Program for Certifying Integrative Lawyers Announced by Integrative Law Institute

PROGRAM FOR CERTIFICATION IN INTEGRATIVE LAW

Certification in Integrative Law

ILI’s program for certifying integrative lawyers has two purposes:

  • to encourage and recognize lawyers who engage in significant continuing education study aimed at developing the skills and understandings that support practicing law as a healing profession, and
  • to provide a means for members of the public to locate and identify lawyers who are committed to providing professional services  that address human conflicts constructively, not solely as legal problems but also across the  many other dimensions in which conflict impacts lives.

The core of the certification program is ILI’s own workshops and programs for practicing lawyers.  The hallmark of ILI programs is that they integrate creative conflict resolution tools, traditional understandings and practices, and emerging research discoveries from the biological and social sciences in a manner that lawyers, mediators, and judicial officers can use right away in their work.  ILI’s workshops and trainings include hands-on experiential components wherever possible.

Applicants for ILI certification will be asked to provide documentation of at least 40 hours of continuing education course work consisting of at least 25 hours of  workshops and trainings provided by ILI, with the balance consisting of approved courses provided either by ILI or by its partner organizations and colleagues.

Lawyers who have earned ILI’s certification in integrative law will be listed on ILI’s website and social media sites with links back to their own websites, and will be permitted to display ILI’s certification badge on websites, social media sites, and on professional materials.  Under development is a plan to provide Certified Integrative Lawyers with an online participatory virtual community.

The certification program, some components of which are still under development, is  being launched in phases beginning in early 2013,  so that participants in current ILI workshops  who have interest in certification can be aware of this option as they plan their ongoing continuing education.

 Earning Certification Credits

For 2013, continuing education credits as follows may be submitted for purposes of certification.  New  ILI courses and a limited number of select additional continuing education partners will be added to this list from time to time. The courses will be offered in major U.S. cities during 2013 and 2014.  By 2014, ILI also expects to offer some courses online.

Invitations to bring any ILI program to your city are welcome, as are program co-sponsorships.

ILI workshops and courses (as of January 2013)

Pauline Tesler Presenting at Integrative Law Workshop


  • Law and the Human Brain: Neuro-Literacy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judges. A complete description of this course is available at  http://is.gd/NeuroLiteracy101 (6 hours)
  • Money, Law, and Values. An investigation of how money, law, and values intersect and sometimes collide in legal negotiations, and an exploration of pathways through the challenges.  The workshop is described in more depth  at  http://is.gd/MoneyLawValuesWorkshop  (6 hours)
  • Weekend Workshop:  Becoming an Integrative Lawyer.  (Attendance at a weekend workshop is required for certification.)  This is a  highly personalized workshop with limited enrollment, offered in a variety of peaceful locations convenient to major cities. Included in the workshop is  facilitated personal self-reflection and strategic planning for achieving a law practice that supports working as an integrative lawyer.  The workshop curriculum  provides an overview and introduction to integrative law vectors, including: therapeutic/integrative jurisprudence and ethics, communications, narrative and re-storying techniques, body-mind awareness practices and tools, human needs theory, positive psychology,  negotiations theory,  systems theory and team practice,  behavioral and neuro-economics perspectives, collaborative practice, apology/forgiveness,restorative justice, integrative and values-based transactional practice, interest-based negotiations.  The fee for the workshop includes one hour of follow-up individual practice development consultation with Pauline Tesler, either via video conferencing or in person.  (15 to 18 hours)

Continuing Education Partners (as of January 2013)

  Lawyers may submit for certification purposes proof of in-person attendance at approved continuing education courses offered by these organizations and individuals.  Ordinarily, courses submitted for certification must carry  either state bar approved continuing legal education credit, or alternatively,  APA, state, or similar approved  CEU credit intended for other professions, such as psychologists, psychotherapists, or health care professionals.  Courses offered by ILI partners that do not carry such approved credit or that are attended online will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

ILI welcomes certification partnership inquiries from workshop leaders, trainers, and organizations that provide high quality continuing education in the vectors recognized by ILI for integrative law certification.  We consider for certification partnership programs that offer substantial original material developed by the presenter.

To be included in ILI’s mailing list, click here:   For more information, contact Pauline Tesler:  phtesler@integrativelawinstitute.org

Integrative Law Institute Partner Offers “Mindfulness and Compassion” workshop in March

Greater Good Science Center           Mindful

I’m pleased to pass on to the Integrative Law community this announcement from Advisory Board member Dacher Keltner’s Greater Good Science Center, one of ILI’s partner organizations.  Mindfulness  and other self-awareness practices are part of the core skills that integrative lawyers can bring to our work with clients experiencing conflict.  Learning the skills taught in this workshop can make you more present, energetic, attentive, and compassionate when working on high-stress cases, to your own personal benefit as well as to the benefit of your clients.

 Here is the workshop description: 

with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Paul Gilbert, Dacher Keltner, Kristin Neff, Shauna Shapiro, and others
When: March 8, 2013
Where: Craneway Conference Center, Richmond, CA (just north of Berkeley–map it) or tune in via Live Webcast
Hosted by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and Mindful: Taking Time for What Matters

A day-long conference to help you deepen connections to others and care for yourself, drawing on cutting-edge science

This day-long conference, featuring a keynote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, will illuminate the connections between mindfulness and compassion, focusing on how mindfulness can deepen relationships and build compassion, including self-compassion. Speakers will discuss how to apply scientific findings to the real world, drawing on cutting-edge research and inspiring success stories. Attendees will practice research-tested mindfulness and compassion techniques and learn from program leaders who have fostered mindfulness and compassion in schools, health care, and beyond.

Other presenters will include Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion; Paul Gilbert, PhD, founder of Compassion Focused Therapy; Shauna Shapiro, PhD, expert on integrating mindfulness into Western psychology, medicine, and education; and Dacher Keltner, PhD, faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center. Event will be webcast live!

Learn more at www.mindfulnesscompassion.com

Leading positive psychology researcher joins Integrative Law Institute Advisory Board

Integrative law vector: positive psychologyWe are delighted to announce that Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., has joined the Advisory Board of the Integrative Law Institute.  A leading researcher and scholar in the relatively new field of positive psychologyDacher is the executive editor of Greater Good, the founding faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center, and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and a co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness. His prolific research and writing have helped to transform our understanding of what it means to be human by investigating positive attributes such as compassion, empathy, cooperation, and altruism as the evolutionary endowment that enabled our survival and flourishing as a species, and that make us–well–human.

Here is a description of the domain of positive psychology that makes it clear why ILI includes basic elements of positive psychology in its programming for lawyers:

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. . . . This field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.

Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits consists of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.

Dacher Keltner’s research interests include not only the workings of emotion and power in social relationships (areas of obvious relevance to lawyers whose clients are experiencing legal issues that arise from fractured human relationships) but also human morality.  Here is how he describes that aspect of his work:

My final research interest lies in the study of how humans negotiate moral concerns. Here I have examined how opposing partisans tend to assume that they alone see the issues objectively and in principled fashion, a tendency we call “naive realism”. We have shown that opposing partisans attribute extremism and bias to their opponents.

In studies of moral judgment, I have shown how emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear influence judgments of causality, fairness, and risk. More recently, I have begun to study the contents of three moral domains – autonomy, community, and purity – and how these domains relate to emotion and prejudice.

Morality,  “neuro-morality,” and positive psychology are vectors that ILI includes in its programs teaching Integrative Law.  It is exciting and gratifying for us to have the support of one of the most creative scholars in the field.

 

 

 

When Gandhi was a lawyer: Integrative Law Milestones

M. Gandhi, Integrative Lawyer

Mohandas Gandhi is well known and even revered for pioneering the  use of non-violent passive resistance for large-scale political purposes.  Less well known is his early career as a London-trained lawyer, captured in this remarkable photograph.

He rejected “business as usual” adversarial litigation, in favor of looking to heal the roots of conflict in the hearts of his clients experiencing personal disputes.  It was in the course of fighting as a lawyer for the civil rights of Muslim and Hindu Indians in South Africa that he was given a copy of  Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience to read while in jail.  Out of this grew Gandhi’s development of new techniques for mass nonviolent civil disobedience that became his life work.

We at ILI are putting together a gallery of  contrarian heroes of the legal profession who understood, long before mediation or ADR had names, that the highest and deepest calling of a lawyer working in the realm of personal disputes is to heal breaches in the social fabric that manifest as legal issues but gather their destructive force from fractured human relationships.

We begin with Gandhi, and we invite you to send us quotations and links to your personal favorite legal heroes in the evolution of what we now call Integrative Law. We’ll add those we especially like to the ILI Gallery.

NeuroLiteracy 101: Moving from Dispute Resolution to Conflict Resolution

Why should lawyers and other dispute resolution professionals become neuro-literate?  On January 12, 2013, lawyers, mediators, and colleagues from allied professions (financial planning, psychology, and family counseling) will join me in San Francisco for an all-day workshop, called

Law Practice and the Human Brain: 

Neuro-Literacy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judges

Moving from Dispute Resolution to Conflict Resolution

Join us at that workshop for some fascinating new tools and perspectives that begin to answer the question.

Underlying everything I teach, including this January workshop, is my profound belief that providing  legal counsel that genuinely helps our clients with personal disputes to reach  deep, durable resolution requires us legal professionals to go back to the roots of what we believe our job description is and why we believe that.

For more than twenty years I represented clients in personal dispute resolution the hardball way, taking  domestic relations and other matters through trial and appellate courts.  For nearly as many years after that  I’ve been a leader in the movement that has produced–among other important changes–promulgation of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act.  What I know in my bones is that our clients whose legal disputes grow out of fractured human relationships need from their lawyers a vision, a sense of responsibility, and a practical toolbox that law schools don’t teach us and that we can’t learn in court.

If clients make appointments with a litigator, they tend to get litigation, and if it’s an appointment with a mediator, they tend to get mediation.  Ethical practitioners make time to explain the breadth of legal dispute resolution process choices available to clients, but we cannot help bringing our own preferences and cognitive biases into the conversation, much as we may strive to keep the focus on the client. I’ve come to be somewhat skeptical of the very idea of neutrality, given the sneaky persistence of cognitive biases and other quirks of how our brains are wired, however good our intentions may be.

What’s a conscientious lawyer or mediator to do about this?  There isn’t a short and sweet “magic bullet,” but there is an answer: we can begin the process of understanding the difference between legal dispute resolution and human conflict resolution from a dynamic systems perspective. 

That perspective begins with the reality that every new case calls into being a unique  system consisting of the clients and every one of their professional helpers, as well as everyone else they consult (family members, friends, therapists, colleagues, online chat room and forum acquaintances, and more–the “Greek Chorus”).  Every member of that system alters the narrative of the conflict, and dynamically shifts the process of resolution, with every communication and every interaction.

We lawyers tend to look at our clients’ problems as legal issues, and as entirely theirs.  We  implicitly see ourselves as a constant, always rational and always focused on getting the job done in ways that do not require much inner work, personal reflection, or conscious awareness of ourselves as members of that dynamic system. We imagine that our job is exclusively to be persuasive, analytic and efficient, and to keep the focus solely on settling the legal issues.  Anything the clients do that impedes that progress interferes with us doing the job we were hired for.

It’s just plain not so. We are trained to litigate or settle legal disputes, but our clients often  come to us embroiled in far more complex human conflicts.  Just because the client made an appointment with a lawyer doesn’t mean that what we learned in law school is what they need most from us.  Legal disputes can be resolved by pieces of paper called settlement agreements and judgments, but human conflicts need to be healed.

Here’s what I believe, and what we teach in programs offered by the Integrative Law Institute at Commonweal:

  • We lawyers alter the possibilities for process and outcome every time we interact with anyone in the system.
  • The less consciously  aware we are of ourselves–including our capacities, our habits, our beliefs, our emotions, and more– as a force that alters the potentialities of the  unique system in ways operating below our rational awareness and intentions, the less able we are to marshal our own full potential as conflict resolution professionals.
  • The less aware we are of ourselves as conscious participants in a dynamic conflict resolution system, the less able we are to maximize the conditions that might lead to genuinely positive and meaningful outcomes for our clients–including, but not limited to settling the legal issues we abstract from their stories.

NeuroLiteracy 101 is ILI’s introductory workshop.  It’s purpose is introducing this new perspective  and this new toolbox to lawyers and others who have learned to prioritize reason to the detriment of appreciating how the interactions of all parts of our complex human brains affect our work.

Participants can receive 6 hours of California MCLE credit.  CEU’s for mental health professionals will be available for a small administrative fee.

Interested?  Join us in San Francisco on January 12th. 

Earlybird discounts have been extended to December 5thRegister now!

 

Announcing ILI’s Certification in Integrative Lawyering

ILI has an ambitious plan: to offer a Certification in Integrative Lawyering, in connection with comprehensive training in all the vectors that together constitute Integrative Law.

Law Practice and the Human Brain:  NeuroLiteracy 101 is our first 6-hour program, taking place on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco’s financial district. Click here for a full description:

Law Practice and the Human Brain: NeuroLiteracy 101 Workshop Flyer

It carries 6 hours of California MCLE and Certified Family Law Specialist credit, including 1 hour of ethics, and 6 hours of “psychological and counseling aspects of family law” credit.  You can register for it here.  Sign up now to qualify for early enrollment and group discounts.

This workshop  will be followed later in 2013 with a three-day intensive program that introduces all the Integrative Law vectors. (Click here for a “work in progress” chart:   Integrative Law Vectors.) The three-day intensive program also includes self-reflective experiential work in body-mind practices that support deep conflict resolution work, strategic planning for moving from where you are now to a values-based integrative law or mediation practice, and training in use of the web and social media to communicate the value of your work to prospective clients. The NeuroLiteracy workshop and the three-day intensive program constitute the core educational elements for certification in Integrative Lawyering.

ILI plans to partner with a select group of organizations and trainers whose work connects deeply with ILI’s mission. Courses offered by our partners will satisfy additional elements of ILI’s continuing education requirements for certification in Integrative Lawyering. ILI’s partners will provide certification candidates an exceptionally broad and deep range of high quality educational programs relevant to Integrative Law.  We are proud to announce in this connection our  partnership with The Greater Good Science Center, at the University of California-Berkeley.  The Center offers continuing education and public programs in positive psychology, many of which will count for credit toward certification in Integrative Lawyering.  Watch this blog for an announcement about their March program, “Mindfulness and Compassion.”

Please let ILI know your thoughts about our certification program, and make suggestions about possible partnering relationships. We’d love to hear from you.

ILI’s Newest Advisory Board Member: Hon. Thelton E. Henderson

ILI is  proud to announce that the Hon. Thelton E. Henderson, Senior Judge of the U.S.District Court for the Northern District of California, has accepted an invitation to join the Integrative Law Institute’s Advisory Board.

Judge Henderson’s judicial career is remarkable. A graduate of the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, Henderson immediately joined Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department as the only African American member of the Civil Rights Division, during the height of Martin Luther King’s campaign against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.  After achieving many other “firsts” in both law practice and academia, including a stint as Dean of Students at Stanford University Law School,  he was appointed to the federal bench as the first African American on the District Court for the Northern District of California, and the first African American Chief Judge of that court.

Judge Henderson’s  distinguished career as a federal judge includes rulings on many of the most critical and difficult issues of our time, ranging from halting the slaughter of dolphins by the tuna industry, to striking down California’s controversial anti-affirmative action initiative, to placing the California prison healthcare system under federal receivership during Arnold Schwartznegger’s administration as governor. Thelton Henderson’s career exemplifies hisconviction that the U.S. Constitution is a living document belonging to all of us, and represents the best of the U.S. legal system.

His perspective and vision will contribute greatly to ILI’s mission: reclaiming law as a healing profession.

Alert for Conflict Resolution Professionals: Child Custody Orders May Be Harming Adult Capacity to Love

 

 

Adversarial lawyers  who jockey for position when litigating custody issues involving young children often treat custodial time as if it were a bottom line numbers  issue like support and asset division. This goes to jaw-dropping extremes sometimes–unmarried fathers who have never had a functioning relationship with the mother but who insist on being present at the birth and on having bottled breast milk so that they can claim equal time with infants, treating the baby’s hours as a divisible commodity like a loaf of bread.

More sophisticated divorce lawyers develop custody arguments focusing on who is or is not the primary parent, and how much time the young child can  handle away from that attachment figure without experiencing misery.  The focus here is on the child’s immediate subjective experience of grieving the absent parent and how long the child is able from a developmental perspective to hold onto the sense of relationship when not actually with that parent.

But if we unpack those arguments, at bottom we see that they are not exactly about what’s best for the child.  A balancing test is often going on, implicitly or explicitly, between an apparent attachment relationship that’s central to the child’s existence right now and the wish of the other parent during a divorce or other relationship fracture  to form such a relationship with the young child where it doesn’t already exist.

It’s said that over time the child benefits from having a close relationship with both parents (or nowadays sometimes three, four, or more parent figures). And that’s probably true, if we mean close relationships within a system of caring adults who can put aside the resentments attendant upon divorce to focus on the kids.   But when we are looking at custody litigation from the perspective of young children—infants, toddlers, children below school age—from this point of view judicial orders prescribing access to children within a frame of entirely dysfunctional adult relationships looks to me more and more like social engineering on the part of courts.   Judges are meddling in matters fraught with deep psycho-biological consequences when they attempt to create  parent-child relationships that do  not already exist.  And, in the hostile environment of  adversarial litigation they must do it with a meat cleaver rather than a scalpel.

The stakes are enormous: re-engineering existing attachment relationships by judicial fiat impacts not only the child’s immediate, short term subjective and objective well-being, but also the development of personality and the emotional timbre of adult intimate relationships–perhaps even the capacity to sustain intimate relationships at all.

Here is an area where the engagement of a fully-staffed, effective collaborative team (two lawyers, two coaches, and a child specialist) offers potentially life-changing possibilities for children as well as parents. Helping both parents keep the focus on building a functional restructured parenting relationship goes far beyond negotiating the timesharing details of a written parenting plan.  These teams build in dispassionate child development information (from the child specialist) that the two ally-coaches can help highly anxious and angry divorcing parents to integrate and act upon together for the benefit of the child.

Put another way:  if it’s important for young children to build intimate connections with both parents, then it’s really important for divorce lawyers to educate their clients about the unparalleled resources a good collaborative team can offer parents in service of helping them sustain a healthy parenting system after divorce that nourishes their child.

If you want to know more about how attachment theory is integral to the formation of our adult personalities, here are two outstanding books:

A General Theory of Love, by Thomas B. Lewis, M.D.    Tom and I co-trained at the Straus Dispute Resolution Institute (Pepperdine Law School) for several years and the Neuro-Resolution courses I offer now are infused with what I learned from Tom.

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape our Capacity to Love, by Robert Karen.  This accessible but serious book pulls together and explains the implications of a broad swath of research about the workings of attachment  in infancy,  childhood, and adult life:

 

To learn about how interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce teams work with children and parents during and after a divorce judgment, far beyond merely dividing up the child’s time between the parents,  read my book: 

Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move on with Your Life

ILI is looking for a volunteer or intern

Help the Integrative Law Institute Transform Law Into a Humanistic Profession

The Integrative Law Institute is looking for a college student or recent graduate who would like to build a strong resume by volunteering with ILI as it launches its programs to teach lawyers humanistic, integrative conflict resolution skills that really help clients solve problems so that they stay solved.

Retaining a lawyer can be as anxiety-inducing as going to the dentist or signing into a hospital. The fears are realistic: lawyers often quite unintentionally cause serious harm to human relationships at the same time that they win legal victories for their clients. ILI means to bring the job definition of a lawyer into the 21st Century by teaching practicing lawyers a more humanistic way of working with people whose legal issues arise out of fractured human relationships.

We are in fund-raising mode and will be offering our first continuing education programs in the fall of 2012. ILI is on the leadership crest of profound change within the legal profession. If you want to make a real difference and have about ten hours a week to work with us on social networking and fundraising, we will return the favor by giving our intern or volunteer a strong reference and networking assistance in  job search efforts.

Potential volunteer/interns should have:

  • strong computer, web and social networking skills
  • fluency in written and oral communications
  • a confident, poised manner on the telephone
  • intellectual curiosity and a sense of humor
  • interest in law and/or conflict resolution and/or social change
  • a creative, original problem solving approach
  • at least ten hours a week to contribute to ILI work
  • high standards for accuracy, responsibility, follow-through
  • some background in psychology or communications is helpful but not essential

ILI cannot pay a salary or its equivalent but can provide a small stipend to defray expenses.

Work can be done at our office in Mill Valley, CA or at your own computer.

How to apply

Email to phtesler@integrativelawinstitute.org, explaining why you would like to do this job and what you have to bring to this endeavor. If you have a resume, please include it.

Physical Health May be At Risk When Legal Conflict Resolution Settlements Create “Haves” and “Have Not’s”

I often use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a tool in my conflict resolution courses and workshops for lawyers.  It posits that before anyone can attend to higher-level needs such as love, belonging, esteem, and realizing dreams, the lower level needs (survival needs like food, shelter, clothing, followed by safety) have to be satisfied.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

When we negotiate settlement agreements on behalf of clients in relational disputes (e.g. divorce, will contests, small business dissolutions) whose lower-level needs are adequately met by any reasonable measure, it can sometimes be perplexing for lawyers to appreciate the degree to which some  clients focus not on the sufficiency of their own resources but on the gap between what they will end up with as compared to the other party or parties in the dispute.

A recent article in the New Scientist explains how health and relative wealth may be directly linked in unexpected ways.

Thomas McDade, a biological anthropologist at Northwestern University and director of Cells to Society at the Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research in Evanston, Illinois, says that additional research [shows]. . .” that even if you have a stable job and a middle-class income, then your health is not as good as that of someone who is in the 1 per cent. There is something more fundamental about social stratification that matters to health and the quality of social relationships.”

The issues of relative poverty are more nuanced than meeting basic needs for food and shelter. A hundred years ago it might have been whether you could afford to eat meat once a week – or have an indoor toilet. Today it might be whether you can afford to mark your child’s birthday with a party, Marmot  [Michael Marmot, an epidemiologist at University College London specialising in the health effects of inequality] says. “It matters because of what it means: can I participate in society?”

The great divide

Relative poverty goes hand in hand with inequality. “What we find is that the bigger the inequalities, income, educational, social, in a whole variety of ways, the bigger the health inequalities,” Marmot says.

The key is that having less than your peers seems to generate stress, at least at the level of large groups. And many studies over decades draw a straight line between stress and disease.

“How does having less relative to your peers undermine health? Study after study identifies the culprit as stress. Not day-to-day fretting, but persistent psychological and physiological reactions to external threats that cannot necessarily be addressed or avoided. Much of this research focuses on those living in impoverished communities, but these associations only diminish by degree as you ascend the economic ranks of a society. “Socioeconomic status, and social stratification in particular, is a very powerful determinant of health – for populations and for individuals,” says McDade.

Toxic stress

Unrelenting stress is toxic because it can turn the body’s defence system against itself. Neuroendocrinologist Bruce McEwen at Rockefeller University in New York says the stress response that evolved to protect us from harm can be hijacked and actually cause harm when the stress never abates. In a normal situation, the introduction of stress causes the body to deliver a boost of energy – by sending a surge of glucose to the muscles – and to increase heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to get oxygen to the muscles in a hurry. At the same time, blood vessels constrict and clotting factors increase – ready to slow bleeding in case you are wounded. These responses are part of a fight-or-flight survival kit, and once the stress has passed, these should subside.

But for people under unremitting stress, this response never quite switches off – leaving sugar levels unregulated, high blood pressure, increased risk of blood clots, depressed sex drive and an immune system buckling under the strain. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can have other effects as well, including affecting the brain by altering the structure of neurons and their connections, which in turn can influence behaviour and change hormonal processes.”

 

How can we apply these ideas to conflict resolution work?

What applies at the macro level may well apply also at the  level of individuals in their families and communities and in the negotiating room.  These ideas are worth thinking about as a tool for educating parties to a conflict about interests that may live below awareness but nonetheless are in the room affecting the negotiating process.  Surfacing the issue certainly won’t worsen the problem, and may help parties to hear one another more empathically.