Voices of In-Sight (VoIS) is a two-day workshop designed to take people with a lived experience of suicide into a deeper-dive exploringtheir lived experience while learning how to share their lived experience story with others. It is important to note while this workshop can be seen as a standalone product, it is also intended to be the second workshop from a larger suite of training programs. To find out more about our full suite of workshops, please visit our workshops page.
The workshop outcomes for Voices of In-Sight include helping participants learn more about the various ways to express their own lived experience and to be able to do so in ways that are safe for both the individual and others. A wide-ranging number of theories, concepts and approaches are used to guide participants along this learner journey over the course of the immersive two days.
During the first day, participants are introduced to the concept of deep listening. ‘Deep listening is also called dadirri, a word from the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri languages of the Aboriginal people of the Daly River region, 220 kilometres south of Darwin, NT. In the Wiradjuri language’ (Spirits, 2019). This culturally significant knowledge is of particular relevance in helping participants understand the potency of their lived experience stories. Additionally, this helps the participants understand that their story can have real purpose in helping to develop greater insight.
During the workshop Carl Roger’s person-centered theory is used. Rogers was an esteemed humanist and psychoanalyst, who developed this approach between the 1940s and 1960s. The person-centered approach is based on the premise that people are their own experts in terms of what might be needed to achieve personal growth and fulfilment in life. Relating to the content for this workshop, Rogers’ person-centred theory in On Becoming a Person : A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy is used to develop skills relating to understanding human relationships and connection (Rogers & Ransom, 1961).
Participants are introduced to motivational factors underpinning storytelling. Videos of great speeches from Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs are also shared with the group. A classic Steve Jobs’ speech (Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005, 2005) conveys valuable lessons about the importance of understanding story structure and process. Participants are encouraged to look beyond the surface message of the speech and seek out underlying key themes relating to style, structure, the use of metaphors and defining key messages in storytelling.
Knowledge and skill development relating to non-judgemental acceptance and listening are introduced as way of helping participants understand the importance of establishing and maintaining contact with others to build rapport. We draw on number of works to expand participant’s knowledge around these skills. For example, parts of Management of Suicidal Behaviour (Morgan, 1981) and also that of (Henden, 2008, Chapter 6) both look at solution-focussed therapy including unconditional positive regard as a means of connecting deeply with others.
A large part of getting participants to understand the absolute power and value in each and every lived experience story, including their own, lies in coming to grips with Imposter Syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which individuals doubt their own accomplishments and results in developing a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’. To help participants understand this concept, and how it relates to them openly and confidently sharing their stories, we use a short YouTube clip (The Impostor Syndrome, 2016).
We also draw on a number of excellent TED Talks. We include these to facilitate participant’s understanding of the power of storytelling by using the most popular form of storytelling on the planet. One example used to help participants understand how to craft their own lived experience story is (How to Narrate Your Life Story, 2017). We also include a clip on some of the secrets of great public speaking presentations from the makers of TED Talks (TED’s Secret to Great Public Speaking | Chris Anderson, 2016).
To help participants understand the complexity of storytelling and its impacts on the listener, we also discuss pre-attentive processing, which is the subconscious accumulation of information from the environment. This is important knowledge for participants as they start to understand how people listen differently and make individual choices about the message they are tuned into (A Double Dutch | Brain Games, 2014).
To develop skills relating to empathy we draw on a number of sources including the TED Talk by Jeremy Rifkin called Empathetic Civilisations (Rifkin, 2010),
which addresses the fact that we are all empathic beings with an innate desire to connect and to share experiences. Similarly, we draw upon Brene Brown’s classic short video clip that is aimed at helping participants understand the difference between empathy and sympathy ((34) Brené Brown on Empathy – YouTube, 2013).
To expand this knowledge relating to developing empathy, we also share a video clip that focusses on the fact that when we are speaking about our lived experience, those who are listening and watching will experience similar emotions to those being described or exhibited (What Are Mirror Neurons?, 2017).
A number of therapeutic and social theories are also used during this workshop. A narrative therapy approach is used to support participants through the journey of retelling their own story while acknowledging that they are not in fact their stories reverse (Narrative Therapy | Psychology Today Australia, n.d.). This therapeutic approach to storytelling can lead to mastery in developing self-empathy. Being able to separate oneself from one’s own lived experience story empowers participants to control their stories and ultimately not letting the story define and control a person’s life. They may examine the story and look for other ways to tell it or to understand it. In telling the story, they are externalising it, separating themselves from the problem and looking at it through fresh eyes. They look for unique outcomes: positive events that are in contrast to a problem-saturated story and staying anchored in it.
A bounded rationality approach is also used during the workshop (Consoli, 2011). Bounded rationality relates to individuals making decisions and how their rationality is limited by the complexity of the decision problem, their cognitive limitations and the time available. This emphasises to participants the need to be mindful, and to use simple messaging and language in order for lived experience stories to be fully understood and for them to have positive impacts on those hearing the story.
Another couple of theories underpinning the workshops includes disclosure and social penetration theory. Social penetration theory states that the development of a relationship is closely linked to systematic changes in communication. Relationships generally begin with the exchange of superficial information and gradually move on to more meaningful conversations. In order to develop a more intimate relationship, we must increase the breadth and depth of what we talk about. Self-disclosure is about increasing the depth of the conversation and is linked to intimacy. When disclosure occurs, what normally follows is reciprocal disclosure (Social Penetration Theory – Communication Studies, n.d.).
Nudge theory is also drawn upon. Popularised by the 2008 book, ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, was written by American academics Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein (Nudge Theory: A Complete Overview – BusinessBalls.Com, n.d.). At its core, nudging is a highly empathetic process. The trick in delivering the nudge lies in what the authors call ‘choice architecture’. This helps participants think critically about the structure of their stories, what to include and even what to leave out and why. The ultimate aim here is to ensure lived experience stories are well structured and inclusive of positive messaging and relaying of deep insights.
(34) Brené Brown on Empathy—YouTube. (2010). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw
A Double Dutch | Brain Games. (2014). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiEzf3J4iFk
Consoli, D. (2011). Bounded Rationality. In D. Southerton, Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture. SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412994248.n45
Henden, J. (2008). What is Solution Focused Brief Therapy? In Preventing Suicide: The Solution Focused Approach (pp. 67–108).
How to Narrate Your Life Story. (n.d.). Retrieved 17 May 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brpk26Oq4aE
Morgan, H. G. (n.d.). Management of Suicidal Behaviour. 2.
Narrative Therapy | Psychology Today Australia. (n.d.). Psychology Today. Retrieved 13 May 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/therapy-types/narrative-therapy
Nudge Theory: A Complete Overview – BusinessBalls.com. (n.d.). Retrieved 14 May 2020, from https://www.businessballs.com/improving-workplace-performance/nudge-theory/
Rifkin, J. (2010). The empathic civilization. https://www.ted.com/talks/jeremy_rifkin_the_empathic_civilization
Rogers, & Ransom, C. (1961). On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’sViev of Psychotherapy. Personne Houghton Mifflin Company.
Social Penetration Theory – Communication Studies. (n.d.). Retrieved 16 May 2020, from http://www.communicationstudies.com/communication-theories/social-penetration-theory
Spirits, J. K., Creative. (2019, May 30). Deep listening (dadirri). Creative Spirits. https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/education/deep-listening-dadirri
Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005. (2005). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA
TED’s secret to great public speaking | Chris Anderson. (2016). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FOCpMAww28
The Impostor Syndrome. (2016). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqhUHyVpAwE
What are Mirror Neurons? (2017). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_zTJYPwQ_0