Creating Promising Futures Through Social Construction
To involve the Taos Associates more closely with the Institute and to advance our non-profit mission, we created a small granting program for the development of various projects that are initiated and carried out by Taos Associates. All projects approved for funding are designed to extend social constructionist ideas and practice into the world. They are in alignment with the Taos Institute's organizational mission and purpose and contribute to the work of the Taos Institute in meaningful ways. We are pleased to be able to support these innovative and exciting projects.
Below are brief descriptions of the projects which have been funded through the TAG program.
The objective of this project is to describe Pathologizing Interpersonal Patterns (PIPs) and Wellness Interpersonal Patterns (WIPs) in “oil patch” families while developing resource materials that support families, and the employers and therapists of those families. In this study, WIPs will be identified that families enact to, adapt to and surpass their family circumstances. Secondary content analysis of existing transcripts of interviews will be conducted with ten couples in which one parent (usually the father) works away from home for prolonged periods of time. The result would be to generate a clear description of the WIPs in “oil patch” families, to translate this knowledge into resource materials for families and those who serve them, and to provide support at the local level while providing another thread of social constructionist influence in the corporate and therapeutic arenas. This project will enable more research studies of resilience in “oil patch” families. Local knowledge from this context may assist others working with similar contexts in which family members are separated by distance for work.The objective of this project is to describe Pathologizing Interpersonal Patterns (PIPs) and Wellness Interpersonal Patterns (WIPs) in “oil patch” families while developing resource materials that support families, and the employers and therapists of those families. In this study, WIPs will be identified that families enact to, adapt to and surpass their family circumstances. Secondary content analysis of existing transcripts of interviews will be conducted with ten couples in which one parent (usually the father) works away from home for prolonged periods of time. The result would be to generate a clear description of the WIPs in “oil patch” families, to translate this knowledge into resource materials for families and those who serve them, and to provide support at the local level while providing another thread of social constructionist influence in the corporate and therapeutic arenas. This project will enable more research studies of resilience in “oil patch” families. Local knowledge from this context may assist others working with similar contexts in which family members are separated by distance for work.
The purpose of the World Inquiry of AI Impact project is to issue a global call for stories of the impact Appreciative Inquiry has had on the lives and work of the many thousands of individuals who have been introduced to AI over the past twenty-five years around the globe. As a part of this project a technology platform will be created to house the stories of impact. In so doing it will demonstrate and document the life changing impact AI has had around the world in multiple domains such as education, healthcare, community development, business, etc. and with diverse populations from the corporate boardrooms, to schools, to remote the village councils. In addition, it will showcase the power of narrative and storytelling and will pilot a new concept of “crowd narrative” as a qualitative “valuation” tool for measuring collective impact. The rich database of stories created by this project will be available as a resource for academic research, training in AI and concrete examples of success to share with potential clients and the field of OD.
The purpose of this project is to explore the potential for implementing Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP) at volatile public confrontations in British Columbia. UCP is an innovative practice that has shown to reduce violence and build cultures of peace by de-escalating conflict in volatile situations. Informed by the key principles of nonviolence, non-partisanship and primacy of local actors, unarmed civilian peacekeepers engage in protective accompaniment, monitoring, relationship building and capacity development in communities and scenarios where the threat of violence is impacting civil society. The objectives of this study include systematically applying context analysis processes to determine a potential role for UCP at up to 3 locations in British Columbia, to connect with activists, law enforcement agents and the general public in communities where volatile confrontations are occurring, to dialogue on related issues in these locations while implementing community education events on unarmed civilian peacekeeping, and to raise awareness on the benefits of utilizing trained nonviolent professionals to reduce the potential for violence. Success of this project will raise public awareness about UCP, allow for a clear vision for the next steps in implementing UCP practices to reduce violence and promote peace and justice in British Columbia, and possibly co-create larger programs to provide unarmed civilian peacekeeping personnel at volatile sites throughout British Columbia.
There have been many international seminars held by NGO Enfoque Niñez over the past 4 years under Masters and International Certificate program in Collaborative and Dialogical Practices (ICCP Taos Institute and Houston Galveston Institute) and combined there is some 50 plus hours of lectures. The purpose of this project is to edit and publish these lectures, and bring them to a Spanish-speaking audience as part of an educational video library on social constructionism and collaborative practices. The objective of this project will be to produce high-quality versions of conference videos and to have effective web-based promotions that will allow the materials to be used by training centers for Hispanic speakers. Upon completion, the aim is to provide a broad range of Spanish speakers with free and effective access to the ideas of social constructionism and collaborative practice through a virtual video library.
This project is intended to put a spotlight on the experiences and meanings of retirement for individuals 60 or older. The aim is to shed light on retirement or continued work as a more dynamic process for many people, who have choices. In order to gain insight about this, an interactive blog (retireornot.net) has been created for respondents to share their reasons to retire or not. Through the narratives on the blog, the expectation is to uncover people’s reasons, experiences, and meanings for continued work or retirement. From the blog responses, grounded theory will be used to identify the themes in the narratives. All participants are informed on the blog that their responses are for the purpose of research. The themes will be looked at separately for the retired respondents and those that continue to work. Because there has been a societal notion that retirement is something that one just does, there doesn’t appear to be much research given to those who continue to work into their seventies. The narratives obtained from the blog should highlight the complexity of these decisions. The results of the blog will be kept for personal use as well as professionally in therapeutic settings with older adults facing retirement choices.
Amor y Vida is a non-profit, children’s institution (orphanage) that gives assistance, shelter, warmth and a place of security to kids that have been sent there by government agencies, because of abandonment, violence and abuse. The stay of children in this institution is indefinite, and varies greatly on time spent there. The aim of this project is to understand the conditions of living in Amor y Vida”, and create together personnel, intervention and research programs to contribute promoting positive relationships, spaces for open dialogues about children needs, worries and interests, positive social skills, health and education outcomes - through collaborative, dialogical and appreciative practices and literature and cultural activities. This project is an opportunity to explore potential impacts of these approaches in a wider project, that in the future could include more institutions and could be the beginning of a social transformation in supporting children in institutions, enhancing opportunities to develop networks that transform adoptions processes, links with government and other associations and introducing therapeutic justice from a constructionist and collaborative practices. The outcomes of this project will be a) two articles (one will be submitted to the International Journal of Collaborative Practices, the other to Revista Psicoterapia y Familia, the most important Mexican journal in this field), b) at least one conference presentation of preliminary results, and c) set up and maintenance of a blog (in Spanish and English) that promotes social justice and culture to social transformation from constructionist ideas.
The past issues of the AI-Practitioner have produced a treasure: hundreds of articles on Appreciative Inquiry and social constructionism, written by thought leaders and master practitioners in the field. The purpose of this project is to build a new platform for the AI Practitioner that will continue to produce new stories, case studies, research, and have more possibilities, such as sending out free articles and communicating with subscribers. The objectives of this project include making all the articles (past and future) of the AI-Practitioner available for the AI community and for communities of people who work as “dialogical OD consultants,” to sustain the AI-Practitioner, by inviting people to contribute in any which way they can and want; and to build a platform that looks fresh, modern, and is easily accessible.
Our belief is that citizens, in general, don’t know how to have a meaningful dialogue with others in a social constructionist way. That’s why we started experimenting with our collaborative circle conversations at home (‘home circles’), and the results were astonishing. With some minor practices, people start sharing their fears and worries, reflect on their lifestyle and come to new forms of understanding regarding societal and environmental issues. The collaborative circle conversations (‘home circles’) open up space for alternatives and different perspectives. Resilience, sense of belonging and feeling of engagement regarding environmental and societal issues in the neighborhood are enhanced.The purpose of the project will be to launch a movement of what we call ‘home circles’ in which people gather locally to enhance their community ties and resilience. The goal is to use dialogues as a vehicle for other local actions linked to environmental and societal issues. Objectives of this project include: 1) Spreading the idea that the social constructionist way of collaborative circle work is a beautiful and necessary step in avoiding that people in society become radicalized, marginalized, and stereotyped, 2) Creating a social movement in which collaborative circle work is a way to enhance neighborhood resilience in relation to societal and environmental issues, 3) Discover design practices by which collaborative circle work is part of a social change movement, 4) Action research in which collaborative circle work is tested as a vehicle for social change and 5) Theoretical reflection on the use of social constructionist principles in a citizen’s movement.
Sistemas Humanos would like to be a leader in the virtual education by designing an online “course” to further the global commitment to social construction theory and practices, specifically in Columbia where there are few online courses available. The purpose of this project is to develop a bilingual (Spanish and English) virtual course on applied social constructionism in the context of creating an infrastructure for peace. The objectives are; to disseminate social constructionist ideas in the Spanish speaking community (specifically in Colombia), to foster the growth of the Taos Institute Community, and to explore the potential of virtual courses. The value that this project will bring includes development of a course that can be replicated, to foster the application of social constructionism and the involvement of new members to the Social Constructionist “World.”
The objective of this project is to observe and reflect on Chinese teachers’ experience of relational learning offered as a part of teacher training programme. The key goals include (1) to explore how social constructionist approach (through sharing personal narrative, meaning-making, co-inquiry and relationship building) might impact teachers’ learning and understanding of relationships in classroom; and (2) to understand and develop culturally appropriate approaches to relational learning within a tradition of filial piety in China. The research will be carried out as an ethnographic study, using participant observation, interviews and narratives, with a focus on exploring the Chinese teachers’ experiences relational learning.
In the summer of 2015, F-R-E-E (F-R-E-E, USA (FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT, ENRICHMENT, ENGAGEMENT), 501(C)(3) ) is planning expressive therapy train-the-trainer workshops in two different orphanages in Bosnia. Due to the nature of the population in the Bosnian orphanages, it is imperative for our organization to utilize a trauma informed lens to work with the children and care-takers. Our relationship-based approach considers the importance of providing a safe environment for children to authentically express themselves and collaborate together regardless of ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds. It is our mission through these workshops to build and nurture ostracized individuals where the whole person is empowered to strengthen their larger community and provide hope for their future. Our Theory of Change posits that IF ostracized individuals are empowered to take a more central role in their society, then they will recognize the possibility of changing their future. IF they feel empowered to change their future, and are taught to do this in partnership with others in their community, then members of society will work together across social strata to effect both positive and creative change from the ground up, which is informed by actual needs. This TAG award will make it possible for these training programs to take place.Tobias Greiff TAG report
In April 2015, the Greensboro (NC) Counter Stories Project will host a city wide dialogue process in Greensboro North Carolina in response to the question: “How can all community members, including police and local government officials, work together to establish a community in which everyone regardless of race, residency or citizenship status, feels safe, protected, and respected?” The process will involve group visioning for up to 150 people and then each person will participate in four weeks (2 hours per week) of narrative story circle process. The narrative restorative story circles will allow the development a rich and nuanced description of the full range of experiences for community members in relation to the police and provide a performative description of a preferred narrative for that issue. The groups will reconvene after the four sessions to make recommendations based on their preferred narratives. Thirty five volunteers including grass roots leaders, college student from several local colleges, leaders of the “Black Lives/Black Bodies Matter” local chapter, and half a dozen police officers have been trained by David Anderson Hooker (Taos PhD 2014) to co-facilitate the story circle portion of the process.
“Voices of survivors” is a project to contribute to the restoration of the meaning of surviving in Colombia. Our purpose is to create and develop a web page where these voices could be heard. Also, this web page is a way of communication between survivors, State policy makers, scholars and civil society to advance in the process of social reconciliation and generate a public dialogue about surviving in Colombia.
This project will establish new practices of intervention within the Social Services that deal with child protection. In particular, as called for by Elspeth Mc Adams, we will work to ensure that operators aim to ensure that all those involved in the services (families, children, and operators) can be treated with equal dignity. We intend to achieve these goals through an initial targeted training to operators (social workers, psychologists, educators) of Social Services that deal with Child Protection in the City of Monza, and through the realization of at least 5 family group decision making processes with the aid of an Educator trained in Advocacy who gives voice to the younger children’s thoughts. We intend to introduce a collaborative practices approach in a difficult environment like the Social Services that deals with Child Protection. Through specific actions, we want to introduce the complex thinking of Social Constructionism that can reintroduce the subjectivity of users (children and parents), seen primarily as people. Collaborating actively in decisions affecting their lives, and not staying in a passive position of waiting for the choices of the Courts and Social Services, people feel more protagonists and are able to have an active role in their own lives. Overcoming illusionarie dynamics of power and control, it is the only way to ensure that everyone involved in the decision-making process, can feel treated with dignity. Dignity can only be one of the main principles that guide the actions of service operators. To introduce these new ideas and best practices, we will implement two different modules: the first will conduct a training program for operators of Social Services of the City of Monza (about 25 people including Social Workers, Psychologists and Educators) by introducing the basics of Social Constructionism and Collaborative Practices. During the second module we will work with 5 families following a short path of Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) according to the principle "nothing about us, without us". There is a dual aim: 1) Make a collaborative contribution to five families treated by the Social Services; 2) To experiment with the operators of Social Service the ability and effectiveness of an intervention according to the logic of cooperation, dialogue and respect. Six months after the end of each FGDM will conduct a follow-up meeting with the whole group involved in the process where we assess the impact, the effectiveness, the level of effective self household and cooperation with the services. Furthermore, we will interview Social Workers involved in order to assess any changes in their perspective and different views of their role and the families. The results of the follow up will be written and presented to be published in the International Journal Of Collaborative Practices.
With the video-project “Look out for your-self” we question the unity, unvariability and universality of the western identity concept that goes behind the psychiatric diagnostic discourse. Starting from the story of a woman who got the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, we challenge the spectator – by rhizomatic encounters – to open up the dominant problem-story and to experience the infinite agility, multiplicity and singularity of a Deleuzian dividu. This project is a continuation of the PhD research project entitled “psychiatric diagnoses and the co-construction of selfhood” by Jasmina Sermijn (2004-2008). In this project Sermijn et. al. researched the way people interact with the psychiatric diagnoses they were given, and more concrete how such diagnoses influence the way people co-construct their selfhood.
Our project is the construction of a website for our Research Laboratory called DIALOG (Laboratory for Research in Dialogic and Collaborative Practices, University of Sao Paulo – Ribeirao Preto, Brazil). The website will allow us to present our practices, our research publications and ourselves. Noting the absence of a specific social constructionist Brazilian website, we’ll offer different social constructionist resources such as links to Brazilians and international social constructionist articles, books and e-books, videos and Brazilian university dissertations. Also, we’ll present the different social constructionist events around the world updating the website regularly. Another initiative is the creation of a space, on the website, for the Lab students and special guests to write and publish reviews of new publications in the area, and also for the translation of different social constructionist material, making it possible for non-English Brazilian speakers to have contact with this literature. Finally, we will build a space on the website for online interaction between students and people interested in knowing more of social constructionist ideas. This space will be coordinate by undergraduate and graduate students of the Lab.View the new website: Click here
This project will be the translation of Flourishing Together, a guide of Appreciative Coaching from Spanish to English. How can we help each other flourish? The book explores ways of understanding the power of our conversations, the language we use, and the images we share. How can we live our full potential being with others? An exploration to what gives life to our relationships. A guide to apply appreciative inquiry in coaching, mindfulness, meditation and other strength based approaches.
The purpose of this project is to further develop and improve our Chinese Social Constructionism Study Center and its website, to construct the center as a garden in which Chinese social constructionists can discuss their ideas and practices in education, research, organization and therapy,etc., and to make the website truly function as an important information dissemination and exchange station in the field of social constructionist theoretical research and practice. The project will be managed by Liping Yang, and will be carried out together by all the members of Chinese Social Constructionism Studies Center, including 6 professors, 5 doctoral students and 22 postgraduate students.
The objective of this project was to highlight and document how psychosocial project delivery is performed in a post conflict setting. The goal was to learn how psychosocial workers (PSWs) in a post conflict country understand and apply culturally appropriate systems of meaning and structure with families who have overcome atrocities. The research project was ethnographic inquiry informed by social constructionist tenets; that is, it was focused on understanding the direct experience of the PSWs and their counterparts, who supervised and performed the direct services to individuals, groups, and families who have experienced atrocities in the region. The research was conducted in collaboration with associates of one university and two NGOs (non-governmental organizations) located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This grant was a continuation of the original grant. The focus of this grant was to publish the translation of the study results into Tamil and Sinhala.
This project was to explore teaching and learning in higher education from a relational (social constructionist) perspective. The project provided the context and opportunity to engage in meaning making processes with teachers and scholars whose work was informed by relational practices. The guiding questions for this project were: 1) What does it mean to teach and learn using relational practices? 2) What does “good teaching” look like from a social constructionist perspective? 3)How can we support academics in higher education to develop relational practices? This project leveraged an existing network of relational educators who were globally dispersed but connect through their affiliation with the Taos Institute. Conversations and interactions between the researcher and Taos Institute associates (and among associates) was enabled via Skype, e-mail, social media (Ning and Twitter) and face to face meetings (where possible).
The intended objectives were: 1) To develop curricular and pedagogical strategies for a virtual certificate on ‘Psychosocial Attention of Suffering as a Consequence of Violence’ based on social constructionist perspective. 2) To prepare the technical and operative inputs required for the virtual design of the course and to contact the target population. 3) To edit a reader on ‘Psychosocial attention of suffering in situations of violence’ as a pedagogical support for the course among others uses. One of the major contributions that this project intended was to generate a new look for social constructionism utilities facing different situations that occur in Latin America, for example, the transition from conflict to post-conflict and peace in Colombia. The case of the victims and the contribution it made to the process of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, as well as supporting the development of public policy on this issue. Furthermore, psychosocial care and its coordination with the focus on human rights, differential action without damage and gender perspective.
While character strength development programs in the workplace have been found to improve productivity and profitability (Peterson and Park, 2006), there are few curricula or programs designed with the Global South in mind that consider culturally relevant and relational processes. We propose to widen the cultural lens to include Eastern Africa and design a process using social constructionist foundational principles, self-reflection and guided dialogue to create a context for generative conversations. This project aimed to create a print and digital curriculum for an NGO team in Murang'a County, Kenya. The curriculum combines Appreciative Inquiry with the emerging field of character strengths to offer a process to NGO teams aimed at the cultivation of character strengths in a relational context. This process, called “reflective appreciative practice” (Fialkov and Haddad, 2012a) intensified listening and communication skills, cultivated character strengths, and enhanced safe connections in relationships. Reflective appreciative practice ensured that all voices were heard, while also increasing well-being, resilience, and civility in organizations and communities. This project extended a previous application of our model (Fialkov and Haddad, 2012b) to one that is culturally appropriate and transferrable across organizations by formalizing and creating a digital format for the guidelines and structure of the dialogical process. The intention of the process was to cultivate the relational aspects of character strengths such as: empathy, honesty, appreciation, and hope and strengthen salient dimensions of team and community resilience. Final Project Book - created in collaboration with NGOs in East Africa, translated and disseminated. Click here for the curriculum: TUKAE TUSEMESANE - Let’s Sit Down and Reason Together: A Collaborative Curriculum
This project was to produce training materials for Spanish speaking therapists and educators and supervisors of therapists. The specific project was the creation and dissemination of training materials for the Spanish speaking community in all Spanish speaking countries. Disseminate and further develop social construction, collaborative and dialogical ideas and practices, to gather people interested in said ideas as applied to therapy, and to broaden its scope to other areas such as education, community, leadership, as well as to generate dialogues with other voices who share the same collective premises; Central to social constructionist ideas and collaborative-dialogue relational practices is the promotion of equity in human relationships, people’s participation in constructing their own lives and worlds and respect for people too. We believe that it is only through our involvement in actions that social constructionist ideas are validated, and that is the reason why we offer a novel experience of collective production which will benefit and embody the central proposals of the Taos Institute. Brief videos were made and short interviews to international guests were recorded. A “book of ideas” was implemented. The participants were asked to write down their thoughts, ideas and future suggestions. The idea was to create an element of active voices that allowed for a follow-up on what the participants had shared so as to promote the actions of the Congress over time. Moreover, it was possible to publish this collaborative material.
The Positive Aging Newsletter (PAN) is sponsored by the Taos Institute and sustained largely by contributions from Kenneth and Mary Gergen. The newsletter brings forward a unique and compelling voice to challenge the predominant view of aging as decline. The central aim of this project was to amplify the voice of the Positive Aging Newsletter. Specific objectives were to design a plan that would: a) Dramatically increase the reach of the PAN in terms of numbers of readers around the world. b) Insure that the PAN is revenue neutral or revenue generating to the Taos Institute without any significant contribution from one or more individuals within a period of two years. The social reconstruction of aging was of paramount importance. It contributed to positive outcomes in the life of elders in terms of diminishing abuse and neglect and increasing quality of life. It supported the wisdom of the elder voice and the intergenerational connections that are essential to a more peaceful world. The PAN is better-positioned to do this work than any existing platform.
This project was a follow up to a community event. Participants appreciated the opportunity for intergenerational, intercultural, and cross-sectoral connections and were eager for more. Being a community in social and economic transition, new realities were co-constructed by creating such avenues for connections. There was a great deal of interest in the community for us to ‘Track the Groundswell’ and continue creating opportunities for people to come together informally and formally in order to better learn from and collaborate with each other. Understanding that everyone in the community was uniquely positioned to take the lead when it comes to each of the 13 priorities developed at the event, we see our position as the conference planning committee (which consists of a diverse collection of community members) as one that can serve the important function oflinking existing initiatives and creating opportunities to build bridges among them. We are committed to broad community engagement, and aim to: 1) Host a three-part World Café series so discussions that began at the conference can be deepened, and can be extended to reach members of the community who did not attend. At Groundswell, the World Café sessions were facilitated by teachers in training. For the upcoming series we would recruit their support, or that of other leadership training groups in the community. 2) Facilitate an art-based community experience, with a specific focus on intergenerational and intercultural connection, engaging people through visual arts, music, or theatre. There are a number of skilled community development workers who are also respected artists and performers in this community. We will maximize the connections that already exist by engaging a team of them to co-ordinate and facilitate this event. 3) Run a bi-monthly column called ‘Tracking the Groundswell’ in a local publication in which conceptual and practical links are drawn among existing initiatives. The column will include work being done in the business sector, non-profit organizations, the Aboriginal community, youth initiatives, and more. We will invite a columnist team (mentor-mentee) to spearhead this component of the project by drawing from the pool of writers who have been engaged with Groundswell thus far. 4) Convene a new group of planners for another community-wide event to build on the momentum of Groundswell 2014. As took place with the previous event, the net will be cast extremely wide, inviting anyone who is interested to join the conference planning table. We expect to end up with 8-12 people who will become the committee. For the previous event the format, content, and structure was determined through extensive visioning and discussions around the planning table. It is crucial that the next event goes through a similar process (rather than simply replicating the previously successful program) in order to best respond<
The project opened the possibilities of developing relational practice in the field of recovery from addiction (and beyond) by making the natural sources of change and transformation visible. People who overcome addiction problems without professional help are mostly invisible and unheard. Once they change their lives, they often hide their past that would stigmatize them in their surroundings. Professionals logically do not see these people and sometimes even do not believe they exist. Yet, studies have been conducted confirming that the "natural recovery" is the most common way of quitting addiction. Knowing more about the natural process that is carried out without professional assistance might be a great source for the further development of this professional assistance. This project provided for the translation of Pavel’s book into English for WorldShare Books. Also, the creation of a blog in English about natural recovery and the lessons that can be learned from people who did not seek professional help for their problems. Organize and coordinate production of at least 6 short videos about people who overcome their addiction problems without professional help. These included interviews with them and their family or loved ones who supported them. This project made the natural-recovery process visible, especially the relational pathways of the individuals quitting an undesirable and restrictive activity, which is often unseen by helping professionals. Besides acknowledging this process and the existence of people who recovered without treatment, new practices were supported in order to use the natural sources of people and their relationships. I would like to see this project “only“ as a starting point for new relationally-informed practices in the addiction field and beyond.
The purpose of this project was to examine how social constructionist therapists understand the influences of psychiatric/diagnostic discourses on “clients” and how they respond to families (or individuals) with a member “formally” diagnosed, self-diagnosed, or diagnosed by another member, using psychiatric discourses. The research questions are: 1) How do social constructionist therapists “initially” respond when psychiatric/diagnostic discourses are unfolded in therapy? 2) How do social constructionist therapists “therapeutically” respond to these discourses? And 3) How do social constructionist therapists facilitate their conversations or actions with clients to reflect upon/question/modify/supplement their diagnostic understandings?-- To spread the view and voice of social constructionist therapists and practitioners, to share how they understand the influence of these psychiatric/diagnostic discourses, and how they deal or work with them in therapy. The current and dominant medicalization culture is colonizing human experiences, understandings, and interactions around the world (Conrad, 2007; Illouz, 2008; Watters, 2010), however, social constructionist therapists are conceptualizing and practicing from a different perspective (Gergen, 2006; Gergen, Hoffman, & Anderson, 1996). My project aimed to compile their views and proposals and to share them, not only within our “theoretical family”, but with other practitioners that have embraced different orientations. As therapists, we are actors in all the different layers influenced by these discourses: we enact, experience, comprehend, talk, live, teach, sustain, and position ourselves around/within these discourses. However, there is a great need of transformation in our field starting with giving more volume to our alternative and counter-practiced work.
The project aims to translate English-language books and other materials containing social constructionist ideas into the Farsi language, thus sharing these ideas with a new audience. The hope is to make social constructionist ideas more accessible to a larger audience of non- English speakers. As I see it, translation is an excellent way of inviting people into new ways of thinking and of inspiring new practices of value in achieving global well-being. We live in a multi-cultural and multi -linguistic world, where conflict is pervasive. Making social constructionist ideas available and accessible in any language may be useful in creating a global community favoring and working toward peaceful coexistence. Co-creating a new community will require shared understanding and dialogue. These may be the key way to incorporate theory into our daily life practices. The potential to make such ideas available to a global audience without cost is vast, and it will be a pleasure to contribute to this end.
Research is clear: Hopeful children are healthier and more resilient than those who despair or lack the skills required to construct hopeful narratives. Strong, positive correlations link hope as a psychological construct to children’s academic performance, psychosocial resilience, physical health, and mental health. Thus, professionals seek effective (and empirically justified) ways to promote and nurture pediatric hope that can be integrated into the practices of healthcare professionals, educators, mental-health professionals, religious leaders, parents, and others concerned about the wellbeing of children. Hope, as described by children, is a dynamic, living experience, a contextual spiritual resource that emerges as a social artifact from the interplay of social processes, internalized resources, and a transcendent, supra-mundane presence experienced through mundane reality (especially relationships). This understanding is distinct from the cognitive, emotional, and existential models of hope in the literatures of many academic and medical disciplines. Not surprisingly, the practices that children say nurture hope can be best theorized, taught, and enacted through social-constructionist lenses. This project will establish the Children’s Hope Initiative at Claremont Lincoln University. It will be an open-access, web-based resource for parents, professionals and others interested in pediatric hope. The Taos Associates Grant will contribute to making this possible. URL will be available soon.
The project will develop an online community building resource focusing on Research 2.0. Through Research 2.0 we hope to offer a way of thinking about research with a social constructionist orientation, as something organic, co-creative, embedded in daily life and work, and as transformative. Our goal is to build a community of practitioners from around the world and reach people who can be empowered with this way of thinking about research. At http://www.designingresearch.com we will create a website that will include:
Participants of our dialogue group “Alternatives to Diagnosis and Pharmacology” at the Taos Institute 20th Anniversary Conference in April 2013 discussed the need to develop stronger coordinated “counter stories” that could challenge the dominant narratives in psychotherapy, on which the practices of diagnosis and “medication” are founded. From that conversation we explored the possibility that as a preparation for next year’s Norway conference, we could ask attendees and Taos Institute members to provide short narratives of interventions and inspired performances of practice that would serve as a rich source of material for the “alternative story” we had been conversing about. The project will take the form of a website where practitioners from all over the world can upload and download tales of imaginative relational constructionist practice. Through it, we would create a depository of narratives that evidence the ways through which passion, dialogue, ingenuity, inspiration, humor, and collaboration can be brought to bear on professional practice in order to re-imagine its performance. The Website will operate as a sort of Café that would generate a relational space where practitioners can engage each other through the sharing of stories, the participation in blogs and the response and dialogue to provocative questions. The prime focus of the site will be to privilege accounts of the lived experience of socio-constructionist transformative work. Stories would not need to be long, but should include examples of an imaginative practice or intervention. The website will be the gathering place for stories from practitioners in the domain of psychotherapy. We would seek to generate counter accounts that could serve to re-describe clinical practice, and provide an alternative non-medical language and examples of how practitioners deal relationally with therapeutic dilemmas created by the dominant biomedical discourse that characterizes psychotherapeutic practice and thought.
The Civic Speakers Project will engage a diverse range of citizens in information sessions and dialogues about concrete alternatives to existing policies and practices. Built on the assumptions that a) discourses influence our visions of what is possible and b) locally generated responses to public concerns are effective and just, we will create a series of forums in which new realities can be co-constructed through generative dialogues and actions that spring from these events. A volunteer group of concerned citizens with a great deal of experience organizing events have convened and call themselves ‘Voices’. This group is spearheading the organization of the Civic Speakers Project, and will partner with existing institutions and organizations for the various events. The speaking/dialogue events will be held in various public spaces. Through broad advertising, strategic partnering, and deliberate selection of speakers and topics we expect to draw a diverse range of interests and voices to the talks. The speaker events will take place every other month. This project’s aim is to bring social constructionist theory and collaborative local action together for social justice. Each can be strengthened when informed by the other. In other words: local initiatives can be strengthened when seen to have relevance beyond the scope of a particular community, and theoretical discussions can be strengthened when seen to have relevance for particular communities. Read the full report on this project: Relational Theories in Practice: One Community's Experience
Over the last 7 years we have worked to develop a conceptual model for understanding and implementing high reliability collaborative care that is rooted in communicative social construction principles. We are developing a set of materials intended to support inter-professional teams who are ready to implement collaborative ways of working in the hospital environment. We are now ready to “pilot” these materials in the field. The project will find ways to make it possible for inter-professional groups to “use” the toolkit as a conversation guide. In practice, this means exploring with many groups; looking for the preconditions and willingness to experiment that would be conducive with building collaborative practice. We are finding the motivation for making the necessary commitment to do this transformative work varies with each context. For example, the Pediatric Clinic in Texas see themselves as having difficulty with “inter-professional communication.” They are considering using these tools as a structured opportunity to build a more collaborative environment. In the Inter-professional Education forums, these tools have been welcomed and well-received teaching tools to engage students in conversations they do not normally have in their professional curriculums. We have posted three of the four documents that make up the Collaborative Toolkit at: http://www.cca-home.org
The project is a special Taos Institute/ AI Practitioner issue focusing on Ph.D. dissertations completed in the Taos Ph.D. program that have a special emphasis on Appreciative Inquiry and related approaches. The issue is scheduled for publication in August 2014. It is the first time an AI Practitioner issue will feature the body of research from a PhD program and thus will serve as a significant illustration of the ways in which practice and research are united. Taking such a focus on Appreciative Inquiry will be of major interest to AI practitioners such as organizational leaders, researchers or consultants seeking to improve their practice. The research illustrations and practice options for practitioners will have wide appeal since they will come from different sectors, several countries and a wide array of disciplines. It is expected that this will set a precedent for AI-related PhD work from other universities to be featured in future issues.
The objective of this project is to highlight and document how psychosocial project delivery in a postconflict country incorporates relational understandings in its training of mental health workers. Technical assistance in humanitarian mental health contexts requires increased operational awareness to the political, social, and economic causes of suffering. It also demands sensitivity to the personal and cultural systems of meaning and structure that sustain those in distress during a humanitarian situation. Thus, this project will focus on how NGO (non-governmental organization) projects in Sri Lanka incorporate political, social, and economic causes of suffering in their psychosocial programming. This objective addresses peacebuilding efforts in transforming a country that had experienced 30 years of conflict, terminating in the end of the civil war in 2009.
This project will create the translation of articles addressing the theoretical and practical aspects organized by social constructionists in different areas: therapy, education, organization and research into Portuguese. These will be translation of articles and book chapters covering theory and practice in order to spread basic social constructionist theory and derived practices to students and professionals in Brazil.
The aim of the book is to offer students a better understanding of the implications of social constructionist ideas in clinical psychology and to stimulate critical and productive reflection. The hope will be to expand the range of possibilities for enabling people to participate effectively in ongoing relational process. Click here to download the book.
This project will help change the face of public education in Rhode Island through community engagement that combines inquiry, storytelling, and dialogue in our capital city. Building on the national Save Our Schools (SOS) movement (http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/) to put the “public” back in public schools, and Sam Chaltain’s Faces of Learning campaign (http://www.facesoflearning.net/), the “Providence Faces of Learning” project will convene urban students, their families, and educators, as well as employers, community-based organizations, and residents - persons less engaged in education reform yet critical to its innovation - for a series of conversational collaborative innovation forums. More than a conference of talking heads, this event will be highly interactive and relational, using solution-focused inquiry and dialogue to discover and elevate stories of learning success that support, sustain, and further existing Rhode Island education innovation efforts. Our convening motto, simply put: people commit to what they help to create. By creating the space for education success stories to emerge, participants can socially construct new realities around "what's possible" in a manner that inspires positive action, success replication, and collaborative innovation by all-- not just policy makers, but also students, parents, teachers, community members, employers, and so on. Update from Jen: (4/2014) http://www.learning401.org/ - their project website. http://www.learning401.org/#!blog/c1hws. Here is her note: Wanted to let you know that Learning401 is really taking off here in RI - ever grateful for the Taos Associate Grant that got us started two years ago! We now have a dedicated communications strategist, film crew, and two Ivy League interns from Brown! Here’s our website (with videos!) and blog which I think you’ll enjoy. If you know of folks, possibly fellow Associates, who might be interested in guest blogging, please send them my way! Always looking for new material and of course any opportunity to extend our reach/partnerships. Keep up to date with us on our Facebook page as well. - Jen
This project is to publish a “Chinese Social Construction Translation Series (CSCTS)”. This project has been successfully approved by Shanghai Educational Publishing House, which has very good academic prestige in Chinese publishing field. Social constructionism is a good philosophy to resolve the problems rooted in modernism and very few Chinese people know much about social constructionist theory and its application. As Taos Chinese Associates, we are commissioned with the important task of propagating social constructionist ideas in China. This website will house publications that extend social constructionist theory and practice. See the website at this link: http://xlxy.njnu.edu.cn
The objective of this project is to explore the universal theoretical challenges during the process of using Appreciative Leadership Theory to promote the school organization change and development in 9 schools and to form and propose the specific suggestions and measures with strong operability to meet the needs of school organization change. Meanwhile, when following the practice of the change in these 9 schools, the study group of this project will constantly summarize the experience, and revise, improve and refine the appreciative leadership model that can be suitable for China’s cultural background and economy and social development level, which provide the convincing evidences, experience and theoretical reserves if the Theory will be promoted in a big range in Chinese mainland.
The purpose of this project is to produce a special issue of AI Practitioner to be launched at the 2012 Worldwide Appreciative Inquiry conference in Belgium, April 25-28, 2012. The topic of this special issue will be Innovations in AI around the Globe. This issue of the AI Practitioner will be an innovation in itself by publishing it in a downloadable format or on a USB stick using the medium of short video clips that will showcase outstanding examples of AI innovation from around the world. The focus of the examples will be in the area of generative and co-creative innovation. What are some of the breakthrough, next generation stories of AI innovation that are breathing life into the practice of AI around the globe. Where is AI heading in the 21st century? By taking this innovative approach, the examples can be used in training sessions, workshops and presentations around the world. This special issue will be produced through a partnership with AI Practitioner, an editorial team from Innovation Partners International and the Taos Institute as partial funder and future distributor. The first 150 conference registrants at the International Appreciative Inquiry conference in Belgium, April 2012, will get this e-journal on a stick as part of their conference participation.
This project aims to promote the development of "group work" based on a social constructionist sensibility through the publication of a book with varied theoretical and practical contributions. The book will be written by different Brazilian authors, covering diverse topics such as group work in different contexts, community work, institutional work, training and research. Its main audience is professionals and researchers interested in group work and social constructionist ideas. It will be submitted to the Taos Institute Press for analysis and publication. This project has the contributions of four Taos Associates (Emerson Rasera, Carla Guanaes, Celiane Camargo-Borges and Marilene Grandesso) and members of two important institutions in Brazil in the training of constructionist oriented therapists and the diffusion of social constructionist ideas - FAMILIAE and NOOS Institute (Carlos Eduardo Zuma, Eloisa Vidal Rosas and others).
The purpose of this proposal is to request co-sponsorship and funding under the Taos Institute TAG Program for the Goldenfleece International Conference on Story and Business in the United States. This conference will promote social constructionist principles through the use of story.
The project will integrate the principles of Social/Relational Construction and the 4-D cycle of AI which offers us the potential and possibility to promote self-help means towards climate change adaptation in agriculture among these people. The main purposes of this project are to: 1) Pilot an AI cycle in a rural ( agri-livelihood based) community of Bangladesh in order to promote local innovations and actions affecting climate change adaptation in agriculture; 2) Develop a contextualized AI facilitation tools (useful for grassroots change workers) in order to facilitate farmers’ community in order to promote self-help with regard to climate change adaptation in their agriculture. Click here for the full report
To promote these ideas, we need to build a solid, cutting-edge, modern website in tune with the present world. This implies a website which is built so that it can be easily updated and is connected with the digital social space through social media (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). The overall objective and mission of Relational Buddhism is to present and inspire scientists, healthcare professionals and the general public with a comprehensive roadmap to deal with existential suffering of everyday life by a relational outlook of life and modus vivendi in line with what the Buddha had taught. The website’s objective is to inform, link and inspire scientists, healthcare professionals and the general public, sustained and fed by the social media in order to build a virtual community and establish a strong online presence. Relational Buddhism website: http://relationalbuddhism.org
The purpose of this Visual Resources Project is to create an interactive databank of visual and interactive resources for training/learning about social construction which will also serve as an experiential virtual space for social construction of knowledge. The Institute’s sophisticated website provides an excellent backend design which makes this a cost-effective project while enriching the interactive experience of its web-users. Objective: 1) To design an interactive database of visual resources for training about social construction ideas 2) To construct the approved database. 3) To research resources those promote and illustrate social construction concepts/practices. 4) To make the virtual space a user-friendly space where practitioners can share their training tools. 5) To create the virtual space as an illustration of Social Construction practice.
The purpose of the Relational Learning Project is to create a new section on the Taos Institute website which will feature projects from around the world that highlight the theory and practice of Relational Learning. The goal of this project is to expand the Taos community by making direct connections between relational learning and an existing undergraduate Peer Mentoring Project. The Peer Mentoring project at Kent State University is the first project to be featured on this site. Other projects being undertaken by the Taos community will be featured as well. By exemplifying the numerous benefits that social construction and relational learning have on students who actively engage in their education and co-construct meaning, we will be inviting educators to consider how these principles can be used in not only learning, but teaching and research, as well. In this project, we will demonstrate how social construction can be used as a teaching/learning tool, as well as a foundation for research methodology. Visit: www.taosinstitute.net/relational-learning-in-education
The purpose of this project is to survey the experiences of social constructionist therapists working with clients across different practice contexts. Qualitative analyses from the survey primarily answers the following related questions: 1) what are the experiences of constructionist therapists when using the DSM-IV and evidence based practice is expected? and 2) how have constructionist therapists resisted or creatively adapted to expected use of DSM-IV and evidence based practice? A website of related resources for constructionist therapists has been developed. This study was motivated by practitioners' concerns about how their efforts to help clients had become increasingly constrained by institutional and fee-payer expectations that client problems were given DSM diagnoses. What can be constraining about this expectation relates to how a DSM discourse of practice can be at odds with the ways clients' concerns are formulated in other helping discourses. As examples, a narrative therapist or a systemic counsellor would view client problems in much different discourses of practice. However, to diagnose client concerns in DSM terms requires a different kind of dialogue with clients than would occur in narrative or systemic dialogues. Beyond such constraints is an increasing expectation that, notonly must practitioners diagnose client problems using DSM language and ways of conversing, they also should use evidence-supported interventions to address clients' diagnosed conditions. How varied professional helpers experience the influence of the DSM on their ways of being helpful is a key feature of this study. Similarly, how they have adapted their ways of practice to continue with alternative models of practice is also a focus of this study. Ultimately, our aim is to summarize participants' experiences and resourceful ways of working with DSM when it is anexpected feature in helping clients. Visit: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ969557.pdf
This project is to create a website will that will document, circulate and archive the ‘insider knowledges’ of person’s struggling with substance misuse and disordered eating practices. The intent of the site is to create a space to share insider's experiences about the ways that the problems of disordered eating practices and substance misuse work in their lives, and their ideas regarding ways to find freedom from these problems and how to best address these problems in therapy. This project will allow for persons' ‘insider’ knowledges to be privileged for finding freedom from problems rather than professionals generating ideas as to how to best help persons with these problems. The website will be grounded in social constructionist ideas and practices. Visit: http://www.insiderknowledges.com/
Making Networks Happen is a participatory Action Learning/Research project aimed at helping members (members are at the organizational level), particularly in the fields of both public and commercial service delivery, to work through complex "networking" issues. This approach enables participants to work on and learn from action undertaken on real, current organizational challenges. The project will act as a learning community for accumulating resources, generating productive action and sharing learning and co-creating good practice and knowledge related to networking. The objectives of this project are to: 1) Enable those concerned with organizing across boundaries, between agencies, and with multiple partners to improve service outcomes and to support people in working better together. 2) Generate productive action, shared learning, tools and methodologies and the co-creation of good practice and knowledge. 3) Record, publish and disseminate findings (papers, articles, DVDs, dedicated website). 4) Create a growing and accessible resource (a network) for useful help, working knowledge, shared enquiry and supportive relationships – for ‘making networks happen’. Visit: www.stringbag.net
The purpose of this project is to write a book which introduces new approaches, ways of thinking and practices to law and medicine and those associated with these professions, whether they are consultants, coaches, administrators, risk managers, or others. Health care is the focus of government and citizenry discussion and debate at the present time. Issues being debated include tort reform and “defensive medicine” (physicians practicing in ways that protect them from being sued but don’t necessarily help their patients), pitting physicians against attorneys in a culture of blame and finger-pointing. The analysis in this book describes new ways of thinking and alternatives to some areas of health care, such as medical malpractice litigation, disclosure, apology, healing, and reporting, among other issues. In addition to non-traditional approaches to these topics, the book also addresses the individualistic cultures of both law and medicine and opportunities to rethink and broaden those cultures and the language associated with them to one more collaborative and relational. If a collaborative process that supports resolution, transparency, and healing is introduced at the outset, giving trust and cooperation a chance to take hold, the litigation that follows will very likely be more collaborative and much less adversarial.
Funds were granted to support a conference on this topic in Italy, April 2011 that was a productive confrontation among Italian scholars working on psychology and social issues.. The conference participants had the opportunity to reflect and discuss with the presenters about the influence that the research has in constructing prejudice, stereotypes, beliefs, and opinions, and also the influence that prejudices, ideas, beliefs and stereotypes shared within the community, and by the researchers as part of it, have on the planning and the realization of research projects.
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