Workshop: Beyond Quick Fix: Colleague and Client Support Through Brief Helping

Thursday October 17, 2013 – Thursday October 17, 2013

3013 Dixwell Avenue

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What is Brief Helping?

Brief Helping is a systematic support process that avoids the shortcomings of untrained helping and the quick fix. It utilizes procedures from coaching, counseling, and consulting. It provides a structure of steps, guidelines, listening skills, and analysis to help colleagues resolve problems or difficult interactions at work. This process starts with active listening to help colleagues ventilate, if necessary, and regain calmness and objectivity. Then colleagues review, reflect, clarify and prioritize their issues and formulate next steps. Brief Helping takes 5 to 20 minutes, requires little planning or scheduling, and can be done during breaks and short intervals in the work day. When this approach was used in over forty schools, 90% of those who were helped reported that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the outcomes achieved.

Who Provides Brief Helping?

Typically in workplaces there are colleagues to whom others look for ideas and assistance. Because they convey professionalism, caring, and good judgment, they are identified by co-workers as helpers and trouble-shooters. These natural helpers are likely to include peers and supervisors, and are an especially valuable staff support resource because they are in place and available to colleagues in need. Brief Helping provides a framework and procedures to focus and fine-tune their skills and further enhance their impact on staff productivity and morale.

Basic training in Brief Helping aims at enabling participants to:

  • Identify quick-fix and conversational pitfalls when helping
  • Understand the ventilation cycle in working with stressed or emotional colleagues
  • Use active listening skills strategically to support colleagues’ openness, reflection, and problem clarification
  • Identify colleagues’ problems as technical or interpersonal, and match helping strategies accordingly.
  • Follow the 5-20 minute Brief Helping timeline in quickly providing meaningful help
  • Consider when and how to use Brief Helping opportunities in one’s own workplace


Day 1 will be held on October 17th from 9am until 4pm.  Day 2 will be held the following Thursday, October 24th from 9am until 4pm.  The cost of this workshop is $199.   The cost includes food and materials for the workshop.  The workshop is open the public with limited seating.  Early registration is suggested.

What are people saying about this workshop?

“…There have been times in the past when I could have benefited from a Brief Helping session. Instead of being angry, stressed and visibly annoyed, I could have talked it out with a colleague.  This opportunity would have provided time to reflect upon what happened before having an impulsive reaction. Being an educator can be stressful. I believe Brief Helping provides a chance for helpees [colleagues] to truly express themselves in a way that can lead to a productive end.” ~Marcie—urban high school teacher

“The biggest thing I learned was to not shoot back with a quick fix answer but to let the helpee come up with their own solution so they “own it” and might actually carry out the plan.” ~Michael—high school teacher

About the Presenter:

Stuart Gerber is a Professor Emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University who received his master’s in teaching as well as his doctorate in educational psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds a psychology license in Connecticut as well as New York and has substantial clinical practice throughout the years. Additionally, he is currently a volunteer mediator and facilitator at Community Mediation, Inc.

During his time at SCSU, he developed a master’s level program to prepare and educate teachers who plan to work with emotionally disturbed students. He also coordinated the Sixth Year program in Education Collaboration and Consultation, which offers preparation for teachers and clinicians to provide support, consultation and collaboration in working with colleagues who teach special needs students. Mr. Gerber has also presented numerous workshops dealing with difficult colleagues, specifically in terms of resistance to change.