Practical Programs for Nurturing the Health of Your Church or Organization

My approach in all of my workshops is non-threatening, interactive, and fun; my goal is to create a safe space in which all attendees will feel comfortable to participate in the discussion and engage in the skills-building exercises with the freedom to take risks and experiment with new behaviors. 

The following are workshops that I have conducted, listed here to provide a sense for the type of trainings that are possible, but I am also open to creating new ones based on a particular need. Many were given in a church context, but they could easily be adapted for a secular setting. The descriptions were written so as to be used in advertising them. They were originally provided in the format stated within brackets, but they could be modified to adjust for different time arrangements. 

Guilt vs. Shame

Guilt vs. Shame: Why Knowing the Difference is the Key to Being Transformed by Grace

Most people know the word shame, but don’t understand its destructive personal, relational, and spiritual impact. And most don’t understand the difference between guilt and shame, but that understanding is crucial because guilt facilitates grace while shame blocks it. Even those who do recognize shame don’t know how to tolerate it much less keep it from driving addictive behavior, relational conflict, and low self-esteem. Shame explains why change comes so slow in spite of earnest faith and confession of sin. It also explains why we can’t seem to experience in a palpable way this love we believe God has for us. This workshop will help participants understand the power of shame, how it manifests in our individual lives, and how the fact of the cross can overpower it so we can be transformed into the new creations God promised. It will be interactive with plenty of time for questions and discussion. [One 1.5 hour meeting. Follow-up sessions could be done to deeply integrate and apply this complex concept.]

Transforming Interactions

Transforming Interactions in Strained Relationships

This workshop is designed for those who are looking to improve strained relationships with family members or coworkers. You’ll learn two simple relational skills which can help to transform sticky interactions into respectful ones. First, we will use the once well-known Transactional Analysis (“I’m OK, You’re OK”) model to clarify what might be going wrong in those conversation tangles and how to right them. Then, you will learn and practice the art of asking open-ended questions and responding empathically so that you can have more meaningful interactions that strengthen any relationship. Both skills are particularly helpful for drawing out a withdrawn spouse or silent teenager. In essence, as bestselling parenting authors Faber & Mazlish put it, you will learn “how to talk so they will listen, and how to listen so they will talk.” [One 2-hour session.]

Reaching Out by Going Deeper

Reaching Out by Going Deeper

Sometimes, there just isn’t a way to relieve someone’s struggle in a concrete way such as an act of generosity or service. Sometimes what’s most needed or wanted is emotional support and that often happens through nurturing conversations. Do we notice when others are struggling in our families and church community? Do we ask and express our concern? If not, why don’t we? Some people don’t want to intrude, others don’t know how to start the conversation, and others are afraid of increasing someone’s suffering by bringing up a painful issue. In this workshop, we will address the obstacles that get in the way of us expressing our loving concern and learn very practical methods for reaching out and making our interactions more authentic and meaningful. [One 1-hour meeting.]

Forgiving Others, God & Ourselves

Forgiving Others, God, and Ourselves – A Three-Part Series

What holds us back from forgiving when we know we have a spiritual mandate to do so? How do we know if we’ve forgiven when the offense still hurts? Is it possible to forgive too soon? How do we forgive when the offense just feels too grievous? Is it possible that we might need to forgive God? And what does forgiving ourselves have to do with all of this? Ample time will be given to share and learn from each other as we explore practical tools on how to do this essential spiritual housecleaning. [Three 1-hour meetings.]

Communication Clinic

Communication Clinic:  How to Speak the Truth – and Listen! – With Love

1 -- Basic Empathy and Reflective Listening: We’re told in James 1:19 that we need to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This session is designed to teach you how to do that and put an end to those “you’re not listening!” accusations. Bring the person you have the toughest time communicating with (or come solo and we’ll find you a partner). These skills will not only deepen intimacy in your marriage, they’ll help you get more than those one-word answers out of your kids, make you a better communicator with your co-workers, and make it less awkward to meet new people.

2 -- Giving and Receiving Feedback: Ephesians 4:25 says we need to “speak truthfully” to one another… but how do we do that on touchy topics without starting a battle or getting defensive? Building on the basic listening skills of the first session, we’ll practice giving and receiving feedback – especially the kind we don’t like – the negative kind. We’ll practice it interactively so you can be confident next time you need to have that difficult conversation.

3 -- Working through Conflict: Imagine that instead of dreading and avoiding conflict at all costs, you could see conflict as an opportunity to deepen relationships, feel understood, and actually come to productive resolutions for things that bug you. In fact, did you know that conflict avoidance is not only unproductive and unhealthy, it’s not really loving? In this last session you will learn in very practical terms how to “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16). You’ll learn two specific techniques for slowing down a discussion over a touchy topic so that all parties are sure to be understood. Imagine how this could transform your interactions with your loved ones and your hard-to-love ones, not to mention making you a better body of Christ member! [Three 2-hour sessions.]

Practical Agape 101

Practical Agape 101:  Relationship Skills for Better Loving

We know we are called to love, but often there is a disconnect between our intentions, our actions, and the results when it comes to interacting with kids, parents, spouses, friends, and co-workers. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul prays that their love “may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (1:9). This workshop is designed to help you do that. You will learn and practice relationship skills including listening, setting and respecting boundaries, expressing needs, giving and receiving feedback, resolving conflict, and speaking specific love languages with those you care about. You will also learn why you can’t seem to forgive even when you want to, and how to go about trusting after you’ve been hurt. If you feel guilty when you say "no," can't hear criticism without being defensive, are often accused of "not listening," or have a problem with forgiveness and trust, come join us and be ready to grow in love. [Ten 1-hour sessions.]

Boundaries for Care-Giving

Boundaries for Care-Giving

There is a lot of confusion about appropriate boundaries for Christians, particularly those in care-giving roles because the needs around us are endless and we have a Biblical mandate to love sacrificially. Geared towards ministry leaders, small group leaders, and those caring for disabled family members, this workshop addresses the challenges of maintaining healthy boundaries in care-giving and frames boundaries as a way to protect our relationships and allow us to give willingly. You will learn what boundaries are, how to employ them, and how to recognize the many situations within church ministry in which boundaries are involved. You will also gain insight into your boundaries style within helping relationships and adjust them if need be. Group discussion will address the complexity of acknowledging one’s limitations in helping roles; how to tolerate bearing witness to the pain of others; and specific boundaries challenges in current care-giving situations of workshop participants. [This workshop was originally given in one 2-hour session which will cover the material, but for fuller integration and the opportunity to address specific challenges currently being faced by participants, I recommend two 1.5-hour sessions or one 3-hour session.]

Understanding and Coping with Anxiety

Understanding and Coping with Anxiety

Paul commands us in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything.” This is easier said than done for believers with clinical levels of anxiety and thus many struggle with feelings of failure or confusion about why their faith doesn’t provide relief from their anxiety. This workshop is designed to help individuals who know they have a problem with anxiety and want to know how to tackle it from a mental health perspective. We’ll cover the many causes of anxiety; the physical and psychological dimensions of it; different manifestations of anxiety (such as phobias, panic attacks, PTSD, OCD, and generalized anxiety); and the treatments available – professional, holistic/alternative, and self-help. You’ll learn coping tools for anxiety in the moment as well as longer term fixes for decreasing your anxiety level in general. We’ll discuss strategies on how to combat worry and decrease stress in your daily life, including mindfulness, good self-care, and relaxation techniques. [One 2.5 hour meeting.]

Relaxation Exercises & Mindfulness Meditation

Coaching Session on Relaxation Exercises and Mindfulness Meditation

Life is stressful and we all need to grow in our ability to manage that stress because of its negative impact on our minds, bodies, and spirits. One method is by taking a daily “vacation” by doing relaxation exercises and/or meditation. Practicing such techniques has been proven to increase both physical and mental health, improving conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, many autoimmune disorders, anxiety, and depression. Not only that, but when we are able to quiet our minds and our bodies, we are more able to connect with God and experience His presence and love. The result is that we become less irritable, harried, and distracted, and more loving, trusting, and joyful. This experiential workshop will teach participants simple, practical tools for deep relaxation, including deep breathing, creative visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. [One 2-hour session.]

Help for the Highly Sensitive Person

Help for the Highly Sensitive Person    

According to psychologist and researcher, Elaine Aron, PhD, 20% of the population has what she dubbed the “Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP) trait. Such individuals tend to experience more distress at stimuli such as loud noises, strong scents, hunger, pain, and temperature variations. They also react more strongly to emotionally charged events, whether positive or negative, and find themselves exhausted by life changes and busy activities and environments. This has led HSPs to be unfairly labeled as “shy,” “difficult,” “high maintenance,” or “too sensitive,” leading them to believe they are defective. But there are wonderful benefits of being an HSP -- others often find them wise, empathic and intuitive and they tend to have deep inner lives and a heightened awareness to aesthetic beauty. The key to living life fully as an HSP is accepting and managing the inherent challenges while appreciating and maximizing the unique strengths your sensitivity affords you. The first meeting will cover the basic characteristics of the HSP trait while the second will provide a forum for discussion on how best to manage the difficulties of navigating an often overwhelming world. HSPs (and those who have the sometimes difficult task of loving them) will come away with new confidence that their experiences are normal and new tools to manage and appreciate their sensitivity better. It may be particularly helpful for parents of HSP children, given the extra challenges these children present. [Two 2-hour meetings.]