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Gentle Teaching

July 25, 2009

The work of Dr. John McGee has been essential to our understanding of the role of caregivers in the networks of people we support.  Dr. John McGee

Our initial position on caregiver roles was to maintain a professional distance.  We were not friends or family – we were paid to be present with the person we were supporting.  John taught us to relax a little and realize that as caregivers, we had to be in the moment with people we were supporting…  He can explain it better.  These words are from his website:

Gentle Teaching is based on a psychology of human interdependence. It asks caregivers to look at themselves and their spirit of gentleness to find ways to express warmth and unconditional love toward those who are the most disenfranchised from family and community life. It views our role as critical and requires a deep commitment to personal and social change. It starts with ourselves, our warmth toward others, our willingness to give without any expectation of receiving anything in return, and our intense desire to form feelings of companionship and community with those who are the most pushed to the very edge of society.

Gentle Teaching focuses on four essential feelings that need to be taught to those who are served— safe, loved, loving, and engaged. Caregivers not only need to ensure that those whom they serve are safe, but, more importantly, feel safe.
Safe means a sense of self-dignity because “My care givers sees me as whole and good.” It also means that caregivers have to teach each person “You are safe with me!” My hands will never harm you! My words will never put you down! And, my eyes will never look at you with disdain!” Feeling safe gives a deep sense of being at peace while with caregivers. And this spreads eventually to others.

He also has a good explanation of how caregivers can teach engagement:

Caregivers also teach human engagement. This is made up of three basic feelings: 1) it is good to be with one another, 2) it is good to do things with one another. And, 3) it is good to do things for one another. Human engagement is the homeless person in the shelter preparing and serving meals to others. It is the child in the classroom doing projects with other children. It is the man or woman in a group home doing chores together simply because it is good to be together. It is street children forming community to protect each other and share the little they have gathered.

John was recently in Abbotsford in May 2009 talking about people with dual diagnoses and is scheduled to appear the Gentle Teaching International Conference in Portugal in November 2009.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 19, 2009 5:00 pm

    In its simplest form, gentle teaching is being kind, loving, and nurturing to vulnerable people so they will feel safe, cared for, caring, and engaged. Loving kindness and compassion- Chesed v’ Rachamim- are at the foundation of Jewish teachings and form the basis for Gentle Teaching. As an organization JARC (www.jarc.org) teaches that every person has the tools necessary for Chesed v’ Rachamim. The tools include a soft voice, caring touch, warm eyes, and presence,” said JARC CEO Richard Loewenstein.

    The connection between the torah and Gentle Teaching is strong. Both teach the importance of caring for strangers, the inter-connectedness of human lives, and the spiritual power of human relationships. JARC as an organization not only embraces the principles of Gentle Teaching, it is a role model and leader in training other organizations throughout the country.

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