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Professional Development & Communication

By Josh Ramirez, LPC

School Based Therapist/Team Leader and Outpatient Therapist

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.”

These are the words of American existential psychologist and author, Rollo May. In his work, May understood that our ability to engage and interact with one another was a cornerstone of human experience. Further, as one of the founding fathers of existential psychotherapy, May emphasized the importance of communication in developing a meaningful sense of self and connection to those around us.

It is in consideration of these ideas that we, at Laurel Life, stress the importance of communication in our professional development. Acknowledging its status as a foundational component of success for both our clients and staff, we seek to provide comprehensive education on effective, connection-building communication for both our own staff and those with whom we work. Thus, our professional development workshops on communication address a variety of topics, as detailed below.

The Importance of Communication

In a development session for a school district in the Harrisburg-area, Laurel Life staff had the opportunity of examining the pivotal role communication plays in that unique location. Interactions among students, faculty, support staff, and administration were all considered in exploring the ways in which communication, or lack thereof, influenced students’ functioning and success. Subsequently, staff in the session were given the opportunity to reflect on how communication is used in their programs and classrooms, and how it can be improved. While this session was specifically aimed at emphasizing communication’s role in the school environment, our professional development workshop’s content and principles are equally important and transferable to other settings (e.g., offices, clinics, etc.) as well.

Communication Styles

Often in professional settings, rushed decisions, failed objectives, and unresolved conflicts do not occur due to deliberate malicious intent. More commonly, organizations find themselves facing these obstacles due to miscommunication and misunderstanding among their individual members. Thus, after establishing a foundational understanding of communication’s importance and influence within a setting, our development sessions next seek to introduce and educate on the different communication styles with which individuals present within the organization. By highlighting the nuances that exist among people in how they respond to feedback, requests, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution, we hope to provide organizations with the tools to improve understanding when their members are communicating.

Your Role in the System

If you watch almost any group sport, you will quickly notice that there are a variety of unique, yet equally important, roles that players hold on any given team. Further, it will be abundantly clear if any player is not contributing what their specific role requires of them, for example a goalkeeper or a point guard. So, it is crucial for the players to have an intricate understanding of their roles and how they aid the team in winning.

Similarly, at our development sessions, we help individuals to examine the roles they play in their systems. More specifically, this provides exploration into how communication is necessary for completing the duties of one’s role while simultaneously coordinating with others in different roles, to promote systemic success. Further, by integrating their newly acquired understanding of their personal communication style, individuals in our trainings can better define their specific roles in their organizations and build connections with their colleagues.

Engaged Feedback

Lastly, our development sessions assist in individuals developing engaged feedback skills. Based on the work of author and researcher Brené Brown, engaged feedback refers to the ability of an individual to respond to conflict or difficult situations in ways that are informed, collaborative, non-confrontational, and relationship-building. Utilizing Brown’s Engaged Feedback Checklist, we work with our training attendees to apply the skills to their own communication within their work settings. Further, we emphasize the use of engaged feedback in addressing situations with both clients (or students in the school setting) and other professionals.

As May noted, intimacy, understanding, and mutual valuing are products of healthy, effective communication. In our work, Laurel Life seeks to foster these attributes as we build communicative strength in those with whom we work, and our professional development serves as the launching pad for these skills to cultivate.

If you are interested or would like more information on Laurel Life Professional Development for your school district or organization, go to or contact us at (717) 375-4834.

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