Not putting the cart before the horse.

I am currently working on putting together a short, general conflict resolution workshop with a group of young adults, who it turns out are experiencing conflict amongst themselves.

In speaking with a mediation professional for advice on what skills would be best to teach them, or what specific activities to do, I was told first to “help them strip themselves of the ugly.”  He encouraged me to first and foremost help the participants get anchored in the room through having them acknowledge and put aside what is bothering them for this space and time, and leading them through breating and guided imagery activities.  Then process how that felt, and discuss what it’s like to feel good/in-charge/relaxed.  Once they know how it feels to be in touch with the self, ask them to consider if that feeling always has to go away?  How to maintain that feeling?  “Who are you now that may be inhibiting you from maintaining this joy?”

He impressed upon me the importance of getting the “why” of an idea understood before passing on random skills.  People aren’t going to be intereseted in the “how” of change before you get their buy-in that they should care to even try.

This is an important concept for me to learn, and I suppose for everyone in the helping professions to keep in mind.  With splintered families, high divorce rates and estranged relationships abundant, it is so imporant to ask our clients what kind of relationships they want to have, and of what benefit it would be to them to do their part in helping their relationships work better.  Perhaps this needs to be done gently yet firmly, in an experiential manner and as an ongoing process; for, as this gentleman said to me: “There’s nothing more empowering than putting yourself out there.”

About Jackie

Masters student in Clinical Community Counseling at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
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