Pre-Conference Workshops

We are offering two full day training workshops, both of which will qualify for Professionalism and Collaborative Certification. Choose a full day of learning how to interview children with Dr. Lorri Yasenik of Calgary, Alberta or understand the interplay between advocacy and neutrality with experienced trainers Victoria Smith, Deborah Graham and Vivan Alterman.

This one-day training will focus on non-evaluative meetings with children. How do we   create opportunities   for children to describe their experiences of family and social life post separation?   How   do children and young people want to speak with us?   How   do we get out of the way of leading the child and hear what   children   have to say?  The course will focus on play-based and expressive techniques to create a safe space for sharing through projective activities. The use of projectives allows children to express thoughts, feelings and concerns that come directly from the child rather that driven by pre-determined interview questions. Participants will examine the process of “inquiry” and identify important questions when using projectives for use in child meetings. Additionally, attendees will explore the use of symbols and metaphors as a way children show and tell us about their experiences. The focus is on knowing more about what is important to the child than what is important to third parties such as parents and systems. The workshop will differentiate “meeting with children” from “interviewing children”. Child development and ethical issues related to child meetings will be highlighted.  As a part of the training, participants will have the opportunity to engage in experiential exercises using expressive and play-based materials. Those in attendance do not have to have a clinical/therapy background. The training is for those working in a variety of roles with families going through separation and divorce.  Lorri Yasenik Ph.D., works in Calgary, Alberta and is a Registered Child Psychotherapist and Play Therapist, Registered Family Mediator and Parenting Coordinator-Arbitrator. Lorri works with high-conflict families experiencing separation and divorce and she is interested in safe and authentic ways to forward the voice of the child in family law matters. Lorri teaches nationally and internationally related to children and family law, child psychotherapy and play therapy.  Her post-doctoral work is focused on the development of non-evaluative standard approaches to meeting with children.

This one-day training will focus on non-evaluative meetings with children. How do we create opportunities for children to describe their experiences of family and social life post separation? How do children and young people want to speak with us? How do we get out of the way of leading the child and hear what children have to say?

The course will focus on play-based and expressive techniques to create a safe space for sharing through projective activities. The use of projectives allows children to express thoughts, feelings and concerns that come directly from the child rather that driven by pre-determined interview questions. Participants will examine the process of “inquiry” and identify important questions when using projectives for use in child meetings. Additionally, attendees will explore the use of symbols and metaphors as a way children show and tell us about their experiences. The focus is on knowing more about what is important to the child than what is important to third parties such as parents and systems. The workshop will differentiate “meeting with children” from “interviewing children”. Child development and ethical issues related to child meetings will be highlighted.

As a part of the training, participants will have the opportunity to engage in experiential exercises using expressive and play-based materials. Those in attendance do not have to have a clinical/therapy background. The training is for those working in a variety of roles with families going through separation and divorce.

Lorri Yasenik Ph.D., works in Calgary, Alberta and is a Registered Child Psychotherapist and Play Therapist, Registered Family Mediator and Parenting Coordinator-Arbitrator. Lorri works with high-conflict families experiencing separation and divorce and she is interested in safe and authentic ways to forward the voice of the child in family law matters. Lorri teaches nationally and internationally related to children and family law, child psychotherapy and play therapy. Her post-doctoral work is focused on the development of non-evaluative standard approaches to meeting with children.

As out of court dispute resolution professionals, our mandate is to inform and empower our clients so they can fully participate in mediation or collaborative practice and make wise, durable decisions. As mediation and collaborative practice become more mainstream, we are handling more high conflict, challenging personalities and intractable legal and financial issues. We are seeing some clients with low trust, less goodwill and less ability to accept reality checking or tolerate the needs of their spouse. In order to handle these complex files, we are working more often in teams of advocates and neutrals (whether in a mediation with lawyers present or in a team collaborative file). As a result, we are encountering the possibilities and the challenges of neutrality and advocacy. In this workshop, we explore:  - the importance of advocacy and neutrality and how we can capitalize on our strengths without stepping on one another’s toes;  - how advocates are necessary to maintain neutrality and how neutrals are essential to allow advocacy in our toughest cases  - the importance of clarifying mandates and expectations at the outset  - vexing questions such as: Should neutrals raise questions that may benefit one side? Can neutrals meet or take instructions from one side? What is the obligation of the neutral when the lawyers are imbalanced? What is the obligation of the lawyers when the neutral loses the perception of neutrality? What is the impact of trust?  - a practical tool for assessing and handling problems as they arise in a case  Through exploring the theoretical framework of advocacy and neutrality, the limitations of high needs clients in complex moments, our shared experience in recent cases, interactive case studies, and group discussion, we will leave this workshop better able to utilize the interplay of advocacy and neutrality in our settlement work.

As out of court dispute resolution professionals, our mandate is to inform and empower our clients so they can fully participate in mediation or collaborative practice and make wise, durable decisions. As mediation and collaborative practice become more mainstream, we are handling more high conflict, challenging personalities and intractable legal and financial issues. We are seeing some clients with low trust, less goodwill and less ability to accept reality checking or tolerate the needs of their spouse. In order to handle these complex files, we are working more often in teams of advocates and neutrals (whether in a mediation with lawyers present or in a team collaborative file). As a result, we are encountering the possibilities and the challenges of neutrality and advocacy. In this workshop, we explore:

- the importance of advocacy and neutrality and how we can capitalize on our strengths without stepping on one another’s toes;

- how advocates are necessary to maintain neutrality and how neutrals are essential to allow advocacy in our toughest cases

- the importance of clarifying mandates and expectations at the outset

- vexing questions such as: Should neutrals raise questions that may benefit one side? Can neutrals meet or take instructions from one side? What is the obligation of the neutral when the lawyers are imbalanced? What is the obligation of the lawyers when the neutral loses the perception of neutrality? What is the impact of trust?

- a practical tool for assessing and handling problems as they arise in a case

Through exploring the theoretical framework of advocacy and neutrality, the limitations of high needs clients in complex moments, our shared experience in recent cases, interactive case studies, and group discussion, we will leave this workshop better able to utilize the interplay of advocacy and neutrality in our settlement work.