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Planning a Workshop – An Introduction


how to plan a workshopPath to Synergy will be presenting a workshop this spring. The workshop is titled – “Are Our Brains Holding Us Back? Understanding and Managing Unconscious Bias.” This workshop will be held in Asheville, NC on March 13th, 2015. For more information, or to register, CLICK HERE.
When forming our initial idea around how to create this particular workshop, we went through a couple of drafts and approaches. We learned a number of things from this process which I would like to share. Here are five basic considerations for building and planning a workshop.

1.) Getting specific about a training topic

In my experience with both attending trainings as well as providing them, there always seems to be less time than content. This is relevant when determining a topic because being very specific will not only help to flesh out the idea but this may also help in pairing down the time.

2.) Do some research

Seeing what other kinds of similar workshops are out there can be great way to decide how to make a training stand out. In addition, if it seems the training topic is overly saturated and there are limited areas to expand, then perhaps another topic or variation would be better.

3.) Outline the time, day or number of days

Filling out the main objectives down to the hour can be a great way to start seeing the training take shape. Consider some blocks being 30 minutes while others may go to an hour or 1.5 hours. In addition, if the training is more than one day, fill in the larger time frames for all days. Be sure to include breaks and lunch time.

4.) Fill in the times specifically, down to 15 minute intervals

Being specific about how things may flow with every 15 minutes will help to reduce the chance for either over planning or not having enough material to fill the expected time frame. When building in breaks, be sure to space them out appropriately so that attendees have time to get engaged with the activity or session but also don’t get too restless.

5.) Be prepared for things to not go as planned, i.e.; be prepared to improvise

Rehearsing the training is a must! Depending on how much opportunity you offer for questions, this could drastically change the flow of your design. In addition, questions may inadvertently come up, so be prepared to be flexible. For longer activities or presentations it may be helpful to have a second plan for how to cover the material. Also, consider prioritizing what material is most important, in case time runs out.

As a consultant, counselor, educator or therapist, hosting a workshop can be a great way to connect with the community and share expertise on a number of topics. Remember, finding an idea that is within the field is of course relevant, but finding an idea that you are really passionate about may make the difference in the overall success of the workshop. If you can find something that you can speak about intelligently and also feel energized by, this will not only make the experience more fun to create and facilitate, but also more impactful on your audience.




Mind and Body Connection: Healthy Body Healthy Mind


Body Mind Connection Healthy Body Healthy Mind

When I was in graduate school one of the concentrations I had was called Body Centered Therapy.  This program is described as “a program designed to prepare students with an understanding of creative and expressive processes within the context of the mind and body connection”.   I look back on my experience in graduate school fondly and continue to learn more and more about this idea of body and mind connectivity.  This is a large topic with lots of debate and areas of discussion.  I am writing this article as a short introduction to this idea, with some examples of how body and mind are connected.

In my professional experience there certainly seems to be a connection between an individual’s physical experience and emotional well-being.  For example, the article HERE points to the fact that there may be a physical component related to the onset of depression, but this generally speaking is not a new finding.  Research has been connecting physical experience with mental health issues for many years. For example, this article by the National Institute of Mental Health reviews some of the conclusions related to diabetes and depression.  A great map of physical experiences brought on by depression can be found HERE.  There are often connectivity examples between depression or anxiety and physical symptoms resulting from them.  We commonly understand that anxiety and depression can bring on physical symptoms of stomach ache, sweating, headache or a number of other symptoms.

It seems that the more we understand about connectivity between experience, thought, behavior and emotion, the more we may gravitate towards a mind and body connection paradigm.  Popular culture tends to separate body and mind, but many believe this is shifting.  Depression is a condition that impacts how we feel, think and act (all involving the mind).  However, emotions like sadness or worthlessness, found in depression, can bring on real physical symptoms such as pain or nausea.  In this way, depression is present in both the body and mind.  For another example of mind and body connectivity, consider this article on chronic illness and depression.

There have been many theories posed as to the cause of depression, anxiety, panic disorder and other mental health challenges.  However, regardless of the cause, it seems that an overwhelming number of people respond well to lifestyle change.  In my personal and professional experience, I see that people often respond well to lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and improved nutrition. I think that this strengthens the argument even more that there is a definite connection between body and mind.

So what does one do with all of this information about the body and mind connection?  It seems that one way to actively incorporate the belief that there is truly a cross over between our body and mind is to do just that: change our belief.  One way of changing our belief is to change how we respond.  When we are faced with different experiences we may begin to ask how is this impacting both body and mind.

The mind and body connection is certainly not just seen in mental health issues like depression or anxiety.  We see examples of body/mind connection in our everyday lives, if we know where to look.  The next time you are faced with a really challenging decision, consider how your body responds.  Often times our body can give us clues about decisions to make or hunches about directions to take, we just have to learn to listen.  Being more aware of our whole experience in any given situation will bring on more understanding, and more of an integration of body and mind.

Stay Healthy,