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Two-day workshop with Dr Karl Tomm

Organised by AMKFSC Community Services, more than 120 professionals from various social services agencies attended a two-day workshop with Dr Karl Tomm, held on Jan 18 and 19 at the National Volunteer Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

Dr Tomm is Professor of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, and the Director of the Calgary Family Therapy Centre, which he started in 1973.

On the first day of the workshop, Dr Tomm gave an overview of the IPscope, an analogy of an instrument used to describe interpersonal patterns. He then spoke on ethical postures – making ethical decisions with regards to client-professional relationship – and questioning styles when eliciting information from clients, as well as the process of deconstructing shame and guilt, and how that opens a space for reconciliation through apology and forgiveness.

Lecture content was tailored to local context, but Dr Tomm was aware of the challenges – in the form of cultural differences – when applying the framework in Singapore.

“If there’s one thing I would like the attendees to take away from this workshop, it is that they use the framework according to what fits them. The benefit of conducting the workshop is the creation of an open space for sharing and discussion,” Dr Tomm said.

The professor’s comment resonated with a number of participants, including Ms Prema Mohan, principal social worker at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre. She believed that no matter the course one attends, it is crucial that they change it to suit their context. Ms Mohan added that Dr Tomm’s concens were very relatable, but it is also important to personalise them according to one’s needs.

Mr Mohamed Naser, senior medical social worker at the National Kidney Foundation, also shared that the topics were well covered on the first day of the workshop, but felt that it would be better if the session is extended because of the depth of the lecture covered.

The part on reconciliation was exceptionally useful for Ms Norsalha Binte Mohamad, senior social worker at Cheng San Family Service Centre, AMKFSC Community Services.

“Dr Tomm highlighted the multiple processes that go into reconciliation and apology. It takes a lot of work and reflection on the worker’s part in working with sometimes what may be extremely uncomfortable emotions to get to the stage of reconciliation and apology,” she said.

However, for Ms Jessica Chan, the executive director at Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre, the biggest takeaway from the two-day workshop was Dr Karl Tomm’s humble attitude to learn and grow.

“For someone as experienced as he is, there is still room for him to be different, room for him to grow, and for him to say, ‘I have learnt that this way may not do so well, I can change or shift to this other way’. It’s a reminder that no matter how long we’ve worked, or how experienced we may be, we must still retain that space and room for improvement. Otherwise, we will stay stagnant,” Ms Chan said.

Tags: 2016