DI Constitution draft

Constitutions are kind of tricky things to write when you haven’t done it before! I have been really, really pleased with how the Dissociative Initiative (DI) groups and resources have been going running them from values rather than rules or ‘norms’ and so I really wanted to make sure the DI constitution actually laid out the fundamental values and principles of the organisation. I’m a writer and words and language are my thing, but the language style of constitutions is highly formal and for a poet that is kind of a stretch. 🙂 It’s funny how hard it can be to try and pin down things that are as invisible as values, things I feel in my gut such as the instinct to be caring or respectful, to try and tease out what has (and hasn’t) been working from a group or program and write it into the structure for the next one. I’ve been floundering a bit, trying to find my feet in this area that I’m new in. One of the things I did a little while ago was write off to various organisations to see examples of their constitutions so I could get a better idea of how these things are put together. My favourite inspiration is still definitely the work over at Intervoice which has such wonderful community values. Anyway! Here’s some extracts of our working draft so far, please feel welcome to get in touch if you have any feedback you’d like to give. 🙂 If you want to read the full version I’ve hosted it online here.

Purpose

To promote better life experiences for people whose lives are touched by dissociation and/or multiplicity (and other similar experiences) whether directly (through lived experience) or indirectly (through a social/family/support role); respecting the diversity of ways in which dissociation and/or multiplicity can be experienced and the role that trauma can play in these experiences.

Values & Principles
Members of the Association acknowledge and value:

The principles of Trauma Informed Care

  • avoiding re-tramatising practices
  • respecting autonomy
  • supporting personal control
  • recognising strengths
  • healing occurs in a social and relational context

The Principles of the Recovery Model

  • person-oriented
  • personal involvement
  • self determination
  • hope

Equally the knowledge gained through lived experience and knowledge gained through training
Social Inclusion

  • Reducing disadvantage
  • Increasing social, civic and economic participation
  • People participating in decisions which affect their community

Building community by bridging divides and removing barriers to relationships
Collaboration with others to achieve common objectives
Diversity of the experience and meaning people ascribe to events and opportunities
Peer Work

Vision

We have a vision for a more inclusive community which understands and respects the experiences of our members

Objects (objectives)

  • Educate and raise awareness about dissociation and multiplicity
  • Reduce stigma and discrimination about dissociation and multiplicity
  • Support people who experience dissociation and their supporters
  • Create resources and facilitate access to resources about dissociation or that are ‘dissociation friendly’
  • Promote peer work and recovery
  • To directly address the disadvantage and distress experienced by those who live with dissociation and or multiplicity, and their effects on health and social inclusion.
  • To advocate for informed and ethical research that supports the further development of knowledge about dissociation and multiplicity and which informs recovery and or peer oriented practices.
  • To collaborate with other like-minded associations and organisations in the best interest of the Dissociative Initiative Inc.
  • To engage in any other activities which directly support these objects.

We’ve also had to try and define some difficult concepts. All the important terms in a constitution need to be clearly defined so that any reader can work out what you mean you use the word. I am keen to use definitions that are clear but also broader than medical/clinical terms because I know that different people have different understandings of their experiences of dissociation or multiplicity and I feel strongly that it is important to make everyone feel welcome and at home whatever frameworks they are using. I’m a little envious of the Voice Hearer’s movement in this respect because voice hearer is a neutral term, non-clinical and it presupposes no cause, diagnosis, or outcomes. Dissociation is tricky, poorly defined even in the clinical literature and clearly a clinical term. Multiplicity is non-clinical which is good but on the other hand reflects a whole spectrum of possible experiences which are also difficult to pin down briefly in a formal document. It’s really important to make these resources inclusive that they be defined around people’s experiences rather than diagnoses, but trying to capture that is not simple! Here’s draft one of attempts to do this!

  • “Dissociation” means a disconnection in areas which would normally be connected such as memory, time, senses which may or may not be distressing or disabling, but which impact on a person’s experience of the world.
  • “Multiplicity” means experiencing dissociative barriers between parts of self, occurring on a spectrum of degree, which may be experienced for example as voices, alters, lost time, a sense of being fractured or divided.
  • “Parts” may also be known as “alters”, have a separate sense of self and function independently within the one body, switching with or without amnesia.
  • “Voices” can be understood within the context of multiplicity as parts who speak to each other. Not all voices fit within the framework of multiplicity, and some voices can be parts who also switch.




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