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Development of the Philosophy of Creative Conflict Resolution

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Almost all of the conflict resolution literature is about conflict between groups. This includes labor management issues, governmental issues, armed conflict, and war. Some material in the literature is about addressing marital conflict or other interpersonal issues between only two people. Most of this is about techniques for resolving conflict by improving communication skills. These include learning to use "I" statements, doing active listening, and taking "time outs" when the intensity of the conflict is too great.

These are all helpful tools and I support and teach them myself. But they are all geared toward working with the couple to teach them skills they can both use to address the mutual responsibility they have for the problems in the relationship. That is not the context in which I found myself working for much of my career as a psychotherapist.

Rick's Christmas

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A few years back I had a man in my program I will call Rick. He was in his early twenties. He was ordered to complete the Abuse Prevention Program as a consequence of abuse in a relationship with a girlfriend. While in the program he found a new girlfriend. It was a much healthier relationship and Rick was able to understand and apply the principles of Creative Conflict Resolution in that new relationship.

Once a participant completes the Abuse Prevention Class he moves into the Practice Group.  Rick had completed the class months earlier and was addressing well the conflicts in his relationship with his girlfriend, but he had not addressed other conflicts in the group, particularly those at work. He was having trouble staying at a job.  As he interviewed well, he easily found a new one, which he would then again quit in anger.