When and where did you first train as an instructor and how did you hear about the training? I first heard about Effectiveness Training and the workshop opportunities when I was working with a NFP organisation supporting children with additional needs to access mainstream childcare (with the appropriate support). This was where I first met Pat McKenzie who was a member of the managing committee. Pat invited me to attend one of her PET classes and then later invited me to train as an instructor. That was over 30 years ago, and I still use the skills and strategies today.
Pat was a wise voice in my life at that time and I am most grateful for her gentle encouragement and community minded way of living and working. I spend many evenings with her and other people talking all things ETIA with passion and purpose.
How did your involvement with ETIA come about? Tell us about your
involvement over the years? I was a single parent and wanted to be independent and the best parent I could be. I had excellent support from family and friends although most of my friends did not have children. I read lots of books and had a strong drive to keep my mind active while being an at home parent in those first few years. I decided to study at TAFE after having worked as a data processor, typist and telephonist to keep myself employable for the future while spending as much time as possible in my parenting role.
I met other sole parents and five of us established a sole parent support group and I am grateful to still have those four friends in my life today! After my child started school and I was working part-time I met up with Pat and other PET instructors. ETIA met my need to both teach and learn.
Through Pat’s encouragement I joined the local Tasmanian committee and took on numerous roles over the years, including representing the Tassie group at National level. While challenging at times that was a great learning experience and I met some fabulous people. I have been Tasmanian representative on the ETIA board, Tasmanian president, secretary, treasurer and an instructor.
What major changes have you seen during your time with ETIA? I have seen many changes of people come and go with ETIA over the time that I have been involved and many of those people take the skills and use them in their personal lives. With any committee and business we can expect change, it is one of the true certainties of life.
Our online activities have been a big change with promotion of workshops and well as sharing of PD with other professionals and networking through the internet and sharing of documents in other ways than paper. The approval of online training and the book groups that occurred during the months of lockdown in our towns and cities has been a big change and a most valuable addition to ETIA as well as Gordon Training International.
A submission for a funding grant was successful in Tasmania and many workshops were conducted for organisations, social workers, teachers and psychologist to share the programs and many people attended those training sessions.
The 2004 Instructor Muster that I was involved in the planning of was a fabulous event and an opportunity for instructors around the country to gather in the one place and yarn and learn from each other. A weekend of sharing, learning and socialising together. It remains as one of my highlights of ETIA experiences. My thanks to Judith Richardson and Cate Crombie who made this time special for me. I continue to learn so much from them both.
Tell us a little about the courses that you taught over the years and what you have enjoyed about teaching them? I have enjoyed the opportunity to teach people about the Thomas Gordon communication and life skills and new ways of parenting. Each group / participant is so different, from a rural community group of supportive parents seeking to help each other and other parents at their school to have healthy family relationships and resilient children to other people who are struggling to cope.
One of the PET group experiences that have stayed with me is a group of people that had been involved with Child Protection due to concerns about parenting styles and strategies that created a risky situation for young children. The conversations the parents had were very supportive and encouraging of each other and it reminded me that when a community of people work together to create safety and care for children the family unit also becomes more compassionate and respectful.
I have maintained that if one person in each workshop takes something away that they can use to be a better version of themselves and more respectful in their interactions with their children and partner, it was a successful session.
What continues to inspire me is when I hear people say things that are based in the Gordon model of communication that I have shared with them in previous conversations and then they use those words in my presence. It is lovely to see that it works!
You have been authorised by ETIA as an Instructor Trainer. Congratulations Geraldine! Tell us about the impact that other inspiring instructor trainers in Tasmania such as Dr Christine Wood have had on you? Dr Christine Wood, Ros Searson and Pat Mckenzie have all inspired me and continue to keep me connected with the principles of respectful conversations and shifting gears from my own needs to listen to the other person’s needs especially in difficult and confronting situations.
Their diligence in staying on track with the core material of ET training in their delivery of workshops as both a trainer and an instructor allows for the ‘ah’ moments for the participants.
I think it is important to allow for some flexibility to include peoples individual stories while still presenting the core material, it is a bit of a dance sometimes.
I hope to bring their strength and compassion to my work as an ETIA trainer. “Standing on the shoulders” of the courageous work of people who have come before me and giving them credit for what they have taught me.
What would you like to achieve as an Instructor Trainer? My aim is to work with my local community and the ETIA community and be one of those stepping stones that people spend some time with (learning, sharing and gleaning ideas) before they move on to do great things in their own little spot of the world. To bring more compassion, care, kindness and dignity in any interaction, attitude or activity in our lives. We are all just passing through.
Did you ever meet Dr Thomas Gordon? If so, tell us a little about that.
I have not met Dr Thomas Gordon, however I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet and talk with Linda Adams his wife and partner. Linda came to our ETIA Australia Ltd Instructor Muster 2004 in Indooroopilly, Brisbane. The Muster was co-ordinated by Judith Richardson and me, along with support from Cate Crombie (CEO) and other members of the committee.
Linda was bright and friendly and we shared some lovely discussions together about life, love and family and how the benefits of good listening and ability to shift gears has been so beneficial to our personal relationships. We took a couple of group photos, and my favourite is one of me with Linda and Judith taken during the Muster.
Please add anything else that you would like to share. I am really excited to have reconnected with Roslyn Spalding recently here is Tassie who has been a stalwart with ETIA workshops over the years, working in the Education Department and with Social Work teams across the state. It was sheer coincidence that we were both at the same venue and happened to be in the kitchen at the same time and recognised each other after years without contact.
We are currently working together on some ideas and activities to get some new people on board in the coming years. The Universe works in mysterious ways, and I am looking forward to what 2023 brings!