T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together)


by Suzanne VM Petryshyn

January 2005

Suzanne VM Petryshyn T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) is a program that provides participants with the self-awareness and the communication skills needed to empower them to use a problem solving process when faced with conflict. Fun, educational games and exercises reinforce learning by providing a safe environment for the participants to explore conflict.

Program objectives:

  • To provide participants with a fun, educational learning experience about conflict and conflict in communication
  • To provide participants with the awareness of their own conflict management and communication styles
  • To promote change and to provide participants with the skills needed to enable change.

T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) includes a literacy component that is supported through a narrative approach using traditional storytelling. This concept is used to promote participants to use their own creativity in processing what meaning conflict resolution and problem solving skills mean in their own lives. The Scholastic book, ‘The True Story of The Three Little Pigs’, is used to provide a familiar example from the villain’s perspective of how perception and assumptions can influence and impact conflict resolution and problem solving. When required to write their own perception stories, the participants in the program use stories such as : Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Harry Potter, Shrek 1 & 2, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Some participants have even used songs as a means to express the villain’s perspective in a conflict situation. The exercise is not limited to them using a specific format but rather for them to think creatively about what the villain’s perspective would be if a story were to be rewritten. An example from one of the participants who chose Spiderman and the Green Goblin was that the Green Goblin felt that he was 'left out' of superhero stuff because he didn’t look all 'buff' like all the other superheroes so the only way he could get noticed was to do 'bad' things. This is an example of the potential lessons the participants can convey to one another to assist them to feel safe and connected.

The modules included in T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) promote understanding of conflict resolution systems and problem solving process skills to the participants relevant to their circumstances. The program offers participants with an opportunity to separate the people from the issue and to find more effective ways of communicating, ultimately reducing conflict between. The theory and concepts of each module is reinforced using educational learning tools through teamwork and role-play.

T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together offers opportunity and possibility for youth to witness the effect of their behavior on others by participating in a group setting. The group setting is facilitated and natural learning takes place and offers insight to the skills being presented for youth to obtain problem-solving skills, enabling them to process and deal with conflict in a constructive manner. Facilitators encourage participants to be responsible for their own learning and self development. The techniques used aid in accomplishing a safe, structured and facilitated environment that promotes openness to program participants. A simple technique is to validate the participant’s comments by recording direct quotes on the flip chart. Learning is enhanced through appropriate coaching, encouraging structured self-analysis, providing alternative viewpoints, facilitating experiential learning and conducting the course in a professional manner. There is flexibility within the modules of the program that allows for adaptations to be made according to the cultural needs of the participant group.

T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) offers enhanced services for youth, focusing on positive conflict management training in a setting that promotes youth conflict resolution skills and problem solving. T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) has been successful with a range of youth who have attended the program. The versatility of the program provides youth who encounter various situations, to learn through practical experience. Various needs and issues of the youth who have attended the program include:

  • Behavioral/ emotional/social issues
  • Experiences with social/cultural/spiritual uniqueness
  • Barriers to formal education
  • Relationship issues with authority figures, peers and families.
  • Communication issues

Regional school divisions, outreach schools, young offender centres, agencies that promote services to the Aboriginal population and Aboriginal communities, children and family service agencies, emergency youth shelters, justice programs, supported independent living programs for youth and social service agencies throughout southern Alberta have contributed to the promotion and success of T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) over the past three years.

T.A.C.T. (Teens and Conflict Together) is designed with the flexibility needed to deliver the curriculum to a range of youth in various communities and to support various social networks. Parents and caregivers are often invited to attend by the youth who attend the program. This program is designed to enhance and enrich existing conflict resolution initiatives, anger management programs, communication skills programs, antiviolence programs and antibullying initiatives being implemented in various school districts and human service agencies.



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Biography




Suzanne VM Petryshyn is a mediator in Lethbridge, Alberta specializing in family disputes relating to parent/ teen conflict and parenting/ divorce issues. She is also a facilitator for Community Justice Forums/ Family Group Conferencing. She has instructed Alternative Dispute Resolution at Lethbridge Community College in the Criminal Justice Program and is now Director of Conflict Resolution Systems with the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response and works locally, nationally and internationally.

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