Building Supportive Community

INTEREST AREA: Building Supportive Community – Ten First Steps

APPLICATION: Community Mental Health

As opposed to traditional models, where clients come into community mental health centers for treatment, the Creative Edge Organization method looks for a way to involve as many people as possible in community mental health at the grass roots, or person-to-person, community level.

Through interviewing,  sociometric data gathering, and, perhaps, personality typologies such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI),  community members  can be located who are already the “natural listeners” in each social system, the hubs of the wheel, the ones people turn to for information and support. The smaller the social unit, the better, the goal being, ideally, to eventually empower everybody. So, one could look for the “natural listeners” in each nuclear family, each extended family, each building or block or neighborhood, each  church group or school, each employment situation.

Interested “natural listeners” can then be trained in the basic Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing skills, using the  Focusing Communities method for building supportive community, as well as in other skills and diagnostic and referral procedures as deemed relevant and appropriate. If the training itself is not sufficient inducement, other rewards for participation can be considered.

It is important to spend community mental health moneys on personally seeking out and establishing a relationship with these “natural healers.” The basic Listening/Focusing skills can even be demonstrated in individual meetings with   possible participants. Transportation, childcare, meals must be provided for training sessions.

However, if participants are not comfortable coming by invitation to places like schools or churches for training, then the selected “natural listeners” can invite several other members of their social network to gather in their home, and trainings can be held there. We’re looking to tap into the organizational models that neighbors use for informal gatherings– the coffee clubs, Tupperware parties, bridge clubs, child care groups, exercise groups, church groups, bowling leagues, parent organizations where people naturally come to hang out.

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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.