“Oh man.” I thought, “This won’t end well.”
That is seriously what I thought, I mean just about every time I have witnessed one of these audience participation/role modeling exercises at a conference the inevitable happens. Someone acts like the joker, or tries to figure out the “trick” and the presenter ends up trying to reel in a crowd where half are mentally somewhere else, and the other half are doing emails. The expression herding cats often comes to mind...
But this time it was different. At one point I looked around, and people were really watching, almost eagerly anticipating the dreaded horn sound when the participants, some of whom slipped right into playing appropriate roles, made a mistake. By the end the whole audience, numbering close to 125, was enthralled and eager to see how this activity is used in the field.
Welcome to the 1st Annual FITS Conference, hosted and put on by Second Nature Wilderness Programs.
Now what made this all work so well was the brilliance of metaphorically locking IEC’s and treatment professionals in a room together and forcing all of us to see that we are all doing the same thing. Now of course I am coming at this from the angle of an Educational Consultant, but for years it seems that so many people have made assumptions about the roles that IEC’s play in the placement and follow up care of clients who struggle in more traditional settings. Granted, if you were to sit 10 IEC’s down, you would most likely get 10 different answers, but I truly feel that the good IEC’s, ones who have worked to understand the treatment world, understand the unique collaborative nature of this side of the business.
It was an utter joy to sit down and see my fellow IEC’s sitting and chatting with interventionists and therapists, and no one seemed threatened. Everyone understood that we are all in this for the same reason, and we all bring our own unique skill set and expertise to the table. Instead of resentment and accusations, we witnessed folks truly spending time trying to learn from each other; plans were made to have IEC’s attend and even present at what are traditionally thought of as addiction conferences, panels with professionals from all corners of the treatment world, hosted by wilderness therapists and being peppered with questions from therapists, IEC' s and interventions ended 15 minute late because no-one wanted them to end and typical of this field, I have never seen so many hugs when a group said good bye.
Just like that wonderfully mixed group who participated in the activity during that session, we were a mixed crew; a crew who realized that after a great deal of wrangling, negotiation, denial and missteps that to reach our common goal we all need to work together.