The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMWHA) grant is a valuable resource for law enforcement agencies nationwide that are looking to support the mental health and well-being of their officers. The grant can be used to fund a wide range of initiatives, including programs to promote resilience, training on stress management, and the provision of mental health services. The POWER Training Program is one example of a program designed to address all of these priorities. Here are some other good ways for law enforcement agencies to utilize LEMWHA grant funds:
Peer support programs
Peer support programs provide officers with access to emotional support and assistance from their colleagues. These programs can be particularly helpful for officers who may be hesitant to seek help from traditional mental health services. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund the development and implementation of peer support programs, including training for peer support teams.
Mental health training
Mental health training is an essential component of supporting the well-being of law enforcement officers. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund training programs on stress management, resilience, and mental health awareness. These programs can help officers better understand the impact of their work on their mental health and equip them with the tools to manage stress and build resilience.
Crisis intervention teams
Crisis intervention teams are designed to provide officers with immediate access to mental health services when they need it. These teams can help prevent the escalation of mental health crises and provide officers with the support they need to recover. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund the development and implementation of crisis intervention teams.
Mental health services
The LEMWHA grant can also be used to fund mental health services for law enforcement officers. This can include counseling, therapy, and other forms of treatment. Providing officers with access to mental health services can help to address mental health issues before they become more severe and impact an officer’s ability to perform their job.
Research and data collection
Research on the mental health needs of law enforcement officers is essential for developing effective mental health and wellness programs. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund research on the mental health needs of law enforcement officers and the effectiveness of different support programs. Data collection can also help agencies to identify trends and better understand the mental health needs of their officers.
Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program
The POWER Training Program is a nationally certified training protocol that has a powerful positive impact on officer wellness, as well as morale and engagement. In addition to improving health outcomes, POWER is designed to enhance communication skills and relationality, which are fundamental elements of procedural justice and are critical to improving interactions with communities served. The POWER Program has been designed and constructed by Center for Council to incorporate the newest innovations in mindfulness science, communication skills and effective neurobiological interventions. It has been recognized and certified by C-POST in California, and by IADLEST, nationally. No other organization offers or has access to the POWER curriculum. Find out more about POWER at c4c.link/power-training.
The LEMWHA grant is a valuable resource for law enforcement agencies looking to support the mental health and well-being of their officers. By funding initiatives such as peer support programs, mental health training, crisis intervention teams, mental health services, research and data collection, and the POWER program, law enforcement agencies can better support their officers and promote resilience in the face of the challenges of their job. It is essential that law enforcement agencies take advantage of this important grant to promote the well-being of their officers.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) Grant: Supporting Mental Health in Law Enforcement
Law enforcement is a challenging and stressful profession that requires individuals to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations. The nature of the job can take a toll on the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers, and it is important to provide officers with resources they need to function well amidst the challenges they face.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) was enacted in 2018 to address the mental health needs of law enforcement officers. The LEMHWA grant is a key component of this legislation, providing funding to support the development and implementation of mental health and wellness programs for law enforcement agencies.
The LEMHWA grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The grant is available to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to support programs that promote mental health and wellness among their officers. The grant can be used to fund a range of activities, including:
The LEMHWA grant is an important step forward in addressing the mental health needs of law enforcement officers. A study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that in 2017, more police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty (Karp, 2019). This highlights the urgent need for initiatives to support the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers. By providing funding and support for mental health and wellness programs, the grant helps to ensure that law enforcement agencies are better equipped to support the well-being of their officers.
Law enforcement officers face unique challenges that can impact their mental health and well-being. The LEMHWA grant acknowledges this fact and provides much-needed support to help officers cope with the stresses of their job. By providing funding for mental health and wellness programs, the grant helps to ensure that officers have access to the resources and support they need to maintain their well-being. It is a critical step forward in promoting the health and resilience of law enforcement officers, and it is essential that we continue to support this important initiative.
The Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program offers one possible application of LEMWHA funding. POWER is a nationally certified innovative wellness program that may be a good fit for agencies seeking to increase resources for officers in the area of physical, mental and emotional wellness, and to better manage stressors and work-life balance. For more information on POWER, visit c4c.link/POWER-training.
Council in prisons can transform incarcerated populations. Incarceration should prioritize opportunities for rehabilitation, so that individuals can re-enter society at the end of their sentence as individuals who contribute to the flow of life and lead a productive life. However, systemic issues in the world, and especially within the carceral system, have left the US prison system, one of the largest in the world, plagued by issues. Without proper opportunities for rehabilitation, recidivism is much more likely.
The US prison system has long been criticized for its lack of effective rehabilitation programs. Many prisoners are released back into society without the necessary skills, education, and support to successfully reintegrate into the community. This can lead to a high rate of recidivism, as well as increased crime and decreased public safety. While some states have made efforts to provide rehabilitation programs to incarcerated populations, many of these programs are underfunded and understaffed, making it difficult for inmates to receive the help they need. Council is an effective and self-sustaining rehabilitation program. Jared spoke about this on the Hero Maker Podcast:
“I think the transformation that some folks are able to engage in in the rehabilitative process is really striking. And I think we have seen, as a result of what we have brought into prisons, some extraordinary and inspiring transformation of individuals and their capacity to be of benefit as agents of change when they get out. And that's because they've done this work inside. And the work they've done on themselves is then translated to the work that they do in relationships, and in community.”
The US prison system is plagued by a high rate of recidivism. Recent studies determined that approximately two-thirds of released prisoners reoffend within three years. This can lead to a cycle of crime, incarceration, and reoffending, which is not only costly for the prison system but also detrimental to public safety. To reduce the rate of recidivism, it is important for the prison system to provide effective rehabilitation programs that address the underlying causes of criminal behavior and provide incarcerated men and women with the skills and support they need to successfully reintegrate into society. While Center for Council’s programs offer extensive opportunities to learn and practice council inside prison, the organization’s Council Reentry Program provides a continuum of care by engaging formerly incarcerated individuals when they are released. Jared spoke about the re-entry program on the podcast:
“When you're dealing with system-impaired folks who are in an environment in which they are taught to behave certain ways, and then they go into prison, many of them harden in those ways of communicating and behaving with one another. This extraordinary culture of toxic masculinity is about intimidation, being on guard, and not showing any kind of vulnerability. And then they are expected to move back into communities and cultivate successful reentry with families where there are children, and maybe there are spouses, or loved ones, and all you've known is how to kind of bully your way through something and protect yourself and not get killed inside there... Learning these new skills is so critical in all directions for cultivating a more compassionate community.”
The US prison system is facing a number of pressing issues, including overcrowding, inadequate healthcare, lack of rehabilitation programs, and a high rate of recidivism. To address these problems, it is important for policymakers to invest in rehabilitation programs and re-entry programs. Only then can we hope to create a more just and effective prison system that promotes public safety, reduces crime, and supports the well-being of those in its care. We must not lose sight of how those incarcerated individuals continue to impact society while they are locked up and, particularly, as they come home and reenter society.
Learn more about our prison programs here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/incarcerated-and-system-impacted-individuals.html
Listen to the rest of the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Hero Makers Website
Our Executive Director, Jared Seide, was featured on a recent episode of The Hero Maker Podcast. The podcast focuses on distilling experiences from career professionals in law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice into nuggets of wisdom for the future. The podcast is hosted by Jennifer Morrison, Vermont’s Commissioner of Public Safety and Andrea Shreeman, a writer/director/executive producer based in Los Angeles. Morrison and Shreeman decided to collaborate on this podcast as a way to explore and understand more about circumstances surrounding the tragic murder of one of their mutual friends.
This episode of the podcast was a deep dive into the practice of council, the POWER Program for law enforcement officers, and Center for Council’s re-entry and prison programs. Morrison, who was unfamiliar with the practice of council prior to the episode, remarked at the end of the show that she was surprised by how impactful the conversation had been and how much she wishes POWER had been available to her and her colleagues in law enforcement 30 years ago.
Jared outlined the skills developed in Center for Council’s programs, including ways to increase self-awareness and develop tools for self-regulation, as well as improve capacity to interpret and understand social cues and situational awareness, which are things we all use to track and maintain our safety. Police officers are particularly concerned with this and are also faced with the challenge of cultivating relationships with the communities they serve. Jared noted that social intelligence, in particular, is:
"...an important area of skills to build that are often neglected in law enforcement training. How is it that we ask officers to step into communities where they feel overwhelmed and in a high stress state, knowing they are not resourced to be able to navigate this very complicated interaction of: ‘Who you are to me? A friend or foe? An ally or somebody that is going to give me a hard time?’”
Morrison agreed, remembering how law enforcement was never properly resourced 30 to 35 years ago, when she began her career.
Center for Council’s Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program provides a robust curriculum of activities and lessons that develop self-awareness and self-regulation skills and utilize council, an age-old practice that involves bringing people together in a circle to bear witness and share authentically. Council huddles become a sustainable peer-to-peer resource for officer wellness. Find out more about POWER, and hear LAPD officers reflecting on their powerful recent experiences in the course at: c4c.link/POWER.
Listen to the rest of the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Hero Makers Website
What Council Training 1 is like
Council Training Level One: Introduction to the Way of Council is an intense 16-hour training course that offers participants the chance to learn about and engage with the council process. This course, taught by two certified council trainers, is intended to increase participants' understanding, competence and capacity to practice and offer council in their personal and professional lives, as well as in their communities and workplaces.
The course is made available by Center for Council to the general public all year long as well as to individual companies, organizations, and governmental bodies that wish to incorporate the practice of council into their everyday operations in order to enhance organizational wellbeing. The fact that CT1 offers 15 CE credits makes it a worthwhile opportunity for mental health professionals to earn the credits needed for licensure.
CT1 offers participants an opportunity to thoroughly examine the development, foundations, and intricacies of the forms and modalities of council. The course also provides participants with a foundation in the fundamental methodology and practice of council and examines more extensive applicability to a range of contexts, including schools, boardrooms, prisons, communities, as well as more private contexts like families and couples. The workshops draw a wide range of professionals, including social service providers, therapists, artists, and educators.
CT1 workshops are frequently offered in Southern California and are available to be provided throughout the country and globally, in collaboration with regional businesses, institutions of higher learning, and community groups. If you're curious about council practice and want to learn more about this evidence-based practice to support personal, organizational and community wellness, visit centerforcouncil.org.
Sign up for our next CT1 here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/in-person-council-workshops.html
Since ancient times, people have used storytelling as a practice to connect, heal, and foster understanding. Sharing one's story can have a dramatic effect on both the speaker and the listener, as well as promote healing by increasing self-awareness and empathetic capacity.
Council is about telling our story and Hearing other people's story. Storytelling enables us to process experiences and emotions in a secure and encouraging setting. This can make the practice of council healing and restorative. When we share the story of our experience, we have the chance to drop in, explore and make sense of it in a way that may not have been feasible in the past. This often leads to a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s experiences, resulting in increased self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Storytelling can be a potent tool for establishing connections amongst people. We give others a deeper and more genuine understanding of who we are when we share our stories authentically. The act of offering regard and open-hearted listening to another’s story encourages this sharing and enables us to bear witness to the experience of others on a deeper level than analytical or judgmental listening, which is often our default outside of council. In these ways, the practice of council increases understanding and connection amongst people, as well as a sense of community and belonging.
Storytelling has the potential to be a strong force for change. By telling our stories and hearing others, we can bring attention to pressing problems, which can motivate others to take action. An example of this is the #MeToo campaign, which raised awareness of the pervasive issue of sexual assault and harassment, was initiated by a single person sharing her experience on social media and a lot of people listening in. This one action sparked a worldwide movement of people telling their own stories and attempting to make the world a safer and more just place.
Unlike debate or persuasion, sharing our narrative offers an opportunity to connect, heal, and instigate change. We may better understand ourselves, develop closer bonds with others, and contribute to the creation of a better world by telling our stories.
Our stories have the potential to be a potent means of healing and personal development.
Join our next Social Connection Circle here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/social-connection-councils.html
Or come to a Council Training Workshop: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/in-person-council-workshops.html
Reentry Family Holiday Celebration
On Saturday, December 10, 2022, Center for Council’s extended reentry family gathered at the Los Angeles River Center for a powerful day of warm celebration, beautiful music, delicious food and heartfelt connection, organized as part of our Council Reentry Program.
While resources and offerings were plentiful, the spirit of appreciation and celebration was most apparent in the experiences of the individual participants and was evident in the warm chatter, friendly smiles, excited children, emotional reconnections with old friends and the care and kindliness that was on display everywhere.
If you missed this year’s event, mark your calendar -- plans are already underway for December 2023!
Leaving Prison Behind
We could not be more excited about the launch of Leaving Prison Behind: A Council Before I Go.
This illustrated novella tells a moving story of one man's last night of incarceration - and provides a robust, practical compendium of resources intended to support those who are embarking on the perilous journey home from incarceration.
Leaving Prison Behind has been created from the words and stories of system-impacted individuals, and those who support them. The book grew out of the Council Reentry Program with the intention of supporting and resourcing incarcerated individuals preparing themselves for the journey home. Some will recognize the practice of council that the characters enact in this story -- and others will encounter it for the first time. Along with the story of the last night of our protagonist's incarceration the book includes a robust resource section with ideas, references and practices intended to be of support in the preparation for the journey that lies ahead.
We're appealing to our supporters to help us expand the reach of this work and distribute copies of his book into prisons far and wide. For more information on the book, on our fundraising campaign -- and to see a sneak peek video teaser, visit our Leaving Prison Behind page by clicking here.
On October 15, Center for Council joined our friends at Peace Over Violence to host a workshop focused on Domestic Violence Prevention at the Midnight Mission, in the Skid Row District of Los Angeles.
This workshop was offered as part of Center for Council’s Council Reentry Program (CRP), which provides resources and support to formerly incarcerated individuals who are returning home and are committed to successful reentry. CRP offers warm hand-off support services initiated during incarceration, and continues throughout the release and reintegration process with case management, ongoing council sessions for participants and their families, and advanced training in council facilitation, as well as periodic workshops and sessions on important issues facing those on the journey of reentry, including the prevention of domestic violence.
This workshop was co-created with Center for Council’s longtime partner, Peace Over Violence. Partnership between the two organizations has been built over the last decade, as C4C gas helped integrate council practice into the organizational fabric of Peace Over Violence and as POV’s work has been embraced and supported by Center for Council. The workshop included an opportunity to drop into deep sharing in council, led by C4C’s Executive Director, Jared Seide, and an in-depth presentation and discussion of the nature, origins and prevention of domestic violence, led by POV’s Director of Counseling Services and Trauma Recovery, Wendy Blanco, LCSW.
The workshop was offered at Midnight Mission, a residential facility for unhoused individuals, many of whom are formerly incarcerated. Participants in the workshop were offered an opportunity to reflect on the forms domestic violence can take and explored how harm can be experienced physically, emotionally, even financially.
One participant observed that domestic violence can show up in intimate relationships, as well as other family dynamics and, if unexamined, can negatively impact the way our various relationships develop moving forward in our lives. Information, reflection and community can offer ways to work with these life challenging experiences and help avoid future harm. As another participant observed, past mistakes don’t have to just be “baggage,” but can be transformed into experiences that can be integrated as learning and growth.
The Council Reentry Program is offered to individuals returning to the LA area and is designed to provide assistance navigating the trepidation, uncertainty and anxiety of reentry, tailoring linkages and referrals to key service providers to help make the transition from incarceration as smooth as possible. Council Circles specifically offered for formerly incarcerated individuals are held throughout the month and offer participants a nonjudgmental space to connect with a positive community. Additionally, participants in CRP are offered free council training workshops and professional development sessions, with the opportunity to engage in internship, mentoring and feedback—as well as certification as a council facilitator and trainer. For more information, click here.
Center for Council looks forward to continued partnership with Peace Over Violence, which is a sexual and domestic violence, intimate partner stalking, child abuse and youth violence prevention center headquartered in Los Angeles. POV is committed to social service, social change and social justice, offering innovative and comprehensive programs include Emergency, Intervention, Prevention, Education and Advocacy services offered in Los Angeles and the 22 cities within the West San Gabriel Valley. For more on POV's work, their website can be found here.
Center for Council’s Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy and Resilience (POWER) Training Program has received the National Certification Program Seal of Excellence from IADLEST, International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
IADLEST is an association of standards and training managers and leaders. Its primary focus is criminal justice standards and training. IADLEST's mission is to support the innovative development of professional standards in public safety through research, development, collaboration and sharing of information, to assist states and international partners with establishing effective and defensible standards for the employment and training of public safety personnel.
The National Certification Program Seal of Excellence is conferred after a thorough and rigorous independent review process conducted by IADLEST’s professional assessment team, which concluded that Center for Council’s POWER curriculum and program design was of exceptional quality. IADLEST National Certification marks the latest step in Center for Council’s partnership with the US Department of Justice COPS (Community Oriented Policing Solutions) Office, which began in March of 2022. This partnership seeks to promote the POWER program and its innovative curriculum at “the intersection of wellness, compassion, procedural justice and community building."
The Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program offers an intensive and interactive curriculum for police and correctional officers that utilizes mindfulness practices, compassion-based communication exercises, and training in wellness-related areas such as stress management and self-care. POWER encompasses a deep exploration of the science and experience of mindfulness and compassionate communication as it relates to stress, resiliency, performance and community building. With a focus on developing tools and resources that enhance self-awareness, attunement to others, compassion, wisdom and elite performance, participants learn skills that can be translated to their personal, as well as professional, life.
POWER offers an opportunity to enhance performance, improve situational awareness, increase physical and cognitive health, and develop new leadership capacity, balancing operational demands with life beyond the watch. For more information, visit centerforcouncil.org/le.
What’s new at Center for Council?
We are deeply grateful to receive new funding to expand our Council for Insight, Compassion and Resilience for incarcerated folks -- and our Council Reentry Program, now active in Los Angeles.
Our work with law enforcement officers is expanding, as well! We’ve entered an official partnership with the Department of Justice’s Community Office of Policing Services to promote programming at the intersection of officer wellness, compassionate communication, procedural justice and community building.
And check out this powerful evaluation of our recent program with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office!
More in the pipeline – stay tuned!
Center for Council's Executive Director was once again featured on multiple episodes of The Business Couch with Dr. Yishai podcast. Yishai and Jared discussed the ways in which council practice can help reduce burnout, enhance problem solving, and deepen leadership skills in high-stress environments. Their conversation contained so much depth it needed three full episodes to describe and unpack council’s powerful impact on individuals and organizations...
You can find the full episodes on spotify and apple podcasts.
Center for Council's Jared Seide was featured on multiple episodes of The Business Couch with Dr. Yishai podcast. Check out this rich conversation about compassion and council and how the practice can enhance
business culture. This expansive and inspiring dialogue spans multiple episodes -- see the links, below.
You can find the full episodes on spotify and apple podcasts.
Forceful article featuring our POWER Training for police officers by Camilla Patterson on MEDIUM.
DOJ's COPS Office Features POWER
The U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services featured Center for Council's POWER training program for law enforcement in a recent podcast and article.
Learn more about the impact of Center for Council's POWER Training program for police and correctional officers in this article, or listen to the new podcast.
Clerestory Magazine interviewed Center for Council Executive Director, Jared Seide, on the work of our organization. Read the in-depth and powerful piece on the importance of listening from the heart, recognizing our shared humanity, and moving toward compassion.
Read the full story here.
Council for Healthcare Providers
In addition to Center for Council’s weekly Social Connection Councils, we are now offering drop-in councils for healthcare workers. These public sessions, held on Zoom, are open to all healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, therapists and administrators.
Healthcare providers have been on the frontlines, keeping our communities healthy and safe. Long hours, double-shifts and understaffing take a heavy toll. Repeated encounters with acute suffering are leading to chronic effects of unmitigated stress for many. It's no longer possible to "wait until it's over," hoping to emerge unscathed.
Sessions are facilitated by Dr. Ann Seide, internist and Medical Director of Palliative Care at Los Robles Hospital and Certified Council Trainer. Watch this interview with Ann, speaking about the impacts of the pandemic on essential workers and the importance of council to help regulate the effects of stress on the mind and body. We hope this resource will support those who continue to care for the health and wellbeing of our communities throughout this pandemic.
Share this resource with someone you know who works in healthcare
Officer Safety & Wellness
Center for Council is pleased to present at this year’s International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Officer Wellness Symposium. The workshop entitled “Mindfulness & Resiliency Meets Community Engagement: Empathy, Awareness & Procedural Justice” explores the impacts of occupational stressors on the careers of law enforcement officers and the benefits of mindfulness and compassion-based programs on officer health and wellness.
The workshop features Center for Council’s Peace Officer Wellness Empathy and Resilience (POWER) training program, which was created to improve physical, emotional and mental health, boost team and individual performance and support community relations.
Executive Director Jared Seide will co-lead this session in partnership with Richard Goerling, retired police lieutenant, mindfulness trainer and co-designer of the POWER program. This opportunity highlights Center for Council's continued focus on providing skills of self-awareness, self-regulation and enhanced communication to law enforcement officers.
Read more about Center for Council’s work with law enforcement
Artist Nicole Buffett's new collection of paintings, entitled Council of..., was inspired by, and benefits the work of Center for Council.
In this video interview, Nicole discusses this new work with Center for Council Executive Director Jared Seide:
Efrain's Journey: Beyond Us & Them
My name is Efrain Ortiz. I am the Program Assistant with Center for Council, but most importantly I am an example of what transpires when one engages in the practice of council.
I believe in life you don’t merely stumble across opportunities by chance. I was first introduced to council while serving a 12-year sentence inside of California State Prison-Los Angeles County, in Lancaster, California, where I worked as a clerical assistant in the
main office. I was in charge of typing up incidents and rules violation reports. I already had my share of violent experiences, but working inside the main office I got to witness how violent and disruptive prison really is, as I had a firsthand view of every violent incident which took place in our facility. Our yard was one of the most violent, high-security facilities in the state of California at the time. We lacked resources and support with only two self-help groups (Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous) which rotated every Saturday, until Center for Council came along.
It was here, in the circle created by Center for Council, where we as individuals had the opportunity to sit amongst other men and both speak and be heard with regard. We learned the four intentions of council: speak from the heart, to speak from that sacred place where often I wouldn’t share with just anyone; listen from the heart, something I continue to work on as it is often times the forgotten half of true communication, holding my judgement or my need to resolve; be spontaneous, allowing yourself to say what arises at the given moment that the talking peace is in your hand; be lean, so others have a chance to share their stories, and I found that often I learned more about myself through the stories of others.
To be able to get to this point was no easy task. I was sitting in a high security, level four prison with men who have committed some horrible crimes. But in the council circle, I was no longer sitting with those boys from back then. Through practice, we began to trust each other as the stories got deeper, the layers we began to peel off revealed the hurt we suppressed for many years. We began to connect to one another through our shared stories, as we connected the dots to our past, understanding those traumatic experiences and how they led us to a tumultuous life. The amazing thing was, we started to look at one another as human instead of by race, gang affiliation or moniker.
Organizations across the country, from the non-profit sphere to the corporate sector, are standing at the gates of a tremendous opportunity to create new processes and policies that intentionally set a tone of inclusion and that truly value all voices and perspectives of their staff.
Fundamental organizational culture change cannot be engineered through top-down edicts, or generalized policies, nor designed and imposed on staff by outside experts. Diversity Training and Implicit Bias Workshops are not effective when offered as a multiple choice, hour-long seminar to be tossed at individuals in order to check a box. Individual employees must be given the opportunity to engage topics and conversations deeply, and at their own pace, in ways that are relevant to their lived experience, cultural orientation, and personal communication styles. They must be invited into meaningful conversation, in which they feel their voices are respected and honesty is valued. This is especially true when challenging topics such as bias, racism, power differentials and conflict are involved.
Center for Council has worked with a wide variety of teams to strengthen internal culture, helping to develop concrete skills and practices to foster greater collaboration, build community, navigate power, privilege and diversity issues and effectively manage conflict. The council practice provides the container for sincere reflection as well as the space to listen to the lived experiences of others. The practice offers tools for individuals to have honest conversations that lay the foundation for genuine understanding. Council values every voice, reinforces respectful communication, builds positive relationships between participants, and neutralizes hierarchical dynamics and conflict. It is a resource for increasing compassion and engagement and recognizing our essential human interconnectedness. Center for Council's programs deliver customized, on-the-ground, community-building solutions; its evidence-based programs have been shown to increase mindfulness and engagement, enable participants to connect with others in new ways, create safe and supportive environments for self-expression without fear of judgment, and help with the development of effective communication skills and resilience.
The importance of meaningful connection and mutual understanding is ever present, and the current moment in society underscores the need to listen beneath opinions and rhetoric to people’s lived experiences involving identity, inclusion, and bias. This is exactly what the council practice offers: the opportunity to listen to personal experiences, and share one's own story. Authentic action that affects change must come from a foundation of honest self-reflection, on an individual and on a group level. In order to look forward with clarity and integrity, we must look inward to discover new possibilities.
Learn more about Center for Council’s professional staff trainings here.
We are grateful for Hazel Kight Witham's expansive interview with Executive Director Jared Seide on the work of council in the world and Center for Council's programs.
Read the full article, "The Power Of Story: Jared Seide On How Listening To Each Other Can Restore Our Humanity," here.
Giving Back to Essential Workers
Are you or someone you know classified as an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic? Essential workers have been on the frontlines working selflessly and tirelessly in order to keep our communities healthy and safe.
Center for Council would like to express our gratitude to those who are working for us by offering a free Social Connection Council to all our essential workers. Our virtual Councils encourage slowing down and bearing witness to our minds and bodies during this stressful time. Together we will listen to the sensations in the body, learn how to settle the nervous system, and ease feelings of fear and anxiety while fostering a real connection with others like you who find themselves working during this vulnerable time.
These Councils for Essential Workers will be facilitated by Dr. Ann Seide, internist and Medical Director of Palliative Care at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks and Council Trainer.
Together we can openly grieve, find the support to heal and the ability to flourish through these challenging times.
Whether you work as a healthcare provider, as an administrator in public health, a law enforcement officer, at a 911 call center or hospital, or are working in a grocery, pharmacy, convenience store, or restaurant, this council is for you. You can read more and watch a video interview with Dr. Seide here.
If you know of others who are classified as an essential worker and may be interested in this offering, please feel free to share this information with them.
We are working to offer more Councils for essential workers in the coming weeks and want to know what times and days work best for your schedule. Please fill out this short Google Form if you are working on the frontlines of this pandemic in any way and would be interested in participating in these Councils in the future.
In this extraordinary and challenging time, there is a great need for space and opportunity to breathe, to connect with one another, and to cultivate a deep sense of community. We are working to create those spaces for everyone.
Center for Council is offering pay-what-you-wish virtual Councils for all who are looking for a place to connect with community and check-in from the heart.
In this extraordinary and challenging time, we are finding that there is a great need for space and opportunity to breathe, to connect with one another, and to cultivate a deep sense of community--even during physical isolation. Social Connection Councils are held on Zoom and integrate the guidelines and intentions of Council practice in an intimate virtual setting (with a maximum of 16 participants). Participants speak authentically and give voice to what is alive for them in that moment, expressing what is present and true and listening to others as they share the same. In fostering both spontaneity and honesty, participants have the opportunity to slow down, to speak authentically, and to actively listen to stories and experiences that remind us of our shared human journey.
Contemplative practices like Council are needed now more than ever. As we individually process the circumstances of our external world and sit with the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty of the current moment, having a communal practice that encourages us to slow down and bear witness helps to settle the nervous system, ease feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, and foster real connection with others.
In times that challenge us individually and communally, it’s important to recognize our collective resilience and our capacity for deep compassion for one another. Social Connection Councils provide a forum in which we can envision and emerge into the next chapter, helping each other along as we heal, grieve, support and flourish through these challenging times.
To register for an upcoming Social Connection Council, sign up here: Social Connection Councils.