. It certainly evoked emotional reactions.
9. There is general agreement that the conference was very well organized and managed.
10. Some felt there was too much distance from the staff group.
11. The question about recommending the conference to target population drew an interesting response: People would definitely recommend it, however, they would do so only for people who “can take it” or “understand it”. It seems to reflect the felt difficulty of the experience, as well as a the narcissistic joy at having survived it, and therefore you need to be a specially strong or wise person to go through it.
These are the themes I was able to glean from the material. I believe we need to do some serious thinking about the value of these questionnaires, in view of the personal nature of the responses, which make it rather difficult to draw general or workable conclusions (for one example, about the venue). I tend to regard the fact that we had less than 30% response as positive: it suggests that the conference experience is not easily digestible and processed and therefore not easily put into words or answers to questions, which I would consider a desired outcome. But this naturally reflects my personal view.