As if People Were Humans – Humanistic psychology in the Family Courts

I am grateful for this guest post from Mansour Jumaa who discusses how the family courts could be more humane in their operation, by deriving benefit from the teachings, principles and practice of Humanistic Psychology. 

“None of us are as smart as all of us” 

(Japanese proverb)

1 Introduction

1.1 This brief article suggests that the FLCS – Family Law Courts System – have nothing to lose but so much to benefit from when the teachings, principles and practice of Humanistic Psychology are embeded within the ethos and legal activities of the FLCS. My assumption is that readers of this Blog are familiar with the FLCS – Family Law Courts System. If you are a new visitor this Link provides a brief basic background information –

1. 2 I start with the background to this article then move on to give reasons why coaching interventions based on humanistic psychology principles are relevant for the FLCS?. Executive co-coaching is presented as the vehicle for the coaching interventions and Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe – Leadership for S.E.L. – Social & Emotional Learning Development (S & E Q Development) is proposed as the implementation methodology. The article ends with a conclusion and a suggestion for the way forward.

2 Background

2.1 “As an RDP – Recently Divorced Person, a divorcee of less than 2 months, I am still psychologically and financially sore. Nevertheless, as I reflect, on an on-going basis, on my current situation, I consider myself ‘privileged’ to be unfortunate to be a member of a failed marriage!! I can confidently say I never thought, in a milion years, that divorce will happen to someone like me. I am, however, accepting it because it has happened to me. The next and current phase for me is to get positive outcomes from this experience for all those involved with me within the Family Law Courts System (FLCS), particularly for my 2 sons age 15 & 12 yrs old. This experience has exposed me to many aspects of family life, in relation to FLCS that I never knew existed – both in theory and practice. The concepts of L.I.P. – Litigation In Person; McKenzie Friends; Mediation; the role of several voluntary orgaisations – FNF – Families Need Fathers, are just a few examples of individuals and organisations within the Family Law Courts System. So why coaching interventions based on humanistic psychology principles for the FLCS? Let’s go to Section 3, next.

3 Why coaching interventions based on humanistic psychology principles for the FLCS?

3.1 My recent attendance and participation at the FNF – Families Need Fathers Conference and AGM in Bristol on the 18 March 2017 was a thoroughly enjoyable and a very professional experience. All the presenters – Dr Sue Whitcombe, Lori Busch, Paul Apreda, Sarah Phillimore including the Keynote Speaker, Sir James Munby were excellent. All, without exception, either explicitly or indirectly refered to or and used aspects of humanistic psychology principles in their presentation. Why is this so? This is, partly, because, it appears that there are concerted efforts within many quarters of the FLCS exploring how the legal process could be more humane while carrying out its legal duty of care. These Judgements and publications –

Unreasonable behaviour, unreasonable judges or unreasonable law? ;

Poppi Worthington and the risk of ‘ghost’ miscarriages of justice

‘Achieving Best Evidence in Children Act cases’.

Achieving best evidence and use in Children Act cases

What do we mean by proving something ‘on the balance of probabilities’ ?

What do we mean by proving something ‘on the balance of probabilities’ ?

are just a few examples where reactions showed movement within the FLCS travelling in the direction of an attempt to make the Family Law Courts System as if People were Humans!! All the presentations at the FNF Conference, without exception, are, It appears, that their primary focus align with the humanistic perception on the innate goodness of human beings, the drive and potential of humans to achieve personal growth, human responsibility, and the actual lived experience of the human person. The overiding argument here is that, above all, each human is a unique being, who has the ability to choose and change, despite constraints we may face, despite the consraints and the pain that divorce brings.

3.2 The Family Law Courts System (FLCS) can work humanistically with these Core Beliefs and Practices. Who within the FLCS would argue against a legal process that aims to practise and demonstrate the organic processes parallel to those of a healthy human being? Who would raise objections to the FLCS organised in such a way to include being able to hold complexity; knowing when to conserve and when to embrace change in order to thrive; having an awareness of the FLCS’s needs as a caring organisation; being self-examining as well as open to different perspectives and experiences; holding the FLSC in ethical and spiritual good faith; being willing to actively adopt new practices where appropriate so that growth and development is enhanced, whilst honouring and maintaining the legal duty of care nessential (i.e. necessary and essential)? Who within the FLCS would object to aiming to apply the same criteria of respect, empowerment, authenticity, etc. that we have for our clients to ourselves as members of an organisation and to others we interact with? If there are no objections from the FLCS to these statements on Humanistic Practice as an Organisation based on UKAHPP’s Statement of Core Beliefs and the Codes of Ethical Principles and of Practice, then the FLCS in on the very difficult but doable journey to treat People within the system as if we were Humans!! But how is Humanistic psychology principles explored via executive co-coaching? The next Section provides some answers

4 Humanistic psychology principles explored through Executive Co-coaching

“There are more tears shed for answered questions than unanswered questions
(Mother Teresa)

4.1 The starting point is to understand the person and to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ or otherwise get under their skin. In doing so and subsequently, using humanistic psychology principles you make deliberate effort in developing a good working relationship with your client and others you interact. Whilst they may not be your friends, you are friendly towards them and encourage them to like one another.

In your everyday activities and within your activities as a part of the FLCS, could you attest to the fact that you have developed or are developing some or all of these attributes?

  • you are a good listener and you can ‘walk a mile in others’ shoes’ – that means you can empathise with others, recognising that each stakeholder brings something to the table (DESIRE)
  • you have failth in others and you have used or you are familiar with and aspire to use some of the very effective interpersonal, group and emotional skills interventions developed by Prof John Heron over 40 years ago at the University of Surrey, England (DISCIPLINE)
  • you are always reflecting on your activities by using simple questions such as, ‘What did I do’? ‘So what’? and ‘And now what’? (DOING now) and
  • you on an on-going capacity encourage, just as you do, others to truly own their own problems and own their solutions, through on-going personal and peofessional development (DOING always)

These 4Ds approach are examples of the application of the humanistic psychology principls, teaching and practise that I have integrated into a process I termed Executive Co-Coaching.

4.2 What is Executive Co-coaching? Executive Co-coaching derives from the traditional executive coaching – a management development tool that has the potential to combine personal career development with organizational strategy and goals. However, with Executive Co-coaching, I have deliberately developed a process that focus not only on the individual but also on the Group’s E & S Q Development (Emotional and Social Quotient Development). In other words, what benefits the individual members of the Family Law Courts Systems [FLCS] could also benefit the client, the petitioner, the resondent and the legal industry.

4.3 The term executive co-coaching, however, is extended to have significant creative, original and innovative additional components. Working with my colleague, Dr Josephine Alleyne, I have drawn on our education, our experience and expertise as managers, experience as an accredited facilitator, educators and strategic negotiator in higher education to develop the role of the professional as an executive co-coach – that professional could be a legal professional or practitioner. The ‘co’ in co-coaching embraces, for example, the work of Prof John Heron on interpersonal, group and emotional skills. This is combined with the works of Henry and Walker on creative and innovative management approaches, the McKinsey Company’s
ground-breaking work on ’Decoding Leadership’ and other works. They are synthesised to come together as Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe (see Box 1, Section 5, below). The recipe also uses.the processes of the Resource-Based View (RBV) to strategic management. The RBV is quite significant as the focus is on what you are able to achieve irrespective of the THIMMEL Resources at your disposal (THIMMEL – Time; Human; Information; Material; Money; Equipment/estates/energy; Land Resources – Jumaa & Garside 2016).

4.4 Executive co-coaching uses evidence-based management and leadership interventions in addition to perceiving the client (s) as whole person (s), a human being, with the sole aim of promoting and enhancing effective processes for learning (D1), leading (D2), living (D3) and laison (D4). It brings a human face to managing and leading within organisations – a quality that is not only desirable but nessential for law practice, in England and Wales in the 21st Century [nessential = necessary and essential].

Barrister Sarah Phillimore and her colleagues at The Transparency Project bring to the dialogue an intentionality in reflecting on what values are guiding decision-making in the Family Law Courts and how these values ought to guide policies, as well as the practice that is fair, accessible, affordable and fair justice”. The activities of The Transparency Project are firmly grounded within the humanistic psychology teachings, principles and practise. How could a purposeful application of the humanistic psycholgy principles be implementd within the FLCS? Section 5, next, provides some insights.

5 Implementation Methodoloy

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world,
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to
himself. Therefore all progress depends
on the unreasonable man”
George Bernard Shaw

5.1 Box 1, below, is Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe – Leadership for S.E.L. – Social & Emotional Learning Development (S & E Q Development). This recipe is proposed as an evidence based approach to introduce the humanistic psycholgy principles within the FLCS. Using Box 1, the task is not to adapt the FLCS’s activities to ‘fit’ the contents of the Box, the challenge is to make, define and justify your assumptions in relation to your legal activities: goals; roles; processes and relationships against the chosen and identified contents for your particular needs. Depending on the project in hand different aspects of the Box will feature in your analysis, evaluation and application. The over-arching question you must ask when using any of the contents in Box 1 is – to what extent is this contributing to or serving as a hinderance to making your desired legal goals specific; roles explicit, processes clear and your legal relationships open? – Honest answers will add tremendous value to your legal processes outcomes (capabilities)

5.2 Why should you trust Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe? The recipe is put together based on on-going Action Science reseach and development activities since1995 at the London Middlesex University, England. The approach is about doing research with people and not on people. A theme that runs through the recipe is emotional and social competence development. The heart and brain of the recipe is the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds in the first column. This is supported by McKinsey Company’s ground-breaking research Decoding Leadership (2015). The pther 4 columns to the right of the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds are true, tried and tested approaches.

5.3 What is the origin of the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds? The CLINLAP/LEADLAP Model, was developed at the London Middlesex University, in 1997. It is featured in Section 2 of the Best Selling Book – Effective Healthcare Leadership. Detailed interventions used in various assignments and roles, modified as necessary, appear on pages 90 – 91 of Effective Healthcare Leadership (Jasper & Jumaa 2005). This book was co-authored by Dr Jumaa with Late Prof Melanie Jasper. Doctor MOJ has further developed the CLINLAP/LEADLAP Mode as the S.T.E.P.Way and presented it successfully to critical research communities in Canada, Kenya, (2010) Liberia (2013), Mexico (2011), UK and the USA (2009, 2008). The final outcome is the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds. The over-arching approach to the implementation of the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds is via the 4Ds – Desire, Discipline, Doing now and Doing always.

5.4 Box 1, the Strategic Recipe, provides an evidence based tool kit for for personal and professional development for those who operate within the FLCS. Used wisely, systematically and correctly, based on the extended humanistic psychology principles, the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds. will guide the Family Law Courts System as if People were Humans. The S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds is firmly guided by the notion that In the current workplace of the 21st century, emotional intelligence is about our relationships: (a) Our relationship with ourself (self-awareness and self-management) and (b) Our relationships with our colleagues and clients (social awareness and relationships management)

Box 1: Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe – Leadership for S.E.L. – Social & Emotional Learning Development (S & E Q Development) (after Jumaa 2001)
The S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds
(Jumaa, 2015)
McKinsey’s Decoding Leasership (2015) Tuckman
Stages of Group Development Emotional
(after Heron, 1990; Goleman in Italics) Mintzberg’s Managerial
Roles Practical
Competencies and Capabilities
(Jumaa, 2001)
Stakeholder influence

D1 – DESIRE Solving problems effectively* FORMING
Initial awareness. Why are we here? Awareness;
Self-awareness Leader
Entrepreneur Who’s Who?
Team’s Mission
A.S.T.R.E.A.M objectives
Technologoes and innovation focus

Operating with a strong results orientation* STORMING
Self –organisation Identification;
Self management Liaison
Resource Allocator
Disseminator Resources and Capabilities issues; Operating standards; Effective communication
Experiential learning methodology

D3 -DOING now
Seeking different perspectives* NORMING Sorting-out process – bidding for control and power Acceptance;
Social awareness Liaison
Monitor Acceptability; Suitability; and Feasibility
Personal development – ongoing

D4 – DOING always
Supporting others* PERFORMING
Maturity and mutual acceptance Transmutation;
Control; Catharsis
Relationship management Liaison
Disturbance Handler
Monitor Resistance management
‘Blame-Free’ context; Trust; Information Sharing; Feedback, Action

*Decoding leadership: What really matters (2015)

5.5 Successful implementation of the S.T.E.P. DNA 4Ds demand 4 nessential types of legal leadership: [nessential = necessary and essential]
1 Desire for Human Justice based on Stakeholder Leadership. Key question to ask is – What do legal professionals and practitioners need to do for effective management and leadership of the Family Law Courtts System and why? Stakeholder Leadership is about Influence of Power & Interest in yours and others’ actions and projects. Self-awarenees is necessary here as you consider the values and aspirations of major stakeholders and managers for this particular legal project
2 Discipline for Human Justice based on Technologies and innovation Leadership. Key question to ask is – Where is the FLCS now and why? Technologies & innovation Leadership focus on Social Media and Digital Communication. The operational question is what can the FLCS do efficientky and effectivey with social media and and digital communication? The challenge here is to fully and comprehensively identify & assess the FLCS’s strengths and weaknesses (i.e. – its Resources and Capabilities). You need an authentic, honest and an acute sense of Self Managenent to be effective here.
3 Doing now for Human Justice based on Experiential learning Leadership. Key question to ask is – How could the FLCS get to their desired goal/s and why? Which direction could they take and why? Experiential Learning Leadership is about Reflection – what? so what? and now what? -, Context-based Results and Impact. Explore the question – What might the FLCS do to improve its operations and services? A very well developed Social Awareness capabilty is neccesary here to assist you to Identify & Assess opportunities and threats (local, national and global) that face the FLCS now and in the future.
4 Doing always for Human Justice based on Personal development Leadership. Key question to ask is – Who, what and when do lawyers, practitioners and others in the FLCS need to sustain their achievements and why? Personal Development Leadership is about managing Resistances as a Positive Platform for Sustainability. Focus question shoud be What shoud the FLCS do to ensure on-going personal and professional development amongst key stakeholders? You need a well developed capability and competence in Relatiobships Management as you direct your energy to clarify an acknowledge major stakeholders’ social and ethical responsibilities and how these are compatible with the objectives of the FLCS. These 4 main leadership habits will serve you efficiently and effectively to achieve your goals and aspiration for a fair, just, transparent and accessible FCLS – Family Law Courts System.

5.6 Does the FCLS – Family Law Courts System need the type of interventions put forward in this article? The answer is a big YES!!. “We know that poor management costs UK plc £19bn in lower productivity, leaving us lagging behind our G7 EU neighbours. We need to equip our leaders and managers with the skills to embrace change, build trust and create working cultures with positive role models and inclusive values. Doing so will give us a better-managed Britain able to thrive in a post-Brexit economy.” (Anne Francke – Chief Executive, CMI – Chartered Management Institute, 2016). “Open justice is a hallmark of the rule of law. It is an essential requisite of the criminal justice system that it should be administered in public and subject to public scrutiny.The media play a vital role in representing the public and
erecting the public interest. However, as is well known, there are some exceptions to these principles. Difficulties and uncertainty can sometimes arise in ensuring they are correctly applied and observed” – (Source: Reporting Restriction Guidance)

6 Conclusion

6.1 The use, application, modification and the extension of the teachings, principles and practise of humanistic psychology is noticeable in all works of life – business, medicine, sports, teaching and parenting, to name but a few. This brief article has shown how the FLCS – Family Law Courts System could benefit from the teachings, principles and practice of Humanistic Psychology.
The Family Law Courts System as if People were Humans is a goal that is achievable using, for example Executive co-coaching. One method of implementation is based on the coaching interventions within Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe – Leadership for S.E.L. – Social & Emotional Learning Development (S & E Q Development). Hundreds of enthusiasts have successfully used this methodology. Stress Concern International offers a Degree level Global Executive Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring with Doctor MOJ’s Strategic Recipe available for full consumption. If you are interested and would like to take part in this ‘feast’, please contact Barrister Sarah Phillimore at the Transparency Project. The Family Law Courts System as if People were Humans is an admirable goal that is achievable using, for example, Executive co-coaching based on humanistic psychology principles.


Historic Review of Humanistic Psychology–Introductory discussion of history and nature of the humanistic approach, by the Association for Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic View and Methods–Overview of humanistic methodology, from the Association. for Humanistic Psychology.

A Guide to Humanistic Psychology–Extensive introduction, broken into chapters by topic, by therapist John Rowan; chapters include bibliographies for further reading.

Daniel Goleman is author of:
1. “The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights,”
2. “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence,” and
3. “Emotional Intelligence.”

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