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Brief Encounters with The Taos Institute
This month we welcome Kathy Clark as she shares a story of the Power of Patient Advocacy...

The Power of Patient Advocacy: Relational Practices in Health and Healthcare

By Kathy Clark
I write briefly to highlight the power of patient advocacy, in this case, the power of both the patient and his mother. Anthony, his mother and father, physicians, nurses, administrators, and other healthcare practitioners worked with, questioned, listened to, taught, demonstrated, and, most of all, appreciated each other to not only save Anthony's life, but to ensure that he have a bright future.   
Anthony Galarza was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 1997 when he was 8 years old.   Diana, Anthony's mother, became his primary advocate, vigilant always as she worked with Anthony's healthcare team to fix any mistake, clear up any misunderstanding, coordinate Anthony's care, keep the channels of communication open, and always express her gratitude to all those healthcare practitioners who worked tirelessly to care for Anthony.  Although the focus of Anthony's treatment herein took place five or more years ago, his story is instructive, very powerful and timeless.
Kaiser provided Anthony's medical care from his 1997 diagnosis to the present. After Anthony's diagnosis, he began a three-year course of chemo, followed by maintenance chemo, after which he was taken off all drugs.  Four months later, Anthony required a stem cell transplant, with his sister as the stem cell donor.   Following that, Anthony was cancer free for almost five years, at which point he was diagnosed again with the same leukemia, stage 4.   Anthony and his family were told that a second transplant could be attempted, but the chances of success would not be great.  Aside from a second transplant, there wasn't much that could be done.  At that point, Anthony had the good fortune to be accepted in an experimental University of Minnesota umbilical cord transplant program, using stem cells from umbilical cords of two infants (two umbilical cords were necessary since one couldn't provide enough stem cells for a teenager).  The transplant, although delayed, as explained below, was very successful for Anthony.
In July, 2008, shortly before his second transplant, Anthony developed pneumonia and was hospitalized at Kaiser, Oakland. Difficulties with Anthony's care in the hospital became immediately apparent.   Fortunately, Diana was at Anthony's bedside constantly, observing problems and questioning his care.   Some of the problems she observed included equipment not working in emergency situations; wrong medication; inedible, non-nutritious food; insufficient patient follow-up; hospital-acquired infections, resulting in repeated pneumonias; cross-contamination; and the combination of too many patients and not enough nurses. 
Diana, upset because Anthony continued to have many avoidable and unacceptable problems during treatment at Kaiser, arranged a meeting to address all the problems in Anthony's healthcare, none of which was attributable to Anthony's cancer; instead, inadequate care and unsatisfactory conditions were her concerns.  Diana and her husband, vigilant advocates, led a series of meetings with Anthony's healthcare team, all listening intently, unafraid to address any and all issues as they arose, and making changes whenever necessary to the entire system. Diana never sought to litigate any issues associated with Anthony's care or get anyone fired.  What she wanted for Anthony, she got: listening, learning, communicating, compassion, teamwork, and improvements.     
When Anthony reached 17, he began acting as his own advocate, familiarizing himself with many procedures.  During one visit to the ED, the nurses didn't know how to deal with central lines and did not know the protocols for cancer patients.  To prevent infection, Anthony's blood needed to be drawn in a specific way.  Anthony, knowing all the steps, told the nurses what to do. He wound up drawing his own blood, creating a learning moment for the nurses.   At another time, Anthony, watching nurses bring him antibiotics on an open tray, told the nurses that antibiotics, due to their light sensitivity, needed to be covered.   Perhaps because of the culture of healthcare, because of his age, because he was a patient, or some combination of all three, Anthony had to be assertive to be heard and respected.   But heard he was.
Diana, alone at first, later with Anthony (after he moved into adult care), speaks at quality conferences and to the Kaiser Leadership committee.  Both the president of the Kaiser Board of Trustees and the Director of Health and Quality have interviewed both Diana and Anthony. Kaiser calls on them as one of its "expert" families, bringing them into the system to work together with healthcare providers to improve the quality of patient care.                  
Diana said the physicians and administrators have been very caring and genuinely interested in their experiences and recommendations.  Anthony is part of many research studies.  Diana says: Something will be learned about what he went through.   Diana said, quite simply: Anthony is still here.  When physicians can see the face of the child, of Anthony, and hear from him, they "get" the patient experience.      
Kathy Clark is a Taos Institute Associate and a graduate of the Taos Institute PhD program. See:

Taos Institute Events and Gatherings  - The Many Ways to Get Involved.....
Registration now open!               

November 10-12, 2016
Pre-conference workshops - Nov. 9-10, 2016

Cleveland, Ohio  (Home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!) 

At The Global Center for Health Innovation (

A Taos Institute Conference in collaboration with the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (

This conference will bring together scholars and practitioners to explore, share and develop ideas and practices around health and effective healthcare through relational, appreciative, and collaborative initiatives. We will explore how this fundamentally depends on a vast matrix of relationships. Relationships between and among patients, families, physicians, nurses, administrators, educators, insurance adjustors, attorneys, social workers, mental health practitioners, and clergy, are all included.
Conference themes will include Innovations in Relational, Collaborative, and Appreciative Practices in:
  • Patient, Family, and Professional Relationships
  • Healthcare Organizations, Policies, Practices and Whole System Change
  • Healthcare Education
  • Connecting Community and Healthcare
Who should attend:
  • Healthcare providers and practitioners - All those involved with care giving at all levels of care
  • Healthcare and medical educators
  • Consultants to healthcare organizations
  • Students from all healthcare professions
  • Healthcare Executives, Senior Managers and Other Leaders
  • Insurance companies, lawyers and policy makers
  • Patients and community members
Accepting proposals for breakout sessions, posters, and papers through June 30th. For information click here:  Call for Proposals.


June 29 - July 1, 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark

Once again Taos Institute will partner AttractorCourses in creating a very special atmosphere were dialogue, learning, relationships and new knowledge are the main purposes of the conference.

We invite you into the dialogues about both well-known and emerging ideas, facilitated by renowned international practitioners and researchers through an open and participative atmosphere. Join us for three days filled with stimulation and inspirational ideas originating from all over the world.



Taos Institute Workshops
  • Social Construction, Relational Theory and Change Practices | June 3-5, with Ken and Mary Gergen, Wallingford, PA
  • ISI - Collaborative-Dialogic Practice across Culture and Context | June 19-23, with Harlene Anderson,, Cancun, MX
  • Collaborative Inquiry: A Methodological Exploration | Sept. 29-30, with Celiane Camargo-Borges, and Jasmina Sermijn, Belgium
  • Social Construction: Relational Theory and Transformative Practices | October 27-29, with Harlene Anderson and Sheila McNamee, Durham, NH
  • Social Construction: Premises and Practices | Oct. 31 - Dec. 12, An Online Workshop, with Celiane Camargo-Borges and Dawn Dole
For details about these workshops and to register visit:


  • Discover Development: Study and Train at the Eastside Institute | May 20 - 22, with Lois Holzman  and staff
  • 3rd Appreciative Inquiry - Northeast US Gathering | June 2-3, at the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inqiry, Champlain, VT
  • The AI in Education Meeting: Share, Teach and Learn| June 2, at the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inqiry, Champlain, VT
  • Dialogue and the Arts of Transformative Change Work | June 14 - 17, England, UK, with Dian Marie Hosking and Maggie Shelton
  • NEW - Mastering the Academic Article - an online, writing workshop 
    |  July 11 - Aug 12, Online, with Rich Furman
  • Performing the World | Sept. 23 - 25, NY, with the Eastside Institute
  • International Class: Study and Train at Eastside Institute | 10-month class begins Sept 23
  • Discover Development NYC | Sept 26-27, with the Eastside Institute
  • Pharmaceuticals - Risks and Alternatives: International research and evidence based practice regarding alternatives to treatment with pharmaceuticals | Oct. 15, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • For details and more workshops visit: 

FREE Downloadable Books 
We are thrilled to bring you all the WorldShare Books and we hope you will  take a few minutes to download your free copies today.  

New Book: 
INTRODUCTION TO  GROUP DYNAMICS:  Social Construction   Approach to  Organizational  Development and  Community  Revitalization
by Toshio Sugiman - 
See all the WorldShare Books >
Donate to the Peggy Penn WorldShare Books Fund 
This fund helps to cover the expenses of offering these online books free of charge to anyone in the world. 

Eros/Power: Relational Action Inquiry integrating subjectivity, inter-subjectivity and objectivity

June 13-17, 2016

Monday - Thursday, the conversation will take place online in the Taos Institute Online Community virtual space. This is an asynchronous conversation, meaning that everyone from around the world can come online anytime, any day, for as long or as short as you want. The authors will visit the virtual space every day this week and interact with your comments, questions, and sharing of stories and examples. Join in online anytime during the week. 

Then, on Friday of this week, June 17th, we will have a live webinar 9:00 AM West Coast, 12:00 Noon US eastern.  (Check the WorldClock for your local time zone.) To register for this webinar, please email Emily at It is best to participate in the webinar after also participating online all week. 

Our Invitation: At the heart of our book and hopefully of our conversation lies an inquiry into the interweaving of eros and power in love and work. Although both of us are professors of organization (management) in the action research domain, our voices in this book rarely rise to the third-person professorial, but mostly sound instead in much more vulnerable first- and second-person tones.  Some of our most heated debate starts, ironically, in a PhD seminar on Qualitative Research Methods. The book intends dialogue with a form that alternates autobiographical chapters about psycho-spiritual- erotic development and include our relationship with one another.  We invite a deeper dive into the themes of love, gender, privilege and what it means for how we live our inquiry together.   

Reading for the week: This link is to the book information page which contains both a free sample from the book, authors bios and various reviewers comments: 

  More Information. 
NEW Positive Aging Website

Positive Aging in Action
Website host: Samuel Mahaffy
Contributors: Ken and Mary Gergen

Come join us online at this interactive website. Share resources, stories and questions around Positive Aging in Action. 

See more at:
International Journal of Collaborative-Dialogic Practice now available!

Issue 6

Relationships and Conversations that Make a Difference

by Harlene Anderson

  The International Journal of Collaborative-Dialogic Practice
brings together members of a growing international community of practitioners, scholars, educators, researchers, and consultants from diverse disciplines who are interested in collaborative-dialogic practice based in postmodern-social construction assumptions. This community responds to important questions in social and human sciences such as:
  • How can our practices have relevance for the people we meet in our fast changing world?
  • What will this relevance accomplish? For whom? And, who determines it?
The Journal provides a bilingual forum for the exchange of ideas and practices from diverse practitioners and scholars around the world. This forum aims to help produce and promote relationally responsive-dialogic processes which generate new opportunities and new futures in our working and living together locally and globally. 

This new Issue 6, available now, features contributions from practitioners and scholars in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Sweden and the United States.

John Shotter leads the issues with his exploration of orienting ourselves to the 'other' and the 'otherness' in our surroundings, suggesting a perspective of so-named mental disturbances out in the world of everyday life, rather than as a dysfunction solely within an individual. Newbury and Hoskins discuss the challenges of teaching/learning that invites learners to experience the transformational potential of collaborative approaches to change. The importance of reflection is also explicated in the article by Losantos and colleagues as they reflect on their research inspired by social construction. premises. Talavera's shares how literature enhances her therapy practice, though what she shares can be applicable to any disciplinary practice. Alcocer and colleagues highlight the importance of reflecting on our practices as they pause to explore an often posed question: what do people from different countries think about the meaning of family.


 The International Journal of Collaborative Practices is available for free, online, in both English and Spanish. Visit:

by Emerson F. Rasera
Taos Institute Publications, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-938552-31-1

For more information
70Candles! Women Thriving in their 8th Decade

Recently featured in the 
New York Times and the 
by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole
Taos Institute Publications, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-938552-35-9

by Glenn E. Boyd
Taos Institute Publications, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-938552-22-9

For more information

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By focusing on the positive aspects of aging, and the availability of resources, skills, and resiliencies, research not only brings useful insights into the realm of practice but creates hope and empowers action among older people. By moving beyond practices of repair and prevention, to emphasize growth-enhancing activities, practitioners also contribute more effectively to the societal reconstruction of aging. 
Join the Taos Institute NING Online Community website
Participate in online conversations, share resources, ask questions, connect with others doing similar work. Also, we feature special events on this community website.

Join in many different forums, groups and conversations:

1. Taos Institute Europe
2. Collaborative Governance
3. Relational Learning
4. Relational Research
5. Taos Latin America
6. Intergenerativity and Innovation

and many more at:


Welcome (Bienvenidos) to the International Journal of Collaborative Practices. The Journal brings together members of a growing international community of practitioners, scholars, educators, researchers, and consultants interested in postmodern collaborative practices.

Sponsored by Taos Institute and Houston Galveston Institute

I ssue 6- Available Now in English and Spanish - 
International Certificate in Collaborative Practices

The International Certificate Collaborative-Dialogic Practices (ICCP) is an interdisciplinary program that provides an intensive, in-depth study of postmodern-social construction-relational theory and the possibilities for personal, organizational, and social transformation that flow from this orientation. The program focuses on the theoretical and philosophical assumptions of collaborative-dialogic practices as  transformational and the application within and across disciplines, contexts, and cultures. Practice examples include working with personal and social issues, in educational contexts, organizations, research, community work, healthcare, and more.

There are more than 15 certificate programs around the world. Find one in your location.

See more at: 

Join the next two gatherings of AI Practitioners!

June 2-3, at Champlain College, VT, for the 3rd Appreciative Inquiry gathering of the Northeast US. 

Everyone is invited to join them for  Share, Teach, and Learn - Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future of Strength-Based Work.  

The Network for AI in Education  is meeting on June 2nd from 11 am to 3 pm to begin planning for future gatherings and activities. This meeting will cover a new AI in Education credit granting college curricula and conversations about the proposed AI in Education Summit. All are invited. For more information see: 


Donate to the Jane Magruder Watkins Scholarship Fund 

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.  Keep up with our updates!

Dawn Dole, Executive Director
The Taos Institute
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