Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Our experiences in Scotland - at the international conference for divorce professionals

Wisconsin Collaborative Team
Wisconsin Collab Team at Consensus Scotland 2012
Neil Denny - Keynote Speaker

Nigel and I made the trip to Edinburgh for the 4th European Collaborative Conference on 31 May and 1 June 2012. 
  • As delegates - this was a great opportunity to learn more about the process and practicalities of collaborative family law
  • As presenters - on 'Speaking your Client's Language', we had our own agenda to pursue: making sure we engaged our audience and left them with valuable content they could make use of after the conference.
  • As citizens - we were thrilled to be welcomed as part of a thriving and international community of like-minded people 
  •  As people - we were simply enchanted by the sense of occasion brought to the conference by our hosts

What we learnt as delegates

We thought we already had a good understanding of the purpose and practice of the collaborative approach to conflict resolution between separating and divorcing couples. Click here to find out more about this kinder way to divorce.

From the keynote speech by Neil Denny, urging us all, like artisans from earlier times, to take pride in our work and develop our specialist skills, to the many other presenters sharing their journey towards integrated working with other professionals, we were further inspired with a powerful vision of how divorce can be better than it often is. 

We have a greater clarity about the roles which coaches, counsellors and other therapists can take in supporting people through the minefield of separation and divorce. And of course we have plenty of practical information to take back to our local practice groups of family lawyers and financial specialists.
Nigel and Jenny Heath presenting at Consensus Collaboration Scotland 2012

 Speaking Your Client's Language

It was our privilege to lead one of half a dozen mini workshops to develop skills and knowledge. Our focus was on the language we use and how this helps us gain rapport or alienate the people we commu8nicate with. 

Most of the time we aren't even aware of what we're doing, yet with a little practice we can notice our own and other people's patterns. With awareness comes the chance to increase our flexibility and find just the right words to deflect conflict or influence towards a positive outcome.

Click here to find other articles about language and behaviour patterns.

A strong community spirit

The conference was held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre - and it had a truly international flavour with delegates from Australia, Ireland, England, Scotland, Canada, USA, France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Austria and Israel.  

The striking sense of community came from the willingness to share what has worked - and what hasn't. Among the UK delegates there was excitement about being involved in something new - tempered with concerns about change and 'the cost of it all'. Neil Denny's address inspired several would be sceptics to embrace the value of doing something well for its own sake. 

Among our many new contacts there are several people we'd love to invite to talk to our local practice groups. Facebook has a lovely photographic record of the event.

Piper and Scottish Dancer at Ceilidh 2012

Edinburgh lends its own enchantment

Througout the event we were treated to many ceremonial  highlights. We had keynote addresses from almost understandable Scottish poets. We were piped to a mayoral address in the City Chambers on the Royal Mile and we were treated to a Ceilidh with scottish dancing and a fabulous meal in lovely company.

Nigel and I had already decided to extend our trip into a mini-break and enjoyed an extra day exploring the city. In the end this was a long round the city bus ride because I was injured by an over-enthusiastic dancer at the ceilidh. She might not have stopped me dancing on the night but the next day my swollen and bruised foot told me it could take no more! We enjoyed the sunshine all the more on this 'stolen' day, knowing it was raining at home.

I'd love to visit Edinburgh again - The Fringe Festival has an especial appeal. A word of caution - if you are thinking of visiting in the next couple of years, be aware the city is undergoing major roadworks as it re-establishes a tram network. 

For local solicitors and Collaborative Groups

If you've enjoyed these headlines and would like to know more aboutthe IACP conference, please get in touch.

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