Glamorous Life

Young african man sitting at airport lounge and sleeping, waiting for flight at airport departure area.

This weekend I was talking to a friend of mine and he made a comment akin to “you lead a much more glamorous life than I do.” He’d asked what my schedule was going to be in the upcoming weeks and I’m sort of hopscotching from east to west (with just a little bit in between) for the next few weeks.

I remember having the same perception before I actually started working full time for The Mandt System.

Take a Second to Breathe…

Attractive senior woman savoring the moment standing with her eyes closed and head tilted back with a serene expression as she clasps her chest with her hands

Take a second to breathe…. Seriously. Just relax your jaw and your shoulders and take a deep, slow breath. Intentional breathing is one of the most effective ways to calm our sympathetic nervous system. In modern times things happen fast and our sympathetic nervous system, associated with fight-flight-freeze responses, is often called into play. The problem is that this system is geared primarily to give us the ability to engage with real physical threats as opposed to the types of chronic stress that we typically deal with today.


Man jump from year 2019 to 2020. Starting of new year concept.

Our planet has successfully made its way around the sun again and so we celebrate the coming of the new year. It is a time when many of us reflect and make resolutions. When we set goals for ourselves for the future. Thinking about this reminded me of the following story.

I had a workshop participant share with me about an adult being served by their organization who when asked after their annual support plan meeting if they were satisfied with the meeting told the worker that they didn’t like the goals in their plan.

On Being Kind…

Kindness word from wooden blocks on desk

In October UCLA started the world’s first interdisciplinary research institute on kindness. UCLA researchers have agreed on an academic definition for kindness: an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself. So, it is the intention, not the outcome, that is key. Another way to say that would be it is the thought that counts.

Research shows that being kind to others can reduce depression and can alter the behavior of genes to reduce inflammation,

Healthy Relationships in the Week Ahead

Finger art of lonely woman is crying. Concept people celebrate Christmas in new year hat. Toned image.

As we approach the holidays I have been hearing from friends, colleagues and my own family about the different plans that we, and they have in place to spend our time, give gifts and celebrate the season. It has staggered me how many of my colleagues and children’s friends etc… have relayed stories of alternate Christmas arrangements due to fractured or fragmented relationships within families.

I have heard about kids just seeing one of their parents over the holiday due to damaged relations with the other parent,

Praise Saves

little african american girl listening music with mother sitting in car

I read a story recently about Willie, a little boy who was abducted in 2014 at the age of 9. Once he was taken from his driveway and put into the car, Willie started singing his favorite gospel song Every Praise. Willie’s kidnapper continuously told Willie to stop but the young boy continued to sing his song of praise. He continued for three hours straight! After three hours, the kidnapper became agitated, pulled over, told Willie “you’re F$%@ing annoying” and let Willie out.

The Person in the Mirror

A woman in a green coat standing in a park area holding up a mirror that hides her face

“If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a…”

Change! But, change is hard. I’ve been doing some coaching and mentoring for two up and coming adjunct faculty members and both of them are fully vested in The Mandt System, however, they are bringing it back to their organizations as a new concept. Those types of things don’t always go smoothly.

I’ve been trying to help them understand that the resistance they may face is completely understandable.

Know Your Limitations

Smiling Young Businessman Doing Multitasking Work At Workplace

Several times in the Mandt System it is mentioned that a course participant should “know their limitations and the limitations of this course”. Our materials and faculty are honest and up front with what that Mandt System is and is not. We also ask that our course participants be up front and honest with themselves about their own skills. It is important for us to recognize our limitations and not allow our ego to get in the way of safety.

From The Other’s Point of View

a Senior man receiving physical therapy at home.

Have you ever thought about what it might be like to be a person in your program? Especially if they are in some type of service setting 24 hours a day. Can you imagine being constantly scrutinized and corrected for everything you do that someone else doesn’t like or deems inappropriate or every time you turn around being asked to complete a task or work on a goal? How likely would you be to have increased levels or frustration or anger?

Feedback Surveys

businessman SURVEY and Results Analysis Discovery Concept

Students of Mandt System, Train the Trainer events have always filled out paper evaluations at the end of the course. Traditionally Mandt National faculty have received high scores on our evaluations. One of the changes with our new system and our attempts at reducing the amount of paper we use is that evaluations are now completed online after the event has ended. Since switching to the online evaluations our instructor scores have been dropping. I’m not saying this to complain about it.

Letting Others Lead

childhood, leisure, friendship and people concept - group of happy kids in autumn park counting and choosing game leader

In the Mandt system business we believe that part of building healthy relationships within our team, is the ability to switch up roles at appropriate times and occasions and allow others to lead in their areas of expertise, experience or interest. This sees most folks in the business with a greater level of ownership and control in their area of function or responsibility than might be the case is a traditional team structure.

One of the most rewarding things to experience as a business manager is the growth and development of employees that are ‘invited to lead’.


Adult male backpacker hiking in front of non-urban scene / landscape - scenery / mountain peak / mountain range / nature who is outdoors wearing backpack / climbing who is conquering adversity who is exploration and using rope / hiking pole / sky / mountain

I have realized I need people. I need support. Untethered, I wander aimlessly and do not feel as supported. My anxiety rises when I am not surrounded by the people who give me guidance and feedback. Fortunately, I have wonderful people in my life who push me and pull me to go higher and do more. It’s not that I cannot do things on my own. I simply do not do them as well. People often comment on how much I do.

Be A Better Supervisor

Happy manager boss praising old employee for good work get team appreciation acknowledgement handshaking successful worker congratulating promoting rewarding welcoming new partner, respect handshake

Being a supervisor is not just about watching over the people you are assigned to supervisor. It is much more about developing relationships with those employees. This will help you know how best to interact with them on an individual basis; it will help you to identify and understand stressors that may impact their work; and, it will help you to handle those relationships empathically.

Supervising is not a “one size fits all” kind of situation.


The Hawaiian greeting of hello "aloha" written on the sandy beach of Hawaii, greeting vacationers to the islands.

One of the major perks of being part of the Mandt faculty team is the opportunity to interact with so many different organizations, people, and local cultures. I’m constantly in awe of the decency and goodness of the people that I get to meet. I often feel humbled and blessed by the wisdom that I so often get to be exposed to through interactions with different cultures.

Recently, I was lucky to have the opportunity to teach a Mandt System course in Hawaii.

Every Interaction Matters

Delegates Networking At Conference Drinks Reception

I was recently reading an article entitled, Positive Childhood Experiences May Buffer Against Health Effects Of Adverse Ones, which looked at a study of whether positive childhood experiences can balance out negative ones when it comes to health outcomes related to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study. As it turns out, the data shows that those positive experiences can have a significant impact.

The study “found that having higher counts of those positive experiences was associated with 72% lower odds of having depression or poor mental health overall as an adult.

Role Modelling Mandt Principles

Study time. African american father teaching his little daughter how to read, sitting together with book on bed, empty space

Some people think they only teach Mandt when they are in front of a group of students or employees. For some people, this means they teach Mandt once or twice a month. For others, they may only teach Mandt once or twice a year. We tell our students that they serve as role models for the people with whom they are working. Guess what? We all serve as role models 24/7/365. We have the opportunity to be constantly teaching Mandt.

Quietly Moving Mountains

Asphalt road in Dolomites in a summer day, Italy.

This week in the Mandt System, we have begun the process of planning for a website overhaul and renewal as it has been over 5 years since we last updated. In the kickoff meeting and discussion with our partners and friend’s at we were asked about what were our ‘key goals’ and ‘call to actions’ for the new website. Obviously, we referenced back to the existing website and through this process have become aware of some seismic shifts our business and relationships have taken in the last 5 years.

Don’t Turn Your Back

Scared Boy Runs Away From The Dog Vector. Illustration

I have been reflecting on the idea of turning your back to someone. As body language goes, I have never appreciated someone who turns their back on me when I am upset, angry or desiring their attention. I feel instantly disrespected. I will not lie. I want to push them from behind. I have not, at least in my adult life, followed through with this behavior, but the thought crosses my mind. However, body language is subjective.

Your Mother’s Voice

Graphic composition of personality traits of a mother.  Art suitable for use as greeting card design or other creative tribute to mothers.

Has anyone else ever opened their mouth and heard their mother coming out? Yeah, me too. When the heck did THAT happen?

Yet, here I am. A reincarnation of my own mother.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My mom was actually considered the “cool” mom – the hip parent that all my friends wished they had. She was awesome. But she was still a mom and she still drove me crazy from time to time.

Four Walls

Five stars hotel sign on a marble background. 3d illustration

Many of our instructors travel far from home to attend Mandt System instructor training. Health and travel can be tricky. As a member of the national faculty, I’ve experienced this first hand. It is fortunate that there are tools within the Mandt System to help us think about our health. The most useful way for me to think about health on the road has been to utilize a model in Chapter 1 of the Mandt System that comes from the Maori people (Durie,1999) referred to as the “Four Walls of the House”.

Don’t Just Renovate, Innovate

Contractor Facing Custom Master Bathroom Drawing and Photo Gradation.

So now that my wife and I are moved into our new home, there are several things that we have realized we need to change. The first one we noticed was the single sink in the bathroom. We know from our experience at our previous home that two sinks are much more functional for us. As I started to look at the options and what it would take to make the change, it looked like a lot of work and expense,

Living Mandt

Traffic report service concept.

Prior to my exposure to the Mandt philosophy I was a bit of a Type A, task master, time cruncher person who was more concerned with my feelings and actions than those of others around me. Now that I have been training Mandt for years, the Mandt philosophy has changed the way I act, think, and view life–for the better! Here’s an example. I am currently sitting in an airport. My flight has a 3 hour delay,

Applying Bandura to Social Media


Over recent months I have experienced a proliferation of social media (mostly Facebook, but some Twitter and Pinterest) invitations to join groups that I might be interested in. When I open the link, I find groups with names such as ‘Gripes Page’, ‘Nosey Neighbor Page’, ‘Recall School Board’ etc… much less am I seeing groups nuanced to more positive themes, though I did see a ‘Make Kindness Contagious’ page and it is their image that I have posted above.

Relationships in Action

Happy diverse people together in the park

“I don’t have to like them to work with them”. Have you ever heard this statement? Maybe you have found yourself saying it. I said this myself at one point. I have come to regard this statement as a cop out statement. Please hear me out if you are one who has used it. Though on the surface the sentence sounds correct, when you dissect it, it is missing some pieces. Will you enjoy your work as well if you do not like who it is you work with?

Learning Styles

Shot of a young woman raising her hand during a business conference

Many of our instructors have never been in a position of teaching other adults and the prospect can be quite daunting. We try to mention the fact that there are many different learning styles and we do attempt to touch on each of those during our trainings. But, to expand our knowledge of these learning styles, I wanted to discuss them a little bit:

Visual learners – these folks will learn best through pictures and illustrations,

Errors in Thinking & Conflict Management

COMMON MISTAKES word on jigsaw puzzle. Businessman hands holding white puzzle business concept.

In Chapter Three of the Mandt System, conflict management is discussed. To manage a conflict, one must first have an accurate understanding of the situation. In order to have an objective understanding of the conflict it is helpful to be aware of errors in thinking that can occur. These errors are typically referred to as cognitive distortions (Burns, 1989). We may catch ourselves or others indulging in these distortions from time to time. However, there can be nothing gained through distorted thinking.

I’m Tired…

British Bulldog Dressed As Businessman Looking Sad At Desk

If you saw my blog several weeks ago, then you know that at the time I was in the process of selling my house and purchasing a new one. The good news is that since then we have closed on both houses and everything is moved to the new house. Now I’m surrounded by boxes that I am trying to unpack on the weekends between being on the road teaching instructor workshops, and I am tired and feeling unmotivated.

Non-Judgemental RADAR

close up of air traffic controller looking at screen selective focus

During a recent course we were talking about RADAR and how it works. One student started providing what they thought were examples of having your RADAR on and Recognizing things. For example, they noticed how one person was wearing dirty clothes one day. Or, how another person was making ugly faces at another person. They were hoping to receive verbal praise from me for providing positive examples of having their RADAR on.

I did provide them with positive feedback for providing examples,

Responses to Aggression – Reimagined

Shot of a mature man looking thoughtful while working on a laptop at home

This past weekend my two youngest boys spent time hanging out and sleeping in their tree tent. Many people have commented on how unique and fun it is and I myself have been impressed with the creators reimagining of this outdoors concept (if you are interested

In the Mandt System we are challenging individuals within their organizations to reimagine their responses to aggression and to consider a shift away from responses rooted in control and coercion.

Challenged Beliefs

Three little girls of different ethnicities and abilities smile and put their arms around each other in a kindergarten classroom.

Working around and in the field of disability services for over 30 years now, there are certain beliefs to which I hold firm. Least restrictive environments, all people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and every life has value and worth, you will not find me wavering on these at all. Other strongly held beliefs that I had when a care worker in the 80’s and 90’s, however, continue to be challenged now as a parent of a child with special needs.


A beautiful black woman with white curly hair  sets up her camera and tripod to record a vlog for her blog

I’ve slowly (okay, maybe not so slowly since it’s been happening over the last fifteen years or so) been coming to grips with the fact that I’m not a kid anymore. The way this has come more and more into focus for me is the lingo that young people are using that I just don’t get. Some of it is fairly obvious, like when my nieces tell me that I need to “check myself before I wreck myself,” but sometimes it’s a little more confusing.

Hero’s Journey

Portrait of his he nice classy attractive macho purposeful ready guy wearing bright super look outfit mantle accessory raising hand up service motivation isolated over light gray background.

In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), Joseph Campbell outlined the basic structure of hero myths. He called this process the “hero’s journey”. The hero’s journey includes seventeen stages organized into three acts. These three acts are: Departure, Initiation, and Return. An organization that has embarked upon a path of systemic change and growth is on it’s own hero’s journey and can be thought of as progressing through these three acts.

Departure is the part of the journey where the hero is initially called from normal life to adventure.

Buying & Selling

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New House.

My wife and I are currently selling our first home and buying our second. I’m sure many of you reading this have gone through this process many more times than we have and understand the frustration that can come along with it. When we purchased our home 10 years ago, we completed the process feeling like we had been taken advantage of and went into this sale and purchase with the goal of avoiding that feeling again.

People Watching

A busy high street scene with a couple holding hands and walking past fashion shops

I have friends who post lots of pictures online. They use their hobbies as a way to inform their online friends as to what they are seeing. One friend is a bird watcher and posts pictures of unusual birds in unusual places. Another friend is a nature photographer who posts all sorts of beautiful pictures and usually gets a picture or two a week on the local television weather forecast. I always enjoy their pictures because I feel I live vicariously through their photographs.

Reconnecting & Refreshing

Shot of a team of colleagues having lunch together in an officehttp://

As a virtual company the Mandt System has no corporate office as such and all of us work out of our own homes in different parts of the globe. This works well except for the personal and social connection that can only be achieved when you are seeing someone in person.

This coming week a small group of us will be together is person to work on a project. It is great that we get to reconnect in person periodically and we always leave these events refreshed and re-energized for the work that needs to get done.

What is Our Legacy?

Caucasian father with son placing lights in camper van

It was recently Mother’s Day, and, on the weekend, I went to spend time with my mom. However, as we were heading out to eat, my mom caught her foot on the sidewalk by her condo and fell down. Long story short, she ended up with an ambulance ride and a couple days in the hospital as she broke her shoulder. As we were in the hospital ER that night, I was wiping some dried blood off her face and off her hands.

Reflective Listening

Concerned aged mother and adult daughter sit on couch having serious conversation, young woman talk with worried elderly mom, listen to her sharing problems or concerns, help dealing with depression

Reflective listening is often a difficult skill to master. As with everything – practice makes perfect!

The key points to remember for successful reflective listening is that our goal is to fully understand the person’s feelings and ideas. We can do that by paying close attention to what people are saying to us (with their words) but by also focusing on the rest of that communication – what does their body language tell us?

Companion Calls & Bids for Connection

One male cardinal sits among flower red bud trees.

The Northern Cardinal is a fascinating bird. If you live in the eastern half of the United States, and are lucky enough to have a bird feeder or spend significant time outdoors, you will most certainly have seen or heard the call of one of these beautiful birds. Like humans, cardinals are an animal that pair-bonds (Stokes, 1983). Male and female cardinals develop intimate relationships. In order to maintain these relationships, a pair of cardinals employ a type of bird song that is referred to as companion calling (Young,

That is Not Appropriate!

Hispanic man riding child's toy

I recently saw a short video online that asks the question, “What if people with intellectual disabilities got to decide what was and was not appropriate for their staff?” In the video, a caregiver is reading a comic book and the person served says that he and the other guys who live in the house don’t think that reading the comic book is age appropriate for the staff.

Here is a link to the video on Facebook if you’d like to see it.

Creating Positive Healthy Relationships and Climates

Low section view of a businessman standing by text Wrong or Right with arrow sign represents the concept of holiday.

Anyone who has been through a Mandt training at any level has heard us talk about always treating people with dignity and respect and creating positive, healthy relationships. Great words, great ideas. We talk about it, we teach it, we expect people to do it. How much time have we spent taking a look at how we live our daily life to make sure we are living up to our standards?

Here’s an example of how our daily life makes these basic Mandt principles difficult to employ.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

limit concept, line and word on the sand

This information is from Harvard Law School’s program on negotiation. It was included in a blog written by Katie Shonk, but I’m totally paraphrasing it since I don’t have a Harvard Law Degree and she used a few million dollar words 🙂

The first strategy that Katie Shonk discussed is the need to recognize that we are often biased in conflict. Which makes sense once you step back and think about it from an objective perspective.

Keep Moving On!

Close up shot of moving snail.

This week my head space is around the idea of perseverance. I see so many people who are tired, beat down and in many ways have given up. Not given up on life but on their dreams. They have settled and thrown in the towel. I also see many who have gone through one struggle after another and yet they don’t quit. They never give up. What is the difference between those who throw in the towel on their dreams and those who struggle to maintain their dreams?

Brexit Perspective…

United Kingdom exit from Europe relative image. Brexit named politic process. Round flag. Handshake concept

I have been working in London this past and upcoming week, so have seen first-hand the drama and immersion of the UK during this process of relational change with the European Union. Here’s my perspective…

All relationships evolve and develop over time. For some relationship’s they strengthen and for others they weaken. What the partners in a relationship want and or need over time also changes and evolves. This is natural and our comfort and or acceptance of these evolutions can and will be ultimately managed through our system of personal,

The Importance of Good Neighbours

A kind and caring neighbor or friend delivers fresh produce from the grocery store to an elderly man at his home.  He receives the gift with a smile on his face, grateful for the help and assistance.  Horizontal image.

It’s important to develop relationships with the people who live and work near you. It’s also important to take this neighborly attitude with you when you travel outside of your neighborhood. As I’m sure Fred Rogers would agree, the idea of being a good neighbor is a foundational part of the social contract. I try to be a good neighbor when I can, and I also appreciate when I get the privilege of witnessing other people being good neighbors.

I Need Some Ice Cream

ice cream

Imagine you’re having a horrible day at work. As a result, you haven’t been as patient as normal and have said some pretty rude things to a couple of your coworkers. Your productivity has been way down, you’re stressed, and you can’t wait until the end of your shift. To help yourself feel better, you have already decided that on your way home you’re going to stop at your local ice cream shop and get your favorite bad for you treat.

Mandt’s General Concepts

Child is watching far away using telescope.

A concept, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances. In The Mandt System we teach three general concepts when we talk about using our body. These are 1. Stance and balance, 2. Body mechanics and body movement, and 3. Body positioning in relationship to other people. Some people may believe that these concepts only apply when we are physically working with another person, whether to assist or support,

Technology Glitches

stress level conceptual meter indicating maximum, isolated on white background

In Mandt we stress the “affirm your feelings and choose your behavior” concept. I had a student once count and say that phrase is used 12 or 13 times in our presentations. I have found myself getting much better at incorporating this into my everyday life. I am always looking for examples of other people being able to show this. I recently was able to see a great example of this concept being put into practice.

Change Starts With Us

Group of paper planes in one direction and with one individual pointing in the different way. Business concept for innovative solution.

On January 17th the Department of Education released a press release announcing an initiative to address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion to protect children with disabilities. The press release said the following:

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will oversee this proactive approach which will protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance and support to schools, districts,

Smell Triggers Memories

Portrait of caucasian man with magnifier makes fun face. Magnifier to the nose

I’m sure each of us has had the experience of walking through a store, or walking down the street and we get a whiff of something that just takes us back. I remember being in Walgreens once many years ago and I was searching for whatever it was that I needed. I turned around an endcap and was suddenly flooded with memories of my Grandpa. It was so awesome! I realized a few seconds later that I was smelling his cologne.

Four Horseman of Conflict Resolution

Four trakehner sorrel stallions gallop in field

Dr. John Gottman is a psychologist and researcher that is recognized primarily for his work with marital relationships. In his works he often uses the metaphor of “the four horsemen” as the harbingers of demise for a relationship. The four horsemen in this metaphor are negative communication styles. The preservation of a relationship depends on how a couple manages these four horseman. This metaphor has broad application, and in this blog entry I will be discussing the four horsemen and how they relate to workplace relationships.

Dark Parking Garages

View of an old underground parking area with parked cars.

Imagine you’re in a dark parking garage by yourself at 2 am. You hear a noise and your senses become heightened, your heart rate increases, and you move faster toward your vehicle with your keys out and ready. In that moment, you are escalated because of the lack of safety you are feeling. These same types of emotional and physical responses occur with the people we serve. This is why we do our best to create and maintain the safest environments we can for people in our care.

Tackling the 1%

As a learning and development company that delivers training programs, we are often challenged, and rightly so, to explain the apparent incongruence that come from teaching something that we are inherently trying to avoid i.e., Restrictive Physical Intervention.

In the Mandt System approach we promote and teach a ‘gradual and graded’ system of alternatives to restraint, that represent over 80% of the full program content. We do not promote restraint, but rather challenge all of ourselves and partners to reduce and wherever possible eliminate the use of restraint.

A Commitment to Culture Change

"Changes ahead" traffic sign in city

One of the aspects of the Mandt System program approach that our users says they most appreciate is the review and update of our materials at a regular interval. This allows us to ensure that research findings, published studies, new practices and thinking is incorporated into the body of knowledge that form the program content. Updating content is important but we also believe it is important to also update our approach.

During recent years we had started to actively talk to new users of the Mandt System about the importance of committing to a ‘Restraint Reduction Approach’ and in particular the desire for a culture that challenges the need for and or use of ‘Restrictive Practices’.


two hands willing to Give

I have recently been studying the idea of generosity for a children’s sermon I am to give later in the month. I have really been moved to think about my own generosity or lack thereof at times over the years. People often think “if I only had more, I could give more”. I know I have often thought that way. However, there is so much we can give that does not take money. Generosity is not only for the wealthy.

Communicate – every day, every way!

Two people working together on laptop at office with technological pattern

First off, I want to give credit for the title to Hannah Price (in her blog

The Mandt System believes that communication is of utmost importance in our relationships – we believe it so much that we devote an entire chapter of our manual to communication! We spend time in our classes talking about how important it is to be clear in the way that we communicate and to consider the context of the message when choosing the best channel to use in this communicative process.

Goals, Habits, and Resolutions

Notebook with 2019 goals massage, pencil, glasses and cup of coffee on wood background.

It’s come that time of year when people will be making resolutions for the New Year. According to an article in Journal of Clinical Psychology, less than 10% of adults who make New Year’s resolutions will be able to maintain them (Norcross, Blagys & Mrykalo, 2002). So what are the key strategies to keeping our resolutions? It helps to start by understanding the motivating factors behind the resolution. What positive effects will this resolution have?

Longer Days & Shorter Nights

Moonrise in snowy mountains

We have just passed December 21st, the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. From now the days will slowly begin to get longer and the nights shorter.

Sometimes the people we serve come to us from very dark wounded places. As we seek to connect with them and understand their needs, we work to help make their nights a little bit shorter and their days a little bit longer.

The work you do can be difficult and you are often asked to sacrifice more than you should be.

What’s in your cup?

You never know from where the idea for a story or blog will come. This blog originated as a FaceBook meme. You know those things–sometimes you read them, sometimes you laugh at them, other times you ignore them. If we keep our R.A.D.A.R. on at all times, we find that the world is constantly providing us with ideas, examples, and/or stories that we can use in our training or writing. I wish I could credit the originator of the meme,

Tidings of Comfort & Joy

This past weekend in my house (and I am sure many of yours) we enacted the tradition of choosing a tree, putting it up (not too much swearing) and decorating our home for the holidays. The 4 cats are delighted to have the ‘indoor’ tree back to play with, the three kids fighting over who made what ornament and the grandparents listening to Christmas Carols and us all generally getting somewhat sentimental.

At one point someone asked if we had ever had to work on Christmas Day.

Synchronicity in OZ

Sometimes you have to leave where you are to find where you want to go and what is truly important to you. This was the case for Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz. She had to leave her location and her reality to find out home was actually the best place for her to be. She needed seemingly unrelated events to converge into what became her new truth. The idea of synchronicity comes from the psychologist Carl Jung.

Communicate – every day, every way!

First off, I want to give credit for the title to Hannah Price (in her blog

The Mandt System believes that communication is of utmost importance in our relationships – we believe it so much that we devote an entire chapter of our manual to communication! We spend time in our classes talking about how important it is to be clear in the way that we communicate and to consider the context of the message when choosing the best channel to use in this communicative process.

Being Thankful

I find it ironic that the day after the day we’ve set aside to celebrate thankfulness is the biggest commercial retail day of the year. It can be easy to lose perspective, and I try my best to remember the things that I am thankful for. I think that this is an important practice for the whole year, not just Thanksgiving. The Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy share a beautiful practice called the Thanksgiving Address (Stokes,1993).

What Makes You Happy?

A few days ago, I received an email from a Mandt Instructor that included a picture of a person served with the question “What makes you happy?” written across the top of it. The individual’s response to this question is “I’m happy when my staff is happy because then I have a good day.”

The nature of the work caregivers do in our service settings often gives them more power in the lives of people served than they realize.

Surviving Holiday Stress-fest

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! We are now in the holiday season. Halloween is past, thanksgiving is only weeks away, and Christmas will be here before we know it. This is the time of year that everyone loves and dreads. We love the opportunity to decorate, cook, and see friends. At the same time, we stress out over getting everything right, having enough time and money, and being the perfect host.

Cultural Norms

I am currently in Australia and have been talking with associates about cultural and social norms that we may need to consider in the content structure of our Relational Chapters when delivering here to a diverse population. It is fascinating to learn about the different aspects of communication and behavior that guide our sense of a person’s authenticity.

Whilst social and cultural norms vary based upon age, race, religion and gender etc.. the concepts of ‘Dignity and Respect’ are pretty universal.

Empty Relational Calories

The world is a very busy place. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to how people respond when you ask them how they are doing. “I’m busy” or “fine but busy” tends to be the regular response. I have also been very aware as to how often people are making the comment “where has time gone?” Maybe at 50 I am realizing the real value of time and how I have wasted so much of it over my 50 years.

Mentoring & The Smart Phone

Here at The Mandt System, we’ve been thinking a bit about mentoring programs. A few new initiatives have started to take flight here (specifically The Mandt Student Academy) and as they do, we are investigating various ways to help our Instructors be as successful as they can be.

I think most people recognize the ways that mentoring can benefit new hires (increased staff retention, better staff morale, increased competency, etc.), however, we have a challenge with mentoring since we don’t typically work side by side with any of our Instructors and much of the mentoring is done virtually (i.e.

The Four Stages of Competence

The four stages of competence theory was developed by Noel Burch of Gordon Training International. It’s a useful way to understand the stages that a learner will progress through as the learner acquires a new skill.

Unconscious incompetence: This is when the learner does not see the utility in a skill, or is unaware of their own deficiency in the skill.

Conscious incompetence: This occurs when the learner becomes aware of his/her deficiency,

Unfollow, Don’t Unfriend

I have several friends on Facebook that I have recently unfollowed. Not because I don’t like them anymore or no longer desire to have a relationship with them, but because there are things that they say or post that result in me experiencing negative feelings about them as people. When it gets to that point, I know, for me, it’s time to disengage for a while.

At some point, all relationships will be stressed by some level of conflict or disagreement.

Build Yourself Up

Think about treating everyone with dignity and respect. Think about always interacting with someone in a way that builds them up. How many times have we told our students that we should always treat everyone with dignity and respect? How many times have we tried to reframe things in such as a way as to build someone up? How many times have we thought about taking this down a level?

How much attention do we pay to treating ourselves with dignity and respect?

Preparing for the Hurricane

I am writing this blog a couple of days ahead of the anticipated landfall of Hurricane Florence. At this point the Carolinas and Virginia have, I believe, declared a state of emergency and folks in the potential storm path have been advised to relocate. Natural disaster like this are really scary and in part due to their unpredictability. It might yet be the case that Hurricane Florence changes course and does not make landfall, is downgraded in intensity or unleashes less destruction that could have been the case.

Journey Before Destination

I am a big fan of fantasy. I grew up reading Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and later read series by Robert Jordan, J. K. Rowling, R.R. Martin and several others. Part of the reason I love fantasy is because it forces a reader to imagine worlds that do not exists. When done well, fantasy has us examine our humanity through a different lens. These days I have become a big fan of Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson was the author who finished Robert Jordan’s epic 14 book series,

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As I write this blog I am on the road again (shout out to Willie Nelson and to all of you that understand that shout-out), but I find myself in a different role. I’m mentoring a potential adjunct faculty member. I’ve been doing that more and more the past year. It’s something that I enjoy doing but I’ve also come to realize that there is no cookie-cutter recipe to how this will go.

Last week I was mentoring someone who has been a Mandt Instructor at an agency for many,

Getting The Most Out of Practice

In order to learn a new skill, a a person must repeat that skill for many repetitions. However, not all repetitions are the same. If a person mindlessly slogs through repetition after repetition, they will not develop the skill with the same efficiency as a person who performs repetitions mindfully and with focus.

In his book, The Talent Code (2009), Daniel Coyle coins the phrase “deep practice” to describe this more effective type of practice.

It All Starts With Attitude

Last year was a challenging year for my wife as it was her first year teaching in a new school system and at a different grade level. As she returned to work this week to start her 19th year as a teacher, I was on the road facilitating a workshop and called her to see how things were going. She immediately started talking about all the positive changes that were being made over last year and seemed excited about the new school year.

Start With Self Reflection

Having written a training department newsletter for 18 years, I would include the important dates each month (Direct Support Professionals week is Sept 9-15, 2018), holidays, the interesting dates, such as famous birthdays (Elvis, January 8), and also the unusual dates (Square Dance Day, November 29). We have appreciation days for almost everything imaginable (and a few that you would not even think of)! Now, I always thought it was nice that we took time to remember people,

Learning from our Experiences

Like any organization, we operate with systems and process that underpin our approach to what we believe to be good business practices. Occasions sometimes arise that throw a spotlight on those systems and process and we have the opportunity to evaluate how effective and fit for purpose they are.

Just like the crisis moments that can occur within staff team relationships or relationships with individuals being served, in the Mandt System we promote the practice of ‘critical incident debrief and review’.


There is a famous French story entitled The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery. In the story the best friend a young prince makes on a banished planet, is a fox. Eventually the fox must leave the prince forever, so he offers to tell him the most wonderful secret in the world if the prince meets certain conditions. The little prince does what is expected and then asked to be told the greatest secret.


I recently read an interesting article regarding the “Limits of Empathy” by Adam Waytz. We discuss empathy and the need for empathy in regards to developing healthy relationships with people throughout our trainings.

The reason that I found this article particularly interesting was the idea that we all have limits in our ability to be empathetic, and it’s not a concept I’d actively thought about before, but it makes complete sense.

Adam Waytz gave examples of a person who is empathetic with people they work with;

Mastering the Basics

No matter how skilled a person becomes, it all starts with the “basics”. To develop advanced
skills in any subject, a person needs to be well versed in the basics of that subject. It is often better to be highly skilled in the use of a few tools, than to have minimal skill with a large number of tools.

In the Mandt System, the “basics” are treating people with dignity and respect,

Epidemic of Loneliness

Many people in our society are lonely. I recently read the following in an article about the rates of loneliness in the US. There was a nationwide survey conducted “which found that 47% of Americans lacked meaningful interpersonal interactions with a friend or family member on a daily basis. 43% reported having weak relationships, experiencing feelings of isolation, and an overall lack of companionship. 46% said they felt lonely often, while 47% reported feeling left out.

Perception Checking

I can usually find a way to connect with people, but occasionally it is extremely difficult. Of course, the toughest people to connect with are the ones where a relationship would be most valuable. I have found that widening my perspective helps me to find common ground with people.

The tool I use most often to accomplish this is reframing. For me, reframing is simply a structure for looking at ourselves, others, and situations from different angles.

The Necessity of Barriers

The first IKEA in Wisconsin has recently opened to much excitement locally. That excitement extended into my house, and with a 15-year-old transitioning from a child to young adult bedroom it was clear that the trip could not be avoided. I like the design of much that IKEA offers but find the whole process of being herded through the store, corralled and punished at the check-out (never enough open, belts to narrow and no bagging provided) and then the final craziness of having to bring your car over to the pick-up area to load your goods,

Role Model

Often times I see the worst of me through the actions of my children. It has been that way for many years. The things that frustrate me the most about my three boys are often the behaviors I like least about myself. Many times, when I am angry with them I am really angry at myself for showing them the behavior enough times that they adopted it for themselves. In all fairness there are also qualities that I love about my children and when I stop and think about it,

Tips to Improve Relationships

We talk a great deal about building healthy relationships, but perhaps we should go a little deeper to find out exactly how we do that.

One of the most important things to building relationships with others is to connect with them on a personal level. In this age of technology it is easy to reach out via text or email, but nothing beats sitting down in person with someone to really talk.

Make the time you spend with people quality time.

Practice Self Forgiveness

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better”. These wise words from Maya Angelou capture the very essence of self forgiveness, and then reconciliation with one’s values. In Chapter One of the Mandt System we say to “practice forgiveness”. This includes forgiveness of one’s self. We’ve all made mistakes, and it is imperative that we learn the relevant lessons, forgive ourselves, and work toward reconciliation.

Many years ago,

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

While traveling home from my most recent workshop, my plane had a mechanical issue resulting in a long delay. Frequent air travel comes with frequent schedule changes. No matter what you do, inevitably, delays and cancellations will occur disrupting your plans and interfering with your schedule. At best, these experiences are inconvenient, but in reality, they are often quite frustrating. During these more frustrating times, responding in a way that doesn’t make things worse for yourself and others can be a challenge.

End of the School Year

It’s the end of the school year and for the first time in 20 years I’m experiencing it only as a parent, not as a public school employee. This different perspective has allowed me to more fully appreciate the experience our students are having each and every day in our schools. I watch my daughter who is in eighth grade struggle with extreme stress and anxiety and she winds up her eighth-grade year.

During a time that should be really exciting for her as she embarks upon her high school career,

Never Stop Looking & Learning

Over the past few years, as the Mandt System program has evolved and developed, we have often been asked about its application, relevance and fit for specialist sectors of individuals served. Once such section is the Juvenile Justice sector in the US. For a decade or more a small number of committed services have pioneered and championed Mandt as a great option for this sector. In Mandt we are specialists in Mandt and recognize that no program is going to authentically serve all situation or services challenges unless we partner with experts from those fields and learn and develop from each other to increase opportunities for creating greater safety.


Maybe it’s my impending 50th birthday or perhaps it’s the fact that my oldest child is graduating with his master’s degree this weekend and about to face the world outside of academics. Either way the idea of purpose has been on my mind a lot recently. There are many people I know who have taken the approach “I’ll just take one day at a time and see what happens”. I think ultimately, they wake up one day disappointed because the “magic” never occurred and they find themselves sitting at the same place in time as they have been for years.

Teens & Relationships

I’ve just recently finished watching the Netflix original series “Thirteen Reasons Why.” I’m not here to promote the series (it’s disturbing on many levels) or to condemn it (lots of valuable
talking points to begin conversations with the young teens in your life). My take-away from this series has more to do with the power of relationships, which (of course) is the foundation for our program.

The premise of this show is that the main female character made 13 cassette tapes for various people to listen to so they might better understand how the relationship that they had with her,

Two Speed Thinking

In Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), he presents a model that simplifies the cognitive processes of the mind into two systems. System 1, or fast thinking, includes all the processes that occur automatically, emotionally, or by accessing and applying a simple rule. For example, if I were to ask you the answer to 2 multiplied by 6, your brain would access it’s memory banks, find the answer, and you could reply with very little effort.

Supporting Change in Organizations

One of the questions that is often asked by new instructors during workshops is how to get the people in their organizations to change to be more consistent with The Mandt System principles. Considering how resistant people can be to change, this can be difficult. While I am by no means an expert on organizational change, I think that many of the core concepts for supporting change in our organizations are found in the first three chapters of The Mandt System material.

Setting Up Safe Classroom Environments

Schools can be really tricky with respect to crisis behaviors because so many students are triggered by non-preferred demands or avoidance of failure. However, ‍teachers are placing demands on students all day long. How can we minimize stress in school environments without compromising the necessary learning that needs to take place? I believe the key is to establish emotionally, psychologically, and physically safe classroom environments. Learning can be risky business so safety is vital.
Here are 5 tips to doing just this:

Set the tone for fairness: Let students know that fairness means everyone gets what they need.

Checking Under The Hood

In my family it is my role to take care of the basic health needs of our motor cars. I have a couple of modern cars which are beyond my skillset for more than basic maintenance and a couple of older cars with which I am happy to tackle most basic and intermediate tasks.

The ongoing challenge I face is not being aware of issues until I happen to get into a particular car and see a warning light or hear a strange noise.

It’s about Relationships

There are two topics they say you should avoid if you don’t want to offend people: Religion and politics. Well, I am not brave enough to openly dive into a religious discussion, but I will wade into politics, if only in the shallow end. Recently, I attended my seventh year of going to Washington DC with the National Fragile X Foundation and lobbying for some issues important to my family and others. I was hooked from the first time I went because it gives me a feeling of empowerment and allows my freedom of speech rights to be fully utilized.

Practice Makes Perfect

I’m in the middle of two fifteen year olds who are learning to drive. If my mom were still alive, I’d surely be calling her to apologize for all the extra grey hair I caused her as a teenager!

It has been an interesting process. I like to joke that I’m the third string parent, but at this juncture I’m more than happy to not be the primary caregiver that is ultimately sitting in the passenger seat as these two kids learn the skills necessary for driving!

Care For Yourself First…

People in the helping professions care a lot. Caregivers can get so caught up in caring for others, that they sometimes forget to take care of their own needs. Those who are in the position of providing care for others must be sure to charge their own battery from time to time. It can be difficult to help others if you, yourself are in need. It’s important to recognize the signs of caregiver stress early in ourselves,

Correcting With Respect

One of my roles at The Mandt System, in addition to training instructors, is to occasionally provide IT support to instructors who need assistance getting or setting up the materials they need to teach their workshops. I was recently on one of those calls talking an instructor through a process when they said that what I was telling them to do wasn’t working. Based on what the person was telling me, I knew exactly what they were doing wrong.

The Mandt System and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in Schools

According to CASEL,, the first two core competencies of SEL are self awareness and self management. Self awareness is the ability to identify one’s emotions and the triggers that provoke them. Self management is the process by which we select behaviors to regulate those emotions in a healthy and safe manner.

In The Mandt System, when we role model and empower students to “Affirm Feelings and Choose Behaviors,” we are in essence engaging in the development of the first two competencies of social and emotional learning.

Valentines Revisited

My wedding anniversary is Valentine’s Day. This really leaves me no excuse to forget it and each year I have plenty romantic themed prompts to get my own personal celebration in order. This year I had conversations with many of my colleagues about their plans for Valentines celebrations. This I am sure was the convention in many workplaces last week.

What struck me this year was how many of my associates told me that they do not celebrate Valentines as for them is was more ‘Hallmark’

Night to Shine!

On February 9th, 2018 I was privileged to be a part of something I had wanted to be a part of for some time. I was given the opportunity to be a volunteer for the Tim Tebow Foundation’s, Night to Shine at Sunnybrook Community Church in Sioux City, Iowa. Night to Shine takes place very year in February and is a prom for individuals with special needs. This year, Night to Shine was hosted in 540 churches in 50 states and 16 countries.

Where has the day gone?

When my mom was still alive, she would sometimes call me in the mornings around 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. When she would realize that her phone call had roused me from my slumber, she would chide me a little bit with, “the day is half over, honey. Why are you sleeping so late?” When I would tell her, “mom, I’ve only been in bed for 2 hours” then she would give me a hard time about staying up so late.

Words of Wisdom

Recently, a friend posed an interesting question on social media. He’s a somewhat introverted fellow, and decided that writing his thoughts down might be a good way for him to share wisdom with his young son. He’s planning on writing a book for him. His question: What words of wisdom would you share with a young boy about growing up to be a responsible man? I find his question to be very interesting. The socialization of youth is such an important task for any society.

Who Is Your Favorite Teacher?

I saw this image on social media the other day, and as I read through the comments, it appears that identifying a favorite teacher is something that most people do not find difficult. In addition to being able to identify teachers who were my favorites, I also thought about the teachers that were my least favorites.

As I think about the differences between the teachers I liked and didn’t like, there are several factors that affect my feelings.

Defining Dignity & Respect

We use the terms dignity and respect as foundational principles in the Mandt System. But what does it mean to treat someone with dignity? In other words, what does dignity look like in action? I started my investigation of this idea with first defining dignity . I learned that dignity really means to value the humanity each and every one of us possesses. Then how can I with my actions communicate other peoples’ value to them?

Waiting To Say Sorry

Recent media has been heavily influenced by efforts at apology. We have been witness to various Hollywood sorry, News Journalist sorry and Former Presidential Aide sorry. The responses to these received apologies has been mixed. In the Mandt system we had to offer our own sorry recently following the premature emailing of news of a system upgrade that was not quite ready to go.

I have quoted Alexander Pope (To Err is Human) previously and in the Mandt System we teach in our material on ‘Building Health Conflict Resolution’ that forgiveness is much easier when we have insight into what the individual is and was trying to achieve,

Building Relationships Through Mistakes

Recently I had spent several days working on a project which caused me lots of stress. Later, because of a mistake made by my co-worker the days I spent were determined not to be necessary. My colleague could have easily covered the mistake up and could have gotten by with not acknowledging the mistake. It would have been very possible to for me to never know that my work was made unnecessary. However, instead he acknowledged the mistake,

Is It Significant?

One of my workshops recently got into an interesting discussion about what constitutes a “significant loss” as presented at the beginning of Chapter 7. Someone brought up pets, which many others in the group agreed with. However, there were a couple of instructors that felt pretty strongly that the death of a pet should not warrant “significant loss” and would therefore not be a traumatizing experience.

This discussion carried out the way many such discussions do –

Bystander Effect

On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed and sexually assaulted in front of multiple witnesses (Manning, Levine & Collins, 2007). The attack went on for around thirty minutes, but not a single person intervened. The police were notified only after the attack had ended, and Kitty had died. Why did no one help? Why do some bystanders not offer help in an emergency?

Kitty’s story is a classic example of the bystander effect,

Home For The Holidays

As the song goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” For many, spending time and reconnecting with family and friends is the best part of this time of year, but as is the nature of human relationships, there is more likely than not going to be some level of conflict as we spend time together.

I can remember several holiday gatherings in my own life that were more uncomfortable than they were joyous because of conflicts within our family.

We Did It!

I was asked to complete a blog for an issue of the monthly Stance and Balance. In the past I’ve shared things that related to my two grandsons with special needs. Since this will be my last opportunity to share information, I decided to share a statement my grandson’s uses when he wants to tell you a story. He always starts out by saying ”We did it”.

I began teaching The Mandt System in 1978.

Lessons on Vulnerability

In the Mandt System we drawn content and insight from a range of research, academic and popular cultural references to support our learning and development content. In our 2017 Instructor Resource Center we have increasingly found ourselves uploading the work of researcher Dr. Brene Brown.

Oprah Winfrey has just release the following on her OWN youtube channel of her Soul on Sunday session with Dr. Brown. Well worth a viewing…

Simon Kemp –

When Do We Abandon Training for Personal Safety?

I was asked “When do we abandon what we are taught in training to makes sure someone is kept safe?” This instructor had a real-life example of a staff who received a lifelong disability because other staff refused to go hands on when a client was crushing the staff’s skull. The organization had no touch policies. Obviously, we do not want to get staff hurt by having staff doing nothing when training does not cover the immediate safety needs.

Best Foot Forward

One of my favorite recent trends on social media has been people using GIFs or other images to tell the story of how their day is going; how they feel about winter approaching; or, how they feel after raiding their kids’ Halloween candy! It’s a tasty little visual morsel to help convey feelings when we are limited to virtual communication, and I’m a big fan!

My cousin and his wife do this quite often and the results are often the highlight of my day (Seth and Alison –

Positive Mental Attitude

Modern life is exhilarating. Technology is amazing and everything seems to move at such a fast pace. I’m as much a fan of modernity as anyone else, but it’s never been easier to tune out our immediate environment. We do this at our own peril. It seems wise to slow down, tune in, and pay attention to what our senses are telling us, particularly if we find ourselves in risky situations. There are two important concepts that help us to tune in,

Trauma Informed Teamwork

You’ve just been called to assist with a crisis situation. Once you get to the location of the incident, things have settled down, but not before one caregiver has been injuried. Fortunately, everyone seems to be safe. The injured caregiver is given a break to get checked out by the nurse if there’s one on sight, and everyone else carries on with the care of the individuals served.

This scenario plays itself out daily in many organizations.

It’s That Simple

While riding in the car of the other day with my two grandsons Matt and Jeremiah, I was reminded about how simple relationships can be. If you don’t know, Miah is 17 years old and has Down syndrome. Matt is 24 years old with Down syndrome and some Autistic tendencies. Jeremiah was playing a game on his 3DS and decided to show Matt how to play. Matt’s ability to move things on a computer screen seems to be a challenge for him.

Autumn, Winter Tune Up…

Autumn / Winter Tune up….

I recently read an article on things to do before fall and winter arrive. It was full of eminently sensible tips for keeping your gutters clear, making sure your winter wood supply, fuel etc.. is ordered and checking on obvious draft zones etc.…

It occurred to me that the idea of a seasonal attention for our relationships would not be a bad idea also. Knowing that ‘cold times’ come to all relationships on occasion,

Mentoring Benefits

Over the years, I have had the privilege to mentor others professionally and personally. I have also been mentored by others. The last couple weeks I have had the opportunity to be reminded of how important the process of mentoring is to personal and professional development. The development is not only for the person being mentored but also the person doing the mentoring. I have written several blogs over the years about mentoring but usually from the lens of choosing a mentor and being mentored,

Teaching at Baseline

My Godson, Elijah, is totally adorable. I mean, TOTALLY ADORABLE. His grin warms my heart and his little voice is like music to my ears. I love spending time with him. I love it when he puts his little hand in mine. I love it when he tells me “I love you.” I sometimes love playing card with him.

I say sometimes, because Elijah struggles a great deal when he does not win (as most kids do).

Them and Us…

Human beings seem to have an innate ability to divide the world into “us” and “them”. We’re hardwired to have different hormonal and neurotransmitter responses to the people that we consider to be part of our in-group, than to those that we consider to be part of the out-group. Oxytocin, a hormone that is vital for in-group bonding and prosocial behavior, also has the less desirable tendency of making people more xenophobic towards people that a person does not consider to be part of their in-group.

Who Do We Train?

I was recently listening to a podcast titled, “A Whole School Approach to Behavior Issues,” where a school principal was talking about his attempts to effectively support students with behavioral challenges and the teachers working with them. As part of this process, he realized that it wasn’t reasonable to expect teachers to constantly deal with behavioral issues and effectively teach the rest of the class at the same time. To better support the teachers and students,

Need for Control

My grandson Matt many know has Downs Syndrome. He’s 25 and many mornings I’m reminded how his behavior is typical. He will call early in the morning, and all I hear is breathing. I will say hello, Matt. Matt you call me, and all I hear is the breathing. I again call his name, and then he will say, “Fine no go”. I will just listen. He will again say Matt no go. I will ask him is it time to go to work?

Back To School

Today I am in the position of many parents, home alone for the first time since early June, my three children have all gone off this morning to new term, new grades and for some, new schools for the 2017/2018 academic year. In common with many parents I am sure the feelings are bittersweet…. The summer is behind us, but so it the challenge of three kids arguing and generally be a challenge to us and each other.

Moving from How to Wow!

I recently attended the Global Leadership Summit. It is always wonderful to attend conferences that have amazing speakers who challenge me to not only become a better leader but overall a better person. Like the previous year, I walked away with lots of thoughts about how can I improve in all aspects of my life and what areas did I need to start working on immediately. One of the areas I was convicted to improve upon was my parenting skills.

Being Superman… or woman!

I recently went to Six Flags Over Georgia with several family members and some friends and all their children. I think all told we had 14 people including nine kids aged thirteen and under. We decided to go to an amusement park on possibly the hottest day of the summer AND it was after one of the kids had just gotten back from a week-long camp. As you can see, exceptional planning on our part!

One Small Act

It’s amazing how one small act of kindness can help a person reframe their situation. I was recently in an airport waiting in line at the bag check station. There was a man standing behind me who was quite obviously upset. He muttered a few swear words, and grumbled about how slow the line was moving. I mentioned that I was not in a hurry, and he could take my place in line if he was running late.

Here’s To The Teachers

I recently saw a Peanuts comic strip where Peppermint Patty says to Charlie Brown, “I wonder what teachers make.” Charlie Brown responds, “A difference Peppermint Patty, they make a difference!”

With August upon us, teachers everywhere are starting to prepare themselves for a new school year. My wife is one of them and will be working in new school system this year. Although this will be her 18th year teaching, the beginning a of new school year is always stressful and doing it in a new place with unfamiliar people will compound the stress.


One of the central tenets of the Mandt philosophy is the concept of ‘Respect’. As a Mandt Faculty member, I have tried, for years to help people understand how to treat people with respect. It is easy for staff to identify when they believe a client or other staff person is being disrespectful to them, but they may find identifying evidence of respect a trickier process.

I may talk to a person with kindness and appropriate tone,

Parenting By iPad

So, here’s the dilemma…. In order to keep kids entertained/distracted/occupied during the summer months whilst I am working from home, access to the iPad is a great tool and highly portable resource. Trouble is, without my really being aware my youngest will happily spend 3 or more hours watching you tube videos with his head phones on and not engaging with me or his siblings, or the summer days passing by outside. The awareness was selective on my part as it leaves me free to work.

Fragile X Awareness

Though I share stories about my son Tyler in blogs all the time, I haven’t highlighted Fragile X syndrome (FXS) since 2014. As July is Fragile X awareness month I thought I would once again shine a light on the most common inherited cause of intellectual disabilities and autism. Since Tyler’s diagnosis of FXS when he was two, my wife Jammie and I have become very involved in helping spread the word about Fragile X.

Alone In A Crowd

I’ve just recently finished watching the Netflix original series “Thirteen Reasons Why.” I’m not here to promote the series (it’s disturbing on many levels) or to condemn it (lots of valuable
talking points to begin conversations with the young teens in your life). My take-away from this series has more to do with the power of relationships, which (of course) is the foundation for our program.

The premise of this show is that the main female character made 13 cassette tapes for various people to listen to so they might better understand how the relationship that they had with her,

Using Your RADAR

June was National Safety Month (Click here to read our June ‘Learning Exchange’ if you missed it). Danger can take many forms, and situational awareness is one of the key elements in maintaining safety. The Mandt System provides the RADAR model as a tool that helps people to develop situational awareness, and to make good decisions in situations that can sometimes be risky. Radar stands for: Recognize, Assess, Decide, Act, and Review Results.

Writing People Off

A year or two ago I was teaching a workshop and one of the participants shared a story about an individual who had gone through an addiction treatment program. This person had participated in the program 15 to 20 times over multiple years, and many staff at the facility had given up any hope that the person would ever overcome their addiction.

Many of us have had this experience with someone we have served.

Make time to smell the roses!

‘Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments……..’ Rose Kennedy

The last six months have seen lots of milestones reached in my family. We’ve had graduations, marriages, job changes, and moves across the country, there has been plenty of laughter. And a few tears. In January, my grandson, Blake, got married and moved to Colorado Springs . In May, my only granddaughter graduated from high school. And the first of June, my oldest grandson,


Have you ever longed for the day that you can RETIRE? Spend your days sleeping in, doing what you want, living the easy life. My daughter works in the retirement and estate planning field, she told me this week that some individuals came in to see her. The husband had retired early (age 65), but the wife said she couldn’t take it. He needed to find something else to do besides be under her feet all day.

Leading the horse to water…

My guess is we have all heard the statement “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”. The last few days this statement has been floating around in my head. I have had a couple conversations recently about “how do we get our staff to buy into what Mandt teaches?”. Often the conversation has also included some statement like “most of my staff are on board but I have one or two that struggle to get on board”.

De-Escalation Preference…

Kids’ favorite time of the year has finally arrived – it’s SUMMER! A couple of students in my life have been counting down the number of days left since January. So, yeah. They’re super excited.

I loved summer when I was a teenager too. I liked the slower pace; I liked being able to stay up later and sleep later; I liked wearing shorts and flip-flops; and, I liked all the creative ways my friends and I found to make up for the fact we had no access to a swimming pool (imagine lawn chairs positioned creatively under the sprinkler).


I’ve been thinking about evaluations lately. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the utility that evaluations hold for those of us involved in training. Training is one of the few professions that a person gets multiple written evaluations of their performance on a weekly basis. Most organizations solicit feedback from course participants after every training event that is held. It’s an interesting situation. What does all this information mean, and how do we best utilize it?


A few weeks ago, one of the participants in a workshop had traveled there on his new motorcycle. Let me just say that it was a sweet bike! He parked it up near the door under the awning of the hotel to protect it. On the third day of the workshop, the hotel manager came to me and said that someone from the hotel’s corporate headquarters had done a surprise inspection the evening before, and that she had been cited because of where the motorcycle was parked.

Asking…. Not Telling!

A colleague recently sent me an email letting me know that they were not going to be able to complete one of their required job duties. I was sitting in an airport waiting on a delayed plane so not in the best of existing mood when I fired off my response. My colleague came straight back to me and sought to clarify that their message was asking not telling…. I had not got that from the words used,

Keeping the Peace…. between Teenagers!

As the parent of an eleven, fourteen and seventeen year old, it is not uncommon to find myself mediating over arguments, bickering and fights. UN peacekeepers could learn a lot from parents of teenagers!

A common theme often relates to the perception of ‘fairness’ and one young person’s sense of injustice related to expectations or supports given to another sibling. During the phase, I will call ‘establishing the facts,’ it is often stated that you did this for him but I only got or received …………

The Value in Understanding the ABC Model

Tara had been working with a young man, TG, in a residential setting for quite some time. They had developed a positive relationship. TG was doing so well that his team began to talk with TG about returning him to his family home. On this particular day, Tara was in a room alone with the young man when he suddenly backed her up against a wall and held a knife at her throat. Tara was very frightened but used her relationship with him and her verbal skills to engage him,

Easter Memories

Many years ago, I was able to drive my grandparents to North Dakota to visit family – my aunt and uncle and three cousins. It was Easter weekend and there are a few things that stand out for me.

It was the first time I’d tasted M&M’s with almonds. My aunt had made up Easter baskets for all of us “kids” (even though we were all in our twenties) and in addition to the typical chocolate Easter bunnies and the jelly beans were M&M’s.

Nature is a Powerful Teacher

I spend a lot of time in the great outdoors with my kids. Nature is a powerful teacher, and can provide wonderful opportunities for developing relationships. I’m often surprised at how often concepts from the relational chapters of the Mandt System seem to come up in these outdoor adventures.

We frequently go for long walks at a nature preserve that is not far from my home. Before we embark upon the journey, I show both my daughters the route that we will take on the map posted at the entrance to the preserve.

The Official or The Coach: Which Are You?

I came across this picture online recently and it caught my interest. It was taken during the 1967 Boston Marathon. Katherine Switzer, the first woman to register and run in the marathon, made world headlines after a race official tried to physically remove her from the race because she was a woman. In this picture, her coach (on her right) is trying to keep the official away from her to ensure she could continue running.

Dream Big

Christopher Reeve’s aka “Superman” once said” So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then When we summon the Will they soon become Inevitable” Many times in my life I have had the privilege of seeing individuals seemingly impossible dreams come true. For example, in 1997, my youngest daughter was involved in a severe car accident. She lost a substantial amount of long term memory and basically all short-term memory.

Electronic Intrusion In Our Lives

A colleague and I were chatting this week about the different strategies we have developed to create acceptable family practice around use of electronics by ourselves and our children. Between us, he and I have 6 kids aged 6 to 24, boys and girls and all attached in varying degrees to their electronics.

We have a broad discussion about parental controls, live gaming consoles, access to pornography, violence in first person shooter games,

A Shout Out to Harris County Juvenile Probation!

I had the opportunity to train the 2017 material at the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department recently and wanted to share what for me was a truly inspiring event. My sincere thanks to Nicole Collier and Moe Hobson for sharing this story.
Harris Co Juvenile Probation serves a large population of youth ranging in ages from 10 to 17. The population includes youth with a history of violent offenses. Their data indicates that many of the youth have mental health issues,

The Importance of Friends

So, my friends from “back home” recently tried to surprise me for my birthday (it was a milestone birthday – this isn’t something we do on a regular basis). Even though they were unsuccessful in the surprise element it was still a really fun weekend spent with some of the best people I know.

Every time I have the opportunity to get together with these ladies I am reminded of just how lucky I am to have these life-long friendships.

Co-operation vs Compliance

Most people are familiar with the comedian and actor Jim Carrey. He has done several interviews over the years talking about growing up with a mother who suffered from depression and how he used to act funny to make her laugh. I have often used a story he tells about his experience in middle school when teaching instructor workshops. He says that to help curb his disruptive behavior that some of his teachers gave him a few minutes at the end of class to do a comedy routine.

The Ultimate Relationship

My grandson married the girl of his dreams on January 7, 2017. He’s the first of our grandchildren to stand at the front of a group of his friends and family, as he watched his fiancé, dressed in a beautiful white dress walk to meet him at the end of the aisle, and pledge to love, honor, and cherish “til death do us part”. We have a joke in our family in which I dutifully remind anyone within earshot that “til death do us part” is a very,

What’s Real?

With the current furor over fake news, reports of electoral interference and leaking of real or false intelligence it can be hard to discern what is authentic. It used to be easy, false news was The Onion or similar and anything coming out of former Soviet Union was communist propaganda.

So in such confusing times where do we go to get what’s real. In the Mandt System our advice is going to be look into your relationships.

Valentines…. every day

According to, Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated each year on February 14 by the exchange of cards, flowers, candy, or gifts with your special “valentine.” The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.

Is there another day that celebrates relationships quite the way that Valentine’s Day does? Over 40,000 people in the U.S.

The Impact of Scents

In Building Healthy Communication, The Mandt System teaches how we use our senses to understand and react to the world around us. The purpose of the information is to inform instructors that when there are neurological issues that cause our senses to work differently, individuals may have challenges correctly interpreting and responding to what is occurring in the environment. Emphasis is placed on the olfactory system (sense of smell) and how smells can have even more of an impact on us than any of our other senses.

Building People Up

My brother in law has Cystic Fibrosis. As the result of deteriorating lung capacity, he received a lung transplant about 2 weeks ago. The process of recovery and his body learning to use his new lungs is not easy or quick. His wife posted the following recently on her Facebook page, and I asked her if I could share it.

“I’m not really sure how to describe yesterday. Clinically, he did amazing. He sat in a chair for most of the day and was on what is called a trach mask which has no vent support,


Family has always been important to me. Recently, we added a new granddaughter to the family. Blake Paterson married Sarah Ridings at Cocoa Beach Florida on 1-7-17, of course Matt and Miah were in attendance and was assigned to pass out programs and greet the guest. One of my favorite moments was at the rehearsal dinner, various people were standing sharing memories about the couple and offering congratulations. Matt stood up and walked up to the head table,

Posting Abuse on Facebook

The recent live ‘Facebook’ streaming of four individuals physically and emotionally abusing a young man with ADD and a Mental Health disorder is justifiably shocking and the legal, social and political condemnation has been swift.

One has to wonder what would prompt such behavior being seen as something to publically broadcast? Lets face it, lack of understanding, human empathy and stigma are not new issues facing folks such as this young man but the recording and broadcasting of such abuse is surely a new phenomenon?

Safety….not risk management

This story was offered by Lela Kennedy, STEP, Inc., Montana as the class discussed Chapter 6, Legal and Liability Issues and specifically, safety not risk management. It seems an appropriate story to share as we celebrate the holidays and determine how individuals in our care can participate.

Donald turned 21 in Aug 2015. His guardian, (a kind and wonderful woman) was opposed to him celebrating his 21st birthday by drinking alcohol. Our organization advocated for him to celebrate his birthday the way he chose and recognized that many youth use alcohol as a “rite of passage”.

A Sweet Surprise!


I’ve been told that a good blog post is just a couple of paragraphs in length, is a fairly light topic and ends on a positive note. Thus, if you read to the end there’s a sweet surprise.

It seems to me I’m “always” faced with writing a blog just when Christmas is coming into full swing! Okay, not always, but more than once anyway.

Thank you for the work you do

I was having dinner last week with a workshop participant and his wife. As we were talking about some of the experiences we’ve had in our jobs over the years, his wife made the statement that I have heard many times about how it takes a special person to do the work we do and support the people we serve. The temptation in these situations is often to downplay this to the person, but there is truth in that statement.

Joyous Holiday Season?

The holiday season is here!! Our family enjoys lots of time together celebrating the joys of the season. We are truly thankful for all the blessings we share. This year is even more special as my two oldest grandsons prepare to marry, family is expanding and the future looks bright. My daughter told me the other day that Miah, the youngest grandson has decided that with all the talk of weddings that he is ready to get married also;

Getting Ready for the Holidays

At this time of year it seems that everyone is publishing their guide to the holidays. I have already seen blogs on items such as ‘preparing your house’ for the holidays, ‘getting ready for overnight guests’, ‘preparing the perfect Christmas Dinner’ and even ‘keeping your pets safe’ over the holiday season. So far however I have not seen anything on maintaining your relationships over the holiday season, so the goal of this blog is to try and address this gap.

Are We Friends?

In Chapter One, Building Healthy Relationships, there is a specific slide about appropriate boundaries. Typically, this discussion focuses on caregivers and the individuals in their care, however, Michael Benoit, LPN had a different take on this which is worth sharing!

A brief moment during the MANDT training focuses on the question, Are we friends? as it pertains to the provider-client relationship. Yet, this is also a pertinent question that may come up between team members.

Happy Thanksgiving

Like many of you, I woke on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 with a sense of somber responsibility. Each task that I completed was weighted with the gravity of a decision that I was loathe to make. I’ve been faced with this decision before, so it’s not completely new to me, but still. What to do?

There were many things to consider – I needed to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of my choices and come to a final decision.

Being A Safe Person

One of the things that I have appreciated most about The Mandt System since I became an instructor seventeen years ago and faculty member two and a half years ago is how applicable the principles are to my everyday life. I often tell people that learning these skills has helped me maintain a healthy, loving relationship with my wife over the 12 years that we have been married. I believe one of the most important principles we teach is understanding the need to be a safe person for the people around you.

Life Animated

One of the perks of flying a lot is that on some planes I get to watch movies, and I look for unusual movies I’ve not seen before. On my last flight, I watched a movie called “Life, Animated” and was so amazed by it. This is a documentary about the life of Owen Susskind, a young autistic man whose language and social skills began to deteriorate when he was about 3 years old. His language became garbled and the boy who jabbered and laughed with his family went away.

Best Laid Plans

We have all heard about the best-laid plans, and the fact they never work out as expected. Therefore, we should just plan that our plans are going to require adjustments. This is especially true when working with people. Everything from the weather, full moons, illness and an emergency call in; change your plan for the day.

The Mandt System teaches the crisis cycle and the importance of building the foundation of trust before a crisis,

United Flight 283 LAX to ORD

Last week I was at the departure gate for my home bound flight when the dreaded announcement was made by the gate agent “Flight 283 plane has been downsized and consequently we are oversold by 70 seats…. We may be able to get some of you out on an American Airline flight but most of you are going have to wait until tomorrow to get out”. The concern, tension and anxiety was palpable and immediately a queue formed at the gate desk to ask questions.

A FRIEND IN NEED: Practical Application of Maslow

This blog comes from the “teach back” performed by M.L. during a Nebraska event. It was an excellent narrative which helped instructors understand an application of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

M.L. has a friend (Tom) that he has been close to for a long time. When Tom lost his job, he was justifiably concerned about how this would impact his family, his wife and child. Tom was obviously under considerable stress. M.L. and other friends decided to reach out to Tom and decided to cheer him up by taking him out for an evening to enjoy a movie.

Turning into your parents…

Has anyone else ever opened their mouth and heard their mother coming out? Yeah, me too. When the heck did THAT happen?

I mean, I distinctly remember swearing (perhaps even with my hand on a Bible) that I would never, ever (ever, ever, ever) say the things or do the things that my mother did. “I’ll be different.” “I’ll be cool.” “I’ll be understanding.” “I’ll remember what it was like to be a kid or teenager.”


The Remarkable Resilience of Children

An article recently appeared in my new feed about a refugee center in Germany where children uprooted by war in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are living. The author of the article stated that “The refugees I met in Germany told me unfathomable tales of horror. I heard of family and friends killed in bombings, of being tortured by militants and of boats capsizing in pitch-dark seas. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to live through all that,

Today is a gift…

Last weekend, a 17-year-old young man lost his life in a car accident. I didn’t know him or his family, but from the outpouring of love and support, it’s easy to see that he had a tremendous impact on those around him. It’s been said that he had the most contagious smile. As a star wide receiver on the high school football team, his coach describes him as a very competitive, tough, hard working student both on and off the field.

To err is human….

In 1711 the English poet Alexander Pope published his first major work which included the line #525 “….to err is human; to forgive, divine”

In the Mandt system we talk about seeing mistakes as simply mistakes and this is a principle strand in our approach not just to building healthy communication but also healthy conflict resolution. So what about when the mistake is deliberate or intended to obfuscate…. Is our job to forgive?

The Value of Documentation

This blog is offered by a certified instructor in an attempt to share information on the value of documentation. In The Mandt System, the need for good and exact documentation is repeatedly stressed. This blog, proudly offered by staff at a school in Minnesota clearly indicates the importance of documentation.

Since starting Mandt our school has become very good about following procedures and documentation. A parent came up to me and asked me if her child had been restrained,

Positive Stress Triggers?

My niece (actually two of them) recently graduated from high school. Those of you who have been through a high school graduation probably remember the stress of this life event. Those of you who have yet to experience it…get ready!

I’m not sure what it is about high school graduation that makes parents decide that this is the time to accomplish every single home improvement project that they’ve ever thought of, but that tends to be the case.

Washing Machines & School Attendance

I have seen quite a few articles and videos over the last year or so talking about the connection between school attendance and poverty. This week I read an article on Upworthy (link below) about Whirlpool donating washers and dryers to schools and how it has made a significant impact on kids showing up. The article describes situations where kids were not coming to school simply because they did not have clean clothes to wear.

Setting Boundaries

Robert Frost wrote in one of his poems that “good fences make good neighbors.” There is no fence between my house and my neighbor’s, and we cross the boundaries of our properties when we mow part of each other’s yard or pick up the trash. We don’t have a fence, but we do have boundaries. I know better than to weed his flower bed, and he knows better than to weed ours. We have a friendship going,

One Event, Many Perspective’s

In the Olympic news this past week there has been a focus on the US team swimmers and their alleged experience of robbery in Rio. While the details are still emerging much has been reported about the inconsistency of their stories and accounts of what happened, and to whom. Without wanting to make any judgment on veracity of their respective statements it is interesting as a phenomenon we experience when addressing crisis situations and debriefing in the Mandt System training events.

Mistakes are often simply mistakes…

Mistakes are often simply mistakes and forgiveness is key.

In teaching Building Healthy Relationships, The Mandt System teaches, when there is trust in a relationship, it is easier to see a mistake as simply a mistake.
I had an opportunity to experience that recently. My car needed repair. The best time to address the need is when I am on the road, not using my vehicle. Unfortunately, Don’s, the business I’ve used for years is closed on the weekend.

In This House…

I’m from a large family. Like, unusually large. My seventieth (70th) cousin is due to be born in August. I’ve not come across many people who can top that number.

The other unusual thing is that we all, mostly, get along really well and want to spend time together. Case in point? We are all traveling to Webster, SD in a few weeks to stay in some cabins at a fishing lake. When I first put out the details about when and where,

Trauma from Social Media?

While social media provides us with the ability to stay connected and aware of the events happening in the lives of friends and family, it also bombards us with stories, images, and videos of violent events happening to people all over the world. I was reading an article this week that referenced some research that was released in early 2015 about the effects of viewing violent images and video on social media. The research “indicated that 22 percent of participants were significantly affected by the media events.

Protecting Our Children…

Protecting Our Children From All Harm and Other Impossible Parenting Tasks

Last week, as a family from Nebraska enjoyed the evening breeze on the beach at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World, a monster was lurking at the water’s edge. Signs were posted stating that swimming wasn’t allowed in the area. In a perfect example of “hindsight is 20/20”, of course the parent’s would alter where they allowed their tiny 2-year-old son to splash in the water if given the chance,

Saying Sorry

So this was a week of apologies on the political landscape. Ruth Bader Ginsberg (US Supreme Court Justice) and Boris Johnson (Newly appointed Foreign Secretary to UK Government), both issued a public ‘mea culpa’ for comments made without consideration to appropriateness, feelings, or cultural sensitivity (on part of Mr Johnson). Our feelings are our own and generally not subject to public scrutiny unless position or politics are our field.

Most users of the Mandt System work in health,

This Mandt stuff works?!

This blog is offered by Rachael Martin, one of the awesome instructors I met recently. It clearly indicates the value of understanding and using I messages instead of you messages (as taught in Chapter 2 of the RCT curriculum), checking for unmet needs using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need and how asking the questions helped move her son from a place where he was being driven by emotion to a place where he was able to process the information – Aaryce Hayes – SVP Operations

Did you know this Mandt stuff works?!

Belated Fathers Day

Happy Belated Fathers Day. I know many may not know ,there may be many who would prefer not to know this. We know according to the ACE study quoted in The Mandt System, one third of people in the study stated no abuse during the formative years. I’m one of the third.

Today, I would like to think my dad for all the help he gave me growing up. He is the reason I preform my job,

Why Lunch Ladies Are Heroes

I was watching a short TED Talk this week entitled, “Why Lunch Ladies Are Heroes.” In this talk, the speaker describes the impact a cafeteria worker had in his life and tells stories of some pretty amazing things that school cafeteria workers are doing around the country. There is a link to the video at the end of the blog if you’d like to watch it. What really caught my attention was the cafeteria worker who,

Compassion First

I’m actually writing this blog on the heels of three really tragic events in the Orlando, FL area. First was the shooting death of Voice alum Christina Grimmie; the mass shooting at Orlando nightclub Pulse; and, the alligator attack at a Walt Disney World Resort that left a 2-year old boy dead.

Trauma much?

I am left sitting here with my mouth kind of slacked open from the unimaginable grief, shock,

When I am Me

Following a medical diagnosis last summer I was treated and then placed on a variety of painkillers to manage my symptoms during my recovery phase. I ended up taking at least 2 types of strong opiates multiple times during the day and continued to do so until recently when I choose to reduce my usage, as I was questioning the effectiveness, in my particular situation.

Over a few weeks I came off these meds and was faced with a number of folks telling me it was great to get ‘the old me’ back again.

It’s the Little Things…..

The Mandt System utilizes Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to help caregivers understand the impact unmet needs can have on how individual’s use their behavior. One area that is sometimes overlooked is that the need for safety and security includes the need to feel control over one’s life and the decisions made on a daily basis.

When individuals live in a setting where their sense of Liberty has been restricted their behavior will demonstrate that sense of frustration and often resistance.

Tupperware Party

This month I’ve been facing a new challenge in my life. It’s a challenge I’ve actually faced previously, but has proven to be a very worthy adversary this second time around.

Contact lenses.

I know. I know what you’re thinking: “no big deal.” I was right there with you, folks. But this particular contact lens has zigged when I was expecting a zag and has really made me question whether or not it is possible to teach an old dog (me) new tricks (like how to put in the stupid contact lens).

Making Peace

You Make Peace with Your Enemies, Not Your Friends

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and watched last Sunday’s episode, the title above should sound familiar to you. If you’re not a fan, the show depicts a complex world where pretty much everyone is trying either to obtain power, right a wrong, or just survive. The reality is that there are sometimes a lot of similarities between our organizations and the world in Game of Thrones.

Finding Something to Give

My daughter just returned from her 5th trip to Guatemala where she served as cook for a team of high school students who were spending their Spring Break serving others. The group of 65 spent the week at a home for orphaned, abused, neglected or abandoned children. Currently, there are over 450 children who live at the home. Every time she visits the home, she hears stories of unimaginable abuse, as over 80% of the children living there have endured some type of abuse,

A Single Choice?

Well what an interesting week in the political arena of the Republican nomination in the US. One candidate left out of a field of 17 with further states yet to vote. So does this mean there is a single choice only? It might seem so, but of course it is never as simple as that.

In the Mandt System we talk in our Relational Chapter – ‘Building Healthy Conflict Resolution’ about being creative or looking outside the box when there seems to only be one choice or option.

You Get What You Give

The Mandt System® teaches that consistently treating individuals receiving services and other caregivers with respect and dignity can develop healthy relationships. Examples shared include security staff in jails and prisons, who treat the inmates with respect have sometimes been protected during riots by individuals for whom they were responsible. A certified Mandt Instructor (AA) shared an experience that clearly exemplifies this concept.

AA works with young women in a secure juvenile justice facility.

The Image We Project

After the recent New York primary election results it has been interesting to read, and listen to the pundits and journalists discussing how both the leading candidates have to now change, or modify their image in order to appeal to the wider base of their respective parties. What a fascinating notion this is. The appeal that they have gained to date, has to now we altered, and or diluted so as to reach a target demographic,

‘Work Family’ versus Acquaintances’s

Sometimes we refer to our work colleagues as our ‘work family’ and certainly for us in the Mandt System, as a small company of dispersed folks with many relationships extending over decades this can certainly sometimes feel the case. Our acquaintances are those folks that we serve and support. In many cases the acquaintanceship has grown over the years to become more of a Partner, Advocate, or Champion. These are all good words that capture the relationship we want to have with the people we serve and support.

Empathy is Concern for Others

The last couple days I have been spending time over in England with a friend and co-worker. I really enjoy these times as we sit and talk for long periods, often traveling from one area of the country to the other. In our recent talks he has been sharing about a book he is finding to be very good on empathy. Yesterday, we had a discussion about the topic with over a dozen other professionals in our field discussing what it really was,

How My Time Flies

It was 2 years ago this month that I left the company where I had been working for 21 years and joined The Mandt System faculty. As I think back on that decision, I can honestly say that I have no regrets. With all the hassles that come with air travel and life on the road, I often think of how fortunate I am to get to do the work I do with the people I get to do it with.

Looking For Independence

All parents want their children to grow up to be happy independent adults, that contribute to society in a meaningful way. That is what I desire for my girls and what they both want for their children. The difference is my oldest daughter’s children discover their hopes, dreams, and career through natural growth and progression through school, the youngest daughter’s children not so much.

My youngest daughter Cyndi, has my two grandson who have special needs.

Running Toward the Fire

In the Mandt System we, as employees try as far as possible to act and behave in ways that mirror and are consistent with what we teach in the program. In particular in the areas of building healthy relationships, communication and conflict resolution. Over recent weeks we, as a company have been dealing with a set of shifting responsibilities and as with any change process event the associated anxieties and concerns that individuals understandably have.

Faith Builds Strength

Sometimes as service providers or caregivers we become so focused on the behaviors that are demonstrated by someone in our care that we fail to be empathetic and support the emotional and psychological pain the person is enduring. Keep in mind that the person is not simply concerned about themselves but is also in agony because what is occurring internally is also impacting their interactions with their loved ones. In this blog, Danyelle eloquently shares what she is experiencing internally and how she copes.


Several weeks ago I was in Portage LaPrairie, Manitoba, facilitating an Mandt workshop. When I landed in Winnipeg, I knew it would be an interesting week, because I could not see the terminal due to the blowing snow. The roads from Winnipeg west were closed that night, and did not reopen until 7am on Monday. Needless to say, we were all late for the first day of the workshop!

Now, when things like this happen,

What is your Quest?

What is your “Quest” in your Question?

I believe questioning is an important skill to teach people for their own growth and development. Questioning is an early part of human development. My five-year-old son has questioned since the day he could talk. I believe his first word was “momma” and would not doubt “why” was his second. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. He is a strong willed and independent child who needs to organize the world around him.

Building Team Relationships

Many years ago when I was a manager, I remember a team building activity that my administrator organized for the managers on our campus. We spent a day canoeing down a section of the Shenandoah River near our facility. Most of the trip was relatively smooth flowing, but there were spots where the river became shallow and quick moving. There were multiple times that some of the canoes flipped, and we had to help each other get them upright and bailed out.

What’s Happened to Responsibility?

Recently, President Obama grew emotional when making a passionate plea for gun control; many people believe it was fake. I really believe he is sorrowful for the children murdered in the Sandy Hook tragedy, as are most people. In my personal opinion, the thing that President Obama and others are failing to see is that the true issue is not guns or stricter gun laws, but that people no longer have any personal responsibility for their actions.

Building Up, Not Tearing Down

So much of the recent news, Presidential nomination campaigns, Flint water contamination, Oscars award controvosies etc.. has involved individuals, tearing others down, apportioning blame as a way to build themselves up or show themselves in a better light at the expense of others.

Arguably there end up no winners in a situation like this and many casualties are created along the way. I see the impact of positions taken on social media or tweets that end up dividing friends and family members who have no direct connection or involvement in the original issue but an opinion or side that they feel compelled to take.

Connecting For Growth

The Mandt System, Inc. is grateful for this submission from Linda Logan, a certified Mandt instructor. The message reinforces the importance of human connections and relationships which is emphasized in the RCT curriculum.

How do you reach a child whose behavior (which includes a total absence of behavior), seems unrelated to external cues? In Kids Beyond Limits, Anat Baniel’s successes in working with children with special needs offer important clues.

Trauma & The Need for Healing

I’m a college football fan. Not really any other sports, but I love college football. This blog is going to be a tough read for some of you and I want to start off by saying I in no way condone the behavior of this man, but I do think that a lot of his story (and it’s unfortunate end) could have been different if he’d had better human connections in his life.

Former NFL player Lawrence Phillips died this week.

Are You Safe?

I was in Brownsburg, Indiana this week teaching a one-day workshop on supporting people with complex behaviors at ALPHA, a specialized school for students with significant behavioral disorders. In the course of our discussions, one of the Mandt instructors said that the most important part of de-escalation for them was learning to ask students “are you safe?” She said that when they started using this question, there was a marked change in the behavior of the students.

The Difference Between Surviving & Thriving

As I write this it is the last day of 2015. Christmas has come and gone and the world is preparing for a celebration of the New Year. Like many I reflect back on the past as I look forward to what a whole new year has in store for me. Probably like you this year was filled with ups and downs. I had to deal with the death of people I knew, watched as friends struggled with health issues,

It’s A wonderful Life

As I sit at my mother’s house on Christmas morning watching one of my favorite movies, It’s A Wonderful Life, George has just gotten to the point where he has given up hope and wishes that he was never born. If you haven’t seen it, and you should if you haven’t, the rest of the movie is about George getting the opportunity to see what it would be like if he never existed. Through this experience he is able to see the positive effects he has had on the people in his life.

Whats Important?

I recently read an article from Richard Branson CEO of Virgin about his secrets to hiring great people. His focus was on the fact that individuals can’t fake Personality, Purpose, or Passion. Which started me thinking about individuals who work in the Human Service field. It is so very true that in order to not only survive but dare we hope for thrive in the human service field the “three P’s” are key, so let’s take a quick look at the good and bad side of personality and passion.

What Defines Us?

This past week the press and media have been making much of the comments made by individuals seeking the Republican presidential nomination both for and in response to US immigration policy proposals on the basis of an individual’s identified religion. Given the huge range and diversity of faith and practices in ALL religions whether Islamic or Judeo-Christian in origin, this represents a minefield of issues to navigate, legal as well as ethical.

In the Mandt system we have identified a less complex approach.

Managing Safety vs Managing Risk

When my son was born, I used to joke that my wife would make him wear protective gear someday to go to the refrigerator. She is quite the worrier. With that, she puts a lot of thought into things that might happen. Often, the best defense against something that might happen would be not to put yourself in the situation it might happen. Is this safer? Perhaps, but at what expense? I had fun with it,

Healthy Relationships – A Tool For Healing

In our train the trainer workshops, Chapter 4 focuses on trauma and a good deal of the chapter discusses a study that was conducted in cooperation between the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA and Kaiser Permanente (an insurance provider). The study originated in an effort to assist patients with weight loss since obesity and weight related medical problems constitute a significant financial drain for insurance companies. However, it was quickly identified that many patients were dropping out of the program despite success in the weight loss program.

The Shock of the Fall

I love to read, and have the good fortune to have a job where I get paid to sit in airports, airplanes and restaurants where reading helps to pass the time. I used to buy books because I like holding a book in my hands, and it is similar to “comfort food” because the library was my “safe place” when I was a child. Today I have an iPad with a Kindle app, and I get to download books for free from the library,

Lightsabers, Winnie the Pooh, and All Things Awesome

Recently, while doing a training, the subject came up around age appropriateness. The organization I was doing Autism training for said they have been having lots of discussions around age appropriateness, especially with their regulatory body. I thought this week I would share my views on the subject. My views are not meant to offend but rather simply represent the opinions I have formed in just under 30 years of working with individuals in care,

Trauma Informed Staff

I was reading an article this afternoon about the increased level of violence in the city of Chicago and how it is affecting many of the school children there. Earlier this week, a 9 year-old was shot multiple times and killed in what police say seems to have been an intentional act. Representatives for Chicago school teachers were pointing out the lack of crisis counselors that the city has on staff to support children who have experienced violent events.


With the anniversary of 9/11 a few week ago, I had a conversation with my 16 year old granddaughter about how airline travel has changed over the years, many changes which can be attributed to the impact of that tragic day in American history.

I travel a lot. I’ve logged more than 2 million miles in my travel time. Surprisingly, all those miles were logged in the last 30 years. I hadn’t flown on an airplane before then.

Learning to Let Go

Those of you that have been in workshops that I facilitate are likely aware of my unique family. I was honored to be a surrogate mother for my best friends and I had twins (Tanner and Kennedy) who will be fourteen soon (how the heck they got that old overnight is beyond me). Tanner and KJ also have an older sister named Zoe. Our family is a little different, but it works for me (mostly because I won’t be paying for their college in a few years) and it has been a pretty positive experience for all of us.

A Shout out to Mandt Instructors

Often in our classes, instructors comment that it must be great to be a TMS faculty member. It certainly is, but not necessarily for the reasons they assume. Travel can be fun, but is often challenging, airports are miserable, weather is unpredictable. For me, the greatest part of being a faculty member of The Mandt System is YOU!!!

Over the past 8 years it has been my great pleasure to meet individuals who are seeking (voluntarily or having been “volun-told”☺ to become a Mandt System instructor.

Balance In Relationships

A Personal Perspective

I planned, during July this year to repaint a large Bay Shaped window on my home in prep for the winter. Having set up the ladders and gantry I spent a couple of days sanding and filling ahead of the painting phase. When I began to apply the paint I kept finding myself getting really dizzy and had difficulty in focusing my vision, despite the stable platform to work from.

Workplace Violence – Still Increasing in Healthcare

In 2011 the Bureau of Labor Statistics published data on the incidence of injury and death in American workplaces. The data highlighted the fact that workplace violence decreased in all sectors in the US other than healthcare, where injuries actually rose by 10%. In December 2014, BLS updated the data, and if you are interested in looking at the full report, it is available online.

The upshot of all this is that in the category “violence and other injuries by persons or animals” occurred at a rate of 4.2 per 10,000 full time workers in the broad private sector.


This week while driving to a training event I was listening to the radio personalities discuss a study recently published on honesty. Apparently, the most honest people are children around the age of seven and adults over the age of sixty-five. The most dishonest people were teenagers. The study stated on average a person is dishonest twice a day. Most of the incidents of dishonesty were around not wanting to admit a wrong, which they themselves had committed.

People First

Some of you may have seen the monologue given by Miss Colorado in the talent portion of the recent Miss America Pageant. For those of you who haven’t, she is a nurse and she shared about her experience with a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. What stuck out to me the most about what she said was how she described the quality of relationship that she and her patient had developed. The foundation of this relationship was built upon her treating him first and foremost as a person instead of just treating his condition.

Distracted Driving

In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers (which includes texting and using a phone, as well as eating, adjusting the radio, and other activities), according to the US Department of Transportation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts say that 11 teen deaths occur EVERY DAY due to texting while driving.

In the latest of its “It Can Wait” campaign, AT&T offers a mini-movie that shows how checking social media while driving can destroy lives.

The Perspective of Others

Many of us with school age kids will or have been going through the ritual of the ‘return to school’. My three went back this past week and over dinner at the end of the first day they all debriefed on their experiences. My kids are in High, Middle and Elementary school respectively so my partner and I got to enjoy the full spectrum of the local system.

My eldest is a junior in high school and she was all about the new freshman students looking about 5 years old.

Importance of Relationship Building

As a Social Worker new to the State Hospital, my goal was to get to know the individuals I serve so I can best support and help them in their recovery. The time I invested in this effort brought me the opportunity to help a particular individual, JD, overcome disappointing news without becoming angry or aggressive.

I witnessed this JD become aggressive after being told that his category and privileges were being decreased due to his behaviors.

Keeping Relationships Real

For many years The Mandt System has referenced a study done by Albert Bandura which states that 17 out of every 20 interactions are negative. Glenn Lathum repeated the study in 2000 and found nearly identical results with 16 of 20 interactions being negative. Each time I present that information in our RCT workshops I’m struck with just how staggering those numbers are. It also makes me think of so many opportunities that we are presented with each day that are not capitalized upon.

Listen, Engage, Protect

Last year I came across a book called Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorious. This is an autobiography, and tells the story of a boy whose brain, for some unknown reason, began to unravel. Over a period of 2 years, Martin went from being an active, normal 10 year old to a point where he became totally unresponsive to outside stimuli. The word “vegetative” describes how he appeared to others.

After another 2 years in this vegetative state,

Nothing Beats Live!

We live in a day and age where you really don’t need to leave the comforts of home and venture out into the big scary world. More and more people are working from home, doing on-line shopping delivered straight to their front door, avoiding the theatres and streaming their movies. Doctors are even able to do check ups via new and improving technology. People pass on the big crowds of sporting events to stay home and watch the game on the television because of the better view and they have the comforts of home.

There IS a reason

I was recently reading an article about how the city of San Antonio, TX has been working to reduce the truancy rates in it’s schools. In 2010, they started a program that changed their response from punishing the truant students and parents through the use of criminal court proceedings and fines to, according to the article, one making students “the focus of intense intervention efforts aimed at addressing the root cases of their absences.” This approach has been successful in reducing San Antonio’s truancy rates,

Building Consistency

Consistency is extremely important for individuals with special needs. I know for my grandsons changes in routine can really throw them for a loop. Unfortunately, changes in staff sometimes happen frequently. I read a quote from Richard Branson this week which stated “Train people well enough so they can leave…. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” This really had a ring of truth to me. In September my mother started living in a long term care facility.


17 out of 20 interactions are negative according to the study by Albert Bandura in the 1960’s. I first learned about this research at The Mandt System conference and it is reinforced in the RCT instructor events. What a depressing reality! The information changed my life. I don’t want to live in a world where the majority of people’s interactions are negative. I believe the statistic because sarcasm counts, and we have become an extremely sarcastic society.

The Heart of the Matter

This week I was diagnosed as having a Heart Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) following a trip to ER last weekend whilst in Atrial Fibrillation (AF). I had been feeling unwell (very tired and difficulty in focusing and concentration) for the last few weeks and clearly now I can see I had probably been dropping in and out of AF for some time.

What was interesting was the number of folks (work colleagues and friends) who once aware of what was going on have said a version of “….

Happy Birthday, America

I’m sure each of us is looking forward to the mid-point of the summer this weekend. Whether you plan to celebrate with a backyard BBQ or you are scheduled to work so others may enjoy the holiday with friends and family, it’s a time to celebrate (and maybe earn time and a half on your paycheck)!

I’ve recently been seeing pictures of war veterans with yard signs asking their neighbors to be courteous since a combat veteran is in the area.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a term that many people have difficulty defining. In most cases, it is easier to know what mental health is not, rather than knowing what contributes to, what defines the term “mental health.”

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life,

Worthy of my Friends

Today as I write this blog I turn 47 years old. I think, like every year, my birthday is a time of reflection. Another year has passed and the stark reality, as I am blessed with another day of life, I am also one day closer to the great equalizer: Death. Birthdays are when we look back and we judge ourselves on our past expectations. Have I hit my goals? Am I making the money I thought I would be making by this age?

Love At Work

Some of you may have heard in the news last week about the Nobel Prize winning scientist who got himself in some trouble. It appears that while giving a talk at a conference for women scientists, he made some comments about women being a distraction in the lab basically saying they shouldn’t be there. Obviously the women present and many who have heard his comments since have little appreciation for his opinion.

After reading what the scientist said,

The Dress Phenomenon

A few months ago, a picture of a dress sparked a huge debate from sea to shining sea! Some people saw a blue dress with black lace, while others, looking at the very same picture, argued that the dress was white with gold lace.

One website took a poll asking readers to indicate which color the dress appeared to them, and they received 28 million responses, with white and gold getting the most votes.

Judging By Appearance

The impact of uniform clothing has a well documented psychological affect on the behavior, actions and attitudes of those seeing it. Psychologist Dr.Leonard Bickman conducted studies with a research assistant wearing alternate uniform and clothing types to evaluate the co-operation and compliance of citizens based upon perception of power and authority of person wearing it. The results are interesting and perhaps unsurprising and worth an internet look up for those interested.

My story is about just this phenomenon.

Words Can Hurt You

When participants come to a training event for their first time, they often approach the class with a certain amount of apprehension. When they learn the event is interactive both physically and non-physically, the discomfort may increase. Often humor is used to deal with this feeling of discomfort. Unfortunately the humor, intended to be playful, can sometimes become problematic.

Instructors need to be mindful of the use of humor. The training event needs to be feel relaxed in order for people to feel safe and engage.

That Darn 7%

A few years back I fell ill while on the road and ended up spending about a week in the hospital. As chance would have it, tonight I am staying in the exact same hotel as when this illness struck.

In an effort to share the irony, I sent a text message to two people who sat bedside with me during my hospitalization. My intention was to tell them, “hey…guess where I’m at” but it ended up coming across as,

It’s Just a Dash

Recently my Father-in-Law passed away. As I was walking in the cemetery I was suddenly struck that all of a person’s life is summoned up as the date of birth – date of death on the tombstone. All of one’s accomplishments, sacrifices, and mistakes are in the dash. I didn’t see one tombstone that spelled out how a person lived that dash, so I started thinking. How will my friends, family, co-workers and others that have passed through my life remember my dash.

Leadership In Change

It always amazes me how some companies can continuously be on top while making very few changes in appearance to their products while other companies constantly reinvent themselves to stay on top. Companies like Coke have pretty much made their business successful with their one key product, Coke. When you think of Coke, you think of them as a company that sells soft drinks. Apple computers has gone from making most of its money from selling computers to then selling iPods,

Why Do Our Staff Keep Leaving?

I recently read an article entitled “Revolving Door Of Teachers Costs Schools Billions Every Year” which discussed many of the reasons why there is such a high turnover rate among teachers. I recognized many of these reasons as being the same ones that result in staff leaving in other human service positions as well.

The article states that, “One of the main factors is the issue of voice, and having say, and being able to have input into the key decisions in the building that affect a teacher’s job.” This point resonated with me more than any of the others in the article.

What Are You Made Of?

My daughter recently added a tag line to her email that caught my eye, “The SAME boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg it’s about what you’re made of NOT the circumstance”. When I asked my daughter about this she stated that in life good and bad happens to everyone it is how one handles it that determines the outcome.

My youngest daughter has had some challenges, but has allowed those circumstances to make her softer for God to mold her into something more.

Recognizing Workplace Incivility & Bullying

This past week I have been spending time with colleagues and friends and we got around to talking about our respective work histories. One of my colleagues shared that he only recently realized that he had never left an employment position with an alternative position lined up. We were pondering on this and the reason, and each of us came to the realization that we could easily recognize and recall a tipping point when we decided we did not want to remain in our position or with our employing organizations during our work lives so far.

Changing the Future, Not Punishing the Past

When my oldest son was attending Junior High School, he had a bit of a struggle. Very early in Junior High he was labeled as having ADHD. I’ll get to that later. Every year was a struggle for Danny. Every semester he would barely move on to the following grade. He also had a really hard time accepting the “ADHD” label.

Towards the end of his last year of school I received a call informing me that the counselor had set up a meeting with Danny,


Back in February I attended church with my cousins in Peachtree City, Georgia (Southside Church) and their guest speakers were a couple by the name of John & Debbie Woodall. Southside Church was beginning a series entitled “Love Landmines.” Since this series was geared towards married couples I honestly thought not much of it would pertain to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong! As John and Debbie began to speak about some of the pitfalls facing many marriages I was quickly struck by the similarities that we discuss during our workshops – especially the first three chapters.

Happy Birthday, PBIS

Positive Behavior Support is celebrating its’ 25th anniversary this year as a concept. Writing with Rob Horner were Glen Dunlap, Robert Koegel, Edward Carr, Wayne Sailor, Jacki Anderson, Richard Albin, and Robert O’Neil. Prior to this article, terminology was shifting away from behavior management and behavior modification and towards phrases such as “non-aversive behavior management.” The problem with the term “non-aversive” was primarily because it focused on the negative, and not the positive.

Building on the work of people such as Judith Favell,

Advocacy Starts With Us

It’s that time of the year again! Nope, not March Madness, state basketball tournaments or the NFL draft predictions. Its that time of the year when Advocates and lobbyists across the country ascend on Washington DC and try to make sure that their needs are addressed in the upcoming appropriations for the budget. I was once again privileged to join about 200 advocates for fragile X on Capital Hill to have meetings with staffers for our state representatives in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Which Would You Choose?

Imagine for a second that you walk into a meeting or classroom and as you enter the room you are asked to choose between two large nametags that you will have to wear for the rest of the day. One of the nametags says “Stupid” and the other says “Behavior Problem”. Which would you choose?

When I ask this question in my workshops, it is rare that anyone chooses stupid. Most of us would rather be seen as behavior problems as opposed to being viewed as dumb.

Spending Time

A new year has begun. 2015 – has it really been 15 years since the whole world collectively sang Prince’s 1999, and secretly worried whether or not Y2K would really be the beginning of the end. Fifteen years seems like forever, and then again it seems like just yesterday.

I read an article recently written by a young mother who is living, and dying, with terminal cancer. Kara writes, “The real wrestling in living and in dying is always a wrestle for a number.” The truth is we all would love to have that number,

Down For Routine Maintenance

This last Friday we had a banner on our Mandt System website notifying users that we had an upcoming maintenance scheduled for 6pm to 7pm during which the site would be unavailable and apologize for any inconvenience caused etc… Getting the notice from our IT department that this was coming up provided me with my required inspiration for this weeks blog offering. So thank you IT.

As organization’s we recognize and accept that systems need routine updates and maintenance in order to stay functioning at a level and rate,

Data Sharing – A Win-Win

Each service sector is required by regulatory or accrediting entities to collect data. However there is no way to share information due to differences in definitions, data collection methodologies and standards which result in comparing apples to oranges. Federal legislation, The Children’s Health Act of 2000 would have created common definitions, data collection requirements and minimum standards facilitating sharing of data. Although the law was passed, the regulations governing implementation of the law were never finalized.

Mandt Value in a Personal Context

Back in December I had a really beautiful email exchange with an Instructor I had the privilege of working with in November of 2013. I asked if I might share one of his emails for our blog and he most graciously agreed.

Greetings, Nikki!

It’s Neal Shipley, I was in your Mandt Instructor training in Chicago just over a year ago (which has been strange for me to think about!)

I know we keep in touch here and there on Facebook,

The Power of the Story

Ted talks are amazing. If you’ve not heard of them, go to One of these talks is by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, a novelist from Nigeria, and her topic is “The Danger of a Single Story.” In this talk, she shares about the power of the stereotype, the single story that defines people. In her talk, she says that the danger is not that the story is not true, but rather that it the only story about that person.


This week was a hard week for me. Last year my father passed away after suffering for a period of time with lung cancer. It was hard watching a man who was so big in my eyes dwindle down to a frail image of his old self. Throughout the year we have been dealing with lots of firsts. Dates like mom and dad’s anniversary, my nieces graduation, his birthday, a new family member added and Christmas were all strong reminders to my family about just how missed he was this year.

Importance of Parks & Recreation

Last month I was able to spend a week in my home town, Virginia Beach, VA, teaching a workshop to a group of folks most of whom worked for the City Parks and Recreation Department. The workshop was held at one of the city’s recreation centers and brought back many childhood memories.

When I was a kid, my friends and I would ride our bikes about five miles from my grandparent’s house to the closest recreation center and spend the entire day swimming,

“Data Tells, But Stories Sell”

“Data tells, but stories sell.” That old adage is repeated over and over, and when you research this online, there are literally hundreds of thousands of entries about the use of stories. One such entry, on page 1 in a Google search, from the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants, had this headline: “Quit trying to sell stuff. Tell stories instead.”

As an instructor in The Mandt System®, I fully agree with this concept.

New Year – New What?

At this time of year it is hard to avoid resolutions, predictions and reviews. It seems every news outlet and current affairs program is offering their year in review, predictions for the next year and resolutions ‘you will want to keep’, etc…. what is it about this calendar event that prompts such enthusiasm for behavior change?

In the Mandt system program we continually examine the role of our behavior in building healthy relationships,

Teaching Mandt – A Certified Instructors Perspective

(Location and names have been withheld, due to privacy of those involved)

I teach both the Relational and Technical skills of Mandt to new employees in my facility as well as recertifying existing employees. I enjoy teaching Mandt, especially the Relational chapters, because (like the Mandt organization) I also feel like they are the most important chapters we teach. It is my hope that if I do the best job possible with the Relational chapters,

Controlling Christmas

We’re all guilty of throwing our weight around from time to time and attempting to control things. Holidays are probably a prime time for that to happen because we want everything to be perfect. The exact perfect meal that will make everyone thankful (despite the fact that you might be trying to feed a picky eater who will only go for the mac-n-cheese alongside your healthiest friend who avoids all things fried, creamed, jellied, or otherwise delicious);

I Care, We Care

In my last blog, I wrote about the 4th International Conference on Violence in Healthcare, and shared the ICARE model developed by the University of Rochester in New York, where I hold an appointment as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. In talking more with Mike Privitera, there were some limitations to the model, and I revised it to be more consistent with what we teach in The Mandt System® and with what I know about Dr.

When Working Alone

Unfortunately, not everyone has the benefit of working with other team members present at all times. In some cases, though a person may work alone, like a teacher, there are often other people in the same building who can come in and lend a helping hand. However, some people work remotely in other people’s homes or living areas with no support of back up in close proximity. Often times care workers are going into the homes of their clients or making visits to a home as a caseworker or provide drop in care.

The Power of Positive Feedback

In my Oct. 12 blog, I referred to a TED talk by Rita Pierson entitled “Every Kid Needs A Champion” where she tells the story of a child in one of her classes who misses 18 out of 20 questions on a quiz. When she puts the grade on the quiz paper, she puts a +2 and a smiley face.

Recently in one of the workshops I was teaching, I had a new instructor test this out on her own adopted child who has special needs.

Dignity & Respect

Washington Post writer, Michelle Singletary, recently posed the question “If you pay good money for an airline ticket, should you be free without guilt to recline your seat?” As a very frequent flyer, it’s a thought-provoking question. Recently, a United Airlines flight was forced to make an unscheduled stop because two travelers had differences of opinion as to the answer to that question. A tiny gadget called a Knee Defender, a pair of plastic wedges that lock a seat in position so that it can’t be reclined,

By Invitation

This past week myself and a colleague were presenting to a State Department on who the Mandt System are, how we want to connect with our partners and what we teach. In preparation for this I was thinking about our 40 years of experience of delivering learning and development and our own learning through that process. It stuck me that if we have learnt anything, it is that there is so much we still don’t know…

There is a danger of arrogance when your business has been around a while and survived some challenging times.

Raking Leaves

The last two weekends have been busy in my house with the necessary chores of getting ready for winter. In our village we have a curbside service that comes by and sucks up all the fallen leaves, all we have to do is get them to the curbside. This is in and of itself no easy task…. We are a family of five aged from 8 to 50 and preferred technique varies for each of us.

Making Lemonade…

We’ve all heard the saying that when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade, right? Well, I was handed several lemons during my work this week!

This week was a little bit unusual because instead of teaching a “train the trainer” course I was actually slated to teach a student level workshop (the classes that the people I typically train go back and teach at their agency or school). I won’t even go into the bushel basket of lemons I was handed when I realized I had gotten some dates mixed up but I WILL give a serious shout out to my friend and co-worker Doug for helping me make that giant pitcher of lemonade.

Violence in Healthcare

This past week I was in Miami, at the 4th International Conference on Violence in the Health Care Sector. The conference is facilitated by Nico Oud of The Oud Consultancy in the Netherlands, and has been held in Amsterdam, Prague, Vancouver, and now Miami. The Mandt System® was one of the primary sponsors of the conference, and we also had our new booth at the conference, where Kevin Mandt was able to interact with literally hundreds of people who came by the booth,

I hear you…

We all want to be heard. Our students want to be heard too. Validation is a simple tool we can use liberally to let our students know we are listening. It confirms that we hear what others are saying. Acknowledging our students and the feeling state behind their remark also verifies that we are accurately receiving the message they are sending. It can help build relationships and promote cooperation by increasing understanding.

Validation can also aid in dissipating a tense situation.

Building People Up

In a TED talk given by Rita Pierson entitled “Every Kid Needs A Champion”, she tells the story of a child in one of her classes who misses 18 out of 20 questions on a quiz. When she puts the grade on the quiz paper, she puts a +2 and a smiley face. The child questions her about the grade, and she tells him he’s on the road. That he didn’t miss all of the questions,

Tips To Manage Stress

People who work in the human services field are no strangers to stress. In fact, human service workers such as nurses, direct care staff, police officers, and teachers are reported to have some of the highest stress levels of all professions. There are several physical symptoms of stress including: low energy, headaches, upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea, aches, pains, and tense muscles, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, frequent colds and infections.

Since stress is unavoidable,

Finding Our Seat On The Bus

Many of you will be familiar with the Bus seat analogy used by Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’. It is a handy tool to use when framing organizational change discussions around Team member and Leadership roles and allows us to retain dignity and respect to all parties as we are not advocating throwing anyone off the bus, simply getting folks into the right seats for their own and the organization needs given the particular journey that the group is on.

Least Amount of Interaction

Least Amount of Interaction – What Does that Mean?

The RCT curriculum of The Mandt System, teaches the crisis cycle and provides the most effective response based on what stage the person is in the crisis cycle. When individuals are at the top of the crisis cycle, the crisis phase, the most effective response is to use the least amount of interaction necessary for safety. I had a very real opportunity to translate that from concept to practice.

Cheat Sheet For Improved Workplace Relationships

If you realize that communication is the ultimate vessel to creating optimal workplace relationships you understand how vital each team member’s role is to that end result. The idea of creating better relationships with people served, or with our co-workers might seem lofty, but there are some very concrete steps we can take.

1. Answer your phone (open your office door, etc.)

While it may be difficult to pick up every call and it might be even more unrealistic to keep a true “open door” policy,

Communicating Credibility

As I was doing research to update our management training program, Supporting Successful Leadership, there were a few things that I thought I wanted to share with the wider group of Mandt System® instructors. The first was the concept of leadership. We usually associate the word “leader” with a role in the organization such as an executive, managerial, or supervisory title. I’ve included 2 paragraphs from the Participant Workbook for the SSL course:

When we use the word “leadership” we are referring to the definition from Kevin Kruse,

Pruning & Relationships?

It is approaching that time of year when folks that are gardening oriented begin to think about pruning or cutting back their perennial plants and shrubs. There are two schools of thought on this with one position being at autumn cut back and the other advocating a wait until spring. There are good arguments to be made in support of either approach and oftentimes the plant concerned and its location will be the determining factor.

Why Early Trauma Matters

Premature death. Alcoholism. Heart disease. Depression. These are just some of the reasons childhood trauma matters.

Students that have experienced traumatic events are more likely to choose maladaptive ways of coping with memories and feelings they encounter as a result of the trauma. Food, alcohol, drugs, smoking and sex are all unhealthy things they may turn to in order to try and escape overwhelming emotions. These can lead to the adoption of risky and damaging behaviors which set the stage for disease,

Supporting Staff

In a recent Mandt Workshop, we were having a discussion about secondary trauma and the need to support folks who are experiencing it. As we talked about how staff members can be traumatized by the interactions they have with the individuals they serve, one of the participants lamented that supervisors do not always do the best job of supporting the folks they supervise. That sometimes after violent episodes, staff would request to be moved to a different area or would sometimes refuse to go back to the area where the violence occurred.

Our Family’s Inspiration

This month, I wanted to share a message from my daughter about my grandsons. A little insight into our family’s inspiration.

Lately I have had several people comment about how well behaved and independent Matt and Miah are for having Down Syndrome. I agree they are very polite, well-mannered and independent young men who happen to also have Down Syndrome. Since the day each one came into my life, they have always been treated as individuals,

Hope, Healing, and Rock ‘n Roll

This week I was in Austin with a few of my colleagues, re-shooting videos for our PowerPoint® presentations and the new blended on-line learning (coming next year). I will never complain about having to teach Mandt again after having to do take after take to get the videos just right! At the end of the three days, we had a “cast and crew” party, and the director of the videos said he was doing sound for the musical opera Tommy.

PBIS – A Practical Example

Jill is a 16 year old female who has been in special education since she was 3 years old. Her behavior was at times challenging resulting in a manual restraint. While our staff restrained her, we would talk to Jill about relaxing but she did not respond.

It occurred to Shirley that Jill didn’t understood what relaxation was. Shirley collaborated with support staff and Jill’s classroom teacher about teaching different relaxation techniques to Jill when she was at baseline.

Conflict, the Healthy Choice?

I recently read an article about teams and some common misperceptions about teams. The article ( suggested things like adding new blood to a team doesn’t necessarily add anything at all – a team that stays together does well together; smaller groups tend to make stronger teams because people don’t get lost in the shuffle; in the age of technology it is still very important to see each other face-to-face; and, that leaders are an important component to the team,

New Relationships

Having just recently joined the Mandt family as a faculty member, I have been reflecting on the new relationships I am developing with my co-workers and the folks in the workshops I am facilitating. This reminded me of the first time I met one of the individuals at the facility where I worked before coming to work for Mandt.

One afternoon, I was doing some work in the residential building and there was a client that I did not know standing outside an open office door.

Feeding The Good Wolf

In June I had the opportunity to present at the Inaugural Symposium on the Neurosequential Model of Treatment (NMT), developed by Dr. Bruce Perry and others at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston. The Symposium was co-sponsored by Hull Services of Alberta, and held in Banff, a national park in the Canadian Rockies. At that Symposium, I presented on the topic of “Integrating Indigenous Models of Mental Health: Preventing and Healing the Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma.

Why should We Blog?

Well, that time in the blogging rotation has fallen upon me once again. As I sat and thought about what topic I should cover this week it dawns on me that I should write about blogging. As a company we have weekly been sending out a blog for almost three years now. It has become a “necessary evil” amongst those of us who have to do them. So, instead of sitting here sulking on the fact that on top of an already very busy and full workload I have to write a blog,

Teachers – Heroes & Champions

This week I had the opportunity to spend some time with counselors from the Regina Public School system in Regina, SK, Canada – a group of fun and dedicated professionals working with children and families. It was a relatively small group and they all knew each other so the environment was relaxed.

One of the re-certs was supervising a group of young students as they enjoyed a school sponsored camping trip in the evenings and then coming to our workshop during the day.

The Value of Relationships

MS’s Story

Frequently in class instructors share stories that exemplify the concepts taught in The Mandt System. During an event at a forensic facility in Texas, MS shared this story. He was becoming a Mandt instructor but was obviously well trained by the instructors at the facility. MS’s inspirational story is shared with his permission and with the intention of honoring him for sharing his experience and how The Mandt System has positively impacted him and the individuals he serves.

Reaching For The Stars…..

…Unless You Don’t Own a Ladder

Recently, my oldest daughter, her daughter, son, and husband served together on a mission trip to an orphanage in Guatemala. She shared with me some stories about their experiences there, including several guest speakers who came to speak to their group, some of whom were older children being raised in the orphanage. The common question asked by the American students of each of these speakers was “What is your dream for the future?” Each speaker had a very detailed description of his or her dreams for the future.

Running a Successful Staff Retreat

Staff “getaways”, “get together”, or “retreats” are necessary events in the course of any successful organization. Just like sports teams who gather before the start of every season, organizations must have teams get together to game plan, show off their talents, and prepare for the new season. These types of events help organizations build camaraderie necessary for future success. If not careful, however, these types of events can be a simple waste of time and energy with little accomplished.

Creating Healthy Relationships – CJ’s Story

One of the struggles articulated by individuals who are becoming Mandt instructors is how to move from the conceptual information to the practical application. Many times, it is the stories shared in the Mandt event that really illustrates how that transition may occur. I recently had an opportunity to work with CJ. CJ works at a forensic facility in Texas. He has been a Mandt instructor for many years and has excellent skills. In class he shared how he has grown in his application of the concepts he has learned by his teaching.

Violence in the ER

Violence in our emergency departments is an ever growing problem and healthcare workers are at increased risk as the violence moves from the streets into the medical settings. Quality patient care can only occur when patients, doctors, nurses, and visitors feel safe in medical environments and will likely result in improved staff morale and productive work environments.

“Detect, defer, protect” refers to the fact that healthcare professionals need to be able to develop strategies for creating healthcare environments that minimize environmental factors that may trigger potentially dangerous behavior from people coming into the work environment.

Evening News Live – Are You Worried?

When my daughter started working in the human services field, I told her to imagine that every interaction was being videotaped. At the end of the day, if she could be proud and let that video play unedited on the nightly news, then consider the day a success; if editing is required then she better figure out how to do better next time. Of course, I know my daughter and didn’t ever have to worry about any editing of abusive behavior,

Better Ways To Say Sorry

I recently read (with a lot of interest) an article that was making its way around Facebook regarding teaching children how to apologize. If you are interested in reading it for yourself, I highly recommend it (

I think the reason this stuck out for me so much also centers from our chapter 3 discussions regarding conflict. I often tell stories about my own childhood growing up with a sister that is just fifteen months younger than I.

The Crisis Cycle – Concept to Practice

It’s one thing to talk about concepts like RADAR, de-escalation and the crisis cycle. It is more challenging to put the concept into practice. I want to applaud all of the Mandt instructors and systems using The Mandt System that have taken steps to move the concepts into practice.

I recently became aware of a number of entities who have taken a tool developed and made available by The Mandt System many years ago which helps to translate the crisis cycle into an individualized tool that can inform day to day treatment decisions.

Reducing Classroom Stresses for Children with Bipolar Disorder

Educators can significantly reduce classroom stresses for children with bipolar disorder, thereby allowing them to succeed in school. Academic stresses, like other stresses, can destabilize a child. Regular meetings between parents and school faculty, such as teachers, guidance counselors, or nurses, will allow collaboration to develop helpful school structure and strategies for the child.

Accommodations, modifications, and school strategies may include the following:

• Check-in on arrival to see if the child can succeed in certain classes that day.

Our #1 FAQ

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive is, how do we differ from other programs? This is always a difficult question to answer, in part because our expertise in the Mandt System is our Relational, Conceptual & Technical curriculum rather than another system or program. Additionally a challenge to answer, because often times the comparison being sought does not compare like with like.

Probably the most significant difference we understand to exist,


Team work is vital when involved in a crisis situation, but the formation of the team and its leadership qualities must be in place before the crisis. An effective leader understands that talk is cheap, but understanding comes through leading by example. In order to be most effective, leaders must be clear in their direction.

The Mandt system provides some general directions, but it is important for the teams to clarify their values,

How to Choose a Mentor

In my last blog I wrote about the benefits of having a mentor in ones life. Mentorship provides efficiency in an individual’s growth, provides a model for ones life, and assists in the long-term growth in making lasting changes. However, making sure you have the right mentor is also important. For the benefits of a mentoring relationship, you must ensure that the relationship is the right one for you and what it is you hope to get out of having a mentor.

Instruction Time

One of the questions asked most often is, “How much time should I schedule”? We appreciate the diligence manifested by Certified Mandt Instructors in their attempts to ensure appropriate time frames are adhered to. We recognize this is often a struggle due to competing tasks and scarce resources.

The instructor should first determine (with their administration) which chapters will be taught. The recommended instruction time is indicated at the beginning of each chapter in the instructor’s manual.

Why Work In Human Services?

Why do we work in Human Services?

A Philosopher by the name of Albert Schweitzer once said. “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.”

Why Do We Work In Human Services? I know one reason is there is always a reason to come to work.

Relational Lifeboats

I really struggled with landing on a topic for the blog this week. I tossed a couple of ideas around in my head. One of them very serious and one of them much more light hearted and fun. Okay then…fun it is!

I have several girlfriends that I have known forever; as in, since kindergarten. We have remained close throughout our lives and we make efforts to see each other – all together – whenever possible.

Healthy Inviting Learning Environment

Before 1975, public schools had few obligations to children with disabilities. Most children with disabilities, especially those with extreme disabilities, were not only unwelcomed to attend public schools, but regarded as uneducable. The children that were allowed to attend public school were segregated from their non-disabled peers. But, in 1975 The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed which required all schools receiving federal funding to provide handicapped children equal access to education and mandated that they be placed in the least restrictive educational environment possible.

Mentoring Relationships

Here is a simple fact: Most people will not make true change outside of a relationship. Stop and think about that for a minute. In order for a change in ones life to truly take place, there is usually a tie to some form of a relationship. Yet, many people today are trying to make it to the top of their profession through hard work and determination alone. Though hard work and determination are important,

Listening For The Real Message

When you communicate (verbally) with a specific person, are you hearing the real message being conveyed? If your focus is on the words that are used, it is likely that you are only hearing part of the message, and often the most superficial part. If we only consider the words and do not attempt to identify any underlying emotions, we are likely to miss a vital part of the message. Even a statement as simple as “Sure I’ll take care of that” may have a different meaning if accompanied by a sarcastic tone or eye rolling behavior.

What & Where Without Your Employees?

In today’s economy, we all inevitably know friends and family who have been unemployed for long durations over the last five years. I often overhear leaders and employees alike, repeating that famous mantra “we are all replaceable”. I have never agreed with that statement, and at the Mandt System, we strive to cultivate the importance of employees within an organization; yours and ours. It is not easy in today’s transitional workforce to replace decades of experience,

The Helpful Art of Presence

In Chapter 1 we talk about different ways to help situations de-escalate, and one of the strategies that we mention is the helpful art of presence…being there and being available for people during their times of need, especially the trauma of significant loss. It is often very difficult for us to not “fix” things but to just be there and be supportive.

I think all of us have some experience with loss – either we have suffered loss or we have known someone close to us that has experienced loss.

A Matter of Perspective

According to Webster’s dictionary perspective is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something. After working in and around institutions for so many years, I have met my fair share of characters.

Individuals with quirky habits, personality nuisances, or other differences were often hidden away in institutions, or left at home and shunned by society; today are the beloved characters of Television. For example, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, exhibits a compulsive need for routine and order,

Relationships & Virtual Communities

As a person who teaches building healthy relationships, I am always leery of “virtual relationships” and social communities were the majority of interaction does not take place face to face. Do not get me wrong, I am a part of several. I just have always questioned their ability to be as effective as real life face-to-face relationships. This past week I witnessed a social community come together in a way that could not occur if it were not for social media and “virtual relationships”.

When Tragedy Strikes Your Class

It is a rare event when all the participants registered attend according to the schedule, particularly when the class meets over several consecutive days. Child care issues, illnesses, scheduling conflicts, and car trouble will often cause a participant to request a modification to their schedule. In keeping with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, as taught in The Mandt System, Mandt faculty tries to be flexible to meet the needs of the participant.

Applying the principles learned in the Crisis Cycle,

Sacred Lakota Children

In the Lakota culture, we consider our children to be very sacred. They are a gift from the creator who hold the future of our Native American people. Lakota people believe that we are all gifted from the time we were created and we have a choice to share those gifts with others and make a difference.

In the Lakota language, the word “Wakanjeja (wah-ky-yeh-jah)” translates in the English language to “Child.” This word includes the Lakota word “Waka” which means sacred and “yeja (yeah-jah)” means gift.

Twas the night before Christmas…

I’m attempting to write this on Christmas Eve morning in a house filled with people, animals, cooking, laughter, and a general low hum of noise. Finding it difficult to concentrate I am struck with the fact that I am blessed beyond measure.

Last night I slept in a 2-bedroom house packed full with 7 adults, 2 teenagers, and 3 12-year olds. Bodies were draped over EZ Boy recliners, sprawled across couches and roll-a-way beds and stacked up on the floor.

Talking or Texting?

An article appeared recently on several social media sites and ultimately ended up on the big three television networks as well. The article discussed teen texting habits, and draws the conclusion that the seemingly normal act of texting might actually warp or ruin a genuine relationship. Katie Anderson, a regular contributor of parenting articles at, goes on to explain that teen relationships are impaired because of their addiction to texting. As a grandparent whose fears of texting were confined to the kids “texting while driving”,

A New Leadership Approach

In recent years a number of things have converged to make doing “business as usual” not practical. Many companies like Mandt have become virtual in their structure. In our company we all work from our homes when not on the road. Our infrastructure staff answer calls from around the world and do so from the comforts of their homes, transferring calls across time zones, moving information between countries, and building relationships with our customers and yet never meeting face to face.

Which Way Do We Go ?

As caregivers we sometimes encounter situations where the person in our care becomes “upset” or “agitated”, perhaps demonstrating challenging behaviors. This behavior becomes a stimulus for the caregiver who must decide whether or not to intervene and do they move closer to the person or give them space?

Often instinct drives us to move closer to the individual. This reaction is driven by emotion, often fear. The intent in stepping closer may be to reassure,

Perception, another view

Perception is one of the foundations of our society. It’s what causes the stock market to reach fantastic heights or, as we have all seen recently, abysmal lows. Financially, professionally, even personally, this is a very important aspect in our lives.

In The Mandt System training we are constantly reminding people to check your perceptions. In other words is what you heard what was said?
I think it is important to remember there are always two sides,

Checking Our Perceptions

This week I was in Chicago for an RCT workshop and the extreme traffic I encountered was a daily reminder in perception checking. I trust that I am not alone in suffering from an occasional bout of “road rage” so maybe some of you will recognize yourselves in these words.

First of all, I grew up in a town of 350 people. Yes, three hundred and fifty people. No additional zeros, no thousand to add at the end of that number.

Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is about family, friends and gratefulness. Those who work in the human services field often must spend their Thanksgiving away from their own friends and family to care for the needs of others. It can be frustrating to be away from our own family, but it is important to remember that every client is someone’s family. Striving to build positive working environments that support each other and those we serve throughout the year, but with special doses of care and compassion during the holidays.

Teaching Through Cultural Differences

My two most recent workshops took place in Hawaii and Alaska back to back. I know, I know, a tough gig and you feel bad for me. However, having such an amazing opportunity did come with its own particular challenges. Besides the obvious challenges of fitting summer and winter clothes in the same suitcase, it came with the challenge of how to teach a course on human interpersonal relationships to a very culturally diverse people in the same workshops.

Equality of Worth, Difference of Role

There are many things I like about Australia, but what I like the most are the people. I guess I could say that about every country in which I have worked, but there is a perception of unpretentiousness in Australia unlike anywhere I have been. We talk about having equality in our society in America, but her in Oz they practice equality in ways that I have not experienced in other parts of the world.

Another View of Non Verbal Behavior

In communication without words, the face is used a great deal. Hand signals, shrugs, head movements, etc. are all used. It is often subconscious. It can be used for:

• Expressing emotion (e.g. smiling to show happiness)
• Conveying attitudes (e.g. staring to show aggression)
• Demonstrating personality traits (e.g. open palms to show accepting qualities)
• Supporting verbal communication

Non-verbal behavior also varies across cultures (such as the ‘ok’ finger symbol),

Being Calm Before We Can Calm

This week I viewed a video clip regarding a woman who was described as “having a meltdown.” Of course, those words were used to grab a headline, but in reality they weren’t far from the truth. What made this clip particularly compelling to me was the fact that it happened mid-flight on a very full aircraft. I spend a good deal of time on airplanes and of course I teach a course regarding supporting people during their times of crisis.

Controversial Adult Learning Classrooms

Online courses, virtually unheard-of a few years ago, are now part of the higher education mainstream. This year, the number of students taking at least one online course increased by over 570,000 to a new total of 6.7 million students enrolled in at least one online course. A recent study by The College Board states that 69.1% of chief academic leaders at higher education institutions believe that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy,

Promoting Self-Maintenance

Many people take better care of their cars then they do of themselves. Every 3,000 miles they take their car to get the oil changed, tire pressure checked and fluids topped off. Yet, when it comes to themselves, caregivers spend less time and money doing the same preventive maintenance. Is it time for you to have a personal oil change? In September, I laid out some ideas about how to keep from burning out. This week I want to give you my 5 “R’s”

Balancing Rights – Service Receivers and Providers

Individuals who are receiving services and service providers have rights that are established by laws and regulations. Individuals receiving services have:
• the right to receive appropriate and individualized services,
• the right to be free from abuse and neglect and
• the right to be involved in treatment decisions.

Service providers are protected by the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which mandates that employers provide employees with a safe working environment.

Importance of Physical Presence?

We as caregivers should always keep foremost in our minds what type of impact we may have on the people we serve when we become physically present.

In The Mandt System we encourage healthy relationships. When an interaction is requiring our assistance we need to think about those healthy relationships. Ask yourself what type of relationship do I have with this person. If the individual we are interacting with feels belittled or dehumanized when we are present are we going to escalate this person or deescalate this person?

Sensory Defensiveness

Many of us are sensitive to certain sights, sounds, or smells. Sensory defensiveness is a term used to describe more extreme reactions to sensory input that most of us would not find bothersome (i.e. light touch, fluorescent lighting, high pitched noises, etc.).
There are several techniques that are fairly easy to implement to aid in increasing tolerance to sensory input. I have had the opportunity to work in a setting that utilized the Wilbarger techniques and from my personal experience (working with adults) the results were very good.

Thinking the Impossible is Possible

In 1950, a group of parents chose to unite and view their children differently. They had been told from the day their son or daughter was born that they would be nothing. These families believed that the professional perceptions of their children were wrong and sought to face the fear of the unknown together.

Today individuals with disabilities have rights to education, jobs, and freedom from institutions because those parents believed the impossible was possible.

Self Management When Under Pressure

Tips & Techniques

We spend the most amount of time in The Mandt System looking at ourselves and the impact our behavior has on those in support. Managing one’s self is not always easy. Outside factors are constantly influencing our stress levels and working conditions that are out of our control at time increase them as well. Victor Frankel in 1963 said, “That which is to give light, must endure burning.” We must learn how to endure the burning with out burning out.

Learning Retention

A few weeks ago, I was in Iowa visiting family and friends, as Iowa is my home state. Whenever I am “on vacation” somewhere, I call Mandt instructors from nearby organizations and ask if I can test a random sample of the people they have certified in The Mandt System®. Over the years, I have done this all over the US and once in Canada. It is my goal to do this in every US state and Canadian province,

Connecting with Youth – Strategies for Relationship Building

When we as adults/professionals are attempting to connect with a youth and build a healthy relationship, we must be very careful, especially if the youth has experienced traumatic events or may be involved in the Juvenile Justice System.

Remember we are the adults and carry the responsibility of role modeling how to build that healthy relationship. There will always be relationships, but will they be healthy?

Remember youth may have experienced problems with parents or siblings,

Tips for Intervening Alone

There are many things that may cause a person to become upset and begin using their behavior in dangerous ways. In our training, we discuss the fact that behavior may be used as communication; a way of meeting needs; conforming to expectations; influencing the people or environment around us; coping with demands; controlling impulses; the result of medical or psychiatric issues; or, the result of complex neurological or sensory processes. It is challenging with an entire team of people to understand the function behind a person’s behavior.

Being The Trigger

Throughout our training, we often make reference to “affirm your emotions and choose your behavior.” The bigger picture here is that as care givers we want to avoid being a trigger for the people to whom we are providing services. Easier said than done? You bet!

I’m coming off an awesome weekend of taking care of a couple of my young cousins so their mom and dad could enjoy their anniversary. Even though I talk about these things on a regular basis,

Fragile X Awareness Month

Some blogs are easier than others to write. This week trying to figure out a topic was a piece of cake: Fragile X Awareness Month! It was officially Fragile X Awareness Day on July 22 as it is every July 22. As a member of the Mandt faculty for the past 12 years and a user of the Mandt program since 1987, I truly believe in the system and the tenants of treating people with dignity and respect.

Using A Hierarchy of Interventions


When we are supporting individuals who sometimes exhibit challenging behavior, caregivers must sometimes intervene to prevent harm to the individual or someone else. The caregiver must consider which is going to be the most effective, most supportive and least restrictive intervention at that time. This can be challenging because when the individual we are supporting is stimulated, that will stimulate the person providing the support. When opportunities are presented,

Practice Makes Perfect

According to Mirriam-Webster’s dictionary, the word practice means “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”, which according to the same, means “well advanced in an art, occupation, or branch of knowledge”. Sometimes, it’s easy to get hung up on the word perfect, but according to Webster, perfect means “proficient, or having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience”. When the phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” is stated,

‘Don’t Take it Personally’

‘Don’t take it personally’ – Easier said than done……Let’s think a little bit about how easy it is to take something that someone says to us personally and that in turn may cause us to become angry.

How does this make us feel, if you go back to the last time you took something too personally, lets attempt to take a look at what type of “mood” we were experiencing, how much stress we might have been under.

Defining Last Resort

There are instances when caregivers, family members or paid professionals, are in situations where someone they are responsible for exhibits challenging behaviors. In those situations, decisions have to be made about when it is necessary to intervene and how to do so when it is necessary. This is a particularly crucial question to ask and answer when the intervention considered involves one person putting their hands on another in an involuntary situation. It is a positive sign when caregivers struggle with the question because it indicates an attempt understand the risks and benefits of their actions and avoid restrictive physical interaction when possible.

A Non-verbal Crisis Cycle

The very basic form of communication is the giving and receiving of a message. Some messages are received loud and clear, others take some deciphering. Individuals who work with clients who are non-verbal or have limited verbal skills know the challenge of accurately interpreting messages.

All behavior is an attempt to communicate, understanding the message is often the key to deescalating a potential crisis. One of the best predictors of an individual accurately receiving a non-verbal message is the level of knowledge and relationship with the sender of the message.

Motivating Staff – Cash, Care or Both?

The ideas and theories behind what motivates and attracts employees appear to be as diverse as the employees themselves. Looking at monetary and non-monetary compensations in regards to these incentives, expectations and rewards we have to first understand intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic are those things that come from inside the employee and are seen as rewards from the perspective of self. While extrinsic are rewards are from outside ones self and often distributed by the organization or its representative.

Restraint – Always a Last Resort!

We must remind ourselves everyday that the ethical dilemma resulting from physical restraint is the clinician’s value or emphasis of beneficence versus the patient’s autonomy and dignity. The latter is what The Mandt System was founded upon. At the Mandt System, our philosophy is individual served first. In order to execute that philosophy, our partners and customers should understand the element of risk associated with using restraints, is always a last resort at the Mandt System.

Teamwork: Relationships in Action

In January of this year, Aaryce Hayes wrote a blog on Building Positive Relationships in which she emphasized the elements of care, respect and dignity, trust, and time as being the important ingredients in the process of building healthy relationships. In The Mandt System, we define teamwork globally as “relationships in action”, and that is our focus today – the action part of teamwork, and how actions can build or teardown relationships.

In one of the activities in Chapter 1,

UBUNTU Updated

One of my favorite points in Chapter 1 is the reference we make to Ubuntu “the essence of being human” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu). In 1999, Tutu explained “a person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished,

The Role of The Skills Coach

Organizations utilizing the Mandt System within their workplace often ask us to share the factors that we believe most significantly contribute to transfer of learning into the working practice. Our immediate comment is that transfer is less of an issue than sustainability…. Over time many factors can contribute to derailing a well intentioned implementation process. To answer this question more fully, we can point to a concept or individual and that is the workplace ‘Mandt Champion’ or ‘Skills Coach’.

Refining Our R.A.D.A.R for Reliability

According to the dictionary reliability is the ability of a person or system to perform and maintain its functions in routine circumstances, as well as hostile or unexpected circumstances. Individuals who work in human service fields understand all too well that unexpected circumstances are often a daily routine. Our reactions to situations will determine the effect of those unplanned situations; the key is a well-honed R.A.D.A.R .

The first step in R.A.D.A.R is recognizing when the situation is out of whack;

The 7 L’s of Leadership

Max De Pree says, “Leadership is a condition of indebtedness.” I firmly believe that to be true. Over the years I have become who I am because of having the opportunity to be mentored and groomed by some amazing leaders and learning by some not so amazing. In addition, amazing co-workers and employees have supported me. This has led me over the years to want to constantly give back, mentor, and support those around me.

Providing a Healing Environment

The environment in which a person receives services is as important as the services being provided. We must be sensitive to the culture of our treatment environments to ensure that they are therapeutic and feel safe for the person receiving services. The Joint Commission includes in its standards, language that services be provided in a therapeutic milieu. Do we understand what the term means?

Milieu therapy was coined by Bruno Bettelheim in 1948 and is more often used in relation to institutional treatment centers.

Performance Management & Strategic Goals

In any organization, the struggle is to find the balance in how all the systems work together. If the goals are set and a strategic plan put into place the challenge is then to make sure all the systems work together to get the desired outcomes. The performance management becomes how this can take place. Performance management can create the necessary pathways in achieving the desired outcomes.

The starting point is ensuring the appraisal systems are in line with the planning systems and tied directly into the budget system,

Caring Through Catastrophe

Simple Reminders

In light of the recent happenings in Boston where once again our country has been exposed to a terrible act of violence, it is important to have some simple reminders related to the impact that these occurrences can have on individuals in our care. Though individual’s receiving services or who need a greater level of care may not always or completely understand what is happening, their RADAR will be on. Individuals receiving services will be sensitive to the mood of the staff who are working with them.

Thoughts On Professional Advocates

I am not saying they do not exist. I am not saying they are not out there. What I am saying is I would like to see more. What I am talking about are more professionals who are involved in advocacy groups. Recently, I attended the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) conference in San Antonio, Texas. It is the largest special education conference I attend every year. Since my regular involvement started 5 years ago,

Dignity and Respect = Actions, Attitudes, and Acceptance

An increase in random shootings in schools, theaters, and society in general has raised the question of why. Many people are pointing to bullying and lack of acceptance as the primary reasons for individuals lashing out. In hopes of stopping the violence many initiatives have become popular. For example, Hollywood is speaking up in the Stop Bullying campaign, and Spread the Word to End the Word promotes people first language.

The common thread throughout all the campaigns is the idea of dignity and respect,

Exciting New Research for Autism and Fragile X

Four years ago my son Tyler was diagnosed with fragile X and last year he qualified for an autism label while being tested in school. In the past year, ground-breaking research has uncovered precise genetic links between autism and Fragile X syndrome giving families like mine hope that treatment for many of the core symptoms of both conditions is on the horizon. New drugs currently in clinical trials have been shown to have a significant effect on reducing the symptoms of severe social impairment in people with autism or fragile x syndrome.

Debriefing – An Aid To Healthy Relationships

When an incident occurs that involves the use of a restraint technique, regulations often require that staff meet with designated staff and the individual receiving services and their legal representative to identify factors that led up to the restraint, and how to make changes that reduce or eliminate the need for restraint. This is referred to as debriefing or processing.

How: Debriefing should occur whenever an incident occurs that involves the use of any involuntary physical interaction to explore alternatives to de-escalating or gaining the person’s cooperation in the future.

The Perils of Email

Over the last few years person to person verbal communication has been often substituted for other modalities such as texting and email. Quite aside from the distortions created by predictive text or spell checking (sometimes funny, sometimes disastrous) the potential for miscommunication is huge. Added to that, the emotive weight given to these bursts of communication can be significant. In the Mandt System program we talk about the encoding and decoding of a message and how ‘noise’ or ‘interference’ in the perimeter can distort the message and subsequence response.

Workplace Violence, Bullying and Threats

Employers’ responsibility to prevent, manage and mitigate the consequences of workplace violence is a major issue for all corporations and human resource professionals today. Creating a dialogue and examining legal issues and practical challenges in preventing and mitigating the risks of workplace violence is a topic of monumental concern worldwide to all clients and customers. How can the Mandt System help?

While not insurmountable , with careful implementation and execution discussed in the Mandt System training,

From Policy to Practice: Five Things To Keep in Mind

The task of developing a policy for an organization can be time-consuming and require focus. However, the ultimate objective is not simply to articulate a statement of what needs to happen. The objective of an organizational policy is to affect employee practice. The way in which a policy is developed can make the transfer of a good idea into practice easier or more difficult.

1. The person facilitating the workgroup should conduct preliminary research to determine the issues that are likely to arise in the development of the policy.

Identifying a Culture of Bullying

Having an understanding of bullying is vital in the work place. Though bullying has become more talked about in recent years in regards to school settings it is important to understand that it can take place in all work environments. Bullying is made up of negative actions that are meant to harm a specific victim where an imbalance of power exists making it difficult for a victim to defend themselves against the tactics being used.

Integrating Policy & Training

The most valuable asset in an organization is a set of shared values and expectations (Kouzes, & Posner, 2012). Often these shared values are expressed in company policies that address the most suitable way to handle various situations. In the realm of social services, polices should reflect and clearly define how to manage a variety of behaviors. But policies without training are simply words on a page.

Research shows that successful organizations are seen as credible,

Employee Retention

Retention of employees is key to organizations that provide care and services to others. Vital to good care is consistency and predictability and many organizations today struggle with keeping staff for expended periods. By understanding the organization needs and having a working understanding of various cultures represented by the organization, human resource planning can better establish retention plans around needs, culture, and demographics. Retention takes effort, time and understanding (DeCenzo, & Robbins, 2010). Simple things like break time and break time activities can play a large role in employee satisfaction.

Reinforcement Schedules

By definition, reinforcement will increase the likelihood that behavior will be used again in the future. As service providers it seems we often focus our attention on what type of reinforcement we are able to identify and how we can offer that reinforcement so we can influence the behavior of the people with whom we work. Some of the types of reinforcement:

Continual Reinforcement – the identified reinforcement is offered each and every time the target behavior is used (during toilet training every time the child voids on the toilet a smiley face is drawn on the calendar);

Prevention In The Classroom

One of the absolute best things about being a National Faculty Member for The Mandt System is the opportunity to meet so many diverse people across the country who have dedicated their lives to serving other people. I feel most comfortable talking to folks with similar background experience – those who are working in residential settings and those who are working with adults. However, I find myself more and more interested in the teachers across this country.

Building Positive Relationships

When people are engaged in a positive relationship with someone , whether the relationship is personal, professional or public , the interactions are more likely to be relaxed and generally more constructive. When individuals experience a positive healthy relationship with someone, they are more likely to feel safe emotionally, psychologically and physically with that person. When someone feels safe, they are able to engage with the other person and situations. In the workplace it helps to build a cohesive team with members who trust and depend on each other.

Dignity, Respect & Excellence in ER

On Friday, November 16, 2012 I experienced a sudden and rather debilitating headache. I was in a hotel room (as I so often am) in anticipation of a flight the next morning. My first response was to take some over the counter pain medication (I, like so many, tend to think that I am capable of self-medicating almost anything that I self-diagnose) and then to lie down. I soon became quite nervous about the pain because the intensity was beyond nearly anything I’ve ever experienced.

Service Support to Individuals with Dementia

One of the first things service providers do in serving individuals diagnosed with dementia is to determine who is in charge of the decision making processes involving treatment, disclosure of information, and financing care. However, clarifying who has legal authority to provide (or withhold) consent is not the end of the story. Regardless of who has legal authority, the service provider must develop a trusting relationship with the individual receiving services and gain the individual’s cooperation to effectively implement plans agreed-upon with the legal representative.

The Mandt System & PBS

In our training, we tell people that “the ultimate goal of The Mandt System® is to build healthy relationships in the workplace.” Our approach to Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is very much in keeping with this goal. We also tell people that in the assessment process, we always assess ourselves first before we assess others.

In the preface to the document Challenging Behaviour: A Unified Approach, Rob Grieg, National Director: Learning Disabilities said,

How to Break Bad News

Everyone struggles with breaking bad news, whether on a personal level or in the workplace. Most of us try to avoid the responsibility because of the emotional discomfort we associate with it. If we can feel competent in our ability to deliver bad news in the most effective and compassionate way, we may be less hesitant to do so. Rabow and McPhee’s mnemonic ABCDE ,- (Advance Preparation, Build a Therapeutic Environment/Relationship, Communicate Well, Deal with the Persons Reactions,

Increased Confidence & Competence

Increased Confidence and Competence is Key to De-escalation

Years ago I participated in a noncommissioned officer leadership development course where the focus was on three key areas: confidence, competence and attention to duty. Over the years, I have seen these items as key to success in human service and education settings as well. Few individuals require more raw attention to duty then those who get into fields focused on helping others. Human service workers and educators work long hours,

Focus On Prevention

As a former direct care professional, I remember how frustrating it can be during the debriefing process to come to the realization that a crisis situation could possibly have been avoided if I had been more proactive and been better able to manage my own behavior. Sometimes I didn’t have my RADAR tuned in and as a result I failed to pick up on the subtle (and unfortunately sometimes the not-so-subtle) cues people were giving me that their level of anxiety was escalating.

Safety & Security in School

School security is one of the most sensitive issues facing school staff, administrators, and parents today. No one wants a repetition of headline-hitting crimes that come to mind from recent years. Students have the right to have a safe place to be educated. Teachers and administrators have the right to a safe work environment. Maintaining a balance between having a user-friendly, welcoming school climate and a facility, which is secure from unwanted intruders, should be the goal.

Sustaining Relationships & Staff Turnover

A few years ago I received a call from a parent whose son received services from my community behavioral health agency. She called to inform me that she was moving his services to another provider. I was shocked. I had known them for years and felt we had a very good relationship. Upon asking what we had done to make her feel she needed to change service providers, she said there was nothing we had done;

Thinking About First Responses

When I was an EMT (many years ago) we were taught to determine if a scene was secure and safe before we entered to make sure we didn’t become another patient to be treated. There are many potential threats to paramedics, first responders, police officers, etc. Downed power lines (as I sit in Virginia during Hurricane Sandy!), an unstable building damaged by fire or other natural disaster, broken glass and twisted metal in a motor vehicle accident,

Angry and Aggressive Parents

“It is important to understand that there is a difference between anger and aggression” (stolen straight from the Mandt Trainer manual).

The majority of the Mandt System® training focuses on developing healthy relationships and we spend time during our training to draw attention to the issue of emotion and understanding the link between emotion and behavior. Let’s also consider that in regards to the families of those receiving our services. Everything that we discuss about being proactive is applicable to our students,

Customer Care – Escalation Skills

As a learning and development organization we are often asked to provide curricula support to staff that function in some customer service capacity to their service users. Often the basis of concern is how to de-escalate angry and unhappy individuals. One of our starting points in this process is to ask the question, …. Are we doing anything to contribute to the escalation process?

Call Directing – over recent years many organizations spanning all sectors have moved toward telephone systems designed to connect callers with their intended contact (human or recording) without the need for an operator.

Real People, Real Stories, Real MANDT

I have been an advocate of the Mandt System since I was first a student in a local class in 2005, and even more so when I became a trainer for Mandt in 2010. All parts of the Mandt System played a significant role in my professional life, as I worked for a non-profit agency offering psychiatric services to children and families. But it was a personal experience about one year ago made me realize that the principles of Mandt span across my life and can make a huge difference in the most critical of moments.

Developing Trust in Teams

In the Mandt System, there is a lot of talk and discussions throughout the workshops about the importance of building and maintaining trust. Trust with the individuals served, starts with trust that the staff role model in their relationships with one another. When teams have trust amongst the members then all other aspects are enhanced: Communication, problem solving, creativity, and productivity.

“Trust in its purest form is placed in individuals” (Harell & Daim,

The Toll of Stress?

To be human is to experience stress. At best it is disruptive, and at its worst it is destructive, During our training we speak of all the things that go on with people who experience too much stress.
It is estimated that illnesses and accidents related to stress account for three-quarters of all time lost from work. Stress or too much of it is implicated in the majority of cases seen in the doctor’s office,

Promoting Healthcare Efficiency

This past week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a new study in which they identify that the US Healthcare System wasted more than $750 billion in 2009. In addition to admin costs, unnecessary and inefficiently delivered services are cited as accounting for the majority of the $750 billion waste.

The IOM foresees the need for healthcare system to evolve continuously learning systems that take account of research studies and data to more effectively manage and plan for services delivery.

Communication & Mental Illness

Sometimes I’m asked to teach on how to talk with a person with a diagnosis of a mental illness. My reaction is to say “treat them like an individual”. It’s difficult to respond without sounding flippant and I realize the request is sincere. Unfortunately, the question negates the fact that a person with a mental illness is a person, with fears, desires, strengths and weaknesses, like everyone else. The symptoms of a mental illness will vary,

Emergency Rooms – Avoiding Assaults from Patients and Relatives

Hospitals in general, and emergency departments in particular, are feeling the effects of increased demand coupled with shrinking budgets. Personnel are stretched to the limits providing effective care in an environment that is increasingly dangerous due to gang violence, availability of addictive substances, lack of access to primary care physicians, lack of appropriate in-patient psychiatric placements, overcrowding and general chaos. Add to that the limited training many emergency room personnel have in de-escalation techniques and we clearly have a recipe for (potential) disaster.

Practicing Behavior Response Plans

We are all familiar with this frequently posed question,

“How often do you practice a fire drill, and how many fires have you dealt with in your service”?

“How often do you practice behavior response drills, and how many occasions of challenging behavior have you dealt with in your service”?

The answer to the above is utilized in the Mandt System training to facilitate a discussion about the need for training knowledge to be supported by an implementation process that seeks to ensure transfer from the classroom to the workplace and then to be sustained over time.

Creating Safety Through Risk Management

When human service providers hear the term “risk management” they almost always have similar responses involving the flight or fight decision making process. There is often a low level of anxiety present during risk management meetings, and the process of risk management is seen as onerous and a necessary evil. The problem at hand is that the focus within most organizations is on minimizing losses, rather than on realizing opportunities. Lost in translation between the theoretical level,

Trauma & Families

With all the data regarding physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and neglect which occur in home settings, it is easy to assume that anytime traumatic events occur, a family member is always the perpetrator. This is not true, and while over 40% of such events do occur within family settings, almost 60% do not. Those of us who are practitioners in the field of human services at any level must have compassion for families and provide them with the supports they need to deal with the after effects of traumatic events.

Partnering for Success

As staff of the Mandt System we believe in the concept ideal of ‘partnering with organizations’ rather than simply serving as vendors. One of the greatest privileges that this approach affords is the occasional opportunity to visit ‘onsite’ with staff at their place of work to see first hand how they are implementing the Mandt System program and review the successes and challenges that this process involves.

This week, we had the opportunity to undertake one such visit in California at Jay Nolan Community Services,

Duty of Care – In Human Service Settings

Wikipedia defines Duty of Care, in tort law, as a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence. The claimant must be able to show a duty of care imposed by law which the defendant has breached. In turn, breaching a duty may subject an individual to liability.

The Smaller Crisis Response Team

Dr. Strong to the psych unit…Dr. Strong to the psych unit!!
We need the BIT (Behavior Intervention Team) to Mr. Johnson’s class!!
All available personnel needed at Cottage 333 right now!

These are just some of the many ways people are called to a crisis situation. Often times no indication is given to the level of threat and the size of the team needed to deal with the individual(s) who have gone into or are approaching a level of crisis.

CONFLICT IN TEAMS – Promoting Leadership Understanding

Conflict amongst people is as old as Adam and Eve and Cain and Able. As long as human beings are together there will be conflict or at least the potential of conflict will exist. Obviously, we as a species have survived dealing with conflict. Not only have we survived; we have grown and matured. People’s relationships in many cases become better by dealing with conflict. Trust is built, relationships strengthened, and great things accomplished. But what is conflict and how can it turn out to be healthy?

Seclusion – Who Does It Help?

The use of seclusion is a highly emotionally charged issue. It is argued that the use of seclusion is often in the best interest of a person receiving services, but it is not always clear under what circumstances that is the case. This blog entry argues that there is a need for additional criteria and best practices to provide additional guidance on the appropriate use of seclusion.

What is seclusion? The definition of seclusion may vary slightly depending on the setting,

Teaching by Yourself: Strategies for Sanity

This week I am teaching a Mandt System® class, and have the pleasure of having teachers from middle and elementary schools. One of the topics that came up during discussion was how to work in settings where there is only one teacher and 6 students with significant behavioral needs. Keeping your sanity when things seem to be going insane is sometimes a difficult task.

During discussions we came up with several key approaches:

➢ If help is a minute or two away,

Tips for Lone Workers in the Community

….“Social Worker stabbed to Death,” “Workers and Patients Taken Hostage,” “Worker Making Home Visit Injured” These are headlines and whilst dramatic and sensational are extreme examples and not the daily experience of most community based direct care professionals and social workers.

Understandably many instructors delivering The Mandt System curriculum into their organizations will encounter participants in training who are lone working and they will naturally have questions and challenges that arise from this.

Partners in Care – Medical & Security

Last year I had the opportunity to do a Mandt System® workshop at which several security staff from a hospital were in attendance. The teamwork they described between themselves and the medical staff was fantastic and served as a catalyst for discussion in how staff could support each other in different human service settings.The security guards said that when they are on duty they walk around and focus on areas that often are breeding grounds for frustration and anxiety,

Self Injurious Behavior – Can We First Do No Harm?

Many caregivers, both personal and paid, find themselves involved with individuals who sometimes self injure. Information and resources to guide the caregiver’s need to cope with their own discomfort and intervene in a supportive manner appear limited and focuses on making the person discontinue the behavior. Practices that help the necessary healing process must be developed.

Self injurious behavior is the intentional injuring of one’s body. The wounds are not intended to be life-threatening,

Teacher Appreciation Week

Lets start by saying that if you are reading this, you should thank a teacher! Without them, you would not have the ability to even know what this topic is all about. They told you, role modeled, explained, answered questions, and did it all over again until you were able to put together your abc’s into usable forms which created the communication you are now partaking in with such fluency. May 7 through May 11 marks Teacher Appreciation Week so I thought it would be good to take the time write about what we should appreciate about teachers.

Anti-Social Behavior

There is no precise definition of anti-social behavior. Broadly speaking, it is acting in a way that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. To be anti-social behavior, the behavior must be persistent.

Individuals with disabilities are sometimes placed in residential settings, special education services or become involved with juvenile justice, criminal justice programs because of what is perceived by others as anti-social or unacceptable social behavior. These behaviors may occur due to poor impulse control due to disrupted neuro-development which may occur because of severe abuse or neglect.

Tips to Avoid Conflict

This may be the shortest blog you have ever read. Tips to avoid conflict – you can’t.

You may be successful for years in avoiding conflict, but sooner or later conflict will find you! Conflict is something you simply cannot avoid, but you can manage it and you can resolve conflict, and these are topics on which I can give you some tips.

1. Build a solid, healthy relationship using the principles we teach in The Mandt System®.

Reducing Restraint

No matter what part of the human services field in which you work, reducing the use of restraint is one of the major goals. In some states and provinces, the push to reduce restraint comes from advocates, in others it comes from regulatory bodies and in others it is service providers. The term “restraint free” is used often to describe the ultimate goal of the movement to reduce restraint use, and many people have asked us during Mandt System® training what this really means.

Use of “Reasonable” force…

It seems that most weeks we read stories covered in the media reporting on issues around the use or misuse of force for all manner of reasons. While it is not our place or intention to pass any kind of judgment on the rights or wrongs of application of force it is an issue that will usually generate some lively discussion in Mandt System classes as well as in classes led by instructors back at their centers of employment.

When Our Use of Language Lets Us Down…

Most of us will recall awkward moments when we were unable to find the right words to express ourselves and our failings led to embarrassment or humor. For some however the significance of the words chosen may make the difference between deescalating a crisis situation or making things worse. In these moments the power or weakness of language becomes sharply apparent.

In The Mandt System program we talk about the work of Albert Mehabrian and reference his studies on ‘Nonverbal Communication’ from the early 1970’s.