Over the years, the Training Institute (TI) evolved a number of workshops aimed at current or potential human service leaders, with the hope of eliciting or reinforcing in leaders a radical commitment to the planning, implementation, administration, and operation of moral service systems. These aspirations were reflected in the TI’s workshops on: the conceptualization, planning and implementation of comprehensive service systems; advocacy and protection; residential service systems; service evaluation; and various types of human service value examination retreats. Scores of these workshops were given, attended by thousands of participants.
But starting around 1979, the TI concluded that the adaptive action principles of service planning, development and practice which it teaches are rarely adopted and implemented by agencies and systems. A large number of participants from our workshops who attempted to put into practice the principles taught in these workshops have come to grief. Once they assumed an active, rational, and moral human service or change agentry role, they were marginalized, rejected, demoted, and in many instances forced out of their jobs or service involvements. These experiences were very traumatic to many of them, especially since they were often not fully prepared for them, and/or did not understand (or believe) the extent and subtlety of the disfunctionalities embedded in human services and the world in general.
Accordingly, the Training Institute developed this workshop to equip people with a special combination of worldviews, preparation & support they will need in order to survive with high moral ideals, with integrity intact & hopefully also with some effectiveness in human services.
Some of the assumptions underlying the content of the workshop are:
- the world is inherently a disfunctional and imperfectible one, and this manifests itself in pervasive tendencies to decay, disorder, and violence;
- all human beings and all human social structures are inherently imperfect and disfunctional, decay over the long run, and often end up doing the opposite of the noble purposes they started with or claim;
- some structures are not just disfunctional, but outright evil;
- social devaluation and social stratification are universal to all societies;
- the dynamics of disfunctionality in the world, in human beings, and in human social structures all express themselves in derivative disfunctionalities in human service approaches, systems, and structures, and especially in formal, organized ones;
- one result of these disfunctionalities is that formal, organized services to devalued people are more likely to hurt than to help them, and those who render such services are also likely to be hurt, though in different ways;
- most people are not aware of these disfunctionalities, and do not want to know about them;
- people who want to function with greater moral coherency in human services, and possibly even with some effectiveness, absolutely must become aware of these dynamics;
- it is possible to know and understand many of these dynamics;
- once one understands these dynamics, one is able to respond much more adaptively;
- there exists an array of adaptive strategies that can employed to counteract these dynamics, and stave off their actualization;
- many of these strategies can be taught and learned, and those who want to function with greater moral coherency in human services, and possibly even with some effectiveness, need to learn and employ at least some of these.
This workshop is not intended to provide participants with specific solutions to specific problems. Instead, participants will learn an array of universally-applicable strategies that they can then apply to whatever situations confront them. Even in a workshop of this length, many of the strategies can only be covered in enough depth to delineate the essentials, to awaken consciousness, to enable participants to identify adaptive strategies themselves, & to point participants toward further study & progress in these various strategies. A great many handouts will be distributed, including ones that point to further resources on various of the topics.
The format of the workshop is lecture-style, with a series of presentations in a logical sequence of topics, some of which are quite lengthy. Following each presentation there is ample opportunity for participant comment & general discussion.