This policy was adapted by Kai Cheng Thom from the Generative Conflict Map by Caffyn Jesse, with support from Tricia Bowler and Kai Cheng. For more of Caffyn’s writing on the process see HERE
This process is meant to address interpersonal conflicts between two or more people at the Institute. If you have a concern about course curriculum or about a student evaluation you have received, please refer to the Curriculum Concerns Policy or the Student Evaluation Policy respectively.
Breathe and get support. Support can come from your own self-care skillset, a peer or friend, from animals or from nature. Sometimes, you might need to get support from a professional counselor or therapist. If you want to, you can ask the Institute to provide you with a Conflict Support Person, who is a student, staff, or associate of the Institute who will speak with you confidentially about the conflict. The Conflict Supporter will be supervised by an Institute staff member or associate who is not involved in the conflict.
If you are in danger of imminent physical or psychological harm from the conflict, it is important to remove or at least reduce the risk as much as possible, as soon as possible. Your Conflict Supporter, other supports, and the Institute as a whole can help you take steps to ensure your physical safety.
Sometimes, just taking some time to be supported is enough to resolve a conflict. You could go to the person(s) you are having the conflict with and talk it out, or you might decide just to let it go. In this case, proceed to Step 7.
But maybe it isn’t enough. In that case, go to Step 2.
Explore emergence and divergence – what’s coming up for you, and where do your needs, wants, feelings, and expectations differ from the other party/parties in the conflict? Use the supports you found in Step 1 to reflect on what led to this conflict. What were your intentions? What about the other party’s? What has the impact of the conflict been on everyone involved? If you have chosen to request a Conflict Supporter from the Institute, they may be able to help you explore these questions.
You could share your reflections with the other party to help repair the relationship, or you could choose to walk away with grace. Either of these options may resolve the conflict. In that case, proceed to Step 7.
If the conflict isn’t resolved for you, go to Step 3.
Consider the whole story. Ask the big questions. Are there parts of your past or current life that are getting triggered by this conflict? What has led you here? What about the party? Sometimes, getting more context can help to ease the tension of the conflict and bring deeper understanding. At other times, getting more context can help us to identify that there are irreconcilable differences between us.
To do this step, you will likely need to have a conversation with the other person/party if you haven’t already. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, you could ask your Conflict Supporter to come with you.
Perhaps doing the above will resolve the conflict. If so, proceed to Step 7. If not, go to Step 4.
Make strategic choices. If you have already gone through Steps 1-3, or if doing so wasn’t possible, this may mean that the conflict is fairly serious. Moving forward with a process at the Institute, or escalating the conflict outside of this model (for example, by doing a social media call-out or involving lawyers) is likely to require a significant investment of emotion, energy and time. Will this serve you best? Or is it better to let go of the conflict in order to preserve your own energy and health? Reflect on the questions, either on your own, or with your supports (recommended!).
If you decide to let go of the conflict, proceed to Step 7. If not, go to Step 5, or escalate the conflict outside of this model.
Change the terms of engagement. Can you find a way to explore different ways of looking at and engaging with this conflict? What would happen if you and the other party intentionally let go of roles such as victim-offender or rescuer-standby? It is likely that you will need additional supports to do this – for example, asking the Institute to bring in a mediator, restorative practices facilitator, or some other kind of conflict worker.
Through engaging in this extended process, you may find a way to repair your relationship with the other party. Proceed to Step 7.
Alternatively, you may need more help to do repair. Or, you may realize that repair is not possible, and so you must decide to find a way to part ways with integrity. Proceed to Step 6.
Amplify soulfulness and bring community into the conflict. Ritual dialogue and action is a powerful way of moving through conflicts that might seem insurmountable otherwise. The Institute can assist you in finding a ritualist, facilitator, Elder or celebrant to design and holding such a ritual. Ritual technologies can create a powerful container for dialogue, relationship transformation, forgiveness, and healing. Alternatively, they can also create choiceful ways of parting that honour all participants.
Proceed to Step 7.
Harvest learnings. No conflict! Rest, integrate, and if desired, create a record or resource of what you have learned from this process.
In cases of conflict involving student concerns or complaints about Institute Faculty or staff, the Institute will ensure that a record of all concerns/complaints made in writing is maintained. The Institute will furnish a report to the Somatic Sex Educators Association board with information regarding the totality of complaints received, reasons for complaints, and an assessment of how any underlying or ongoing problems can be resolved. This report will be available for consideration during the association’s annual program review on whether or not to endorse the ISSSE training.