program and time schedule

·  DAY 0  ·  DAY 1  ·  DAY 2  ·  DAY 3  ·
 monday 16 September 2019 
8:30 departure by bus   Ghent
10:00 visit to ‘In Flanders Fields   Ieper
12:30 lunch (3 courses) in a local restaurant   Ieper
14:30 guided tour by bus through the ‘Westhoek’ (= name of the region) and past military cemeteries and memorials   Ieper
18:00 free time in the city   Ieper
20:00 attending the Last Post   Ieper
20:30 return trip   Ieper
22:00 planned homecoming   Ghent
 tuesday 17 September 2019

 chairman of the day Prof. Dr. Geert Van Hove (UGent) 
10:00 welcome & registration   Entrance hall
10:45 welcome speeches by Tim Jones and the Gentle Teaching Committee English Auditorium 2
11:00 keynote speaker
Prof. Dr. Claudia Claes (BEL)
‘Relationship and Quality of Life, intuition or evidence on outcomes?’
English Auditorium 2
12:00 lunch break   Restaurant
13:45 keynote speaker
Dirk Bryssinck (BEL)
'Entering into dialogue with vulnerable people in Villa Voortman.'
Villa Voortman is a low threshold meeting house in the city. It focusses on vulnerable people with a dual diagnosis who, for many reasons, do not connect with standard provision. They have difficulties in several areas such as serious psychiatric and legal problems, addiction, stigma and homelessness.
Villa Voortman practices harm reduction and offers characteristically an asylum or refuge, a warm place where people feel welcome and accepted. The focus is on meeting with respect for everyone’s identity. It is a permissive, non-compulsive, ‘open waiting’ environment which furthers personal growth and relationships and attaches importance to empowerment. It is a place where people can develop themselves through artistic workshops and other activities offered by artists, volunteers and the visitors themselves. We struggle for social inclusion and improved life perspectives by supporting inclusive citizenship, with respect for the individuality of visitors.
Under the motto: “minimum structure, maximum responsibility”, in which equality, participation, consultation and destigmatisation are central, relationships with visitors are slowly built up. In this way, they become more and more people with a story, which leads to solidarity and desire, and to a gradual return to the society from which they were excluded.
English Auditorium 1
13:45 workshop
Cora van Keulen, Bjorn Scheffler, Rick Beets & Marije Hendrix (NL)
'Agressie doet mij (n)iets.'
Binnen Zideris geven we begeleiders handvatten om met moeilijk verstaanbaar gedrag om te gaan. Dit doen wij middels onze training Fysieke en Mentale Weerbaarheid.
Onze training sluit naadloos aan bij Gentle Teaching. Dit betekent dat we in onze trainingen werken met pijnvrije weringen. We blijven in contact met de cliënt waardoor de relatie met de cliënt wordt versterkt en niet beschadigd.
In deze workshop ervaar je in praktische oefeningen de kracht van onze training. Voor deze workshop hoef je niet je stoute schoenen aan te trekken, maar wel je mooie sokken!
philosophical track
Dutch Classroom 1.4
13:45 workshop
Dr. Anthony M. McCrovitz with Mara D. Hawks (USA)
'The Relation in Support and Care: in the Direction of Gentle Teaching.'
With an understanding of how to use “Our Tools” (hands, eyes, words, presence) for creating mentoring steps that move us in the direction of Gentle Teaching, one is able to cultivate mindfulness for turning support and care toward relationship-building, with mutual benefits for each one to discover their potentials.
The relation dynamic is at the heart of a Gentle Teaching practice, building relationships with others that accelerate awareness, generates transformation, and creates a culture of hope. Each step of relationship-building connects with the four pillars of Gentle Teaching: safe, loved, loving, engaged.
A “Personal Teaching Planner” supports the mentoring role, laying out a template for the constructing of a Gentle Teaching framework, with prompts for self-reflection, valuing, and meaningful planning of priorities and goals, along with the formulation of practical dialogue for successfully integrating the learning processes.
Learn how to use a “Personal Teaching Planner” as an effective tool for incorporating the narrative ethic of Gentle Teaching into a mentoring practice; learn about the planning and piecing together of insights and dialogue that weave social fabric together through mentoring processes; discover how meaningful narrative can unfold in the direction of Gentle Teaching, when paving the collaborative path, in writing, with concrete steps for the role of relational support and care.
practice-based track
English Auditorium 3
13:45 workshop
Ingeborg Van Gansbeke [Den Dries] (BEL)
'Bodemloosheid: hulpverleningsrelatie onder druk'
Een case-study over hoe ‘eindeloze-vragen’ en ‘nooit-genoeg-aandacht’ van een cliënt een hulpverlener kunnen opbranden.  Een case-study over creatief omgaan met zo een problematiek: zonder de cliënt telkens opnieuw te moeten afwijzen, én zonder hulpverleners volledig op te branden. Enkele invalshoeken. Een case-study over de niet-evidentie van verbindend (blijven) communiceren.
practice-based track
Dutch Classroom 1.3
13:45 presentation
Humanitarian and Cultural Association NARNIA Romania (ROM)
'SPIRAL Concept in Personal and Organizational Development.'
Many people have probably learned about Fibonacci in their high school math classes. However, I thought I would just refresh everyone’s memories and show how math can be beautiful and apply to physical things everywhere around us.
Math doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing or tax calculating; it can be cool and amazing too. For those who are unfamiliar, Fibonacci (real name Leonardo Bonacci) was a mathematician who developed the Fibonacci Sequence. The sequence is found by adding the previous two numbers of the sequence together. It looks like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…and on it goes. The Fibonacci Sequence is found all throughout nature. It is a natural occurrence that different things develop based upon the sequence.
7 Beautiful Examples of the Fibonacci Sequence in Nature
  1. Shells
    As you may have guessed by the curve in the box example above, shells follow the progressive proportional increase of the Fibonacci Sequence. Shells are probably the most famous example of the sequence because the lines are very clean and clear to see. They are also fun to collect and display. And then, there you have it! You’re own little piece of math.
  2. Trees
    Tree – we see them everywhere, but do you look and analyse the structure of how the branches grow out of the tree and each other? No, because you’re normal and have better things to do. But if you did, you would see the Fibonacci Sequence evolve out of the trunk and spiral and grow the taller and larger the tree becomes. Some truly majestic trees are in existence today, utilizing this pattern.
  3. Flower Pistils
    The part of the flower in the middle of the petals (the pistil) follows the Fibonacci Sequence much more intensely than other pieces of nature, but the result is an incredible piece of art. The pattern formed by the curve the sequence creates used repeatedly produces a lovely and intricate design.
  4. Flower Petals
    Flowers of all kinds follow the pattern, but roses are my favourite kind to use as an example of the Fibonacci Sequence. I like it because the petals aren’t spread out and the spiral is more obvious and clearer, like with the shell. The petals unfold more and more and the sequence increases. Roses are beautiful (and so is math).
  5. Leaves
    Leaves follow Fibonacci both when growing off branches and stems and in their veins. I, personally, find the veins much more interesting and amazing to look at. Similar to a tree, leaf veins branch off more and more in the outward proportional increments of the Fibonacci Sequence.
  6. Storms
    Specifically, hurricanes and tornadoes, many storm systems follow the Fibonacci Sequence. I suppose this is not beautiful, but more interesting. On a map, at least, hurricanes look cool. I guess we could say this example proves math can be beautiful and destructive.
  7. You!
    Yes! You are an example of the beauty of the Fibonacci Sequence. The human body has various representations of the Fibonacci Sequence proportions, from your face to your ear to your hands and beyond! You have now been proven to be mathematically gorgeous, so go forth and be beautiful! …and maybe think math is a little bit better than you first thought?
These inspire me to develop the SPIRAL Concept which enables transformations from good to great in personal or organizational development. We could use our whole body, mind and spirit to move in a spiralling creative process.
The SPIRAL Concept
The SPIRAL Concept is a simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of next principles:
  1. what you are your beliefs which determine what you are,
  2. what are you deeply passionate about,
  3. what you can be the best in the world at,
  4. what best drives your resource engine?
To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
It requires the discipline to say, “Just because we are good at it, just because we have success and we’re making money doesn’t necessarily mean we can become the best at it.” The good-to-great persons/ organizations understood that doing what you are good at will only make you good, focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness. The development areas, prompted by the SPIRAL are the same for an organisation as for an individual, but it may help to see them reworded slightly.
SPIRITUALITY – what has inspired you, what you are your spiritual routs, which determine what you are deeply passionate about
According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. An ikigai is essentially ‘a reason to get up in the morning’. A reason to enjoy life. These days, my reason for getting out of bed is to work on projects that reimagine society, education and social assistance. For me this gives a deep sense of purpose.
PERSONALITY – personal values into action
Being a friendly professional
  • Smiling and acknowledging others
  • Using open an appropriate body language
  • Giving my full attention
  • Being polite and using client’s name
Value and Respect
  • Doing what I say I will do/ keep my word
  • Apologising if I am wrong or if I let down
  • Seeing the individual in everyone
  • Being honest – we are all human
  • Seeing the person not the case
Team work
  • Supporting others to make informed choices
  • Listening and hearing what colleagues or clients are saying
  • Empowering people to engage in their own care plan
  • Being interested in others and showing understanding
Being caring and kind
  • Putting yourself in client’s shoes
  • Treating others in a manner I would want to be treated, my own family and friends
  • Giving hope and inspiring confidence
  • Treating others with warmth and compassion
Going an extra mile
  • Choosing a “can do” attitude
  • Being helpful and exceeding expectation
  • Going out of my way to make a difference for others
  • Not just saying “no” – seeking solutions or alternatives
  • Offering to help – not waiting to be asked
IDENTITY – what will make you/ your organization unique, why will you/ your organization exist, that which you are good
  • Passion
  • Profession
RESPONSABILITY – what you can be the best in the world at, that which the world needs
  • Mission
  • Vocation
AUTHORITY – what best drives your resource engine, that which you can be paid for
  • What knowledge, skills and attitudes does you/your organization need?
  • In general, what strengths does you/ your organization already have and what weaknesses? How can you best use the strengths, how can you best support the weaknesses?
  • What financial resources are available that you know about? (your own, government grants, charitable support etc)
  • What other material resources do you need?
LOVE and LOVING RELATIONSHIP – SPIRAL concept is based on unconditional love.
  • We give only what we have and our gift for everybody is the unconditional love.
  • What types of workers will be involved in your organization and what will you do to help them relate well to one another, build a sense of team.
  • What network of similar organisations could you/ your organization connect with?
theoretical track

Ciska Wittouck (BEL)
'A Humane Approach of Persons with Mental Illness who offended.'
Persons with mental illness who offended (PMIO) are often subjected to court-mandated treatment which aims to reduce recidivism and improve mental health outcomes. There is some preliminary evidence that court-mandated treatment works. However, relatively little is known regarding how court-mandated treatment works.
Supportive relationships with professionals from the criminal justice system and the mental health system have been identified as an active ingredient of court-mandated treatment. The development and maintenance of supportive relationships between PMIO and these professionals is however challenged due to a tension between care and control related to the different roles and goals of the mental health system and the criminal justice system.
The objective of this presentation is discuss the findings of a qualitative study conducted in Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. In this study, persons deemed not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder were interviewed about how they experience interactions with professionals from the criminal justice system and the mental health system, about how these interactions influence them, and about their expectations of these interactions. Their experiences were put central in this study, as the lack of attention for the voices of PMIO themselves is especially salient in debates about what works and how in court-mandated treatment can improve, despite their importance in developing relevant practice and policy.
The main conclusion of the study is that PMIO value being approached as human beings by professionals. During the presentation, the characteristics and perceived consequences of a human approach will be presented as well as the significance of these findings for theory, practice and policy.
empirical track
English Classroom 1.1
13:45 workshop
A.A.J. ‘Ton’ Millenaar (NL)
'Synchronicity related with Gentle Teaching.'
Many people sooner or later are able to recognize some experiences when 2 or more matters happen at the same time. These so-called coincidences appear in the lives of many people but a number of people become interested about the meaning of these co-incidences.
These happenings could be experienced in an intuitive way. In a split second we find the meaning for our life (in the workshop I want to give examples; including co-incidences with Gentle Teaching).
We also could reach this rationally and we have the tendency to reject the significance (Prof Dr D.Kahneman: “Think fast & slow“). These significant coincidences give us the cause to become meaningful for other people (including with special needs). We need all our senses as tools to realize this connectedness as we learned with GT by Prof Dr John McGee.
Sometimes 3 or more co-incidences happen together without any cause. Prof Dr Carl Jung mentions this as Synchronicity. This could give necessary changes and developments in our lives.
In a workshop I would explain more about this phenomenon. The participants of the workshop also get the possibility to exchange their experiences and share the feelings related with the principles of GT.
With Companionship we can be(come) more aware of the opportunities to improve the QOL for ourselves and other people (including with special needs).
philosophical track
English Classroom 1.2
13:45 workshop
Bert De Baere, Sofie De Vogelaere & Wendy Puyenbroeck [Den Dries] (BEL)
'A great teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart... and so he doesn’t use Powerpoint.'
Can you train caregivers to be good gentle teachers?
If yes, how can you do that?
In this workshop you can expierience 3 different looks on the learnability (the didactics) of Gentle Teaching.
The content is well-known, but in what form do we offer it?
practice-based track
English Auditorium 4
13:45 workshop
Mr. Brendan Maguire (UK)
'Relationships matter most.'
“Using video examples, case studies and collected data, this presentation will demonstrate the effectiveness of Gentle Teaching over an eight-year period.”
In 2011 James and Sophie were spending most of their time locked away from others. They were both heavily medicated, regularly restrained and subjected to other dehumanising forms of ’treatment’.
Today, thanks to a committed group of caregivers, both James and Sophie lead happy lives, free from trauma and participate fully in family and community life.
Throughout the presentation, an array of practical strategies will be shared which support caregivers to build safe, trusting relationships with the people they serve.
practice-based track
English Classroom 2.3
14:45 change rooms    
15:00 keynote speaker
Prof. Dr. Peer van der Helm (NL)
'Relatedness for disadvantaged children in the classroom.'
In our present-day society, our circle of influence (Kofi) with regard to disadvantaged children with many Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma is modest. Our therapies and treatment methods have a limited effectivity.
Much of the origins of their extreme behaviour of these children is ‘pain based’ as Korczak and Anglin years ago aptly said. Therefore we should acknowledge and treat their pain but above all, concentrate on providing an environment which fulfils their basic psychological needs.
I will present a simple evidence-based model for achieving this fulfilment in several domains (home, classroom, living-group), as we have already too many complicated models for diseases in our society.
practice-based track
English Auditorium 1
15:00 presentation
Sødisbakke (DK)
''Night's' good Relations are Crucial around the Clock.'
The interaction between residents and caregivers is crucial in the efforts to create a framework that is good for the residents to live in and for the caregivers to work in.
At Sødisbakke, the philosophy of Gentle Teaching (GT) is an integral part of the way employees and residents meet and interact with each other. So far, however, the approach has been mostly discussed with basis in the daytime work. By also focusing on the GT work that takes place at night, we can ensure a better understanding of what the philosophy as a whole contributes to create a safer framework for the residents – and what can potentially improve them.
We will use e.g. observations, assessments and residents’ own statements to describe some of the reasons for the positive effects we experience on our residents’ mental state as a result of the fixed night watch’s GT / relations work. We will also describe something about the importance of relations for the residents’ daily lives on the following shifts (day, evening, night, morning). This is in relation to the GT concept, which is our basic approach to the work with our residents at the Tornbo* section at Sødisbakke
*Tornbo, Sødisbakke: Section where four residents live and are looked after. They suffer from heavy mental problems, brain injuries and in addition, some of them have physical disabilities.
practice-based track

Connie L. Jones (CAN)
'The GT Generation: What It meant to grow up in a Family of Gentle Teachers.'
Connie jones is a Gentle Teaching mentor and management consultant from Saskatchewan, Canada. Her graduate studies at Royal Roads University focused on balancing gentleness with leadership competencies. She and Tim have 3 grown kids, 2 grand kids and 2 fur babies at home.
We committed to raising our kids with Gentle Teaching as our primary care philosophy. Many of them are adults now with children of their own.
So what did it mean to grow up in a family of Gentle Teachers?
Come and hear from some of our kids, and some parents, to find out.
practice-based track
English Auditorium 2
15:00 workshop
Debbie Truschel en Thea de Wildt (NL)
''Ik zie Jou'. Gentle Teaching in de praktijk.'
Bij de Prinsenstichting wordt er gewerkt met Gentle Teaching als basis. Zo ook bij IOG. In de dagelijkse praktijk van opvoedondersteuning bij gezinnen met kinderen met een beperking helpt Gentle Teaching om de aansluiting te vinden bij ouders en kinderen. Daarbij wordt ook gewerkt vanuit de driehoek: ouder, cliënt en hulpverlener.
In de workshop ‘“Ik zie jou”: Gentle Teaching in de praktijk’ vertellen Thea en Debbie wat Gentle Teaching inhoudt voor de dagelijkse praktijk van IOG. Gentle Teaching legt de basis van veiligheid voor de cliënt om zich verder te kunnen ontwikkelen door ondersteuning en zorg op maat te krijgen. Vanuit IOG begeleiden de behandelaren de ouders om vanuit deze veilige basis hun kind optimaal te kunnen begeleiden in zijn groei naar zelfstandigheid. Debbie vertelt over Gentle Teaching, de driehoek en de verschillende methodieken die worden gebruikt. Ze vertelt over het aangaan van de verbinding met de cliënt, wat het inhoudt om vanuit onvoorwaardelijkheid te werken en companionship laten groeien. Hoe belangrijk het is voor de cliënt om veiligheid te ervaren zodat hij zich geliefd en liefdevol kan voelen. Vanuit deze band kan dan samen met de cliënt worden gekeken naar wat de krachten van de cliënt zijn, de zingeving van de cliënt en hoe de zelfredzaamheid van de cliënt vergroot kan worden. Ze gebruikt daarbij voorbeelden vanuit verschillende casussen uit de praktijk.
Thea geeft verdere verdieping door te vertellen wat Gentle Teaching kan betekenen voor de gezinnen waar zij mee werkt, aan de hand van een casus uit de praktijk. Ze neemt u mee naar een gezin waarin grote veranderingen plaats vinden door Gentle Teaching toe te passen in combinatie met andere methodieken.
Tijdens de workshop willen Thea en Debbie graag de verbinding aangaan met het publiek en vragen om interactie en het delen van ervaringen.
practice-based track
Dutch Auditorium 3
15:00 workshop
Cora van Keulen, Bjorn Scheffler, Rick Beets & Marije Hendrix (NL)
'Agression does (not do) Something to Me.'
Within Zideris, we provide counselors with tools for dealing with behavior that is difficult to understand. We do this through our Physical and Mental Resistance training.
Our training fits seamlessly with Gentle Teaching. This means that we work with pain-free weights in our training courses. We remain in contact with the client, which strengthens the relationship with the client and does not damage it.
In this workshop you will experience the power of our training in practical exercises. You don’t have to put on your naughty shoes for this workshop, but you do need your beautiful socks!
philosophical track
English Classroom 1.4
15:00 presentation
Sheldon Schwitek (CAN)
'Person Centered Planning in a Culture of Gentleness.'
As a system, we have been talking about person centered planning for over 30 years. While it has helped to shape our thinking about how we support people, we are still a long way from implementing in the spirit it was originally intended. However, the influence that person centered thinking has had on the system of care is becoming more obvious. With the need to find alternative ways to provide community based supports in places other than shelter workshops and programs; we are being called to re-examine the philosophy of Person-Centered concepts.
While being encouraged to re-examine the intentions of Person-Centered work, we must have a clearer understanding of its purpose in supporting people to have lives that are full of connections and contribution. The tenants of a Culture of Gentleness are a perfect framework, we can utilize in supporting the facilitation of our ongoing Person-Centered work.
Through conversation, videos and group activities we will explore the concepts of person centeredness. We all benefit from looking through a lens that holds people and their dreams at the center of ALL of the relationships and levels of participation they wish to have in their lives.
Contribution and the gifts of others will be investigated to assist us in shaping lives that have meaning for those we support.
In this session we will
  • survey the history and underlying intention of Person-Centeredness.
  • review some of the methodologies that have informed the thinking of the last 3 decades, including PATH, MAPS, Essential Lifestyles Planning, Liberty Plan and The Five Valued Experiences.
  • establish how this thinking has influenced the current federal and state requirements of the systems we work in.
  • examine how these methodologies focus on relationships as the key to participation and buy in from the people supported and their allies.
  • assess how the principles of a Culture of Gentleness can be utilized to facilitate conversations and plans.
  • focus our work to be individualized and in keeping with the dreams and expectations of those we support.
philosophical track
English Classroom 1.1
15:00 workshop
Arnout Verkaemer (BEL)
'4 Keys to a good Connection.'
In the workshop I will talk about the relation of the content with the theme of the conference.
When you want to support a person or care for someone with a focus on your relationship you have with that person, you have to know what the content is of that relationship. While you are developing a relationship with another person, you gather specific tools that identify the relationship you have with that person. Those tools can help you to adapt the way you support or care for that person.
In the workshop the participants will experience the four keys, and will be invited to make a translation to their own practice. They will be given a tool to let them support and care better and more aware of the tools they have to do that.
When I talk about Gentle teaching with colleagues and they ask me what is Gentle teaching I show them a picture of a parent helping a child with its first steps.
Gentle teaching is about the safe relationship we develop with another human in order to grow. A relationship that is a safe heaven that lets us explore the world around us. When the child feels unsafe, it will not take the steps needed to stand on its own feet. On the other hand, when the parent feels unsafe to let go, the child will never get the space needed to take the fist steps.
So for me this is Gentle teaching in its purest form. It is natural because people react with their instincts, they feel when the moment is there to let go, and they focus on having a safe relationship.
practice-based track
English Classroom 1.2
15:00 workshop
Simone Schipper & Floris van de Kamer (NL)
'An Effect Study on Gentle Teaching.'
In January 2019 we started preparations for an effect study (mixed method research) on a GT intervention at Prinsenstichting.
Our main research question will be:
What is the effect of a Gentle Teaching intervention on the quality of care, the pillars of Companionship and the quality of life for people with an intellectual disability?
We will start a longitudinal, controlled intervention study with repeated measurements during 1.5 years for 2 x 80 clients with an intellectual disability. De intervention group en control group each exist off 16 of our homes. We will conduct three measurements; a baseline before the intervention (september 2019), after the implementation fase (September 2020) and after 1,5 year (March 2021). In the study we will include variables received from the caregivers, clients and their legal representatives.
In this presentation we will tell you more about the research setup and methods used. Also we talk about the details of the GT intervention. Of course we will not be able to show our results yet. That will be a topic of our presentations at GTI2020/2021.
empirical track
English Classroom 1.3
15:00 workshop
Brynja Vignisdóttir (IS)
'Gentle Teaching Everywhere.'
I want to talk about how we in Iceland have been exbanding the field of Gentle teaching. I think it is important in human service to use Gentle Teaching in our community to make culture of gentleness a part of our lives, in work and service.
The cultur of gentleness started to spread in Iceland in my home town Akureyri in 1992 and since then it has spread all over the country. It has been implemented in lot of places that work with people with disabilities and also in nursing homes for elderly people.
I am now introducing Gentle teaching in Akureyri hospital. There have been some needs analyses and it shows that some improvements have to be made in communications, both in healthcare staff to patient communication as in staff to staff communication.
philosophical track
English Classroom 2.3
16:00 coffee break   ground floor
first floor
16:30 keynote speaker
Prof. Dr. Paul Verhaeghe (BEL)
‘Why gentle teaching is more needed than ever. Madness and civilization (Foucault) revisited.’
English Auditorium 2
 wednesday 18 September 2019

 chairman of the day Prof. Dr. Claudia Claes (HOGent) 
9:30 keynote speaker
Michael A. Vincent (USA)
'Inspiring gentleness: the face of Gentle Teaching and how we create new memories.'
Beyond teaching, modeling and coaching others in the spirit of Gentle Teaching, a key role of the Gentle Teaching Mentor is to inspire others in a passion for their role in supporting and care for individuals. This role is not a matter of teaching so much as one of instilling in care givers a recognition of the extraordinary part they play in making a difference in the lives of those we support.
The use of moral themes in our interactions serves to enliven our use of our tools of gentleness and lend an intentionality to every encounter. Our words, eyes, hands and presence all communicate to the other what it means to be connected to others and an acknowledgement of the innate goodness of all of us.
English Auditorium 2
10:30 coffee break   ground floor
first floor
11:00 keynote speaker
Toni Start (USA)
'Mindful Listening and the Art of Intuition.'
Toni met John McGee, one of the founders of Gentle Teaching, in 1993 and has been learning about and involved with Gentle Teaching ever since.
From that very beginning, she embraced it and made Gentle Teaching the foundation of her professional and caregiving practices.
From 1999-2009 she worked in the vocational and psychology departments at Macomb Oakland Regional Center (MORC) where she was able to hone her Gentle Teaching skills in many ways.
In 2008, she earned her doctorate in psychology from The Michigan School of Psychology where John was on her board for her dissertation entitled, “Practicing Unconditional Love: The Experience of Applying Gentle Teaching Principles with Individuals Diagnosed with Developmental Disorders.”
Over the past 9 years, Toni has created an outpatient private practice in Grand Haven where she and 12 other psychotherapists help persons and families in the communities.
Gentle Teaching is the groundwork of how she is with people and families, how she mentors the psychotherapists, how she creates the physical space of the practice, and how the energy feels within the group.
English Auditorium 1
11:00 presentation
Delphine Levrouw (BEL)
'The Development of a Positive Living Climate in Residential Youth Care.'
International research has focused on the core ingredients and key processes of a “basic pedagogy” in residential youth care services. The daily living situation has been acknowledged as an important component. The relation between the group worker and the child is seen as one of the most salient features in this context. Currently, the organisation of this “basic pedagogy” seems to be under pressure.
In this study, we aim at investigating tensions in the organisation of residential youth care, in relation to providing a “basic pedagogy”. The objectives are twofold: (1) to investigate how organisations perceive the establishment of a “basic pedagogy” and (2) to map the tensions they are confronted with at the level of organisation and policy.
The study is linked with the “Back-to-basics”-project in Flanders, that involved twelve residential organisations focusing on improving the living climate. Using semi-structured interviews, ten representatives of the participating organisations were asked about their perceptions in relation to the development of a “basic pedagogy”. The data were analysed by means of an inductive thematic analysis.
Results and implications
The participants mention common features that are important when developing a positive living climate, e.g. providing an appropriate infrastructure or having group workers that are present and available. However, tensions are experienced to implement this in daily practice. These tensions relate to the amount of administrative tasks and the “specialization of a basic pedagogy”, amongst other. These tensions will be discussed during the presentation.
empirical track

Lien Claes (BEL)
'Longing to Belonging. Spaces of (Non-)Belonging in the Life Trajectories of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Additional Mental Health Problems.'
This doctoral research project (2008-2014) investigated life trajectories of people with intellectual disabilities and additional mental health problems in Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium). Their complex support questions turn out to be precursors of endless trajectories in landscapes of care and support.
This research project studied these life trajectories from a cross-fertilization of the theoretical perspectives Disability Studies and Social/Human Geography. In particular three life trajectories were reconstructed through intense encounters with people themselves and with people in their natural and professional networks. Multiple interpretative research methods were adopted.
This paper explores spaces of (non-)belonging in the narratives and trajectories of people with intellectual disability. As an example we emphasize the potential of the relation with and role of professional care/support givers in creating spaces of belonging, bonding and bridging. Obviously, also the relational, cooperative way in which this research is carried out, turned out to create spaces of belonging.
In the conclusions we put forward a relational conceptualization of disability studies and a ‘pedagogy of desire’, in which “you lose the possibility of controlling the final result”(Rinaldi, 2005, p.184) and in which “you become someone different than you were before” (Todd, 2003, p.89 in Davies & Gannon, 2009, p.65).
  • Davies, B. & Gannon, S. (2009). Pedagogical encounters. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
  • Rinaldi, C. (2005). In dialogue with Reggio Emilia. Listening, researching and learning. London: Routledge.
  • Vedder, E. (2011). Longing to belong. Ukulele Songs. Monkeywrench Records.
empirical track
English Auditorium 2
11:00 workshop
Desiree Martius & Simone Schipper (NL)
'How to overcome Toxic Beliefs... Schema Therapy within a GT Framework.'
In this workshop we will discover the complimentary nature of Gentle Teaching and Schema Therapy in the field of people with a mild intellectual disability. Schema therapy is an innovative, integrative therapy that focuses on the treatment of people with personality disorders and chronical psychiatric illness that usually started at childhood.
Schema Therapy is based on the idea that every human being has basic needs (like safe attachment/bonding, autonomy, the freedom to express emotions, pleasure and spontaneity, and being able to experiences borders) and that not fulfilling these needs at young age leads to negative convictions about ourselves and the world around us. Through a variety of cognitive, behavioral and mainly experiential techniques the therapist tries, together with the person, to recognize these patterns, break them down and create space for healthy convictions and behaviors. The therapeutic relationship is an important element. In this relation developing a safe bonding is crucial.
Over the past years this therapy gained a lot of popularity in the field of Mental Health because it is effective, it can be used for many people, and it increases contentment and enthusiasm both for the clients as the therapists.
We, Desiree (clinical psychologist/schema therapist) and Simone (health psychologist/Master mentor GT), work close together at Prinsenstichting. Our focus theme for the coming years is to create a broad spectrum of treatment possibilities that fit within the GT framework.
In this workshop we will explain the basic principles of Schema Therapy and its place within the GT framework. We will look at the practical use in the field of treatment and care for people with a mild intellectual disability and chronical psychiatric illness or personality disorders. We also we have some fun activities from the schema therapy to get our participants more familiar with the diversity of this therapy.
theoretical track
English Auditorium 3
11:00 workshop
Gerda Van Olmen, Joke De Smet & Toon Boghaert [Den Dries] (BEL)
'Gentle Teaching en begrenzing: een praktijkverhaal'
De workshop vertrekt vanuit de dagdagelijkse ondersteuning van een jongeman met een hechtingsproblematiek, die bij anderen voor zeer veel onrust zorgde.
In de ondersteuning wordt zeer bewust gewerkt met begrenzing.
Is dit te verzoenen met Gentle Teaching?
Hoe kan begrenzing mogelijkheden creëren tot het ervaren van veiligheid, tot het bouwen aan zelfwaarde en positieve relaties?
We zoeken naar antwoorden aan de hand van concrete voorbeelden.
practice-based track
Dutch Auditorium 4
11:00 workshop
Krejčí Lucie Mgr. (CZ)
'1st GT Aid in Tloskov (Czech Republic).'
In my lecture, I would like to speak about working with clients during short term stay in our place. Our clients are normally staying with their families at home. If occurs a need, and their parents are ill or need some time to recover, these clients are coming to our place to stay.
Usually it is really difficult for them because it can be first time without their family, they have very special needs and they are not used to be in big collective. So it is time to use Gentle Teaching approach together with basal stimulation, snoezelen and music therapy.
Building safe relationship between clients and people around them is the most important together with building friendly environment. I would like to speak about some of our clients, show few photos and maybe a video.
practice-based track
English Classroom 1.1
11:00 workshop
Tim Jones, M.A.Saskatchewan Alternative Initiatives (CAN)
'Gentle Teaching - A Grassroots Perspective.'
One person CAN make a difference – YOU can change the world!
While training people in Gentle Teaching, I often hear statements like: “But I’m only one person – what difference can I make?” Never underestimate the power of a grassroots movement. With Gentle Teaching, you can change the world, one person at a time. It’s not about your positional authority, it’s not about your education. You carry within you all the tools necessary to be a powerful agent of change in your agency or community.
I will share my personal story of being the first person in Saskatchewan to latch onto Gentle Teaching and how the process has played out in the last 19 years to a place where my consultation and presentations have been requested province-wide. I will discuss how I weathered the storm of criticism and how I quietly allowed Gentle Teaching to prove itself as a philosophy of caregiving, especially for those who have been perceived by others as ‘difficult’ to serve. I will share how, as success stories began to compound within my city and province, we have arrived at the place we are today: with several agencies ascribing to the philosophy and the public school system beginning to use Gentle Teaching within their classrooms. The topic of Gentle Teaching now hears discussion at government strategic planning meetings and finds its way onto agendas for provincial training events. In addition, we have created a Gentle Teaching Canadian network.
I will attempt to inspire people in how they too can carry the torch of Gentle Teaching into their circles of influence and allow this philosophy to quietly prove its value. I will share ways in which they can convince people (through relationship and role model) in authority around them to take a close look at the positive impact Gentle Teaching has on people’s lives.
It is our role and our honor to live out the central purpose: to nurture, teach, and sustain a sense of companionship, connectedness, and community in our relationships and build a culture of gentleness at our places of work. I will discuss how people can, in fact, become leaders and mentors within their own community and gain the attention of those who make policy and directional decisions.
In my presentation I will discuss more of these questions and theories, using many of John McGee’s words from his books, as well as sharing personal examples from my life experiences.
My presentation will be somewhat informal and interactive. It is not a technical, systematic, solution-based presentation but one of introspection as we evaluate how we can step into the role of leader and mentor in our spheres of influence.
philosophical track
English Classroom 1.2
11:00 workshop
Pancho Azevedo, Ana Saraiva & Luciana Pinto (POR)
'Building Hope and Good Memories.'
Imagining life as a walk is important to have a vision of the future desired (the way to go) and also to reflect on how the good memories and bad memories that we accumulate on this walk affect us.
Thus, we intend to discuss how person-centered planning can help us to make the surrounding community aware of the future desired by the person we support and also the importance of a day-to-day investment in creating good memories.
In the presentation we used practical examples of situations with infants, young people and adults.
practice-based track
English Classroom 1.3
11:00 workshop
Charles W. Woodard (USA)
'Effective Gentle Teachers Build Relationships.'
In order to interact effectively with others, One must develop relationships.
This dynamic and interactive workshop demonstrates How Gentle Teachers develop effective relationships.
philosophical track
English Classroom 2.3
12:00 lunch break   Restaurant
13:45 keynote speaker
Prof. Dr. Jos Van Loon (NL)
'Methodically working with persons with intellectual disabilities: the importance of a good living climate, underpinned by Gentle Teaching.'
Recent theoretical perspectives on human functioning as the model of the ICF (WHO, 2001) or the AAIDD (Schalock et al., 2010) highlight the importance of a socio-ecological approach.
The values, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Quality Of Life domains, set the framework, within which interventions and methods in the support of people with intellectual disabilities should take place. Also evidence based general factors regarding the efficacy of interventions and methodological conditions give direction to which interventions and methods to use.
I would like to discuss issues such as methodologies, evidence-based work, quality of life, good and respectful living environment, UN CRPD, and will argue that John McGee with his vision, his foresight and his humanity in this respect led the way for many of us…
philosophical track
English Auditorium 1
13:45 presentation
Associação QE (POR)
'Project Methodology and the Development of Competences in People with IDD.'
In this communication we will discuss the importance of project methodology in the intervention directed towards adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), in the context of an occupational centre (OC).
Working with projects promotes participants’ heterogeneity to be mobilised as a development catalyser, allowing people with different competences to interact, engage and cooperate in order to achieve common goals. These pedagogical projects originate concrete products, that in some cases can provide financial revenue, giving meaning to individual and group work, aiming at the principle of externalisation in education.
From another perspective and bearing in mind the objective of authentic socio-professional inclusion, project methodology enables the tasks performed by participants in OC to be aligned with the work delivered in real community contexts, ensuring the effective transference of competences from the learning to the final context (educational isomorphism) and sustaining social support networks.
The potential of project methodology as a part of services provided in OC represents a gradual transition from a socio-occupational to a socio-professional paradigm, consubstantiating the development of functional competences, adaptive behaviour, companionship, the recognition of the social value of work and the acknowledgement of the true potential of people with IDD.
practice-based track

Masako Iwasaki, Anthony A.J. Millenaar & Nobuko Fujii (JP)
'The Implementation of Gentle Teaching in Japan.'
The purpose of this presentation is to speak about developments of the implementation of Gentle Teaching all over Japan since we directly met John McGee in 1993.
During those years we focused on workshops and practice in the field of welfare and education based on Gentle Teaching.
Involved people were mainly caregivers, teachers, community workers, and parents for vulnerable people.
Based on our experiences, we would like to explain our development based on three stages of those periods.
  1. 1994~2001: Introduction of Gentle Teaching
    We invited John McGee to teach Gentle Teaching in Osaka and Tokyo several times at the beginning. We started our own activities as Japanese Society for Gentle Teaching (JSGT in 1996). And we also began to invite professionals from different countries (ex. The Netherlands, Canada, America, Denmark, and Belgium) to exchange our experiences about Gentle Teaching.
  2. 2002~2012: Setting up Gentleness Centers in various regions in Japan
    The more people learned Gentle Teaching, the more we need concrete practice of Gentle Teaching.
    By this reason, we started setting up Gentleness Centers attached with care agencies in various regions. They are as follows: Sendai (about 900km from Osaka ), Kanazawa (about 300km from Osaka), Kanto (about 600km From Osaka), Okayama (about 200km from Osaka), Fukuoka (about 600km from Osaka), Kagoshima (about 800km from Osaka), Naha (about 1200km from Osaka).Osaka is the Center (secretariat Tokajuku) where the representatives from various regions come together. Totally 10 centers, as of 2018.
    Their main activities are giving introduction courses of gentle teaching, and how to make gentle interrelations for people in need.
  3. 2012~present
    We have been continuing our activities in which we promoted since 2002. Besides we are more focused on empirical studies based on individuals who have been marginalized in the community.
    From Gentleness Centers people became more motivated to find a better way to live in the community. Besides an annual report, as above mentioned, each Center also presented cases related to behavior – and adaptation difficulties.
    This means the way they solved these problems with GT which is very instructive for all participants. Some of them also presented the measurement of the improvement of the QOL related to GT.
    At the same time, we have been continuing our exchanges with professionals in various regions and other countries.
empirical track
English Auditorium 2
13:45 workshop
Dr. Sylvia M. Fernandez (PR)
''Gentle Teaching: A Philosophy of Life for a Culture of Peace' - My Chapter on this Book and how Gentle Teaching has impacted my Life for good!.'
This presentation will offer valuable information to any and all about how Gentle Teaching has impacted my life forever and how it is able to impact anyone’s life for the best. I aim to offer some insight on my personal experiences with Dr. John McGee as his assistant for two years in Puerto Rico and how it has transformed my life for the best version I could ever imagine!
This is a very interactive presentation for it will bring people into moments of reflection about their lives with written exercises and role playing. These will offer them information on how they can allow their best version to come alive by just relaxing and enjoying life to the fullest with GT in their hearts.
practice-based track
English Auditorium 3
13:45 workshop
Linsey de Vries (NL)
'But Who is going to Support Me Tomorrow?'
“How am I going to tell them that I am leaving?”
“Will they be fine?”
“How to let go of each other?”
“I was always there for them to make them feel happy, loved and safe and now it feels like I am doing the opposite….”
“How I am going to be good in the end?”
I would like to share my story with you about how I said goodbye after 8,5 years of relationship.
Until recently I used to work in a small daycare centre for people with a disability (LVB). In those years I was their main caregiver and a safe, loved, close and beautiful relationship was grown. Working in a such a small daycare centre made it possible to create a home and family feeling every day.
practice-based track
English Auditorium 4
13:45 workshop
Maria Carlsen & Mette Hovaldt Jacobsen (DK)
'How Gentle Teaching inspires our Way to Welcome new Colleagues to be the Best Caregivers.'
How can Gentle Teaching be of inspiration in welcoming new colleagues to be the best caregivers?
Over the last couple of years, we have implemented the Gentle Teaching Philosophy in our organization in the way we introduce our new colleagues in our organization. The four pillars (to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel included , to be gentle) are integrated in the way we introduce new colleagues to our practice and to our work environment, procedures etc.
Our workshop will focus on the entire process up to the final result, the specific mentor education and the mentor schedule.
The workshop will present a powerpoint presentation, and video clips with interviews and pictures of our workplace.
Our submission is a perspective on Gentle Teaching in a working environment, in which the employees (the mentor group – 20 employees) have been a part in developing the strategy and organizational contents to welcome and include new colleagues in our workplace.
It is not always easy to be a new caregiver in our workplace, because we work with a sensitive group of people with autism. Therefore we are proud to have developed this new mentor/introduction program – to ensure our culture and professionalism in our workplace.
practice-based track
English Classroom 1.1
13:45 workshop
Karel De Vos (BEL)
'The Wild Boy from Aveyron, Fernand Deligny and the Interconnection between Images, Arrangements and Dead Ends.'
This contribution will explore the interconnection of images (views), arrangements and dead ends in pedagogical relations in the reports (1801 and 1806) of Doctor Itard and in the work with autistic children of Fernand Deligny from 1966 till 1996.
By approaching the wild boy as a neglected boy instead of an “idiot”, doctor Itard opened a new field of practices and arrangements to educate children with special needs. Starting point of his view was the assumption that the wild boy lacked education. Itards ambition was to make the boy realise the conditions for full citizenship: he aimed to let the boy speak, think and write for himself. In his reports there emerges a prototype of the rational methodological approach of educational problems as we still know them today. In the same time Itard gives an accurate account of failure, in which the interconnection between image, arrangement and dead end becomes visible.
In contrast with Itards approach, Deligny’s approach was based on the trial (tentative) to live together with deep autistic children, recognizing them as equally human beings as the adult supervisors. The task of the adults consists according to Deligny in “creating the circonstances” in which the children can live a life the way they are, unconditionally. Deligny’s work points at the necessity to be aware of the connections between image, arrangement and dead ends, the minute practices becomes conditional or intrumentalised.
philosophical track
Dutch Classroom 1.2
13:45 workshop
Mette Egede (DK)
'The Language of the Heart is Universal.'
The title of the workshop is “The language of the heart is universal”.
What happens when we allow ourselves to communicate with our hearts?
What happens when you begin using your intuition?
For every man, woman and child; the Talent Finder believes in you, no matter how many or few times life has scarred you. So, when you invite magic into your life, what happens then?
This workshop is spiced with magic stories on how important the connection created by support and care is to people and how we flourish when people believe in us, because then we can mirror ourselves in others, kickstarting growth. The relationship in support and care is so essential and important, and you can’t just start the autopilot, because then you won’t be able to connect to the person in front of you. It all starts with you.
Are you ready for some magic? The Talent Finder is a consulting firm who dares to use the language of the heart, with an appreciative and strength-based approach which combined makes people feel safe while supporting them in finding their own way of life.
practice-based track
English Classroom 1.3
13:45 workshop
Bilal Lezeare & Simone Schipper (NL)
'Anxious, the Sequel: the Battle in and for the Memory.'
An important focus of Gentle Teaching is creating new memories that can replace or cover the old and scary ones. We help to create new moral memories, a memory beneath a memory, a memory of what life is all about – companionship and community, feeling safe and loved, loving others, and becoming as active a participant in life as possible.
The new joyful memories help troubled people to deal with the old frightening memories. Sometimes though, the people we meet are so traumatized that the creation of new memories seems almost impossible. Old and terrifying memories keep interfering and prevent us from building safe and loving relationships.
This presentation is a follow up on Bilal’s story (GTI2018) and how EMDR made it possible for him to learn to experience en build companionship. Bilal will share with you his personal and touching journey in overcoming fear and anxiety.
Participants will learn about trauma and PTSS and how it influences ones ability to experience companionship with others. They also learn about the theory and practice of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and how it can be used within a framework of Gentle Teaching.
We hope to explain and show how we can stay true to our basics while also using new insights and strategies to make our efforts more effective.
This story is a follow-up of the presentation Bilal and I did in Breukelen at GTI2018. We prefer to present in Dutch, but English is also possible.
practice-based track
English Classroom 2.3
13:45 workshop
Goedele De Swaef (BEL)
'Ervaringen met Gentle Teaching in School: If There is no Safety, There is no Learning.'
In this workshop I want to focus on the experience of younsters with Gentle Teaching in the classroom and their need to feel safe in order to learn. Therefor I would like to let testify a boy with ASS about hís experience with GT in the classroom.
I also want to tell about my own experience over years with GT in school as a facilitator of philosophical dialogue and as a teacher of languages, ethics, philosophy and human sciences.
In the classroom I don’t want to focus on compliance or obedience, but on teaching the pupils to feel safe and I use the relationship between a young person and myself as the foundation for teaching. This relationship requires a feeling of companionship.
In order for this to happen I assess my hands, my eyes, my words, my peaceful and kind presence. These four tools facilitate an understanding of safety with those children and youngsters. I use these tools to convey that I can be trusted in good times and in times of distress. As people learn best when they feel safe. If the children I work with do not feel safe and loved, the learning environment is often non-exitent.
Of course it is best to start with Gentle Teaching from the very beginning and not to wait until children with challenging behaviour are grown up in an atmosphere of behavioristic approach. The goal is to teach them to feel safe and loved unconditionally in their ontact with teachers and to learn to value the accompaniment of adults during difficult moments.
Unfortunately in most schools the answer to challenging behaviour is a behavioristic approach. Punishment might help to unlearn the behaviour, but the child is also taught that you as un adult are a threat and you teach them to go into conflict. This is what I don’t want to happen.
I am convinced that Gentle Teaching is an important contribution to the socio-emotional devellopment of children and eventually also to the intelllectual devellopment, because children learn best in a safe environment.
practice-based track
Dutch Classroom 2.2
14:45 coffee break   ground floor
first floor
15:00 keynote speaker
Prof. Dr. Rudi Roose (BEL)
'If it’s not gentle, it’s no teaching! About loyalty, voice and exit.'
This presentation addresses the idea in care and welfare that a cooperative relationship with users of care is a self-evident positive attribute of care processes.
Based on the tryptic of Hirschmann, the good clients are the clients that use their voice in a constructive way or stay loyal to the care process.
I argue that meaningful teaching should be much more aware of and create space for exit strategies of users and of ‘workable indifference’ (Devisch) in order to build meaningful learning relationships.
English Auditorium 2
18:00 network event   City Hall
19:00 social dinner   Belfort City Restaurant
 thursday 19 September 2019

 chairman of the day Luc Verbeke (Den Dries) 
9:30 opening speech by Prof. Dr. Geert Van Hove (BEL)
‘Reflecting on a neo-liberal interpretation of the concept of ‘empowerment’ and its possible damaging effect on pedagogical relations with persons with the label of ‘intellectual disability’ and their network.’
English Auditorium 2
10:30 coffee break   ground floor
first floor
11:00 keynote speaker
Karel De Corte (BEL)
'Closing time: how to connect with people with Down's Syndrome?'
There are a lot of clichés about people with Down’s syndrome. “Mostly happy, spontaneous, very open and extravert, sometimes stubbern,…”, are the most quoted characteristics. As we all know, clichés are a simplification of reality, but they hold a grain of truth in them.
What a lot of people do not know is that people with Down’s syndrome have also another side as a part of their nature. Sometimes they can shut themselves off and withdraw into their own world. At these times they lose a lot of their social skills, they seem to be very self-centered and lose themselves in rituals and all kinds of tics and stereotypes.
This duality is an essential part of the singularity of Down’s syndrome. In this presentation Karel will give a richly illustrated overview of this singularity and the vulnerabilities of persons wit Down’s syndrome.
He will emphasise the importance of a close and good relationship between the carer and the person with Down. Starting from a morality of connectedness instead of consequence is the key to connect with them in moments that they shut off. Gentle Teaching offers us the tools and instruments to help them at the moments that they need us most.
theoretical & practice-based track
English Auditorium 2
11:00 presentation
Health Care Professionals Council UK | Council of Social Workers Romania (UK/ROM)
'Assistance Program for People in Needs in Romania.'
The great explanatory patterns on the world regularly suffer important changes. These changes take place at paradigm level and have a decisive influence on social action. If, in the late 1930s, a hierarchical representation of society was required, in modern society we see its desertification, aiming at achieving the goal of “middle class”, which implies the existence of extremes. At one of these extremes are the rich, and at the other extreme are the poor, the marginalization, the exclusion, the inadequacies, the isolation; all those who have material, financial difficulties and have only negative attributes in collective representations.
In order to understand this phenomenon we opted for an objective explanation. Cătălin Zamfir shows in his book “Towards a Paradigm of Sociological Thought” (2005) that the objective explanation appears in two distinct variaties, namely the causal model and the systemic model, which he treats, as Emile Durkeim (1974, apud Zamfir, 2005) did, as two complementary explanations.
Thus, in trying to explain the phenomenon of homeless people, we have paid attention to both the functional scheme, which refers to the inner dynamics of the social system and its internal requirements (functional requirements, system elements, consequences for the functioning of the system) and the environment in which our system exists and the influence of external factors on its dynamics. In order to complete the functional scheme, we considered that it should be open to external factors and the exploration of the system-environment relationship, as the influence of external factors.
We are dealing in this context with groups of people who face great difficulties in meeting their basic vital needs (food, housing, security) because of very low financial revenues.
With time, increasing the “social distance” between the individual and the community, the daily survival entails increasing mobilizations of the inner resources, it becomes increasingly difficult to access basic rights – legal, educational, cultural. At this time, the person who “slides” on the poverty line can easily get homeless. Beyond the lack of a stable shelter, isolation, marginalization, alienation and social exclusion become defining attributes of this state of affairs and human conditions (Badea, 2003).
But it is what we might call “the other side,” because these realities, with extreme effects in terms of emotional and relational integrity, but also in the social one, are those that are not seen in a first evaluation, those that do not possess the attribute of evidence for most of us. Those who join the network of professionals in this field need to recognize their existence, take it into account, and above all to realize that these attributes are in a causal circular relationship with the lack of housing.
Isolation, exclusion, marginalization and alienation may also be the cause of the lack of housing. They can be determined by this state of affairs, but they can equally well be generated by it.
Marginality represents “a peripheral social position, the isolation of the individual or the group, with limited access to economic, political, educational and communicative resources. It is manifested by the absence of a minimum of social conditions of living – economic, residential, occupational, education and training conditions, through a lack of opportunities for affirmation and participation in the life of the community “(The Sociology Dictionary, 1998, p. 125).
The state of marginalization has the effect of social isolation, alienation, inadequacy, social non-integration, family disorganization; as a defensive, defensive response, it will be characterized by hostile reactions to global society’s norms and values, aggression, violence, deviant behaviors.
Social isolation translates in terms of “partial or total separation of individuals or social groups in terms of communication, cooperative interaction, mutual social involvement” (1998, p. 89). Individuals and marginal groups tend to emphasize this isolation and marginality by developing a “replica”, an alternative to the norms and values ​​of global society. This process of building a system of norms, values, behaviors, way of life different from those of the community to which they belong does nothing but fix it, emphasize their placement on the periphery of society.A concept that equally illustrates the state of decisional and acting incapacity, the confusion at the level of personal philosophy and the value system of homeless adults is the alienation.
The explanation of this concept, according to the model proposed by M. Seeman (1959), envisages five dimensions:
  1. the lack of power materialized in the belief that you can not determine or control the intentional results of your action;
  2. lack of meaning, which is equivalent to a state of confusion, with a lack of clarity as to how the life should be oriented;
  3. anomie, representing a value-based confusion, a lack of norms and principles, the belief that only by illegitimate means can the desired goals be attained;
  4. social isolation;
  5. alienation, which is the feeling that everything you do is dictated and driven by external forces.

In the field of working with homeless people, this complex of factors of alienation can be found as markers of personality, thinking and action in most of the clients.
Having an integrative character of already defined concepts, but going further, towards a description and a more specific explanation of the studied reality, the concept of social exclusion defines in depth the situation in which this category is located, emphasizing the relational side and the idea of status social. Thus, it is considered that access to adequate housing “is the main element of social inclusion” (Pop, 2002, p. 324).
Social exclusion appears as a multidimensional and multifaceted concept, which, applied to the category under discussion, embraces the following aspects (Declerk, 2001, apud Badea 2003):
  • Psychosocial vulnerability
    Whether we are talking about young people from children’s homes, former detainees, victims of domestic violence or people who have lost their home due to scams, lack of identity papers, housing, a professional qualification, or a appropriate social networks seem to be attributes characteristic of all these categories.
    The psychological effects of this state of affairs will take the form of feelings of isolation and rejection, mistrust in others and of itself, of a pessimistic and defeatist vision of the future, emotional fatigue and lack of desire to change something.
    These elements, already in a circular affirmation, will be maintained and mutually reinforcing.
  • The hostile attitude of the community towards them
    The outside image of homeless people, defined by attributes such as poor hygiene, dirty and unhealthy clothes, and situations in which the individual begs or seeks food and things in the crate, causes a reaction to rejection and rejection by other people.
  • Legislative deficit or even absent on certain segments
    This situation makes it difficult for homeless people to access social, medical and legal services.

Thus, in general, “society behaves as if these persons did not exist” (Badea, 2003, p. 15), and the situation in which they lie is exclusively due to the fact that they have done things unsupported by family or society because they do not want to work or because they are alcohol consumers.
Moreover, beyond this reduction of the problem and its formulation in terms of the exclusive guilt of homeless people, their problem is often considered:
  • either belonging to someone else, being transferred to another institution,
  • or it is considered to be insurmountable (Badea, Popescu and Negru, 2003).

This attitude generates a weak mobilization of the practitioner, or even a lack of involvement on the part of the practitioner.
The degringolady of the economy has attracted the stratification of the Romanian society, the largest being represented by the population exposed to poverty. There is a place where you can easily take the pulse of a society. This is the street. In Romania, the street is the “home” of a growing number of socially marginalized people.
The first place in the “big family” of the excluded is occupied by street children’s groups. These are already a defining element of the street landscape in major cities. They are increasingly organized (with leaders and areas of action) and increasingly “resilient” to attempts of social reintegration.
The list goes on with young people aged between 20 and 30. Some are street children, others have been driven out of their families or chose to leave because of conflicts. They have a low educational level and very rarely a professional qualification. Many of them are addicted to alcohol, have a high level of aggression, and live to the limit of crime.
Although they struggle every day to survive and shelter through canals, derelict houses, impoverished homes, young street couples bring children into the world.
theoretical & practice-based track
English Auditorium 3
11:00 workshop
Dr. Sylvia Fernandez (PR)
'Lessons learned from Two Years as Dr. John McGee's Assistant in Puerto Rico.'
This will be a very interactive presentation about my two years working as Dr. John McGee’s assistant in Puerto Rico.
He was appointed Joint Compliance Coordinator to report to the Federal Court in Puerto Rico about the progress of compliance of the Government of Puerto Rico with agreements with the Federal Courts of the United States on Federal Case 99-1435 United States of America vs. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
This case began and is still “alive” to guarantee the civil rights of adults with disability in Puerto Rico since 1997 (now 2019).
Here I will talk for half the time of how I learned who Dr. John McGee really was and the other half I will be answering questions about our work together from the audience as best I can.
My hope is that people get a closer look at how I saw him in his last two years of full time work with people with disability in Puerto Rico and how he could be a role model in many ways other than as The Gentle Teaching Mentor he has been to many of us!
practice-based track
English Auditorium 4
11:00 workshop
Jacq Hesemans & Melissa Maijenburg (NL)
'Musical Bath'
Musical bath – Musical whàt?
A Musical bath is an immersion in sound. During this experience only the voice and acoustic instruments are used. The sound of silence is also often utilized. Generally single sounds are used, but sometimes the use of harmony is desirable (a harmony is a combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes).
Living in a group home usually means always being exposed to a lot of sound and noise. There is not a lot of room for silence due to the fact that clients are always part of a group of people.
The conscious use of silence and sound / music can relax body and mind. The most suitable dynamics, sounds or frequencies will be used, based on the reaction and needs of a client (read; alertness).
Gentle teaching is the methodology we use during our Musical Bath. This means we always aim for companionship. The client feels loved and safe, he or she is able to share his or her own feelings of love and the client feels connected (to us, other caregivers or to each other). The client always feels seen and heard during a Musical bath.
Essential during a Musical bath is the continuous observation of reactions and the expression of needs. Responding to this makes the client feel seen and heard. This makes a Musical bath improvisational, there is no definite order of sounds.
practice-based track
English Classroom 1.1
11:00 workshop
Niels Bonnerup (DK)
'Expectations of Love and Feeling Safe - The Learning Dimension of Gentle Teaching.'
The first thing you learn – or should learn – as an infant in life is that the experience of attachment, love and safety comes back to you in certain, rhythmical patterns.
The second thing you learn – or should learn – is that these feelings seems to return and replace feelings of distress: Hunger turns into nourishment, a sense of soft skin and peaceful digestion. Anxiety turns into safety. Tiredness turns into kisses and relaxation. Nightmares turns into cuddles and the calming sounds of mother’s breathing.
The teachers are your parents and care persons. The lesson is about basic trust – and the acquired competence is the ability to live your life expecting miseries to pass eventually – and good things to return. If the child has had loving parents and care persons, it’s easy to learn. Man is primed to learn this.
Obviously, not everybody is blessed with these important learning settings. Gentle Teaching is historically aimed at people, who have learned a completely different lesson: Hunger and fear does not necessarily turn into kisses, sweet touch and nurishments, but may instead turn into prolonged hunger, panic and eventually dissociation. These are lives that are not supported by the pillars of Gentle Teaching – safe, love, loving and engaged. These are lives in the condition of what you might call the Shadow Pillars: anxiety, abandonment, banishment and resignation. This workshop takes an essayistic approach on expectations – of love, meaningfulness and feeling safe – as the leaning, de-learning and re-learning aspects of Gentle Teaching.
philosophical track
English Classroom 1.2
11:00 presentation
Karel Schoonjans (BEL)
'Een Dynamisch Natuurlijke Aanpak als Weg naar Relationeel Krediet.'
Binnen Gentle Teaching staat de relatie tussen ondersteuner en cliënt centraal. De focus die Gentle Teaching legt op de relatie maakt haar niet uniek, talrijke benaderingen binnen het domein van de psychologie en de orthopedagogie hechten veel belang aan de ‘therapeutische’ relatie.
Wat Gentle Teaching wél uniek maakt, is dat zij die verbondenheid in de relatie meteen als uitgangspunt én doelstelling neemt. Daarbij bepleit Gentle Teaching een specifieke grondhouding bij ondersteuners. Een grondhouding die vraagt om zelfreflectie, om focus op de binnenkant van de mens en niet op zijn buitenkant, op acceptatie van die binnenkant én die buitenkant, op gelijkwaardigheid en onvoorwaardelijk waarderen van de ander.
Wanneer die grondhouding in synergie gaat met je eigen Dynamisch Natuurlijke Aanpak (DNA, Dynamic Natural Approach), hebben we als gentle teachers een héél krachtig instrument in handen.
  • Wat betekent het concept DNA?
  • Hoe kunnen we professionaliteit hand in hand laten gaan met het meer inzetten van onze persoonlijkheid, interesses talenten? Hier kan het concept van DNA houvast bieden.
  • Wat zijn de positieve gevolgen van bewust met DNA aan de slag binnen het relationeel verbindend werken?
  • Soms zitten we als ondersteuner met vragen omtrent het al dan niet sturend handelen t.a.v. anderen. Hier bieden de concepten relationeel krediet en relationeel mandaat een houvast voor Gentle Teachers.
  • Wat betekenen de concepten relationeel krediet en relationeel mandaat?
  • Hoe kunnen die concepten positief bijdragen aan kerndoelstellingen van Gentle Teaching zoals het bieden van veiligheid, zich graag gezien voelen en menselijk engagement en wederkerigheid?
practice-based track
Dutch Classroom 1.3
11:00 workshop
Aušra Drevininkaitienė, Kristina Danieliūtė & Urtė Stasiulytė (LT)
'Children Occupation in Kaunas District Day Centre (Lithuania).'
Social day care center (Center) is situated in Kaunas, second largest town of Lithuania. The goal of this Center is to focus on enriching children’s’ lives, building upon their skills, knowledge, unique abilities and strengths in the most positive way.
Center service recipients are children, 7 to 18 years old, with mental, physical or complex disabilities and psychological developmental disorders. Types of services, provided in the Center are: health services, psychological, social and transport services. The Center is working five days a week (Monday to Friday) from 8 am till 5pm.
During the day children with disability, assisted by employees, do various activities: make seasonal crafts, take place in musical activities, visit places of interest, museums, exercising inside and outside, create new relationships with each other. In this center children are encouraged to do their daily activities in most independent ways as possible. In our center families, who have same questions and worries, are encouraged to communicate and socialize together on special events and summercamps.
People, who work in this center, believe that there is a big strength in every child and with a little bit of help from side we can let them reveal themselves as personalities in community, help them find their pursuits.
We love what we do and we do a lot of it.
practice-based track
English Classroom 4.3
11:00 workshop
Yvonne Haenen, Margreet ter Horst, Manon Wieringa, BertJan van Herwaarden, Sandra Vierwind & Marlette Bink (NL)
'Inspiratie voor een Gentle Teaching Training op Basis van een Praktijkvraag en Filmbeelden van een Team.'
Binnen Zideris (kleinschalige zorginstelling voor mensen met een verstandelijke beperking) geven we aan nieuwe medewerkers GT basistrainingen en aan alle teams jaarlijks een GT verdieping.
Het team levert voor een verdieping filmpjes en casussen( mbt client, begeleider, relatie…) aan waar wij als trainers een training op maat van maken.
In de workshop willen we de deelnemers kennis laten maken met onze werkwijze, en interactieve werkvormen aan de hand van praktijk voorbeelden.
practice-based track
Dutch Classroom 2.2
12:00 closing event with Tim Jones and others English Auditorium 2
12:45 !free beer!
Enjoy a free glass of ‘Gentse Strop’, a very tasteful, blond local beer (6,9%).
  ground floor
12:45 lunch in the city   Ghent…