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In This Issue
Brief Encounters - Firm Stand - Light Touch
Beyond the Therapeutic State
New MSc program in Relational Leading
Taos Workshops
Friends of Taos and Taos Europe Workshops
International Certificate Program
Free Download Books
Relational Leading
Masters program in
Relational Leading
to begin Fall  2014.

relationships and conversations that make a difference

Issue 4 - Available Now
July 2013


Taos Institute Publications
Kindle and Nook
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U & Me - Communicating in Moments that Matter
See this video:
Relational Leading
When Stories Clash: Addressing Conflict with Narrative Mediation
The Appreciative Organization

Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue

Healing Conversations Now: Enhance Relationships with Elders and Dying Loved Ones

Positive Family Dynamics: Appreciative Inquiry Questions for Bringing Out the Best in Families

DVD - Fusion of Strength: An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry by David Cooperrider
AIP video issue
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AI Practitioner - Special Video Issue - A Must-Have for AI Practitioners
Practicing Relational Ethics in Organizations
Developing Relational Leadership
Retiring but not Shy
Retiring But Not Shy
Ordinary Life Therapy
Hedtke - Bereavement
Bereavement Support Groups

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Ideas, News and Resources
April 2014  
We hope you enjoy receiving our newsletter which includes constructionist ideas and practices as well as news and resources from the Taos Institute.
Brief Encounters from the Taos Institute

As a way of sharing constructionist ideas, the Executive Board of the Taos Institute shares each month an idea or experience that might be an inspiration for you and others. 


This month Sheila McNamee shares thoughts on.....  S.McNamee

Taking a Firm Stand with a Light Touch

by Sheila McNamee


One of the curious and interesting things about language is that it chops the world up into categories. Gregory Bateson talked about the danger of categorization while acknowledging that it is impossible to avoid. Once we act, we have done "this" and not "that." This is the tyranny of language. As constructionists, we can recognize the impending threat of labeling someone with a mental illness, an inability to focus, or poor performance in the workplace. But are we equally aware of how our talk about social construction also divides the world into "those in our camp" and "those outside?"


Many of us are familiar with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story.[1] She reminds us that when we hold a single story about others, we severely limit our ability to understand, thereby reducing the other to simplistic, totalizing terms. This limited understanding unfortunately facilitates conflict, violence, and all forms of pathologizing.


So, I wonder...in what ways do we risk creating and maintaining a fractured world as we talk about social construction? I'm sure that many of you have experienced negative responses from others when you use the term "social construction" or when you champion "appreciative inquiry" over problem solving approaches. While there is nothing inherently "wrong" or "bad" about either term, social construction is unfortunately equated for some with rampant relativism, irresponsibility (i.e., do whatever you want), and devastation of any sense of social order,[2] while appreciative inquiry can be understood as problem avoidance, and Pollyannaish. While it seems only reasonable to defend our beliefs and point out the limitations of individualism, do we ever stop to wonder how - in these very moments - we too are maintaining unfortunate and potential divisive worlds? We have silenced those who are trying to silence us; we are categorizing and undermining.


Let us remember that social construction, relational theory, collaborative practices, and appreciative inquiry are resources for understanding the social world; they are not the Truth about that world. In a world where certainty and conviction are viewed as indications of knowledge, authority, and even wisdom, how can we both believe passionately that constructionist practices are generative and life giving while simultaneously remaining open to very traditional ways of talking about and understanding the world? Can we embrace the individualist orientation to the world as a discursive option - a way of talking and being in relation to the other - that might, for some and/or at some specific moment, be useful? If we can do that, we are honoring the relational, collaborative approach to the world while also honoring the commitments of others. And, in honoring both, we are stepping fully into a relational process.


As I think about living within a constructionist sensibility, I become acutely aware of how curiosity about differences builds relations and also generates possibilities for forging new understandings with others. Our task, as practitioners who adopt a relational sensibility, is to acknowledge our commitments while holding them lightly. To appreciate difference is to create space for new conversations, new possibilities, and new and unimagined worlds.

[2] While there are many critiques of social construction, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair for a good overview.

We Welcome Two New Board Members

We want to extend a warm welcome to two new Taos Institute Board Members:

Ginny Belden-Charles, Ph.D. and Ronald Chenail, Ph.D.

They both come to the board with a wealth of knowledge and experience in social construction and relational and collaborative practice and theory.  It will be a pleasure and a joy to work with them over the coming years. Please feel free to contact them or any of the board members at any time.

Visit the board of directors webpage.

Join us for a fantastic program.....
June 26, 27, 28, 2014
Drammen, Norway

Mental health costs are soaring, drug prescriptions skyrocketing, and diagnostic categories continue to convince us that we are mentally ill. It is time to move beyond the therapeutic state!

Most existing alternatives focus on the individual. In contrast, this conference will feature inspiring innovations in collaborative practice. Such practices bring together diverse conceptions of reality, values, and hopes for the future. From the inter-change emerge new forms of life, viable for all.

The conference will feature collaborative practices relevant to therapy and beyond. Discussions will be enriched by practitioners and scholars from many sectors of society.

In the end, it is toward a relationally oriented society we must move. And it is toward active participation in changing both practices and policies that the conference is dedicated.

Check out the fantastic workshop offerings ..... still developing:

Traveling to Norway - June is a special time of year in Norway - plan to come early or stay after to visit the area:

Conference collaborators:
  • The Taos Institute
  • Taos Institute Europe
  • Institute for Research in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Buskerud, University College (Norway)
  • Helsinki Psychotherapy Institute (Finland)
  • Familjev�rdsstiftelsen (Family Care Foundation) (Sweden)
  • The Family Institute (UK)
Keynote Presenters:
  • Kenneth J. Gergen
  • Robert Whitaker
  • Olga Runciman
  • Sami Timimi
  • Carina Hakansson


For information and to register at the Early Bird rates:  www.taosinstitute.net/beyond-the-therapeutic-state   

Share the News......Do you know someone who would benefit from participating in a Masters program in Relational Leading?

This new program is a 2-year, online learning program designed to deepen the theory and practice of relational leading through course content and teaching practices.

This program introduces ideas and practices at the forefront of organizational studies, and integrates workplace experience into class discussions. The courses focus on:

  • The social construction of realities, values, and reason
  • Systemic and relational process
  • Collaborative practices in the workplace and society
  • Relational and appreciative leading
  • Relevant research practices

The courses prepare participants to work with faculty members in conducting original research relevant to their professional development.


If you or anyone you know might be interested in learning more about this program visit: www.taosinstitute.net/relational-leading-program 

The Taos Institute Workshop Series
  • Social Construction, Relational Theory and Change Practices | June 6-8 -  with Ken and Mary Gergen, Wallingford, PA.  
  • Social Constructionist Inquiry and Research Practices | June 12-14 - with Sally St. George and Dan Wulff, Calgary, Canada.    
  • Social Construction, Relational Theory and Transformative Practices | Oct. 16-18 - with Sheila McNamee and Harlene Anderson, Durham, New Hampshire.   

To register, visit: http://www.taosinstitute.net/upcoming-workshops



  •  International Summer Institute with Harlene Anderson | June 16-20, Mexico.   
  • Attractor/Taos Summer Institute | July 2-4, 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark. 
More workshops will be listed soon.


For details and a listing of more workshops, visit our website.
Friends of the Taos Institute
Workshop Series

Contact the presenters to register for these workshops:

  • Open Dialogue Week-end Seminar Series -2014 - March 15-16, May 3-4 & May 31-June 1, London, England, with Jaakko Seikkula, Markku Sutela, Mia Kurtti, Nick Putman
  • EFTC Yearlong Narrative Course - begins May 3, with Jill Freedman and Gene Combs
  • Narrative Therapy Intensive - Level 1 - May 3-7, with Jill Freedman and Gene Combs
  • The Imagine Conference - Organized in the spirit of Peter Lang - Aug. 29-30, Denmark
  • Narrative Therapy Intensive - Level 2 - Sept. 3-7, with Jill Freedman and Gene Combs 

And, more workshops will be listed soon.  

For details, registration and more workshop listings, visit our website. 



Taos Institute Europe Workshops and Events:

News from the International Certificate Program in Collaborative-Dialogue Practices  

A practice-based educational program offered by the Houston Galveston Institute and Taos Institute.


The ICCP, in its fourth year, has 11 programs and 3 satellite programs. Programs are locally organized by sponsoring institutes and universities to fit each country's particular cultural and contextual variables. Participants include a variety of practitioners including therapists, attorneys, mediators, lawyers, educators and writers. Focused on collaboration and dialogue, the program responds to our changing world and the appeal of everyday people to have a voice in what effects their lives. Professionals can enhance their practices in dynamic ways that maintain relevancy for their day-to-day work as well as for the people with whom they work.


Collectively, the participating programs partner with each other to offer exciting learning events. In 2013, the First International Collaborative Practices Congreso in So Paulo, Brazil was hosted by Interfaci. Marilene Grandesso and her impressive team designed and hosted three days of stimulating conversation and connection. Upcoming ICCP events include: November 21-22, 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic, International Horizon Conference: "Who is the Expert Here?"  hosted by Narativ Institute and April 23-25, 2015 in Tucuman, Argentina, Second International Latin America ICCP Congreso hosted by FundaCes (Buenos Aires) and Fesna (Tucuman, Argentina). Contact Pilar Padila for information.

Current Certificate Programs

Satellite Programs

  • Kanankil - a satellite/sponsored program in Barcelona, Spain - contact Rocio Chaveste 
  • Grupo Campos Eliseos - satellite programs in Tucuman, Argentina and Leon, Mexico - contact Sylvia London 


WorldShare Books WorldShare Books 
Free Download Books  


Sharing Ideas and Practices From Around the World


The Taos Institute offers free-of-charge books for downloading to your computer or favorite reader. Our ultimate aim is to offer books in all languages. Like all the Taos Institute Publications, WorldShare Books represent significant contributions relevant to social constructionist theory and practice. More books are being added all the time. Check it out!  

All books are available in PDF format. Visit WorldShare Books for more than fifteen books in English, 2 in Spanish, 1 in Italian, 1 in German, 1 in Africaans and 1 in Farsi. More books to come.
The Taos Institute's mission is to bring together scholars and practitioners concerned with the social processes essential for the construction of reason, knowledge, and human value.

We are committed to exploring, developing and disseminating ideas and practices that promote creative, appreciative and collaborative processes in families, communities and organizations around the world through a social constructionist lens.

We look forward to your participation in the dialogue.


Dawn Dole, Executive Director
The Taos Institute

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