New Ways for Families® In Orange County
© 2011 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
On Friday (Aug. 5) I provided a workshop for Mediate West in Orange County, California. I presented 4 Advanced Skills for professionals working with high conflict families, using the New Ways for Families® method. The 25 people present were mostly therapists, but some family lawyers and others who work in this field. This was an intimate training, so that there was time for numerous questions – and this group showed their wide experience by the excellent questions they asked. I did a role-play demonstration with a high-conflict client in New Ways, we watched clips from the New Ways video and I gave a PowerPoint presentation on how these skills are needed to be effective in working with high-conflict families.
#1: STRUCTURING is a skill that few family law professionals use, understand or even know about. Yet high conflict people (HCPs) lack the internal structure to accomplish what is expected of them. Parenting classes generally don’t reach HCPs, because they need more fundamental skills first (which the New Ways method teaches). HCP parents won’t do what professionals tell them to do unless they are provided with a sufficient structure.
#2: CONNECTING with HCPs while working with resistance is another skill that few professionals use, understand or even know about.
#3: GUIDING PARENTS to teach their children resilience is necessary because it doesn’t work to have a child therapist be brilliant while HCP parents are undermining their messages – therapists need to serve as “supporting actors” while teaching parents to be “leading actors” in this process. It strengthens parent-child bonds and reinforces the family structure rather than undermining it.
#4: FAMILY DECISION-MAKING requires skills to be reinforce by all professionals involved. Quizzing parents on what they have learned is essential. Quizzing them on using their skills in the future is essential. Requiring them to use their email skills (BIFF responses), their making proposals skills (Yes, No or I’ll Think About It) and their managing emotions skills will help them make decisions that now professionals make for them (and fail).
It was a great group and I look forward to their efforts to implement New Ways for Families in Orange County eventually.
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.