PSDP hosts a free Peer Guidance Group that takes the form of a listserv. If you’ve never been on a listserv before, this should explain how listservs work, how to nagivate the volume of email from the list, and how to get as much as you can out of your listserv experience.
How it works…
The listserv has an email address. Any time you want to write something to the group, you email this email address and the message automatically gets deposited in the inboxes of everyone who is signed up. To join in a conversation, just hit reply and your message will get distributed to all the listserv members’ inboxes.
How to navigate the list…
One feature of our Peer Guidance Group is that there are many email messages coming through each day—up to about 100! This volume means you are likely to get a good amount of help, but it also requires a strategic approach. This comes down to email setup and selective reading. Remember that the list lives in the present: the emails are not on an open web forum and no archive is available.
To prevent list emails from overflowing their inboxes, most of our community members create a special folder in their email program for the messages to get automatically deposited in.
Other people create an email address just for the listmail. If you do this, we recommend gmail as it can group messages by topic, making it easier to follow the thread of conversation. This also helps for continuity when reading through the messages.
Most of the over 300 people signed up for the list are not able to read every single email. Feel free to delete topics with titles that don’t interest you! You may also choose to selectively read postings only by certain members whom you know give good advice.
How to thrive on the list…
To best take advantage of the list, we recommend first introducing yourself to the list. To do this, write to the listserv address (you’ll get it when you are signed up) and make the subject something like “Hello” or “I’m new”.
Introduce yourself and your dog if you have one. We suggest you post what state or general locale you are from so that you can find other people on the list close by, possibly to meet up with.
Next, we recommend posting regularly about your life with a service dog or service dog in training, asking questions, and asking for clarification when there is something you don’t understand. Basic questions are not only expected, but welcome!
Sometimes it can seem like there is an “in group” of long-term list members and that can be intimidating. Please know that all of us who are involved with running PSDP welcome newbies! We are on this listserv because we enjoy helping people. It surely would be a boring list if only the “regulars” ever posted!
We thrive on the questions, comments, and advice that people need coming through the list. Our goal in working with PSDP is to share the word about psychiatric service dogs with as many people as can benefit from it. So please don’t hesitate to jump right in and start asking questions or telling us about your dog, for example.
We want everyone to feel a part of the group. We WANT as many people to post as possible so if anyone is up for more posting that is a way to feel more a part of the list. Many strong friendships have developed between people on the list. Take advantage of that and learn and grow with our list.
Please realize that everyone gets all the messages sent to the list. So if you would like to reply to several people within the same topic, you can write one email and address each person in that one email. It is not necessary to reply to every email in a topic you started.
Also, don’t forget that there are a lot of people who read but don’t post on the list. When people are writing to the list, we are writing for everyone to understand. This may mean that in a topic you have started, someone says things you already know, or spells something out more than you need. This is not anything against you personally, but is because we want everyone to be able to understand what is going on.
Getting in touch…
If you have any questions while on the list, for example about whether something is OK to post or not, you can email the moderators. To change your listserv email address or settings, contact the list administrators. These email addresses are available in the welcome email you receive when you join the list, as well as in the List Rules emails that are regularly posted for your convenience.
It’s completely up to you to take advantage of PSDP’s most valuable resource, so we hope to hear from you soon!