Two Beautiful Days in Burlington...

My most recent seminars were in Burlington, Ontario, on Lake Ontario. The summer weather couldn’t be better and I really enjoyed walking along their boardwalk in the evenings. Day One focused on “Managing High Conflict Clients: Ethics and Risk Management.” We had over 80 people from a wide variety of professions: domestic violence program counselors, therapists, social workers, child welfare, government agencies, court-related staff, human resources, etc. I have found that this program really appeals to a broad range of professionals, because nowadays we all are facing more “high-conflict” clients. Handling them ethically involves treating them with respect and setting limits with empathy, no matter how awful they may treat us. We have learned that there is no conflict between using Empathy, Attention and Respect (EAR statements) AND having clear boundaries, limits and responsibility on the client’s shoulders. These are concepts that most people get backwards in the larger culture, as most people over-react, by becoming defensive and blaming the client. The skills we have developed at High Conflict Institute really do seem to work and I was glad to share them with this group.

Day Two focused on the “New Ways for Families” method that we have developed for family court systems, therapists and counseling agencies. In many ways this is also a counter-intuitive method for professionals. Instead of “counseling” the client by discussing their feelings and guiding them toward solutions, this method teaches them skills for managing their own feelings and building their own solutions. It is a significant shift for counselors, but we have found that those who train in this method and really practice it are successful with some of the most difficult clients. But it is important to realize that this is not a personality change method, but rather a set of skills that potentially high-conflict parents can learn to use when guided by professionals. They often do not practice these skills unless their professionals provide structures within which to use them. One of the common fallacies about high-conflict people is that they could self-manage themselves, but just choose not to. We believe that they really lack the skills of self-management (especially when they are upset) and so we teach them those skills and provide structures for them to succeed.

For those interested in the New Ways for Families method, we are looking at expanding its use in 2013 to more court systems and more counseling agencies and individual counselors. Please see our website for this method: It’s an integrated method which all professionals can use in managing potentially difficult clients and helping their children, whether involved in court or any family decisions.


High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It’s All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don’t Alienate the Kids! He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, Sweden, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: