A workshop for discouraged and burned-out helping practitioners in the Halifax (HRM) area

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a therapist, coach, social worker, or other helping professional, who struggles with clients that seem resistant to change.

Some of them seem very hard to get through to. (Maybe not all of them, and not all of the time, but enough that it’s affecting you.)

These clients:

  • often return, session after session, having barely progressed
  • might resist passively (e.g. lacking engagement, forgetting to do homework, showing up late,
  • might pushback outright (e.g. questioning everything you say to them, constantly correcting you, getting angry, blaming you and/or refusing to speak)
  • seem to give up too soon to resolve their problems
  • might all of the sudden vanish and never come back, and you’re dumbfounded as to why

It’s frustrating. You care so deeply about helping your clients, but it feels like they’re digging in their heels. They said they wanted to change, and yet, they’re not getting anywhere.

Over time you’ve become exhausted. You give and give and give, but your clients are not getting the quality of outcomes that you were wanting for. You feel drained and you’re starting to burn out. And now it seems as if the impact you’re having and the execution of your practice is not quite what you had dreamed.

You’re starting to feel discouraged and maybe even doubting your ability to help your clients. Your enthusiasm is waning. You sometimes secretly wonder if you’re cut out for this.

We get it. This is a lot. And the good news is, as difficult as it is to be in this place, it’s not as hopeless as it may seem.

Four Reasons Many Therapists Struggle With Resistant and Stuck Clients

Reason #1: We are resisting our clients.

Oooph. This is can be a hard one to swallow.

Could it be that your client is exactly where they need to be but that the real resistance in coming from us and our inability to accept them being stuck and resistant?

To say this another way: It’s unlikely they’re being difficult just to give you a hard time. You probably know (or at least suspect) this cognitively, but it doesn’t always feel that way. And therein-lies the crux: when we treat their resistance as a problem—or we see them as the problem—we’re setting ourselves up for a struggle.

But it’s not your fault because…

Reason #2: We were never taught how.

There are a lot of approaches to interpersonal communication we just weren’t exposed to.

Sure, we were taught the therapeutic or coaching modality, but many of us weren’t taught how to deal with resistance in a way that effectively moves things forward.

Some of us have been taught how to interpret it, how to help them through it and yet there’s this core skill of really getting people’s worlds—in a way that they feel truly seen and are willing to open up—that isn’t really covered.

More on this in a moment.

Reason #3: Even if we’re taught how to engage with this we’ve never been given a place to practice.

Practicing this stuff with clients can be hard. Even if we are taught ways to meet resistant clients, there’s nowhere to really try those approaches out and see how they work for us or not outside of sessions.

Reason #4: On top of that, we are often not even aware that we’re seeing our clients resistance as a problem.

It’s completely unconscious. Without realizing it, many of us get wrapped up in others’ pain and it amplifies our own; from this rather uncomfortable place, we try to “help” them so that we can feel relief from the struggle ourselves.

The caveat here is what’s known as the Paradoxical Theory of Change, which simply stated means, the more we try to change someone (the more we don’t accept them as they are), the more they subconsciously dig their heels in.

On a deeper level, you likely already know this. Think back to a time you were struggling with something and some well-meaning person tried to help you but you were not having it. It did not feel helpful. Maybe what they offered was not what you needed because they didn’t take the time to understand. Or maybe what you really longed for was not to be fixed, but for someone to simply be with you in it.

But there’s a second part to the Paradoxical theory: when we let go and become fully invested in our clients’ as they are, “meaningful and orderly change” becomes possible.

What if, rather than a hindrance, you could see the resistance as an opportunity? A way in? What if that resistance is a wise and necessary act of self protection? Perhaps it’s even pointing to healthy self-advocacy? What if their resistance was a signal, giving you access to more of your clients’ wholeness?

What’s required is a way to deeply meet your client exactly where they are at. To show them that you see them and you get it. For them to see that you are not judging them. To be trustworthy by being truthful.

But how do we do that?

Enter Circling.

What the heck is that? You might ask.

On the surface, Circling often looks like a group of people sitting in a circle and being facilitated in taking turns sharing with the group and having them reflect what they are hearing and seeing.

On a deeper level, it is a set of tools wrapped inside of a formal practice of authentic communication. Sometimes known as an “interpersonal meditation”, Circling is a way of non-judgmentally entering into — and really getting — someone’s world.

It’s a practice where a central question is “who would I have to be to think/do/say X?”. This directs us to what we aren’t aware of that’s already here. A practice where, if we enter with the openness or willingness to be moved, from our exquisite attention of being with the other, when we come out, the world and our perception of others can occur to us as forever different.

Other benefits of learning Circling include:

  • Offering another the (unfortunately) rare experience of feeling deeply seen and accepted.
  • Tools to have more meaningful connections in all parts of our lives
  • An experience that can empower your clients making them more engaged in their healing journey’s
  • Becoming more comfortable being transparent, real, and authentic, which both helps your clients feel more relaxed with you and is also a model for the clients

Learning to skillfully apply these tools and effectively move past resistance is not something you can simply read in an ebook. It requires both dedicated practice with others in a safe space to fumble-f_ck your way through. It requires knowing yourself on a deeper level. It requires compassionate feedback to see the places where you don’t even realize you’re resisting your clients. And it requires first-hand experience receiving this kind of present-moment non-judgemental attention. That’s what this weekend is about.

Our Offer

If you find what we’ve had to say resonates with you, we invite you to join us for a weekend-long workshop where we’ll warm-up, stretch, and train our emotional and relational muscles as we dive into this powerful relational-leadership practice of Circling.

Throughout this experiential immersion, we’ll not just learn some of the tools to build a foundation for the practice, we’ll also use the practice with each other as a crucible of self-discovery for how we show up in any kind of relationship.

Then, by the end of the weekend, you’ll be leaving with an experience and tools that we have seen, time and again, are easily transferable to (re)moving some of the obstacles that are in the way in your relationships with your clients, inevitably helping you execute your practice towards its fullest potential.

So, this might be for you if you…

  • Have made it this far and resonate to some degree with the pain of struggling to help your clients when they’re experiencing resistance
  • Want to connect with a community of helping professionals like yourself who are experiencing similar struggles
  • Value your own personal development. You see how your inner work directly and indirectly supports your outer work with your clients
  • Are ready to take an honest look at yourself, how you show up with others, and how you may be unknowingly contributing to the problems you face.
  • Suspect (or are beginning to suspect) that you are getting in your own way on some level.

And we have a special place in our hearts for those of you who…

  • Long to be more yourself, including showing your dorkiness, playfulness, and differentness, while also being more honest and vulnerable.
  • Practice meditation somewhat regularly
  • Want to learn how to connect with people on a deeper level
  • Value self-discovery and discovery of the inner-worlds of others as well

This is likely not for you if…

  • You tend to get overwhelmed easily or struggle with traumatic stress
  • You are unwilling to be vulnerable
  • You are unwilling to be humble about and question your own point-of-view
  • You are looking for a magic pill or a quick fix

And one last, but important, statement. This immersion and the practice of Circling are not therapy. It’s likely we’ll get into some deep territory together, and that experience may at times feel therapeutic, but we are not therapists and our goal is not to treat or heal you. Instead, our goal is simply to empower you with helpful tools and to facilitate a safe space in which you can more easily let go, feel connected, feel seen, and maybe have some personal insights.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s the details.

Friday, October 4th – 6p to 10p
Saturday, October 5th – 10a to 8p
Sunday, October 6th – 10a to 4p

Note: We’ll have several short breaks throughout, and two 90-minute meal breaks on Saturday and one on Sunday.

TBD. Somewhere in the HRM, within a 15-minute drive radius of Citadel Hill.

*Early Bird:* $450 (until August 20th)
Full Cost: $500 (after August 20th)

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule a short application call with one of us (Taylor or Josh), please fill out the form below. The purpose of this 20-min call (via Zoom or Skype) is both to help you make sure that the workshop is right for you, as well as for us to make sure that you are a good fit for the workshop. After submitting the form, one of us will get back to you shortly.

    Thank you for your time, and we hope to get the opportunity to meet you, more of you, in October.

    -Josh & Taylor

    About the Leaders

    Over his life, Taylor has shifted a myopic emphasis on pragmatic realism to developing a greater inner-balance through the adoption of various spiritual philosophies. While very much a rationalist-first, these experiences of a wide range of perspectives have allowed him to sense more into how others perceive their reality. Further expanding and challenging his perspective of what’s possible.

    Taylor’s also has demonstrated a history of creating or discovering passions and attracting people to them. In the past, he would eventually saturate these passions and move on, that is, until he came across Authentic Relating (AR) after his divorce. What came out of his first exposure to AR was an experience that immediately impacted the way he and his 6-week long girlfriend communicated. With the tools they learned through AR and Circling, their intimacy and trust in their relationship skyrocketed. This experience showed the potential of the practices and thus his then girlfriend – now wife, committed to further working, training and eventually leading the Authentic Relating Toronto (ART) community in what they call authentic relational leadership.

    In that time, Taylor has created and co-created several personal development related events, workshops, courses and trainings. The AR community he co-leads now boasts over 1,600 members and holds almost 100 events per year. What once started as an exciting and engaging thing to do to meet new people and discover more about himself has shifted into a mission to help change the world, one connection at a time.

    Taylor is also the co-founder of Emergent Developmental Concepts, which focuses on bringing the tools and capacities of AR and Circling to organizations and professionals.

    Josh helps people who want to better the world, in part by empowering others to have a more-positive impact. They see people stuck, holding back, or getting in their own way, but feel ill-equipped or ineffective in helping them. He is the founder of The School of Circling Wizardry, where he teaches a mindfulness-based relational-leadership skill set called Circling. Before that, he co-founded and led Authentic Relating Toronto in 2011 for four years, facilitating everything from evening mixers to weekend intensives. He currently lives in Toronto and enjoys walks in the woods, geeking out on Integral Theory, and enjoying his favourite podcasts (like Invisibilia and Joe Rogan) and shows (like The Expanse and Barry). Learn more about him here: http://circlingwizardry.com/about/