Introducing the Collaborative Process

I stopped to watch this little toddler and his encounter with a wrought iron railing. With his stuffed toy firmly in his little grip, he ventured confidently between two posts of the railing as though they didn’t exist. He quickly gained his balance standing on the bottom rail and excitedly waved his arms freely on the other side of the posts. He was fascinated that he could see his arms and his toy waving over there. His parents stopped in their tracks, turning to watch him with knowing expressions on their faces.

The toddler’s confidence slowly waned to insecurity. He became unsure how to continue forward with his beloved toy still in his grip.  Without uttering a word, the father gently took the toy from the toddler’s hand, and watching the child’s eyes pop wide in wonder, the father moved the toy in a slow, gentle arc from in front of the child to beside the child outside the end post. The toddler followed the movement of his toy and stepping backwards, he freed himself. He joyfully reached out for his toy and fell back in step behind his parents.

Sometimes we need to step out of our routine. In other times we need a ‘do-over’. Remember those? We misstepped during a board or sports game and asked the other participants for a ‘do-over’. Usually they granted our request because each player knew that if they granted you the opportunity to replay your turn, you would likely accord them the same courtesy.  How often do we see ourselves relying on the same thought process to get out of a difficult situation? Are we able to see the big picture to fully assess the circumstances we now find ourselves? Do we take the time to learn a new way to look at a difficult situation? Do we ask others for help? Do we watch as well as listen when the help is offered?

Introducing a new client to the collaborative process is to demonstrate a new way to find creative, perhaps novel solutions to what is likely a new set of circumstances for the client. A collaborative practitioner can show how a parenting plan can be custom tailored, how private matters can remain out of the public eye, and how literally stepping in a new direction can encourage new attitudes to take hold.

The little toddler did not have ability to see that he was in a new situation, nor the experience to recall a quick solution to his predicament. The guidance of a trusted ally with an outside perspective was calmly able to demonstrate a simple solution. The toddler, while keeping his eye on what mattered most to him, was able move from a difficult place to a place of familiarity.

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