If you haven't been on in-person training with me before, it may be helpful to know a bit about the way I approach training and working with distress.
If you want to know more about me, read more of my writing or find out about upcoming in-person training opportunities and conferences, see my main website www.behindthelabel.co.uk.
I also provide Open Dialogue practitioner training in collaboration with Iseult Twamley through Dialogue (R)Evolution.
I am influenced by the Hearing Voices Movement, Open Dialogue and the Survivor Movement. This means I'm interested in learning situations that encourage dialogue, respect people's rights to define their own experience and are intended to open up possibilities rather than profess to be truth.
I am interested in experiences that rarely get spoken about, and believe that whilst there is no 'right' way to approach a situation - there are some ways which are more ethical, respectful and generative than others. There are some ways of responding to distress that I believe, strongly, that must be changed in order to create a system that avoids re-traumatisation and harm. However, I also recognise that change is complex - we're in this situation for a reason.
I welcome anyone to this learning community who is genuinely interested in learning, connecting and finding more creative and compassionate responses to those in distress.
My lived experience runs through every course, as does my experience of supporting others (in the voluntary and statutory sectors). Generally speaking, if I haven't experienced it I don't teach it.
I think it's important that people can access these kind of learning opportunities regardless of their background, educational experience or financial resources. I hope that we can create a warm and welcoming environment for all - but if you notice something you think I could do to be more inclusive ... please say. I have limited resources, so if there is anything you can contribute that will increase accessibility (e.g. translations for video subtitles) please let me know.
Why 'Pay What You Can'?
Creating an learning opportunities that are accessible (and not limited to those with money) is important to me - but so is being able to pay my bills (and to acknowledge the large amount of time and effort that goes into creating my courses and this community as a whole). Balancing these two competing needs is challenging. If I charge set fees for membership or courses then I am putting the onus on those unable to afford it to come to me for 'bursary' or 'free' places. I am sure many have not, and will not, apply for this reason.
So, I'm taking a leaf out of the ethical trading book and spending one year with a 'Pay What You Can' approach. Rather than setting a fee I am providing The Garden to all registered members for free.
Then, when and if people want to enter The Greenhouse for specific courses, I am asking them to consider what the course is worth to them and what they can afford, and choose their own fee. Those who need it, are welcome to set this fee at £0. They get the same opportunities of those who pay more.
Those who recognise that they are paying less than they think the course is worth, but really can't afford more, are welcome to also add in an offer of help (this might be transcribing videos so they can be translated, promoting the course in their workplace etc). We can contribute with more than money (although please - money, unfortunately, is still very important for my utility bills so I hope some of you will use this too if you can).
I have my fingers and toes crossed that this is a reasonable balance of my ethical and pragmatic commitments. And, if truth be told, I'm actually quite excited to see what happens and what we can do together.