Workshops and Trainings

Being Person Driven is a very simple and powerful way to connect with others yet, not habitual for most people. It is designed to help anyone appreciate how we often unintentionally create conditions while helping where the people we are trying to support experience oppression, humiliation and dehumanization. The need to provide an opportunity for people to appreciate being Person Driven comes from the realization that most systems of support or helpers (including us) have a tremendous amount of influence or power over the people who need assistance and supports. This power can be visible and obvious, but it is more often hidden and communicated through assumptions, language, and expectations. Even though we mean well, we have learned that what we do in the name of helping often unintentionally creates conditions where the people we are trying to support experience situations where their most basic human needs are not being met.

Becoming truly Person Driven is representative of the necessity to come to grips with the need to rebalance the traditional power structure within our programs and services. Being Person Driven has been developed by integrating the contributions of two very influential groups: The important work of the Heart and Soul of Change Project summarizing what we are learning from years of outcome research and the simplicity and wisdom of the Nonviolent Communication model developed by Marshall Rosenberg . The implications from years of outcome research are clear and cannot be dismissed; the person's perspective and involvement in the planning and delivery of how we do what we do to help them, is absolutely critical. It suggests that as helpers we need to take our direction from the person, follow their lead, accept (when it is safe to do so) the person's goals without making any moralistic judgments, and also have a way for the person to confirm that what we do is actually helpful for them. Most of us when we start in this field are convinced that we have the best intentions when we are trying to help. Very few of us have had the opportunity to realize and appreciate that the person's responses to what we do are often the only way they have to let us know that even though we mean well, our actions and what we do to help them, is actually not that helpful for them.

Although being Person Driven is easy to understand, engaging and partnering with someone this way is much harder to do in practice. Repeated practice, support and mentoring are what will really help participants integrate this common sense framework. If adopted and used regularly, if practiced seriously, being truly Person Driven will help interested participants become aware of what really makes them an effective helper with someone.

Being Person Driven intends to help participants be better at what they do by helping them develop three (3) new critical habits and practicing some core competencies. The twelve following (12) core competencies will provide participants with a concrete way to manage the power and influence they have in any helping relationship. This will make collaborating and partnering with the person “do-able” so they can transform and eliminate situations where the person's most basic needs are not being met. All learning experiences are tailored to meet the organization's needs. They can be offered in a variety of ways and can be as simple as an overview to a much more intense learning experience.

First Helping Habit: Listening and Connecting Empathically – Core Competencies

1.  Describing and Observing the Strategy the Person Is Using
What the person is actually saying or doing (it could be anything.) Refers to (an observable set of actions/words) designed to achieve a particular desired future (i.e., get their needs met.)

Competence Criteria: Should be observed and or described without making any moralistic or clinical judgments:
  • Factual statement; Specific, concrete to time and context; Observable; Direct "Quote"
2.  Identifying and Describing How the Person Is Feeling
Simple feeling or emotion which all people share. Feelings are a window into your needs. Critical: They are not static and change all the time.

Competence Criteria: Should be based on what we see, hear and expressed simply (one word) without including a moralistic judgment:
  • Respectful and logical guesses; Does not include any evaluative words, a metaphor, a simile, a story, an explanation, a particular person or situation
  • Words chosen are on the  Feelings Lists
3.  Honoring the Feedback the Person Is Always Offering
Regarding their needs at that specific moment and the purpose of the strategy. The feedback can also refer to the impact we are having on them, as well as, how helpful we actually are at that moment.

Competence Criteria: Our actions and responses are based and directed by the person's reaction to what we do, what we see or hear and, how the person is feeling:
4.  Identifying and Describing What the Person Is Needing
A basic requirement (fundamental to all human beings) for life and happiness, which all people share. The wide variety among our needs is mostly a difference in degree, rather than in type. Critical: They are not static and change all the time.

Competence Criteria: Should be based on what we see, hear and expressed simply:
  • Respectful and logical guess; Clearly separated from the preference, request and strategy; Description does not include a person or situation;
  • Words chosen are on the Needs Lists
5.  Separating and Describing The Person's Preference(s)
The specific way in which one would like and hope to get their needs met regarding the use of any specific strategy.

Competence Criteria: Should be based on what we see, hear and describe accurately how, who, when and what the person would like to or is hoping to see happening in order to get their needs met:
  • Respectful and logical guess; Clearly separated from the needs, request and strategy; Does not include a judgment
Separating and Describing the Person's Request(s): What the person is simply asking for and concretely wanting us to help them with at that moment. It is something we can choose to do / say or stop doing / saying

Competence Criteria: Should be based on what we see, hear and describe accurately what one can do or stop doing to be helpful at that point in time:
  • Respectful and logical guess; Clearly separated from the needs, preference and strategy
  • Clearly connected to the specific preference; Clearly connected to whomever is present with the person at that time

Second Helping Habit: Partnering: Being Person Driven – Core Competencies

6.  Developing New Agreements
Honoring the fact that the person has to enthusiastically embrace what we are doing since the person is actually driving the change. To come together, joining with someone, when the option or solution does not create any safety issues and responding to their request. When safety is an issue, we are partnering with someone to ensure that everyone's need for safety is met.

Competence Criteria: Being able to develop agreements with someone that will be enthusiastically embraced, developed in cooperation and ensure that everyone's needs are met. There are three types of agreements:
  • Preference Agreements (around everyday life and types of supports preferences)
  • Process Agreements (to help the person and team create a simple and predictable process)
  • Safety Agreements (to ensure the person and/or others' safety)
7.  Monitoring Feedback
Appreciating that people are constantly letting us know, when we are trying to be helpful, how they are feeling. The challenge is to be present enough in the moment to not only pick up on those subtle cues, but to see and understand them primarily as a direct response to the impact of what we just did or said may have had on them.

Competence Criteria: Being aware and constantly looking for feedback:
8.  Providing Emergency Empathy
Being able (when someone looks like their needs are not met) to focus solely on validating the person's experience and connecting with them empathically. Continue providing emergency empathy until the person looks their needs are met.

Competence Criteria: Validation occurs when the person's thoughts, feelings, needs and behaviors are accepted, believed and completely understandable given the circumstances. In the moment, the focus should be on:
  • Suspending the moralistic judgments we have been making
  • Following the flow of the story and the person's experiences rather then trying to lead or influence in any way
  • Connecting with the person's experiences, their feelings and their needs at that moment
  • Accepting the person at face value and search for justification of the person experiences:
    • Appreciating the person's good reasons for feeling and thinking the way they do and
    • Recognizing that the person is truly doing the best they can with what they know and have at that point in time
  • Validating the person's experiences with us at that moment
9.  Using Judgment and Testing Agreement
Being able (when someone looks like their needs are not met) to focus solely on validating the person'Being aware of potential risks when exploring possible solutions or agreements with someone and testing our decisions, possible solutions and agreements for safety.

Competence Criteria: Safety always comes first: We can only be (responsibly) person directed when our need for safety (ours and others) is met.
  • Always being aware of risks, health or safety in the moment
  • Always supporting the person not to harm themselves or others
10.  Making Effective and "DO-ABLE" Requests
Can be used to work with permission, to gather more information about the person's perspective, the most immediate problem and what might be a helpful solution, to introduce new ideas or feedback.

Competence Criteria: Phrasing requests in simple, concrete (avoid vague, abstract or ambiguous language), positive action language where you focus on what you would like the person to be doing, rather than on what you want the person to stop doing.
  • In a true request, the choice is actually with the person receiving the request. So the person is free to, and wants to act or respond the way they do. There are two ways to determine if your request was really a request:
    • How the person responds to our request
    • How we respond when the person refuses to act on our request

Third Helping Habit: Learning and Seeking Feedback – Core Competencies

11.  Seeking and Honoring Feedback
Feedback is a gift because it is an opportunity for you to learn something important about yourself, about helping others, about a specific person's perspective on your efforts tom help and more importantly, it is an opportunity to make simple changes to improve the person's experience when you are partnering with or helping them. The following are key practices to adopt in order to create a culture of feedback:

Competence Criteria: Listening To Feedback (Without Debating)
  • Asking for feedback only when wanting an honest response
  • Avoiding becoming defensive
  • Considering any feedback as being in best interest
  • Understanding that debating the feedback offered is the surest way to eliminate honest feedback
    • Separate your preference i.e., how the feedback is presented or given to you from the feedback itself
Competence Criteria: Checking and Verifying (Formally)
  • Regularly and systematically asking for feedback:
    • How you are doing as a helper (Process)
      • Validation: Being heard, seen, and known
      • What we do: Focus, goal, and topics
      • How we do what we do: Supportive and encouraging role
    • If what you are doing together is working (Progress)
    • Experience and satisfaction with the help or supports we are offering
12.  Reflecting and Debriefing
Something we do with someone regularly, particularly when anger or frustrations are present, when there is conflict, when there is a crisis or a remarkable event.

Competence Criteria: Being able to explore without the person's perspective on an event or moment where what we did or said was not received as well as we were hoping. The following are useful questions:
  • What are we learning?
  • What could improve the experience?
  • What can we do differently in the future?
  • Do we need new agreements?
Competence Criteria: Celebrating and expressing gratitude for the feedback, the help and the participation of the person you are trying to help every chance you get.

Training Descriptions