When Volatile Situations Arise during Processing and Reflection

hello everyone and welcome to another aee webinar this time we are very happy to have Tony Alvarez with us he’ll be speaking about when volatile situations arise in processing and reflection before we get to that just a couple nuts and bolts my name is Dan Miller by the way I’m going to be your moderator today I’m the professional development and standards director with a ee excited to bring you professional development opportunities like this and we’re going to be using mostly the Q&A function you’ll see on your screen little box that says QA that’s going to be how we interact with Tony if you have questions for him feel free at any time during the presentation to type those out there also be times where Tony ask you all some questions please type in your thoughts in the QA there’s another box the chat function that’s going to be more for behind the scenes if you’re having some technical difficulties or some feedback about the volume or something like that just go ahead and write that down in the chat and i’ll be happy to get back to you and take care of any issues you’re having there and those are pretty much be all the buttons you need to push during this presentation so like i said we’re excited to have Tony Alvarez here tony is currently teaching at the University of Michigan School of Social Work he is a long time aee member has presented keynote presentations at our conferences multiple times in 2014 1 hour Michael Stratton practitioner award overall excellent human being which really I think helps to to make him such an excellent facilitator so we’re excited to have you here Tony to share some of your experience with us and help answer this question of how how we deal with situations unexpected situations that come up during processing and reflection so I’ll turn it over to you thanks a lot thanks Dan hi there folks um all right so here’s the here’s that the point B of the seminar today is what to do when unpredictable and unexpected are volatile responses surface um here’s who I am I’ve been teaching a long time I own my own consulting firm where we do training and consulting throughout the country as well as internationally I’ve been a Social Work practitioner for close to 40 years and primarily my work has been with children and youth and their families based almost always in the schools but also out in the community I’ve done adventure based work for like through a ropes course and do other things like that for a while currently I’m a trainer and a supervisor consultant and author and a speaker I’m also a partner a father a grandfather a gardener a burger hiker so that’s me I was intrigued by the list of the participants that then shared with me it’s a diverse group of folks practicing at colleges and out in the field in the bush in the wilderness as well as running adventure programs for therapeutic game so I’m very excited for this for this webinar here’s sort of the flow that I’m hoping we can follow start off with I want to get you in my head about in terms of the language that I use around facilitation and run guiding then some things that we might want to consider and a couple of examples and and look at how much we how much do we and can we really know about our clients and about what the responses might be and what really is in our control and then summarize that stuff questions can come any time as Dan said all right so good facilitators do a lot to design the most appropriate experience for the participants prior to the event much happens this assessment information is gathered questions are clarified and desired outcomes clarified for the participant or client and the facilitator or therapist alike yet even after all this prep work once the experience is initiated where things go is anyone’s guess response is both expected and unexpected will occur and it is left to the theater to help participants make meaning of it when the response is beyond the facilitator scope or skill and when the response blindsides the facilitator then what happens some specific examples come to mind how we might respond if a participant shared information with a group that you felt would be more appropriately discussed in private especially when it’s a new group and the participants do not yet know

each other well enough or what might we do when a participant says something really judgmental about another participant perhaps what can be done when a participant freezes like up on a high ropes course or what might we do when a team opts out of an activity and the group judges or threatens or criticizes finally how might we proceed if for example someone chose to out himself as gay during a reflection discussion which may be a good thing and clearly his decision to do but the reaction of some of the other people in the room showed they were uncomfortable or had a strong negative reaction made me not to be in gay but they’re coming out in that setting so this webinar will look at those situations when unpredictable or unexpected or volatile responses surface what to do I’m aware of the many forms of facilitation so let me begin with sharing what informs and drives my personal approach life has been my best teacher it has taught me about patience and power about empathy and support strengthened coping in whatever manner is available at the moment I’ve learned about skills through books and YouTube and have become skilled through action engaging in action practicing failing succeeding learning so when I decided to become a guide for others I figured it had to be a life model over the course of many years the friend and I developed a model we call the experiential wave which is what this screen looks like um in this model a person starts here at an a at a point a this is that the person chooses this spot in his or her life and then they imagine a a be an outcome a place that they want to be okay um so a point a might be something like waking up or brushing your teeth or driving to work or going out and drink something just regular lifestyle stuff and for some reason perhaps purposeful ly purposefully in their quest to show responsibility at work or to manage physical health as taught by his or her parents he engages in that action which is this action right here he engages in this action from a life context life context which is this bowl over here right and then offers a response well and its motivation to engaging in this action might be might be internal or external often when she is purposeful she believes that the action she is taking right here we’ll move her toward some goal or outcome he might be responsible for managing his environment or setting in the process so for example a person at a who very much wants to live the way Jesus lived for example being up being a practicing Christian every action that she or he undertakes will sort of be grounded in a what might Jesus do kind of a situation right so that’s a purposeful sort of way of life when our lives sometimes our lives we get in a pickle maybe we are in a rut or maybe we find ourselves feeling alone and isolated or due to no one no one action of our own we find ourselves in a new school or town or job and feeling quite inadequate when our lives are in this state we might seek guidance from those we know and respect and who care for us maybe we seek counsel from our parents or siblings or our friends we may go see our spiritual elders in hope that they can offer direction and guidance sometimes we go to folks we pay to help guide that’s what this webinar is about because we are those folks right so at this point in time when that need comes to invite someone else into the room into our lives the drawing changes to include the person in the room right here this is us and with us being in the room additional factors surface so here’s the guiding process as I see it um here’s the client and here’s his or her outcomes but he or she wants to work on and this is us and we are there to help guide them along the way and we

offer actions these are actions we all offer actions and as we offer actions they respond we say how are ya they say I’m good or I’m not good right so so this thing happens throughout the time that we’re with them together alright we use these actions these arrows are intentional opportunities that we provide that they respond to so this settings is in a way like life but in a way not like life because this is designed intentionally so that the opportunities for optimal engagement is high the setting or the environment this one right here the desired environment is something that we create sometimes it involves being outdoors or indoors in an office all of those things the physical setting is part of the desired outcome is it the desired environment um within that environment there are event there are there are norms I’m sorry there are norms and we engage with the client in the norms in the hope that if those norms are in play then the then the participant or the client can then do their best job okay as facilitators we engage how do we how do we work this model so this next slide addresses the six phases or processes that we attend to as a facilitator I work very hard to assess who is in the room with me I want to know the client as much of the client as I can know I also want to pay attention to the environment the environment changes when different people show up so my office is different for person a than for person be so that environment has to be created and managed that would be the desired environment for the work that is going to be happening within that environment or context there are we establish and use belief languages we acknowledge and honor efforts we model appropriate behavior we observe reinforce and confront we manage relationship and we clarify our outcomes are point B’s once once we’ve sort of addressed the assessment piece of assessing the person in the room as well as the environment by which we’re engaging in this work we match what we know with an action now we create that action we choose that action we brief it and we lead it and then we attend to the process and once the responses start coming and sometimes the response is early on and sometimes it’s at the end of the hour or the activity or the trip then we begin that process of guiding the response towards learning and that involves encouraging reflection making connections clarifying interpreting confronting working through acknowledging supporting etc at the end of the day when the client has left us part of this process of this model invites the facilitator or the guide to evaluate that process to reflect on how did how did my work manifest the beliefs and how did how what was the clients performance and how do I evaluate the sequences of our actions did I choose the right tools there was our hiking trip to challenging not challenging enough etc etc right so those things occur what the leader does throughout the process is guided by her or his assessment of where the client is with regards to that change process I mentioned beliefs these are norms so in my in the work that I do and the model that I engage in these seven ground that desired environment and so much of my work is really focused on paying attention to how the seven manifests themselves in the space that I’m in and then using those seven and and their manifestation in the room to help people move forward towards their desired outcomes so when a client offers a response which is offers a response right here right to our action when they offer this response it is up to us to help them make meaning of that response this is the gift they give us the window into our world view whether the response is engaged in the task or resistance it

is a gift and our ability to guide them in this process is what they came to pay you know what they came to us for so here we are they have offered a response and now what let’s look at some examples of responses during a middle group session with nine teenagers i offered the all aboard activity so if you’re not familiar with activity get a board and you invite people to get up on the board for for as many seconds as they can so i offered the all aboard activity a fairly high functioning group they attack the challenge like many 15 year olds would trying every idea no matter how unrealistic as long as it was physical and hard work and fun they finally arrived at this solution George in the middle right here decides to squat and allow everyone else to partner up and grab hands and to lean out word to accommodate all the space all the people in the on the box right so as they counted to once this was set they started counting to 10 alligators and as they were doing this George abruptly gets up stands up off the platform storms of the platform out of the group room and out of the school building this response made no sense to any of us in the room at the time we knew George we were quite surprised that what this response why he why he responded in this way visiting him and his mother later on in the afternoon I heard what happened for George basically a flashback to an abuse a sexual abuse that triggered flight for him so there are many things we do not know about our clients and no matter how much we assess sometimes they themselves don’t know until they react right being intentional and thorough in our assessment of who’s in the room can prepare us for their responses but they will still be many times when what they offer and what we offer them designed with intention and purpose triggers for them a response that we do not anticipate and are often unprepared for sometimes clarity in our purpose in their outcomes and in our goals is another factor that generally prepares us for client responses if both parties have clarity about their point B then we can offer the best that we can do under the circumstances that we are in here’s another example and this one came from a colleague and she says in my class one of the students while playing tangled shared with six group members about her having been sexually molested in her family she’s crying a lot and she thinks this is affected her sense of identity I’m afraid that she might be heard in class and the group member might not keep this a secret in the future the class just wanted to try these new tools what would you do in your discussion with the students I am afraid that her sharing during reflection will hurt her in the future okay so to take a quick minute 30 seconds whatever and just think about consider the following if we could back up time what actions might we take so that it would be less likely for something like this that happened what do we know from group work research for example to help guide us and then in the present what options might we have I’m going to sit quietly for about 40 seconds so type in some responses okay so one of the responses was discuss some ground rules for the group beforehand another was appropriate framing trust building activities first and still another was intentional framing of the tool and exploring as a group the benefits and risks of using the tool prior to sharing these are great responses people in this example some things come to mind for me first our notions about confidentiality hmm we have very little control over confidentiality in groups so it is important to tell members up front but it is up to them to keep the information to themselves that they do not want to share outside of the group

also that that to accept that what they share in the room could likely be shared outside of the room so if they do not want anything shared they ought to not share in this venue our group work research tells us that that’s one of the hardest things about running a group is maintaining the confidentiality within the group and so knowing that and being able to front-load there for the participants invites them at least some choice some conscious choice about how much they want to share with us the next thing has to do with the purpose or the goal of the experience at the beginning of of all my classes for example I inform my students of the power of this of experiences and I tell them that I will maintain the boundary between educational and therapeutic no matter what happens however I will also not leave you know dangling or unfinished waves no matter what so so we might be doing something educational just like in this example here where this teacher was trying to share new tools with her class but then within that experience this person had an experience our deck experience and at that point her her vulnerability should have played out and she shared this information to the to the group so it wasn’t a therapeutic circle and yet she experienced it in that way and then she shared this stuff and then of course after the fact she felt a little concerned and worried about what this meant about a reputation etc etc so sometimes an educational experience becomes therapeutic for a member in a case like this I might let the group know that our contract with them is educational and we will not try to offer therapy to them in this educational context however I will also show support and offer supportive comments and also invite support from others I would talk in private to the student and help them determine what they might want to do with what they shared I mean inform them of any services available at the University for their possible use I might also bring this up in that in that session or during the next session making sure to talk to the class about two things concerns about confidentiality in hopes that people respect the privacy of all individuals and to talk about our role as facilitator in honoring and acknowledging what comes up during an experience no matter what our prior agreement was with them whether it is for therapeutic gain for educational learning etc no matter what happens there will be opportunity for very good learning for all participants here’s the third example so there’s a slip and slide activity turn scary when a participant collapse over 30-percent participants watched in fear so here’s what happened right so we’re doing the slip and slide experience and then somebody collapses so quickly the facilitators took over they split tasks and responsibilities based on individual strengths quickly the group was moved to a safe distance away invited to circle up on the ground voice and control fact shared actions delineating questions sought within seconds group was focused aware of what was going on and invited to get into small groups to process personal things more thoroughly what feelings are surfacing for you questions do you have any are there any clarifications that you need any secondary stuff happening with you ask for what you need these were the things of the facilitators were telling the small groups of of participants within minutes the proper services were in place an ambulance came medical checks were made and determined the person was determined to be safe to continue with the program another big circle was called by the facilitators to process all this after all the questions raced were addressed and all the feelings acknowledged and managed we broke up from the session and had snacks now take a minute and identify what the participants might have taken away from the actions of the facilitators okay so some of the responses included a sense let’s see a sense of comfort sense of comfort and confidence in their abilities right it gave people the the feeling that facilitators were prepared and competent that they were also caring

and concerned and empathetic the group members individual responses of the experience someone said that it felt more comfort and trust with their facilitator due to the ballad a validation of their feelings and experience of the event and that the facilitators have the ability and the role to manage the group’s physical and emotional safety so these are these are great responses and and exactly the kind of response is that that we expect right so when when we as facilitators or therapist or guides respond to our participants in the moment when unexpected things happen then it reinforces for them those seven beliefs it reinforces for them that we are managing those beliefs that we’re maintaining safety we’re doing our best to empower them to make choices we’re continually communicating with them what what the things that are going on and what needs to happen etc etc so our response to their response is critical and it tells a lot for the participants it tells a lot about how much they can rely on us and vice versa and and that’s a really important sort of piece of learning in terms of this product this this relationship that we have between the guide and the facility at the guide and the participant these three examples involve an engaged client or clientele working hard to meet their needs whether it’s George it’s the student in this one class or it’s this group of students at this slip and slide activity these are folks who their responses suggest coming from a place of engagement and it’s not about resistance right so often times when these when these volatile responses occur they’re coming from a place of engagement folks are fully engaged at giving it their all and and you know that they just want to be sure that that that desired environment of safety or if non-judgment is really present and can really manage them as they engage in this change process sometimes the response is resistance and in my work I believe that whether the client is coming from a place of engagement or coming from a place of resistance the work to be done is the same and Tony if if you if you could there’s a question open kind of goes back to what we’re talking about before about confidentiality okay you can see that question maybe four before we move forward from this one if you could address thanks Dan so there’s a question if we talk about confidentiality and at the same time say please know that what is shared here could be spoken about outside I am not sure if that will make people feel safe um and the why talk about confidentiality so um it’s true and and and often in our practice if we don’t if we’re not upfront about what we really are in control about then people put expectation on us that they think we can meet and the reality is you know I’d love for people in my group sis to maintain confidence you know a hundred percent of the time but the reality is at least the research shows that it doesn’t happen and so rather than rather than pretending that we can maintain confidentiality I would rather be transparent and say hey this is up to you I want you to trust the process I want you to make this experience the best experience that you can however if somebody here decides to out you or to talk about what you said that’s really something that we know from research that it happens and it’s not really much in our control we can we can sort of reinforce the norms of the group and try our best in that way but I would rather be transparent about what really what things really I have control over and what things I really don’t have control so I hope that respond that answers your question and feel free to to do ask further clarifying questions if that’s necessary um so what do we rely on when responding to participant response so we rely on rituals the rituals that we’ve created so for example things are going crazy in the group and people are you know there’s an accident happening or or someone’s at risk and and and everybody’s just blow that kind of stuff then sometimes going back and saying whoa folks remember let’s let’s let’s bring back the Talking Stick for example

right or or rely on the desired know norms and wow I wonder if if if if this environment is feeling safe for people it you know I wonder if it’s it’s gone to a place a judgment and that people are feeling at risk and saw so can we like settle down and and let’s look at this and try to make sense out of this from our desired environmental norms and expectations so that might be one thing that we can do remind members of expectations often some we get caught up in the passion of the experience and we forget that we really wanted to work hard at not judging people’s behaviors and so when we’re yelling at them up on the ropes course saying come on already hurry up already or X Y or Z a reminder about what are our expectations around safety and our own challenge in a run empowerment then it invites the person to perhaps go back to that and settle into the sort of how they ought to you know manage during that time it’s also helpful to continue to make observations the best thing we do is we observe we put out there what we’re seeing and then we invite input from the participants invite them to tell us and in the end be direct and honest and authentic you know authentic can go a long way so can honesty regarding the limitations of the setting or your power my ability to keep your comfort to keep these things confidential you know it’s only it goes as far as me not saying anything about what you just said and then me inviting people to not say anything else but whether they choose to or not it’s not really in my power and I’d rather be honest about that here are more responses recognize your limitations don’t promise more than you can manage recognize the boundaries and limitations of the setting I think often times we forget this part but we we need to know that you know if we’re out in the woods the limitations are sort of endless in a way and so we need to recognize that and sort of keep that in when we’re thinking about how to how do what action to take bring up the preventive measures you set up earlier on sometimes framing it ahead of time right inviting people to sort of two to take into account about you know here’s here are things that we know about people when they get anxious you’ve talked about this about when you get anxious sometimes you decide you want to shut down or you want to start running or this or that so keep in mind that you know I know that you talk about these behaviors being the behaviors that your response is too anxious places so let’s remember that when that time comes and then when that time comes to be to be reminding them of that also at some points we can’t do it alone and so letting the personnel that at least in the program that we’re engaged in or in the service that we’re doing or in the session that we’re in what it is that they need cannot be met and it might be more important for them to begin to think about other services or other people that can be helpful for them that’s sometimes it’s also something that we’re able to do sometimes I like to rely on managing the beliefs I invite all participants to do this with me because I can’t really manage the environment myself you know it’s it’s a collaborative process of creating a space that everyone can do their best work in and so inviting participants to manage those beliefs to do this with you would be great and some statements that i have used include these things may be asking them are people feeling about what just happened right so something goes on someone you know gets out of control or something or something it’s thrown or something accident happens and just bring it up and just invite invite reflection invite them to help us figure it out yeah I like to use the words of the beliefs and so Safety’s in there right is anyone feeling like our safety has been compromised would you like to speak on that I’m wondering if someone can put into words how they’re feeling right now I’m feeling a need to take a breath anyone else right that’s that’s transparency about sometimes we just feel like we’re overwhelmed as well I’m wondering if we might need to bring back the Talking Stick to help us listen more effectively right I don’t know right now what to do with what just happened any

one of the thought wonder if we all need to be reminded of our commitment to keeping the place the space safe for all of us I wonder it looks to me I’m feeling I’m not sure right these things and then inviting the beliefs in there how much do no how much do we and can we really know from an assessment I want to go back a minute because sometimes I think that if we only frame it right or front load it right or if we really do our homework and we’ve done a super amazing job with the assessment that we shouldn’t be blindsided by new information and the reality is that you know what we learned beforehand about our participants is what we know about them right and then what they tell us while in the experience through their stories their responses and their actions that stuff helps us to know who they are um and again just like with George he didn’t really know that he was going to have this triggering experience you know when he sat down on the platform he thought it was he was a team member he was all together and grounded he was going to take this spot in the middle and have everybody come up and sort of get cracking at the task and then once he was in there and he was surrounded by by you know eight men young men all facing him I think that that was very triggering for him and brought back stories of new experiences and so he didn’t know this was going to happen but then it it showed up right so we can know things in an assessment but we’re continuing to know right best practice and evidence-based practice tells us the dynamic nature of assessment we have to keep learning about the person so that we can create the best actions for them my best action is often offer what I see and invite them to make meaning of these notices and seek suggestions from them for what to do next you know in social work sometimes we talk about the client is the expert of the clients life it doesn’t mean that they know everything that needs to happen but they have a lot of information about themselves and about how they manage and oftentimes their responses in day-to-day life are constricted are restricted by the context by the setting by the unsafety by the by the all of that kind of stuff and so often they are unable to sort of manage their lives in the best way possible because of because of context and and the lack of resources or the abundance of obstacles in their journey so if if they’re in the space with us and if we have managed that environment such that it’s engaging and responsive and supportive and empathic and and non-judgmental then the chances are then then more of them can show up and so then inviting their suggestions can be a really you know important action on our part so let’s revisit the things in our work that we have control over or no control over right so in our control al we show up you know whether we show up a hundred percent ready or we show up like having slept only two hours because we have a toddler at home and that person that our toddler was sick and didn’t sleep all night and we show up like half dead but we still know that we still can own up to how we show up and and that we know and we know what’s triggering for us we’ve done critical consciousness work and we were trained and we’re we have our training or experience and and all that stuff and so we know how we show up and we can we know how we manage the desired environment you know we’re quite aware when something feels safe or unsafe when when something is boring or challenging when when when communication is effective and right by watching and observing we can see whether those that environment is functioning for the client population in our control is how we choose our actions how we facilitate how we decide on actions how we respond we’re going to do a tag game we’re going to climb a tree or we’re going to push through the other five miles on the track are we going to go into a cave when it’s already six o’clock in the evening all of those actions are in our control and we know that and then what oh and then we know when we take away from the experience oftentimes we don’t take the time to to

sort of reflect on what we took away from the 15-day experience though when we were guiding you know seven young people into the woods it’s important that we reflect it’s important that we gain insight about ourselves and about our resources and our strengths etc and then the other column are they’re not in our control we know we have really no control over who shows up right i mean i can’t i can’t say oh sorry you have your part of the you’re on the autism spectrum you know you can’t come you know the person who shows up is the person who shows up to the program and we’ve accepted them and and they’re telling us as much as they want to tell us about who they are and we don’t know what shows up with who shows up at this classic example of a family that would that work with me at this service at this therapy clinic and they would come in just I rate and pounding things and mom like yelling at one kid on the other kid punching the other kid and and dad just in his own and and they would come into the office just like that and and my initial response or my initial thought was oh my gosh these people are really out of whack they’re really out of control what’s going on here and stop but when given the opportunity to sort of ask what like this is this is not the family that I remember and so that it’s like what showed up with you then one finds out that on that day you know the mother says I’m are irate I told the secretary to not scheduled my appointment on this day because we have soccer practice until 3 45 then I pick up the kids and I pick up mcdonalds and the head to the parking structure and half the time the parking structure is full and so I have to drive around and we finally get all that sound and we’re running into the office with like four seconds to spare and then we’re right in here getting ready to do family therapy and we are not in the right place far right so that’s what shows up with who show so we don’t know that right our clients journeys started a long time ago in this change process right we just show up at some point on their on their wave but they’ve been doing this a while and they’ve been they failed they felt hopeless they felt judged they felt irresponsible they felt hurt all of those things their past experiences are going to show up and and sometimes some of that shows up and then new things show up that adds to that equation in our desired environment right what’s not in our control is participant response we don’t know how they’re going to respond are they loved climbing a tree are they going to love paddling or they’re going to hate it can they just do a simple like group juggle or can we just play some game with the crayons or are they going to like it’s just going to trigger something for them or they’re going to be bored to tears and throw it at us instead right we don’t know that stuff and then participant learning or take away or insight and you know we can ask and we can create opportunities to sort of through find out those things but it’s not in our control what they learn from the experience somebody there’s a question about whether i can speak to safe and unsafe versus comfortable and uncomfortable I love that differentiation and I and I think oftentimes when I speak of safety I speak of safety and and and and it can be very uncomfortable and there’s a lot of discomfort in safe spaces and I’m okay with that so you know when you’re doing change work when someone’s confronting you about some of your behaviors or some of some of their perceptions of you and your story that could be pretty uncomfortable and and and that’s okay the level of discomfort can shut me down so I can imagine clients feeling so uncomfortable that it goes into unsafety for them and I judge that or question that as long as they know that there’s comfort and then there’s safety and that there’s a difference there and but one can lead into the other so effective facilitators what do affected facilitators do they do front end work right so we do a lot the more we do on the front and the less likely that unpredictable things will surface again there’s a caveat there right we can do all we want to do and then sometimes things still happen but the more that we sort of prepare ourselves for possible responses the better shape or him um being clear about

our be for their sake and for ours if you know oftentimes when when when I find that when uh when a person disengages in the work when one of my young people in a group is turned off and i can think back to like what is he hoping to get from from the experience in my group right sometimes there’s a lack of clarity about the be they don’t know why they’re there or they know what they’re there for and then there’s surprise that this stuff is happening i remember in my class one time about two summers to two years ago to semester three semesters ago sorry when i was running an adventure class and during our winter break one of the invited students that I had in the class it was the veteran with PTSD um you know suicided killed himself and so then the remaining time in the semester which was you know good seven weeks I had to help I had to struggle and help my students struggle with what showed up in our room you know this was you know somebody verbalize it and said this is not what i paid my three credits up for this course for its to sort of grieve and manage the death of someone right that was not at all in the cards that was not the contract right and so I don’t want to grieve I don’t you know don’t don’t would help me grieve I want to just let’s get on point and its focus on the content of the class but in reality the death really created a major cloud in our class and without failing to face that and manage it and work with it would have been problematic for all of us and so we don’t know what’s going to show up and sometimes Claire clarifying the bee is really important and it helps this is educational this is therapeutic this is your work this is change work etc etcetera it’s important participant engagement again I just want to make that point even when we have digressed from the point B we still acknowledge I just wanted to clarify that about the be so even if its educational sometimes it becomes therapeutic and so then we have to do something about that or sometimes it’s therapeutic and then we have to education on it then with this participant engagement the participant is engaged to the contracted point B and not always to what occurs in the experience so so being patient and empathic firm and clear especially about the on the purpose is really essential right often we’re challenging ourselves and being challenged by engagement and I think it’s partly our problem in that we really have to be clear about what is it that we want them to be engaged in and do they want to be engaged in that same work and so when when they’re thinking that it’s a social skills group and they’re trying to learn how to manage X Y or Z to learn this skill and instead they’re being expected to be empathic and and supportive and and go beyond that to to just like let someone take a whole hour to calm down while they’re sitting around waiting it’s not part of the contract in their mind since if I’m 15 and I paid for a day on the ropes or for this wilderness experience or whatever then it’s really hard sometimes to be engaged in these things that I didn’t sign up for and so being patient with that and inviting inviting that reflections from them clarifying it for them can be very helpful few more in really eighty percent of my work in my mind is a guy who’s managing the environment I really have to just be you know that’s very important work and maintaining those norms and attending to their engagement and motivation is critical throughout the full experience and we all know those of us that have been guiding a while the beginning part of the experience requires a lot from us and then the ending part requires a lot from us because once a once they trust that the environment is there and once they are like on board with working on that on the on the on the work that needs to be done they’re pretty engaged and motivated and we just have to show up and sort of guide them as best as we can but the beginning and ending are tough times and so managing that environment and making sure that environment is is being managed so when I said rules up for some of the games that I engage and I want to be sure that those rules are followed not because I’m a mean guy not because I’m persnickety about it but if

I created a rule that’s acceptable to everybody then then we have to follow that rule even it’s broken for just a little bit it doesn’t mean that confronting a rule break means a bad consequence it just means owning it acknowledging it and then moving forward no you know earlier on if I can bring you back to that one of the original slides which was demonstrating them the model that I the approach that I use um you know here’s here’s the client at a going to to their be and then here’s the facilitator at a going to their be the facilitator be to me are these words that we promote empowerment and joy and belonging and safety and Trust such that hope can develop so it doesn’t matter who the client is we want to work on promoting those sorts of desires those norms as part of the working the environment again make observations it’s really important when I work with my students a lot of my students jump very quickly from observation to judge sort of like I noticed this and it’s bad or I noticed that and it like that right and and it’s really important to put a gap between what we notice and judging and in fact if we don’t judge it it’s even for the better okay and then to keep in mind the participants don’t have to know it all like why they behave in some manner or why they responded in a certain manner it’s why they are the heir to sort of gain that feedback from us to gain that information from us so I want to back I’m wondering about questions or comments so in summary form I’m thinking that when these responses occur it really helps if we’ve done front and work it really helps but even when he doesn’t help in the moment work requires the things that we set up in the beginning so right if you created the desired environment you made expectations clear and norms clear and you sort of manage them and really been tough about staying true to those words walking your talk so to speak then when the time comes when something unexpected occurs or something volatile occurs then it’s much easier to then say whoa hang on a second stop what you’re doing Circle up or people stay over there because I need to deal with Fred over here because he’s right now needing some individual attention or whatever right and and relying on the things that we’ve been working on and working on throughout the course of our program is sort of its what’s in our bag of tricks when it comes to managing these volatile situations and these unexpected responses when a person going back to one of those examples earlier on in the presentation when a person decides that they’re going to go up on the ropes course and then they’re up there and then they decide they don’t want to do it anymore and they freeze and they say just bring me down now and and they’ve been up there 15 minutes and and and then the kids the other participants are like on him or her and it’s just like come on it’s not really that hard come on don’t be such a Wars oh come on come on all that kind of judging kind of stuff right when that stuff is happening relying on our expectations and our norms and getting them grounded back in that that is more important right now than getting that stuff done and look at what you’re doing to our environment of safety you’re just inviting judgment into it and do we want judgment in the room that kind of stuff really confronting that and and letting them think through that stuff and then inviting their observations and their reflections on it that’s just really important I see a couple of questions so tell me if I could just interrupt for one moment we are sort of moving into a general QA phase of presentation so if anybody has those thoughts of oh here’s a situation that they came up with me and what might you do in this situation or just general questions go ahead and start typing them up while they’re doing that one thing that’s been coming up for me honestly hearing some of these thoughts is balancing this so this example of facilitators responding with such competence and expertise with an attendant client who was who had collapsed around the slip and slide activity and really instilling that

confidence but also this other piece where where you’re saying it’s okay for me to say I don’t know what to do with this you know this this just happened and it’s making me uncomfortable does anybody else feel a certain way really it’s it’s sort of for me as a facilitator I think that’s the spot that I have the most difficulty with and can you speak it all the sort of balancing those two pieces of coming across as competent and being transparent when you don’t know what to do yeah that’s a great great question there then I’m going to go back to that experience because I was one of the participants in that experience and so this incidentally happened during a TA PG best practice or pre conference and so all of my colleagues and friends were there and we had some amazing facilitators and but when this happened the people who were leading the experience were not necessarily the most adapt or the most expert in in attending to this incident and I sort of recall one of them just looking around and because we know each other well enough that one one looked around and looked for this one person who we know manages you know this kind of work really well and just said hey can you help and that person said of course and then when we were pulled to the side one of the other participants of the time is an amazing facilitator around trauma and around that and stuff and so she just took us took it took it over she just said I’m happy to do this that facilitator said go for it and then she circled them up and then just and she didn’t do it alone because she then looked around the room and just said anybody else here with this expertise give us some of your insight and this kind of stuff so when you know your people it’s really much more it’s much easier to rely on the team knowledge and the team expertise to make things happen right right so um clearly there are times when it’s like boo I just don’t know what to do what to make of this and and it’s okay to say that and hope that there’s someone in the circle we might be able to figure something out that can be helpful and honestly it’s okay sometimes when your stock when you struggle with it I see some new questions coming up able to suggest some books for working with groups right I do have a number of good books and stuff and I would request that maybe you email me through Dan or you know and as my email address or this presentation has it email me and remind me that you were in this webinar and ask for those books and I’ll be more than happy to send you a list of resources somebody else is one issue I have experienced in group reflections is when a group has become tired and or disengaged for whatever reason and someone listening or engaged in a reflection would you continue reflecting with just those who are still involved or stop and work to involve everyone or cut the reflection short again a lot of my answers are going to be it depends same so I’m thinking that you know as I’m engaging in this reflection process right sometimes the reflection involves talking and debriefing and so if that’s what our choice to Liz and then people start disengaging then in my head I’m thinking okay what is this behavior about and and by and large when when resistance shows up in the room right like shutting down or turning offer or disregarding norms and people resist what’s going on then I’m almost it almost always is about those seven beliefs and so my rolodex in my head kicks in and I go is there anything that may have messed with a trust in the room is there anything that may have messed with a safety is this behavior that I’m noticing right now about safety are people checking out because it’s getting a little deep and they’re getting anxious or is it been going on too long though they’re bored to tears the challenge of listening and and reflect any noise it’s too much at this point or is right so just going down that list and if I can’t figure it out I offer I offer the observation while I’m noticing that four out of the seven of you seem to be like shut down like you’re turning away you’re looking at phones you’re doing this you’re doing that and I’m wondering what’s going on and put it back on the group because I’m observing an action I’m observing a response and it’s not for me to fix its for me to offer back to them and say look at happening right because somebody might say yeah it’s gone too long and then you can save others believe that should we shut it down I’m good with that right so

inviting their voice because empowerment is about their voice right it’s about honoring the voices of the participants so I might do that um another question is about whether I ever asked a student client participant to leave a group due to their unwillingness to adhere to the group’s established norms what are your thoughts on that well in most of my work when i create norms for the group I bank on those seven but the interpretation of those seven is less to the group and so usually during the first or second session that I’m with the group I’ve done enough activities right fun activities challenging activities juggles and and tags and things like this and then I want them to then say tell me what came out of those activities and then won’t they talk about that was really fun and stuff you know blah blah but I say okay so it seems like fun is really an important thing to have in our circles so our environment needs to have some joy in it some enjoyment all right what else and like that right so really helping them to connect actions that they’ve engaged in in this space with a label and one of these seven will be the labels and so by the time we have those group norms then when someone butts out of that group norm I can confront that person or I can confront the group or I can just say wow you know the group contract doesn’t seem to be working and observation and what ought we do about this and then put it back on the group I have gone as far like early parts of group when i created this the norms are sort of in place and then i create a contract i call it an adventure contract and and so the contract is specifically to each participant so I Tony will keep myself safe and do my best to keep the environment safe for others I will do my best and give it myself my give a hundred percent but x y&z right so they all these statements that are behaviorally written and then they sign that and so they sign that and I collect these contracts from all of the participants and if session two or three sessions later it’s it’s just paper and people aren’t paying attention to it I circle the group up when I take out all the papers and I tear them in front of the group and I say this isn’t working right I mean this is just language this is just words it doesn’t connect with how people are behaving so let’s restart let’s figure out what dorm so we want and then put it on them to come up with something so I’m not really I when I invite someone into the group it’s after an assessment and again I don’t know enough about the kid to know whether my assessment is right on but I’ve done this long enough that I can count on my assessment skills and then there’s the ongoing daily weekly assessment that I’m doing with them that looks at their current functioning so so my assessment of them is if it’s right on then the program should be what they need and if they are resisting that by behaving in the way that they’re behaving to be kicked out then that’s probably like past experience they probably got kicked out of a foster home they probably got kicked out of a a sports club that right they probably those things and nobody ever got to the function like what was driving this behavior of his that resulted almost always in being kicked out is it is anxiety is it is fear is it what and so to me keeping him in group it’s really off value it might be a pain for the group for a while but it’s a value to him to really explore what drives the behaviors that gets him in trouble so um another question I’m wondering about the facilitator responds when a groups perspective of safety or emotional emotional or physical differs from the facilitator even after this is reflected to the group they maintain that what was happening was not unsafe examples our words used jokes made saying it’s okay we aren’t hurting anything that’s a really great question Morgan and again to me you know I’m a social justice person and so I work really hard trying to maintain that equal access to all and and balance but I know that I have a lot of power as a facilitator I have a lot of power and I do my best not to have to use it but at some point in time you know I’m in the room with them and so if they’re okay you saying you know x y&z words in their life and I’m not okay with that this space I am part of and I’m bigger than

them metaphorically right and so um no no one’s going to use the word you know this word earth at Werder know those jokes have no place here you can do them outside of the group but in group that that goes against one member of the group’s belief in in the environment norms and so can happen right when I have to I pull the card I have more power card but by and large I try to get the group to own it and work it and see the value of not using those words are not thinking that if you take a pencil and you just clobber people on their knuckles it’s just to prove your manhood no I can relate to that I was 12 once in the Philippines and we did that to show that we were tough but I’d go home and my knuckles hurt and I was bleeding and you were stupid but I had to do it those the peer pressure and so those things show up in our groups and and you know sometimes the kids need the respite from us they need the backing from us as they know that’s not allowed anymore Oh to make it happen so um Tony we we have about five more minutes and looks like eight more questions and in looking at them I see a theme from several is sort of went how do you decide if you should process a question right then and there or or an or situation or a response with the group or if this this conversation is just not appropriate for this group right now i’ll be happy to follow up with you on that one later you talk about sort of how to how to assess that and maybe also tactfully state that well that’s a really great question and and what what guides me often is the purpose of the experience right so if we’re engaging in a 10 mile walk or hike and the and the B is to prepare ourselves for the 40 miler that we’re doing in a week and this is fine blah blah blah right so there’s there’s this this is the purpose of it things that will get in the way of that I might hold off on so so if I want to get if i wanna in if if i believe that the group as a whole is working towards you know movement towards their be then i might stand next to someone and say you know I heard what you said you know I noticed what you’re doing I’m watching you and my observation XY and Z and I’m wondering if this is something that maybe you can talk about we can talk about when we’re back at camp or i can give you a call afterwards or maybe after this hour I’ll sit with you rather than take the time with the group there are many times when I think some facilitators use the word the idea of the parking lot or you can like put things down and say we’ll talk about this another time so we can do that which virtually right we can kind of go hey Joe um can we parking lot that can we like talk about that a little later I mean you know I hear you and I’m not gonna ignore that however let’s like that right so and again Oh keep in mind that part of the desired environment is a relationship and there’s that relationship whether it’s therapeutic or whatever there’s a relationship that you have nurtured and created between you and the members of that group or are the clients that you work with and so often I rely on that relationship push that relationship you know to expect from them to honor that relationship in return to be able to say let’s hold off on this or trust me on this right I don’t always tell you we’ll talk about that later and then ignore you going to get back to it and you know that about me so trust me in this one when I say can you zip it and we’ll get going thanks I think we have time for maybe one or two more and then I’ll try to wrap things up and we can address these in the future in a couple different ways i’ll share that liz well there’s a great question is as I live I live with the group i facilitate and wonder how to respond when I am criticized or attacked in front of the group um that’s a great question sadly or honestly I’ve not been in the circumstance um you know at least that I’ve known about and and I think sometimes again that resistance I mean I really believe resistance is a gift so in someone cristiana team one of my valued friends and mentors you know always talks about the guests that our clients give us and so the gift of resistance so when they tell us that what we’re doing is not working and they’ll do it developmentalist of adolescents are going to make fun of you because that’s the way to get at them and so they figure that’s their best weapon so they’re going to dish it back

out to you in the way that that it’s dish to them and so knowing that that’s going to happen and like d personalizing it and kind of just right so marriage maybe you know Sarah in this circumstance it’s sort of being able to say to people well you know here’s what I’m noticing right you know I just heard this comment about me and I heard and their behaviors that other people would say are disrespectful and no I just noticing these things and then wondering if people can speak to this like what’s driving this stuff right always just whatever in my mind whatever the client brings to us we have a we have a responsibility or yeah a responsibility to sort of consider to offer that back to them as an observation with an opportunity for them to reflect and to perhaps learn from it thanks Tony I’m uh chiming back in here on video because we are out of time we do have some open questions here and I’ll make sure you all have access to Tony’s email which you said is ok to share in just a few days will actually be sharing a recorded version of this webinar as well as PowerPoint slide other information so you can continue the conversation with your peers as well as the AE could be as well as Tony so thank you so much for being here and offering us this I learned a lot just from hearing the language you use when when you talk about this stuff it’s very intentional and this excellent presentation if you liked it and you want to see some more of Tony come to our conference in october where he’ll be presenting on a similar topic and we will have several other webinars between now and then some of them will be highlighted at our upcoming conference as well so just want to thank you all for attending we at aee are very dedicated to helping our members improve their professional competency as well as connecting them as well as communicating the value and impact of experiential education we very much appreciate all of you that are working to achieve that with us so thanks again for coming today and have a great day you