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Personal Awareness group preferences will be solicited from all FIT's and faculty closer to the course (January 2020).

Anima Learning - Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh

The Anima Learning approach to group development combines insights and practices from four streams: growth mindset, contemplative practice, applied improvisation, and positive reinforcement. We start with the assumption that every individual carries a spark of curiosity that leans toward connection and creativity. Rather than looking to fix or correct when in groups, we come together in a skillfully improvised “community of solitudes” to nurture each other’s innate wisdom—and to explore the group intelligence that emerges from that nurturing. In the ideal, this takes fierce determination, resilient patience, and a playful spirit. We establish baseline agreements for our work together so that we can challenge systems and assumptions of privilege and oppression as we go. We pay careful, compassionate attention through the practice of mindfulness. And we learn together through the shared play of improvisation.

Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh, a graduate of Stanford Business and Harvard Divinity schools, trained to teach mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn and others at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has studied, taught and performed improvisation internationally, including with BATS Improv in San Francisco, CA. He is one of an elite group of registered trainers who have worked with renowned UK acting and voice coach, Patsy Rodenburg.

Currently, he is the founder and CEO of ANIMA Learning. He teaches mindfulness, improvisation, and vocal presence courses through Stanford University’s Continuing Studies program and leads provocative workplace effectiveness trainings for organizations like Genentech, Google, and UCSF. He co-hosts the Monster Baby Podcast (“a curious romp through the worlds of mindfulness and improvisation”) which reaches listeners in more than 60 countries, and his first book, Playful Mindfulness: a joyful journey to everyday confidence, calm, and connection, has received praise for its insight, originality, relevance and humor.

He lives near the beach cliffs of Daly City, California with Luna and Marley, his two quirky and charismatic spotted Ocicats.

Diversity - Gerald Boyd, MDiv, ICADC, CADC II

The purpose of this group is to explore the history of racist ideas and their impact at the institutional, personally mediated, and internalized levels. We correctly assume that all humans want to be allies with each other; this group aims to increase the participants’ understanding and acceptance for the importance and complexity of creating space for diversity, equity and inclusion in the present context of social disintegration. This group will draw on diversity principles and Matrix-based methods to help achieve participants’ learning goals. Through experiential and didactic components, participants will have the opportunity to explore personal awareness of their numerous identities and the subgroups to which they belong; illuminating, investigating, and ultimately honoring differences between those identities and subgroups; and uncovering the roles of oppression, both external and internalized, and privilege in all interactions, both conflictual and otherwise.

Gerald Boyd, MDiv, ICADC, CADC II has more than 50 years distinguished leadership in human and civil rights, anti-oppression, anti-racism, grass-roots organizing, and liberation struggles. He is co-founder and COO of Peacewerks Center for Well-Being, LLC, Executive Director of Eastern Shore Training and Consulting, Inc, Organizer and President of the Board of the Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop Museum, Member of the Board of Directors of Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, and Member of 200-Plus Men of Hampton Roads, of Northampton County NAACP, and of Virginia Organizing. He has worked in the fields of applied sociology, human development, and addiction recovery for more than 50 years. He holds an Honorary PhD and Master of Divinity in Transpersonal Psychology, is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC II) and Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC), a Certified Anger Management Specialist, a Certified Life Coach, and a Certified Mediator and consultant specializing in diversity, equity and inclusion, conflict resolution, and personal and social transformation. Gerald is currently living on Oak Grove Plantation in Eastville, Virginia and building a counseling practice on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Diverse Identities: Exploring Interactions and Impacts - Ronke Tapp, PhD

Entering diversity-focused discussions can be difficult and uncomfortable. Facing our own multi-faceted identities and reflecting on what they mean in terms of how we walk through the world, how we consciously and unconsciously interact with others and within systems, and even how others might view and interact with us can sometimes uncover unpleasant insights and challenge our sense of ourselves as good, fair, unbiased persons and healers. At the same time, exploring, reflecting on, and ultimately addressing (when needed) these issues is the very work that allows us to be the healers we strive to be. Creating a “safe enough” space for people to engage in the work of exploring their own identities, and how they interact with and are impacted by issues of power, privilege, and systemic, interpersonal, and internalized –isms and oppressions is a key element of this group. “Safe enough” spaces aim to allow for the non-judgmental, yet honest, recognition and acknowledgment of the varied internal reactions one might experience in such discussions, and the self-protective behavioral urges one might feel, while also encouraging individual and group exploration of how we each might productively continue to reflect on and engage in the conversations and ultimate learning, even (perhaps especially) when it’s uncomfortable. Through a combination of experiential exercises; individual and group prompts to reflect on our cultural identities, intrapersonal reactions, and interpersonal interactions and dynamics; and the integration of relevant didactics this group purposes to provide a rich experience 1) for increased personal awareness around our diverse identities and their layered impacts on our lives and work, and 2) to prompt ongoing consideration of areas and opportunities for impacting change in our respective social circles and systems as we move forward.

Ronke Lattimore Tapp, PhD is a licensed Counseling Psychologist with a lifelong passion and professional interest in issues of multiculturalism and diversity and its impact on individuals, their interpersonal/social and community relations, and societal interactions. Dr. Tapp currently works as the Assistant Director of Multiculturalism at the University of Rochester's, University Counseling Center. She provides therapy to a diverse student body, and training, consultation, and outreach to other therapists, University staff and professors, and student groups. In addition, she also creates and provides related lectures, workshops, and trainings within the local community as requested. Her concentration areas include: 1) Multicultural (including race/ethnicity, gender, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, etc.) issues related to identity, adjustment, interpersonal relationships/conflict, academic/work success, etc.; 2) Understanding and addressing historical oppression and historical/generational trauma (especially race and ethnicity-based traumas, e.g. PTSS, Japanese Internment, Native experiences, etc.); 3) Best practices in diversity training, e.g. "Teaching Sensitive Topics" series; and 4) Cognitive and Behavioral based treatments. She is also partially fluent in Spanish (~85% written, slightly less verbal) and has conducted some bilingual therapy.


Successful communication in healthcare requires knowledge and humanistic application of the fundamental ACH skill sets; iterative deepening of self-awareness; acknowledgement and management of barriers that interfere with both skill and self-awareness; and the courage, humility, and growth mindset to face – and to practice at – the boundaries of our capabilities. Part of human nature is that we are all susceptible to internal beliefs and biases that narrow our ability to see ourselves fully on our own. Therefore, work in groups that are supportive, compassionate, and honest, and that also hold group members accountable with kindness and the elusive goal of unconditional positive regard, will help us move bravely and respectfully toward deeper self-awareness, both individually and collectively. As a result, we will iteratively improve our communication and facilitation skills. This group will integrate elements of multiple modalities used in other Winter course groups, namely Rogerian, Matrix, diversity, and improv, to provide participants with a venue to learn from each other to develop and/or enhance skills in our work of facilitating communication skills learning, including but not limited to running integrated groups at ENRICH. 

Calvin Chou, MD, PhD is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Health Care System in San Francisco. He completed the ACH FIT program in 2003 and the Matrix Leadership Training with Amina Knowlan in 2007, and with Denise Davis, Ryan Laponis, and Kara Myers, he has co-led highly rated workshops on feedback, coaching, remediation, conflict, and difference at UCSF, nationally, and internationally. As Vice President for External Education (2014-2018) and currently Senior Faculty Advisor for External Education with ACH, he has himself delivered and trained ACH faculty to deliver one-day courses in fundamental communication skills, train-the-trainer programs for fundamental communication skills, and most recently, programs to train trainers to run train-the-trainer programs, for providers at health systems across the United States. Highly germane to this course, he has attended every ACH winter course since 2001! Currently he is director of VALOR, a longitudinal program modeled after ACH ENRICH learning groups that emphasizes humanistic clinical skill development for medical students. He also held the first endowed Academy Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at UCSF.  He is co-editor of the books Remediation in Medical Education: A Midcourse Correction (co-edited with Adina Kalet, his guide in the FIT program), and Communication Rx: Transforming Healthcare Through Relationship-Centered Communication (co-edited with Laura Cooley and featuring numerous ACH faculty). A proud Chinese gay dad, he co-parents two teenage daughters with his husband Craig and their moms Beth and Lisa, enjoys playing piano, is an unapologetic theater snob, and tries to apply Rogerian principles (with varying degrees of success) when teaching three spinning classes a week.

Matrix Leadership - Amina Knowlan, MS

The Matrix Leadership approach focuses on forming groups as interconnected, complex adaptive systems--or, Matrix Leadership Networks. Leadership emerges through the relationships--the interaction of all the members--and by attending to the needs of the developing "Whole" (group or team, etc.). This style fosters communication between each pair of people, building a relational infrastructure “in the eyes and ears of the group” as a foundation that is highly inclusive and that fosters a high degree of trust. The remaining Matrix Essential practices include 1) cultivating a ground of health and resilience, 2) creating a high feedback culture with appreciative and differentiating feedback, 3) differentiating from habitual group and leadership roles to extend individual range and group intelligence, 4) distributing emotional fields and perspectives, 5) engaging with differences as resources, and 6) redefining conflict as differentiation that leads to true collaboration and emergence. Heightening awareness of the impact of systems of privilege and oppression and, developing mindfulness and connection with Source (or Wholeness) are also centrally important. Participants can expect to learn a method of small group work that breaks down the “island of me” (paradigm of separateness) so that personal awareness and development occur in and through our connections—with an understanding of interconnected consciousness.

Amina Knowlan, MS co-founded Matrix Leadership in 1990 and is currently the Director, Lead Trainer, Facilitator, Consultant and Coach. She has been facilitating groups and trainings in cities throughout the U.S. and Europe for 30 years. Her formal background includes training from the National Training Laboratories for the Behavioral Sciences, as well as an M.S. in Counseling and Teaching Psychology at the University of Missouri. For four years she was the director of the Groups and Outreach Programs in Interpersonal and Group Communication at the University of Missouri Counseling Center. She was a trainer for the Hakomi Institute for Body-Centered Psychotherapy for 12 years. She was also a co-owner and practitioner at Wellspring, Partners in Health (a holistic community medical clinic) for 15 years. She currently works as a consultant, trainer & coach for corporate executive teams, businesses, health care organizations, schools, communities, city and state governments, and non-profits. She incorporates system’s approaches; somatic, energetic and intuitive awareness; multi-cultural and diversity training as well as dance, movement, voice, art and practices of mindfulness into her work. She also leads retreats for women entitled Fully Embodied Woman: Remembering the Sacred Feminine. She considers herself a social artist and currently works internationally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sydney, Australia and England. She is currently in the final stage of editing a book on Matrix Leadership. Amina has two adult children and lives in the beautiful mountain foothills of Boulder, Colorado. She enjoys salsa dancing, swimming, gardening, cooking and playing with her dog, Takoda.

Why Pursue Personal Awareness?

Why pursue personal awareness?
Personal awareness (PA) is central to effective teaching and clinical practice. Self‐reflection is the basis of both personal growth and practice improvement. Clinicians solve problems by applying learning from previous experiences to current clinical dilemmas “automatically,” without conscious direction of thought. We know little about whether the same process occurs when we face relational, psychosocial or affective dilemmas. Feelings evoked by work with patients and students are among the most intimate and exhilarating or difficult that people face. We are all aware of barriers to self‐reflection, such as time pressures, predominance of the biomedical model, physicians’ and educators need for compartmentalization for survival, and burnout. It is becoming increasingly clear that if we leave feelings unexamined, they can become additional barriers to effective patient care or to competent teaching. One cornerstone of professionalism is to integrate our affective experiences in order to foster personal learning with subsequent benefits to our patients and students. Few chances for this kind of exploration and integration exist in traditional medical education.

Personal awareness groups are opportunities for conversation about meaningful events (either from work at home with patients and students or from events within the course), and the effect of the feelings these events evoke on the work of health care provision, teaching, job satisfaction, and learning within the course. All ACH personal awareness groups use as their essential model the teachings of Carl Rogers (widely recognized as the founder of the person‐centered approach, the basis of many applications in education, group/organizational work, and counseling) and follow three group principles to create trust and safety that support personal discussion: the conversation of the group remains confidential ‐ what is said in the group should remain within the group each participant decides how much or how little to say, and says as much or as little as s/he wishes each participant speaks for him/herself, not for others

How is personal awareness work integrated into Winter Course?
A significant portion of the course (eight sessions totaling 13 hours) is dedicated to PA group time, in which attendees are placed in small groups led by trained facilitators. Attendees remain in the same PA group for the entire course, so relationships are formed the absence of any group member can negatively affect the cohesion of the group. Skipping sessions or leaving early has proven to dramatically take away from an individual's experience at the course, and also the experience of their group members. For this reason, all attendees are strongly encouraged to attend and full participate in ALL sessions for the entire course.

The goal of these PA groups is to provide a learner-centered venue where each participant will clarify her/his own learning goals in interpersonal and communication skills, personal awareness, and reflection. Trained facilitators and fellow group participants will collaborate to fashion exercises that will help accomplish those goals. These goals may involve enhancing one’s relationships with patients, colleagues, or other team members; processing through challenges in interpersonal relationships and formulating approaches for further management; or, for intact teams that may come to the course, understanding and improving the team‐building process and team function. These groups have low learner to faculty ratios and present a unique opportunity to address challenging communication scenarios, to practice skills learned in course workshops, and to receive feedback from faculty and peers. In the learning groups, learner safety is key to support learning.

We offer several options for personal awareness learning, so that you may choose one that meets your learning needs and style.