The 2015 Circling the Wagons Conferences will have two Dialogue Workshops sessions: 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. There will be several workshop options available during each time slot, and not all workshops may be appropriate for everyone. Please choose two workshops that are best for you personally.
As discussions about high-conflict topics have the potential to be both healing and confrontational, licensed mental health professionals will assist in workshop facilitation wherever possible, working to ensure that all perspectives are adequately given voice and that workshops are healing and productive. Each workshop will be co-facilitated by community members and professionals who hold differing perspectives. It is our hope that productive conversations will be possible through abiding by the Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution.
Important: The purpose of our Dialogue Workshops about high-conflict issues is NOT to provide a forum for a public debate to help participants choose between different perspectives. We assume that the Internet provides participants with access to information about multiple perspectives and that participants will arrive with strong beliefs and opinions, and we don’t intend to ignore or shy away from differences. Our purpose is to provide a forum for participants to healthily and constructively discuss the thoughts and feelings they already have with community members whose thoughts and feelings are different from their own and that our community will find the courage to have healthy, productive and healing conversations about challenging topics. To that end, abiding by the Circles of Empathy guidelines and Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution will be most important in these workshops.
Warning: Due to the diversity of perspectives voiced and the sensitive nature of some of these issues, anyone having experienced unresolved trauma around an issue in these workshops is advised to carefully consider whether attendance would be healthy and constructive for them.
Adults only: Individuals under the age of 18 may not attend Dialogue Workshops about High-Conflict Issues. Parents are solely responsible for their own children.
We have received feedback that our past efforts to create Dialogue Workshops for members of different affinity groups that allow for balanced expression of different perspectives could have been more successful in reaching our goal. Some participants have felt that they are in the minority and, consequently, that their perspectives haven’t been adequately represented in the dialogue. Others perceive that personal stories have been told with the objective of dismissing or discrediting other stories and that participants have spoken past each other or sought to rebut even as everyone talked about their own life experiences.
In an effort to help resolve this, each Affinity Dialogue Workshop will be co-facilitated by two mental health professionals of different perspectives and two lay community members of different perspectives. The facilitation team’s objectives will be to guide a discussion among participants about their experiences and feelings about their past and current interactions with members of their affinity group they disagree with. Instead of only telling stories, community members will have the opportunity to respectfully talk about how their stories impact each other and the implicit and often likely unintended messages that can be sent when people who disagree about issues that include strong emotions try to honestly communicate, love and accept each other.
Affinity Group Dialogue Workshops will be guided by the Standards of Ethical Communication and Conflict Resolution.
Some have expressed their preference for workshops that address topics of personal interest. In an effort to maintain the balance Circling the Wagons conferences are committed to providing, complementary special interest workshops are made available where appropriate so participants can attend workshops they feel are best suited to their own needs.