Chapter 3 - A Workshop Like No Other

In 2019, the ADR Institute of Ontario was seeking proposals for their continuing education workshops. Thanks to the support, patience and tolerance of the organization's Professional Development and Communications Specialist, Tommy Lam, Wellness Workshop came together. It was presented in July after months of planning.

Marc Bhalla and Tommy Lam turned what would typically be a presentation by one or two speakers into what was essentially a mini-conference. A total of 6 speakers were lined up for a day-long event that would push the capacity limits of the organization's head office.

The event quickly sold out as veteran and aspiring dispute resolution practitioners gathered to talk about things not usually discussed in the field.

Mitchell Rose live tweeted (tweet slide show below) and the group bonded, mainly due to the willingness of all speakers to share personal experiences and approaches to self-care, maintaining good mental health and dealing with the stresses of their work in a healthy way.

After opening remarks by Marc Bhalla (where he basically told our origin story from Chapter 1 and shared an Instagram post from a high school classmate), John Starzynski provided a keynote, setting the tone and inspiring all in attendance with a very personal story of perseverance in coping with bipolar illness. John had a long history of involvement with a lawyers' assistance program to support lawyers struggling with depression, addictions, burnout, stress and anxiety. He spoke about the importance of talking about challenges and supporting the shift toward making it more comfortable for all to do so. John appreciated the difference between the role of lawyers and the dispute resolution practitioners who often practice in isolation, opening the door for all in attendance to consider how to best take care of themselves.

Next, the Assistant Director of the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, Osgoode Hall Law School professor and Yoga Therapist, Nicole Aylwin shared strategies and techniques for coping with conflict. Nicole spoke of the importance of mindfulness skills and appreciating the need to take time for yourself to de-stress.

Colm Brannigan followed with a captivating presentation on resilience and reflective practice, sharing personal experiences. The group then had a friendly lunch.

The second half of the day featured Dave Wakely applying his experience dealing with emergency situations in his work as a paramedic to his mediation practice. Jeanette Bicknell then spoke of the benefits of forming a network of practitioners to de-brief with and Lyndsey McNally rounded out the day by sharing the challenges she faced with conflict as a condominium manager often caught in the middle of community disputes.

The feedback from attendees was tremendous. They appreciated having the opportunity offered for dispute resolution practitioners to focus on their own health and well-being.

While interactive in nature and focused more on note taking for attendees, the materials from Wellness Workshop can be accessed by clicking here.

Chapter 4: Expanding the Reach of the Cause

Back: Chapter 2