2017 - 2018 Fellows

2017 - 2018 Fellows

The CMM Institute is pleased to welcome three new Fellows for 2017:
Don Waisenen
Topic: Improv for Democracy: How to Develop the Communication, Leadership, and Civic Skills our World Needs

Tracey Johnson and Peter Robinson (joint award)
Topic: Continuing Bonds and Re-connecting Identities as Resources for Living and Enduring Legacies within Families and Communities

The work of this year’s CMMI Fellows will be featured at the CMM Learning Exchange in London, UK, October 23-24, 2017, co-sponsored by Columbia University and the Institute of Family Therapy (IFT).  For more information and registration, see: http://www.ift.org.uk/workshops-conferences/cmm-learning-exchange-minding-the-gap-creating-new-space-for-coherence/

Biographical information and project descriptions for the 2017 CMMI Fellows:

Don Waisanen is an Associate Professor in the Baruch College, CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, where he received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching. He teaches courses and workshops in communication, including executive speech training, media and campaign strategy, and seminars on leadership/management and improvisation. He has published over 35 scholarly articles on communication, covering topics from strategies in public speaking to the ways that organizations and governments can better communicate with citizens. Previously, Don was a Coro Fellow and worked in broadcast journalism, as a speechwriter, and on political campaigns. He is the founder and president of Communication Upward, an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University, and received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.

Project Description:
Don’s research takes up the task of producing a complete analytic framework of higher purposes and practices for applied improv that can, as Barnett Pearce long called for, pull societies upward. A lot has been written about what democracies should look like. Far less has covered how to actually train citizens in democratic skills. Don’s project studies how improv-based teaching and training methods, which originated in improvisational theater but have since been adapted, applied, and evolved in many other contexts, can bridge differences and promote the communication, leadership, and civic skills our world urgently needs. With measured success, “applied improvisation” has been used to train scientists, medical and pharmacy staff, engineers, state officers, business students and faculty, service employees, managers, social workers, military personnel, and countless others. Drawing from a range of work, and applying lessons from experiences teaching applied improvisation around the world, this project demonstrates how scaling applied improvisation as a philosophy and set of concrete teachings and trainings can promote cosmopolitan citizens and help us improvise our way into better social worlds.

Tracey Johnston is a Psychotherapist and has been a Director of Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland, for the past 5 years. Tracey previously worked as a social worker and as a counsellor within the local authority and the National Health Service (NHS), before training in Systemic Psychotherapy. Tracey has a special interest in bereavement and has recently published a journal article on Spirituality and bereavement in the special issue on Spirituality in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy March 2017. Tracey’s journal article can be viewed at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anzf.1200/abstract


Peter Robinson is a Psychotherapist at Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland. He previously worked as a National Health Service (NHS) Psychotherapist for 20 years and, for 10 of these, was also a tutor and supervisor on the South of Scotland Cognitive Therapy Postgraduate Training Course. He is also trained in other psychotherapies, including systemic psychotherapy. He specialises in working with individuals and people in relationships. Having successfully helped many thousands of clients to manage and overcome their difficulties, open up their possibilities and create new and better 'social worlds', he is very excited about the opportunities CMM offers and is looking forward to  bringing this further into the community with the proposed CMM Project.

Project Description: Tracey and Peter’s project seeks to address the gap in the social world of grief and pays particular attention to the tension between traditional ‘grief work’ counselling and contemporary research and ideas about ‘continuing bonds’. The idea of continuing bonds has been prevalent in grief and bereavement research for about 30 years, yet it has not managed to penetrate the way that bereavement counselling is taught, or address society’s general discourse of the ‘correct ‘ way to grieve i.e. to ‘let go’ their loved one.

Central to the work is the development of co-creating new stories and understandings with the bereaved person about their loved ones, as a way of re-connecting identities (personal, social and cultural) as resources for living. In particular the project will focus on the exploration of how these identities can be transformative for not only the individual, but how this can be shared within the extended family and community as resources for living and become an enduring legacy.

The project will be undertaken by two Systemic Psychotherapists both familiar with CMM models and Social Constructionist approaches to therapy. Both therapists are experienced in working with the bereaved and use Re-membering conversations as an approach. They will use these conversations in conjunction with  CMM theory  (paticularly the  LUUUTT Model) to bring forth stories and lived experiences, as well as ideas and resources about how to go on in relationship(s), support re-connecting identities and ongoing legacies.
It is anticipated that this project will bring forth multiple ways of being in the world. It will try to place an emphasis on the ways in which multiple and multi-cultural ways of being in the world, across generational relationships and time, can contribute to a richer understanding of creating better social worlds. The desired outcome is that the individual participant’s ways of holding in mind and sharing their deceased loved one, will be increased towards the co-creation of multiple resources for their families and community, in turn enhancing and strengthening family and community legacies.


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