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Tomkins Topics

Tomkins' theories applied to various aspects of life and work


Emotional Competence: Building Safe and Healthy Communities
Tomkins Institute Annual Meeting 2018
17-18 September 2018

REGISTER by September 5th. Last Minute Deal:  Conference fee: $150.

Communities and schools struggle with problems such as crime, bullying, rudeness, and violence. These echo popular culture, where people often act macho and explosive. These issues may create intense stress for frontline law enforcement officers, educators, first responders and health professionals. While no one should expect schools or towns to repair damage caused by severe neglect, trauma or mental illness, all of us are affected, and there is much we can do.

The Tomkins Institute is excited to offer a two-day workshop for agency heads, senior administrators and staff on the application of Silvan Tomkins’ Affect and Script paradigm to education, law enforcement, community conflict and health care.

The workshop will help you build on your professional experience and knowledge to:
1. Gain a new understanding of emotion—especially shame—and apply it in relationships;
2. Understand Tomkins’ Blueprint for human motivation;
3. Learn skills to modulate strong negative emotions such as fear and rage;
4. Apply specific strategies to de-escalate dangerous situations;
5. Re-envision your own day-to-day practice and workplace culture through an explicit understanding of emotion;
6. Use Tomkins’ framework to explain why restorative practices work to heal harm, resolve conflicts and prevent violence;
7. Be able to create a restorative environment to address conflicts and incidents and prevent them in the future.

The workshop will be facilitated by long-time police officers Bob Higginbotham, Matt Casey and Paul Schnell, with psychiatrist Susan Leigh Deppe and psychologist Nancy MacConnachie. John Cutro joins Casey and Schnell to bring many years of restorative practices teaching and experience across a wide range of settings.

We will consider human motivation—what makes us do the things we do—and how we manage tension and conflict in everyday life. We will explore how our beliefs and values influence practice, and highlight the importance of our working assumptions. We will also consider the centrality of shame in relationships and behaviors. Understanding how we are hard-wired emotionally (Tomkins’ Blueprint) can facilitate all of our day-to-day interactions with others. Throughout the workshop we will apply this knowledge to education, community conflict, youth offending, domestic and community violence, responding to victims of crime, and major incidents (serious injury and loss of life.)

Monday Evening: Tomkins Institute Annual Meeting and Dinner: All conference participants are invited.

Day Two will be a deeper exploration and application of Affect and Script Theory. This will include: empathy and the language of emotion; innate triggers for affects; biological factors including alcohol, other drugs, mental illness and medical issues; emotional rules (scripts); personality, culture and affect management. Small group discussion and lots of interactive group exercises will address: power, shame and de-escalation; the macho script; living restoratively; creating safer communities; changing workplace cultures; and individual and cultural emotional competence.


1. There are no prerequisites for this workshop/conference. It is not necessary to have previous exposure to restorative practices/restorative justice or to the work of Silvan S. Tomkins or Donald L. Nathanson.
2. This paradigm applies across all settings and people in all fields are welcome to attend!
3. The conference fee is USD$260 for Tomkins Institute members and $300 for non-members (one year membership included.) Students/Trainees get a $100 discount.
4. Continuing Education Credit will be available through the American Psychological Association and for law enforcement through Missouri POST.
5. Location: Heartland Retreat Center, 16965 NW 45 Hwy., Kansas City, Missouri (fifteen minutes from Kansas City International Airport.) https://www.heartlandretreats.org.
6. Breakfasts, lunches, breaks and Monday night membership dinner are included in the registration fee. Meals will be served in the dining room. The membership dinner will be at an area restaurant.
7. A limited number of rooms are available on site at a reasonable cost. Please select room ticket when registering for the conference. (Scroll down in the Tickets box.) Rooms are hotel style, with ensuite bath, and have either two double beds or three single beds. If you have a preference, or need ADA-compliant accessible accommodations, contact Sue Deppe at deppe@together.net as soon as possible!
8. The Tomkins Institute Board of Directors will meet on Sunday 16 September from 1:00 – 8:00 pm.

Tentative Schedule:
Emotional Competence: Building Safe and Healthy Communities
Tomkins Institute Annual Meeting 2018
17-18 September 2018
8:00—8:30: Sign-In
8:30—8:45: Welcome and Introductory Remarks: Sue Deppe
8:45—10:15: What’s Going On? Why is That Happening?
Exploration of working assumptions
Interactive presentation: Affect-Script Theory, Nathanson’s Compass of Shame, O’Connell’s Restorative Questions
Matt Casey
10:15—10:30: Break
10:30—12:00: What’s Going On? Why is That Happening? Part II
Matt Casey
12:00—1:00: Lunch
1:00—2:30: Safely Through the Rapids: Affect Competence in Schools
Nancy MacConnachie
2:30—2:45: Break
2:45—4:15: Connecting the Dots Exercise
John Cutro
4:15—5:00: Synthesis of the Day. Moderators: Nancy MacConnachie, Bob Higginbotham
5:00—6:30: Leisure Time with video: Facing the Demons and reflections video by Donald L. Nathanson
7:00 pm: Tomkins Institute Annual Meeting and Dinner and time for mutualization of positive affect

8:30—8:45: Welcome and Introductory Remarks: Matt Casey
8:45—10:15: Becoming Our Best Selves—Individually and Collectively
Motivation; Innate Activators; Empathy and the Language of Emotion
Small Group Exercise: Affect Modulation in Family of Origin
Sue Deppe
10:15—10:30: Break
10:30—12:00: Becoming Our Best Selves, Part II: Biology and Biography
Biological Factors (drugs, mental illness, medical conditions, etc.); Scripts (Emotional Rules); Personality; Culture
Small group exercise: Workplace Culture
12:00—1:00: Lunch
1:00—2:30: Emotional Competence, Officer Training and High-Stakes Interaction
De-Escalation Exercises
Bob Higginbotham
2:30—2:45: Break
2:45—4:15: Creating Safer Communities
Paul Schnell
4:15—5:00: Wrap Up Discussion: Moderators: Sue Deppe, Matt Casey

REGISTER HERE:  Registration deadline is now September 5th!

LAST MINUTE DEAL! Conference fee $150 (Institute members and non-members). Bring your friends!

SCROLL DOWN in the Tickets order box to get this discount.

DON’T FORGET TO ORDER YOUR ROOM TICKET if you want to stay on-site. It requires a separate ticket. Tickets are available for Sunday and Monday nights, or just Monday night.