Seminars in San Diego
While I have been flying around the U.S. and Canada the past couple months, I have also been busy giving several seminars in San Diego to four different types of professionals: mediators, lawyers of all types, mental health professionals, and labor and management professionals. I want to mention them in this blog, as well as invite you to come to San Diego for a rare full-week of training in high-conflict methods at the end of June. The training I gave to mediators in San Diego was for the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC – see photo), which is where I do my divorce mediations. But this particular training was an Advanced Training for mediators of all types of disputes coming from all types of backgrounds, as part of NCRC’s overall Advanced Training. I emphasized the importance of “letting go of the outcome” and focusing on “managing your relationship with both parties” in a dispute. This shift of emphasis reflects the shift in the types of clients mediators are helping when cases become high-conflict cases. Typically, one or both parties has traits of a personality disorder, which means that they will not reflect on their own behavior and that mediators cannot “give them insight.” Instead, it is about providing empathy, attention and respect, and helping them focus on their future choices and consequences of those potential choices.
I gave 160 mental health professionals for the Kaiser healthcare system a full-day training in California Law and Ethics, with an emphasis on handling the issues that high-conflict clients may raise in the course of a therapy relationship. Since expectations are so high for many potentially high-conflict clients, therapists must make more of an effort to clarify their role, keep expectations realistic and avoid over-reacting when clients go through periods of blaming their therapists for all their problems. We also discussed reporting requirements when a patient makes threats against the health and safety of others, or discloses child abuse or elder abuse. It’s amazing how high-conflict people tend to blame and attack those who are most trying to help them. So this information is very important and timely for any therapist.
Lawyers of all types in the “North County” part of San Diego attended a dinner and my presentation on high-conflict legal clients. The patterns are very similar as with other professionals, but legal professionals often become lightning rods for anger when clients and other professionals are involved in a legal case. As more and more cases move into alternatives to litigation – like mediation and other negotiations – lawyers are finding themselves dealing with more and more high-conflict clients. I explained the importance of: Connecting with Empathy, Attention and Respect (EAR Statements), Analyzing Alternatives with clients, Responding to Hostility or Misinformation, and Setting Limits with Empathy, Attention and Respect. What is great about these methods, is that they can really help lawyers manage and focus clients enough to resolve most of their disputes out of court – if they can be patient enough to let it take 2-3 times as long as with ordinary clients.
Lastly, I spoke to the San Diego Labor and Employee Relations Association about the increase in high-conflict employees (and some managers) in society. We discussed how our dramatic 24-hour news cycle culture seems to be spilling over into the workplace, with some individuals becoming highly-dramatic and difficult in situations that used to be resolved fairly easily in the workplace. I gave them the same four methods of Connecting, Analyzing, Responding and Setting Limits (what I call the CARS Method) that I gave the lawyers and others. These methods seem to help in all settings and can be used with anyone – not just high-conflict people.
I look forward to providing more seminars in San Diego, as well as around the U.S., Canada and Australia this year. In fact, the week of June 23-27, I will be providing 5 days of training in some of our High Conflict Institute methods, especially: New Ways for Families; New Ways for Mediation; and Managing High-Conflict People in the Workplace (including New Ways for Work). These are open to anyone, not just those in San Diego. If you are interested, please see our website for more information: www.HighConflictInstitute.com or email Michelle Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq., is the President of the High Conflict Institute, which provides speakers and trainers for managing high-conflict people and situations in many settings. He is also the author of several books, including It’s All Your Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything, which describes the CARS Method of conflict resolution in depth. For more information about speakers, books, DVDs, training and free articles, visit us at www.HighConflictInstitute.com.