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Balint SMALL group - Robbie Sherman, MD

Balint groups have long been a haven for clinicians and other caregivers to heal from and reflect on the stresses of their work. The Balint format is a case-based discussion where the topic discussed is the relationship between the clinician/provider and the patient/client.   Participants will share specific case stories and group members will use their experience and imagination to gain increased perspective for the case.  Rather than searching for solutions, Balint method seeks to widen the participants’ understanding of what might be at play.  The format provides the presenter and the other participants opportunities to grow in their abilities to imagine other perspectives and to hold themselves and their relationships in new and empathetic ways.  Balint groups around the world support clinicians and other professionals, increasing empathy among participants and deepening understanding and skill in the management of challenging situations.

Learning objectives include:

  • Increased ability to imagine multiple perspectives in the professional setting
  • Increased personal awareness of how one’s own story affects professional relationships
  • Increased understanding of how the Balint method can heighten self-awareness, self-reflection and creativity in professional work.

Each case presented will be allotted about 50 minutes, allowing for six cases to be presented over the 3 days.   Any professional relationship, such as coaching or mentoring can be presented.

Robbie Sherman, MD (she/her) is a family physician, coach, and mentor for compassionate care and communications skills.  She practiced family medicine in Seattle, Washington for over 30 years. She became a Credentialed Leader with the American Balint Society in 2010 and faculty with the Academy on Communication in Healthcare in 2019.  She currently leads several Balint groups for practicing clinicians as well as coaching individual practitioners and teaching communications skills.

Matrix SMALL group - Amina Knowlan, MS

The Matrix Leadership approach focuses on forming groups as interconnected, complex adaptive systems--or, Matrix Leadership Networks. Leadership emerges through the relationships--the interaction of all the members--and by attending to the needs of the developing "Whole" (group or team, etc.). This style fosters communication between each pair of people “in the eyes and ears of the group” as a foundation that is highly inclusive. The remaining Matrix Essential practices include cultivating a ground of health and resilience, appreciative and differentiating feedback, differentiating from habitual roles, distributing emotional fields and perspectives, engaging with differences as collective intelligence, and redefining conflict as differentiation that leads to true collaboration and emergence. Heightening awareness of the impact of systems of privilege and oppression and developing mindfulness and connection with Source (or Wholeness) are also centrally important.

In this 3-session format (6 hours) total, the focus will be on building relationships and the group with the capacity to communicate mindfully, transparently and empathetically. We will incorporate the three foundational Matrix Leadership practices to form the learning group as an interconnected “whole” or system. These include speaking person-to-person, establishing a ground of health (trust and resilience) and learning to attend to the whole (responsible for a high degree of inclusion). The intention is to create a group with enough trust and resonance to support the mission of the virtual course: “to connect, share and heal”. We will also employ additional Matrix practices as they support deepening connections and the satisfaction of the members. For example, this may include appreciative feedback, engaging with differences as resources and distributing emotional fields and experiences of burnout or overwhelm. Each session will also include a brief mindfulness practice and sharing about sustaining resilience in these times. The format will include meeting with the entire learning group and in breakout groups such as in pairs or triads. The heart and soul of this Matrix group will reside in moving out of our conditioning in separateness into a felt sense of interconnection and love.

Amina Knowlan, MS co-founded Matrix Leadership in 1990 and is currently the Director and Lead Trainer, Facilitator, Consul­tant and Coach. She has been facilitating groups and trainings in cities throughout the U.S. and Europe for 30 years. Her formal background includes training from the National Training Laboratories for the Behavioral Sciences, as well as an M.S. in Counseling and Teaching Psychology at the University of Missouri. For four years she was the director of the Groups and Outreach Programs in Interpersonal and Group Communication at the University of Missouri Counseling Center. She was a trainer for the Hakomi Institute for Body-Centered Psychotherapy for 12 years. She was also a co-owner and practitioner at Wellspring, Partners in Health (a holistic community medical clinic) for 15 years. She currently works as a consultant, trainer & coach for corporate executive teams, businesses, health care organizations, schools, communities, city and state governments, and non-profits. She incorporates system’s approaches; somatic, energetic and intuitive awareness; multi-cultural and diversity training as well as dance, movement, voice, art and practices of mindfulness into her work. She also leads retreats for women en­titled Fully Embodied Woman: Remembering the Sacred Feminine. She considers herself a social artist and cur­rently works internationally in St. Petersburg, Russia and Sydney, Australia, Singapore and the UK. She is currently in the final stage of editing a book on Matrix Leadership. Amina has two adult children and lives in the beautiful mountain foothills of Boulder, Colorado. She enjoys salsa dancing, swimming, gardening, singing and hiking with her dog.

Family of Origin SMALL group - Maysel kemp white, phd, mft, fach

Self awareness is a critical prerequisite to becoming an effective healer or teacher.  One’s personal self is intimately connected to their professional role as a healer and teacher.

Some of our most important connections in life are the ties to our family.  Many times our life course is a reflection of roles and patterns laid out by the generations that preceded us.  The more we know about our families, the more we know about ourselves and the more freedom we have to determine how we want to live.  Without the awareness and the subsequent ability to make choices we are more likely to repeat patterns of behavior ingrained from our family experiences and therefore have less choice in changing them. 

All of us have family experiences with illness, loss, health behaviors, health beliefs and interactions around dealing with the uncertainty of medicine, loss and death.  Styles for tolerating and dealing with affect around these issues are learned in our family of origin.  Current problems or unresolved issues within one’s family of origin can interfere with working with patients and teaching about working with patients.

Many clinician may be drawn into medicine because their upbringing resulted in a highly developed sense of empathy, responsibility and /or altruism.  For example, many clinicians filled the role of caretaker in their family of origin and were highly valued and this has ultimately led to a commitment to serving others.  This historical role can be both a strength and a weakness.  Our family experiences as caretakers can be a strength in developing our empathic skills and our sensitivity to people’s needs for help. It can be a weakness when it leads to blurred boundaries or inappropriate response to the families we treat.  People who know and use their strengths on a daily basis have greater career satisfaction, experience more joy, have greater resilience and less burn out.

All behavior is adaptive and at one point served us well. All of us have “hot buttons.”  These are interactions that take place with certain patients, learners, or workshop participants that catch us reacting in ways that we really don’t want to.  After the initial automatic reaction, when there is time to reflect, we may wish we had behaved differently.  Although we may later try to justify the behavior, the nagging feeling of regret is a reliable guide to identifying “hot buttons.” Becoming aware of our hot buttons and reframing them and assessing if they still serve us is a key to self-regulation and preserving relationships so we get better results.

The purpose of this group is to take the first step in exploring the relationship between one’s family of origin and one’s strengths and current “hot buttons”.  In this self awareness group we will use our own genograms as a tool to explore how this history led to or maintains our current strengths and “hot buttons”.  We will explore the origins of our strengths, how these got reinforced in our family of origin and how to leverage our strengths so we are using them more frequently. We will explore whether re-actions to our “hot buttons” still serve us in ways that are useful in our professional roles as providers or teachers of health care.

There is about 6-8 hours of pre-work before you arrive. The pre-work is critical to getting the most out of our limited time together in this brief 6 hour personal awareness group.

Maysel Kemp White, PhD, MFT, FACH is a passionate advocate for improving the patient and family experience of care through compassion, collaboration, and culturally and linguistically appropriate care.  Maysel is a Nationally recognized speaker, teacher, coach, and author on relationship-centered care. She has spent the last thirty years as a serious learner of healthcare communication, relationship-centered care between providers and patients, shared decision making, interprofessional team development, leadership development, and coaching.  Maysel has designed and delivered communication and coaching skills curricula at health systems across North America. Maysel has published two book chapters on Relationship-Centered Appreciative Coaching. In 2018 she received the “Healthcare Communication Teaching Excellence Award” from the Academy on Communication in Healthcare.

Maysel has been leading family of origin personal awareness group since 1996. Maysel works in collaboration with healthcare professionals to facilitate cultural transformation using relationship-centered and strengths based approaches.  Dr. White served on the Board and as Vice President for Education for 9 years with the  Academy on Communication in Healthcare.  Currently, Dr. White is the Founder of her consulting company Healthcare Quality and Communication Improvement, LLC.  She received her Doctorate in Child and Family Development with a focus on Marriage and Family Therapy specializing in systems theory, communication and relationship building skills from the University of Georgia.

Mindfulness SMALL group - ron epstein, md

Ron Epstein will offer a series of three 2-hour sessions designed to promote qualities of mindfulness during every day clinical practice and teaching with the goal of improving the quality of care that clinicians provide, promoting clarity and compassion in their work with patients, and fostering their own resilience and well-being. In an experiential learning environment, we will focus on developing the capacity for self-awareness and mindful responsiveness in stressful and demanding situations encountered in clinical medicine. The first module will introduce four components of mindful practice --  attentive observation, critical curiosity, beginner’s mind and presence -- through a series of contemplative and experiential exercises, a narrative exercise and insight-oriented discussion. The second module will address “when things go wrong” in clinical and teaching sessions, with the goal of cultivating deep listening in the face of distress and conflict. The third session will address clinician distress, burnout, resilience and flourishing using a combination of contemplative practices, paired dialogues and insight-oriented discussion, with a final “commitment exercise” to promote application of self-awareness gained during the workshop to real situations likely to be encountered at one’s home institution. Didactic time will be less than 20% of the total time, with the remainder devoted to contemplative practices, paired dialogues and facilitated discussion. 

Ron Epstein, MD is a family physician, teacher, researcher and writer -- has devoted his career to understanding and improving patient-physician communication and clinician self-awareness. He has published groundbreaking research into communication in medical settings and developed innovative educational programs that promote mindfulness, communication and self-awareness. Dr. Epstein co-directs the Center for Communication and Disparities Research and Mindful Practice Programs at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry where he is Professor of Family Medicine, Oncology and Medicine (Palliative Care). A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he is recipient of numerous lifetime achievement awards relating to communication and humanism, a Fulbright fellowship in Barcelona, fellowships at the University of Sydney and the Brocher Institute in Geneva, and, in 2018, the American Cancer Society’s highest award, the Clinical Research Professorship. He has published over 300 articles and book chapters. His first book, Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness and Humanity, was released in January 2017.

Diverse identities SMALL group - ronke tapp, phd

Entering diversity-focused discussions can be difficult and uncomfortable. Facing our own multi-faceted identities and reflecting on what they mean in terms of how we walk through the world, how we consciously and unconsciously interact with others and within systems, and even how others might view and interact with us can sometimes uncover unpleasant insights and challenge our sense of ourselves as good, fair, unbiased persons and healers. At the same time, exploring, reflecting on, and ultimately addressing (when needed) these issues is the very work that allows us to be the healers we strive to be. Creating a “safe enough” space for people to engage in the work of exploring their own identities, and how they interact with and are impacted by issues of power, privilege, and systemic, interpersonal, and internalized –isms and oppressions is a key element of this group. “Safe enough” spaces aim to allow for the non-judgmental, yet honest, recognition and acknowledgment of the varied internal reactions one might experience in such discussions, and the self-protective behavioral urges one might feel, while also encouraging individual and group exploration of how we each might productively continue to reflect on and engage in the conversations and ultimate learning, even (perhaps especially) when it’s uncomfortable. Through a combination of experiential exercises; individual and group prompts to reflect on our cultural identities, intrapersonal reactions, and interpersonal interactions and dynamics; and the integration of relevant didactics this group purposes to provide a rich experience 1) for increased personal awareness around our diverse identities and their layered impacts on our lives and work, and 2) to prompt ongoing consideration of areas and opportunities for impacting change in our respective social circles and systems as we move forward.

Ronke Lattimore Tapp, PhD is a licensed Counseling Psychologist with a lifelong passion and professional interest in issues of multiculturalism and diversity and its impact on individuals, their interpersonal/social and community relations, and societal interactions. Dr. Tapp currently works as the Assistant Director of Multiculturalism at the University of Rochester's, University Counseling Center. She provides therapy to a diverse student body, and training, consultation, and outreach to other therapists, University staff and professors, and student groups. In addition, she also creates and provides related lectures, workshops, and trainings within the local community as requested. Her concentration areas include: 1) Multicultural (including race/ethnicity, gender, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, etc.) issues related to identity, adjustment, interpersonal relationships/conflict, academic/work success, etc.; 2) Understanding and addressing historical oppression and historical/generational trauma (especially race and ethnicity-based traumas, e.g. PTSS, Japanese Internment, Native experiences, etc.); 3) Best practices in diversity training, e.g. "Teaching Sensitive Topics" series; and 4) Cognitive and Behavioral based treatments. She is also partially fluent in Spanish (~85% written, slightly less verbal) and has conducted some bilingual therapy.

Conflict without contempt SMALL group - kit miller

Conflict is often presented to us as a negative experience to avoid, which locks down creativity and prevents necessary difficult conversations from occurring.  During this workshop we will employ interactive exercises, discussion and role plays to explore the potential of conflict transformation, particularly as a tool for systems change.  Three conflict transformation processes will be introduced (Nonviolent Communication, intention vs. impact, Restorative Practices).  

Learning objectives include:  
•    Increasing understanding of conflict transformation within systemic change efforts
•    Increased self-awareness regarding personal patterns and history in relation to conflict
•    Increased willingness to engage in difficult conversations while grounded in purpose.

Kit Miller has served as the director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Rochester, New York since 2009. Prior to that, she worked as director/celebrator of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication in Oakland, California. Kit has been learning about nonviolence and organizing on its behalf for the past 27 years. She draws on Gandhian and Kingian nonviolence, as well as Nonviolent Communication and permaculture, for direction and daily practice. Kit sees herself as an educator/practitioner hybrid. In addition to using the Institute itself as a learning laboratory for principled nonviolence, she teaches and works on community projects related to restorative justice, sustainability, and anti-racism in Rochester, and elsewhere. Kit has taught hundreds of groups world-wide and has spoken at the United Nations several times in recent years about nonviolence with youth in the 21st century. Kit has an MA in Social Innovation and Sustainability from Goddard College and a BS from Cornell University.

anima learning: Applied improvisation SMALL group - ted desmaisons, mba, mth

The Anima Learning approach to group development combines insights and practices from four streams: growth mindset, contemplative practice, applied improvisation, and positive reinforcement. We start with the assumption that every individual carries a spark of curiosity that leans toward connection and creativity. Rather than looking to fix or correct when in groups, we come together in a skillfully improvised “community of solitudes” to nurture each other’s innate wisdom—and to explore the group intelligence that emerges from that nurturing.  We establish baseline agreements for our work together so that we can challenge systems and assumptions of privilege and oppression as we go. We pay careful, compassionate attention through the practice of mindfulness. And we learn together through the shared play of improvisation. 

In our three two-hour sessions this year, we will focus specifically on:

  1.  freeing spontaneity,
  2.  building safety through connection, and
  3.  creative means for sharing stories that want to be shared. Even through Zoom, participants can expect an engaging balance between playful activity, mindful reflection, and deeper conversation.

A graduate of Stanford Business and Harvard Divinity schools, Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh trained to teach mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn and others at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has studied, taught and performed improvisation internationally, including with BATS Improv in San Francisco, CA. He is one of a small group of registered trainers who have worked with renowned UK acting and voice coach, Patsy Rodenburg.
Currently, he is the founder and CEO of ANIMA Learning. He teaches mindfulness, improvisation, and vocal presence courses through Stanford University’s Continuing Studies program and leads provocative workplace effectiveness trainings for organizations like Genentech, Google, and UCSF. He co-hosts the Monster Baby Podcast (“a curious romp through the worlds of mindfulness and improvisation”) which reaches listeners in more than 60 countries, and his first book, Playful Mindfulness: a joyful journey to everyday confidence, calm, and connection, has received praise for its insight, originality, relevance and humor.
He lives near the beach cliffs of Daly City, California with Luna and Marley, his two quirky and charismatic spotted Ocicats.