© 2013 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. and Megan Hunter, MBA

High Conflict Institute is now 5 years old! When Megan Hunter and I started HCI, we had no idea what we were getting into. Little did we know that January 2008 was not a good time to start a business, with the world economy collapsing several months later. Yet we have survived and grown every year, thanks to our readers, seminar attendees and colleagues who have given so much support and encouragement over these past 5 years. THANK YOU! We couldn’t do this high conflict work without you! Dealing with high conflict families, workplaces, neighbors, and strangers takes a lot out of you. But with the growing knowledge and community of those who understand WHAT TO DO and WHAT NOT TO DO with high conflict people, we are learning together how to make our work and personal lives less stressful.

I would estimate that over these past five years we have given seminars and training to nearly 20,000 people, primarily professionals such as lawyers, mediators, judges, counselors, human resource managers, law enforcement officers, healthcare administrators, homeowners’ association boards and others. We have sold nearly 50,000 books, CDs, DVDs, and we average over 6,000 unique visitors a month to our website. In 2011, Megan started Unhooked Books, which sells HCI Press books, as well as those by other authors with compatible topics. Bill focused more on seminars and managing HCI. As two “collaborative” businesses, we have each been able to focus more intensively on our own work, and continued to grow.

But the world continues to do much of the opposite of what helps high conflict people and what helps resolve high conflict disputes. There is a lot of work to be done. So we have a lot of plans for the coming year. Perhaps you could call this the Year of New Ways! We have three methods now: New Ways for Mediation, New Ways for Work and New Ways for Families®. All of our New Ways methods emphasize more structure, more skills for clients, and less stress for all.

NEW WAYS FOR MEDIATION: Over the past year, we have refined a highly structured, yet simple 4-Step method for managing high conflict people in mediation. It emphasizes clients learning and using simple skills to participate more productively in making proposals, managing their own emotions and communicating with the other party. One of the important lessons we have learned over the years is that you can’t just tell high conflict people to “behave” or to “stop acting badly.” You need to give them something to do instead, which is positive, feels good and actually helps them resolve their own disputes. The mediator more clearly plays a “guiding” role in managing a tightly controlled process, while the clients take more responsibility for making proposals and making decisions. We have started providing training in this method and more will come this year. The next such training is in Vancouver, February 11-12.

NEW WAYS FOR WORK: This method has been evolving over the past couple years as a coaching method for potentially high conflict employees who may be able to learn some skills to help them function better in the workplace. This is a workbook-driven method, just as New Ways for Families (see below). This is a three or six session method that can be applied by Employee Assistance Professionals, Human Resources, mental health professionals and other coaches. We have started giving training in this method as well, and will post on our website trainings as they are arranged. Of course, we are always open to providing trainings to organizations and companies on request.

NEW WAYS FOR FAMILIES®: This is our method that has been in practice for three years now, with programs in the U.S. and Canada. We have learned a lot and the research on the two programs in Calgary and Medicine Hat, in Alberta Canada will start coming out this year. We will be presenting an update at the AFCC annual conference in Los Angeles this June. We are very excited to see that this method is taking nearly 75% of high conflict parenting disputes out of family courts, which would otherwise consume a large portion of family court resources and time. We are also developed two abbreviated methods with a Decision Skills Workbook, which can be used in a three-hour Decision Skills Class or in 1-2 sessions of Pre-Mediation Coaching provided by mediators, counselors or lawyers. This Decision Skills Workbook focuses on four simple skills to help parents prepare for making their own decisions out of court. This should be available in a month or so.

In closing, we’d like to thank all of our HCI colleagues who have helped provide seminars, set up seminars, keep our website going and promote our messages through social media. With that, we’ll let you get back to work! Thanks again for your support and interest in helping manage potentially high conflict clients, family and friends in an increasingly high conflict world!

Bill Eddy, President of High Conflict Institute

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.

Co-founder Megan Hunter is a speaker,  author,  and international expert on high conflict disputes, complicated relationships, and Borderline Personality Disorder. She has over 13 years’ experience as the Family Law Specialist with the Arizona Supreme Court, and Child Support Manager of the Dawes County Attorney’s Office in Nebraska.