What follows is an introduction to “Transforming communities through CARE.” It will provide you with an overview of the CARE training. For a complete introduction to CARE that you can download and print the file entitled, “Introducing CARE” (see right menu) or contact us for a hard copy.
Transforming communities through CARE is a training program developed and directed by Ted Dunn, Ph.D. and Beth Lipsmeyer, Ph.D. CARE – Conversational Approach to Relational Effectiveness – is for those congregations, teams and organizations seeking substantive, systemic change.
CARE is the culmination of over thirty years of experience in training of thousands of people across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. We are fortunate to have enjoyed a professional history of collaborating with a variety of religious congregations, hospitals, parishes, educational systems and leadership teams that have sought to bring about cultural change through the enhancement of interpersonal effectiveness.
We believe that one of the most important goals of our work is to help you develop the skills necessary to actualize your community's vision by strengthening the interdependent bonds among its members. We see CARE not simply as a method of teaching effective communication, but as a way to build the interpersonal skills and cultural milieu that support your collective efforts in furthering your mission. While the basic skills of CARE are about communication, the heart of CARE is about deepening and strengthening relationships. While the process of CARE involves practice and learning, the content of CARE (i.e., what you talk about) is the substance of your lives. Though every individual discovers his or her own learning, the collective learning that takes place offers challenging invitations toward systemic change. The soul of CARE is the spiritual foundation, the compatibility with Gospel living and its value-base of mutuality.
Why we offer CARE to religious communities
As consultants and facilitators, we have worked with leadership teams and planning committees who have sought to plan and implement systemic change with, and for, their communities. We find a deep desire among members to tap the transformative Spirit of communities to guide them in their search for what God intends. We have worked with Chapters and assemblies of various kinds in order to foster the kind of dialogue that will allow for the emergence of such a Spirit, for the emergence of wisdom and new truths through the collective voices and common hearts of a group. We know of your burning desire to journey deeply as you discern directions and decisions to create yourselves anew.
We also know, all too well, the depth of pain, aggravation and cynicism that develops when the dreams of a future are held hostage by well intended, but unskilled individuals who say and do things that bring group conversations to a complete standstill. We have witnessed communities that are attempting to renew their charisms, re-understand their missions and reclaim their passions, both personally and communally. And we see the unfortunate, unnecessary and excruciating pain of these attempts gone awry when dialogues become defensive and divisive. Without intention, these messy conversations can bring an end to the good will and Spirit present at the outset of a discussion. We know, through our experience, that you can do better.
We have had countless experiences of enabling people to navigate very difficult and necessary conversations. We experience that more and more communities are seeking assistance to improve their ability to dialogue more openly, honestly, and directly with one another. We have witnessed their desire to be empowered with interpersonal skills that will bring out the best of their creativity and help them to become their own best resources for, and with, one another.
We have heard, and feel compelled to respond to, your need for the tools necessary to bring about your visions of systemic change and a future full of hope. Realizing the elements of your vision is, in our view, going to require a deepening of your ability to be open with, and trusting of, one another. It will also demand willingness on your part to influence, and be influenced by, one another, as well as with those with whom you collaborate. The actualization of your vision will require the necessary relational skills to enable and support the ideals and values you wish to enflesh and make real. We believe that CARE, with its foundational model of mutuality, offers these very skills.
Mutuality is a set of values we own and attempt to live both personally and professionally. It encompasses the values which bespeak our development of, and our work with, CARE. We find that the model is very consistent with Christian beliefs and with the life and teachings of Jesus. We believe that this model is a psychologically sound, and behaviorally congruent, representation of what it means to be truly interdependent and committed to Gospel living in our world today. We find this model both challenging and instrumental in our own marriage, our respective faith journeys, and in our ministry.
In our roles as facilitators, consultants and therapists for numerous communities, we are afforded a wonderfully panoramic view of the growing edges in religious life. We recognize that the model of mutuality is congruent with many of the aspired directions that religious communities claim as important for assuring their current and future viability. A sampling of these growing edges and desired directions for religious would be such things as: collaboration, interdependence, co-responsibility, mutual accountability, discerned decision-making, shared wisdom, subsidiarity, and non-violent conflict resolution.
If these represent the kinds of interpersonal elements toward which you and your community are attempting to live more fully, then we believe that you will find CARE as not only compatible, but instrumental in the systemic actualization of your potential.