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The Ten Commitments

The Tidal Model© draws on our values about relating to people. these frame our efforts to help others in their moment of distress. 

The values of the Tidal Model reflect a philosophy of how we would hope we would be treated should we experience distress or difficulty in our lives.

As more people around the world become involved in exploring the Tidal Model in different settings,  and across differing cultures, the need to re-affirm the core values of the Tidal Model has become more apparent.  We appreciate how both the 'helper' (whether professional, friend or fellow traveller) and the person need to make a commitment to change. This commitment binds them together.

The Ten Commitments distils the essence of the value base of the Tidal Model.

These Ten Commitments© need to be firmly in place is any team, or individual practitioner, wishes to say it is developing the practice of the Tidal Model.

1. Value the voice: the person’s story represents the beginning and endpoint of the helping encounter, embracing  not only an account of the person’s distress, but also the hope for its resolution. The story is spoken by the voice of experience. We seek to encourage the true voice of the person – rather than enforce the voice of authority.

Traditionally, the person’s story is ‘translated’ into a third person, professional account, by different health or social care practitioners. This becomes not so much the person’s story (my story) but the professional team’s view of that story (history). Tidal seeks to help people develop their unique narrative accounts into a formalised version of ‘my story’, through ensuring that , all assessments and records of care are written in the person’s own ‘voice’. If the person is unable, or unwilling, to write in their own hand, then the nurse acts as secretary, recording what has been agreed, conjointly, is important – writing this in the ‘voice’ of the person.

2. Respect the language: people develop unique ways of expressing their life stories, representing to others that which only they can know. The language of the story – complete with its unusual grammar and personal metaphors – is the ideal medium for illuminating the way to recovery.  We encourage people to speak their own words in their distinctive voice.

 Stories written about patients by professionals are, traditionally, framed by the arcane, technical language of psychiatric medicine or psychology. Regrettably, many service users and consumers often come to describe themselves in the colonial language of the professionals who have diagnosed them.     By valuing – and using - the person’s natural language, the Tidal practitioner conveys the simplest, yet most powerful, respect for the person. 

3. Develop genuine curiosity: the person is writing a life story but is in no sense an ‘open book’. No one  can know another person’s experience. Consequently, professionals need to express genuine interest in the story so that they can better understand the storyteller and the story.

 Often, professionals are only interested in ‘what is wrong’ with the person, or in pursuing particular lines of professional inquiry – for example, seeking ‘signs and symptoms’. Genuine curiosity reflects an interest in the person and the person’s unique experience, as opposed to merely classifying and categorising features, which might be common to many other ‘patients’.

4. Become the apprentice: the person is the world expert on the life story. Professionals may learn something of the power of that story, but only if they apply themselves diligently and respectfully to the task by becoming apprentice-minded. We need to learn from the person, what needs to be done, rather than leading.

 No one can ever know another person’s experience. Professionals often talk ‘as if’ they might even know the person better than they know themselves. As Szasz noted: “How can you know more about a person after seeing him for a few hours, a few days or even a few months, than he knows about himself? He has known himself a lot longer! …The idea that the person remains entirely in charge of himself is a fundamental premise” (Szasz, 2000).

5. Use the available toolkit: the  story contains examples of ‘what has worked’ for the person in the past, or beliefs about ‘what might work’ for this person in the future. These represent the main tools that need to be used to unlock or build the story of recovery. The professional toolkit - commonly expressed through ideas such as ‘evidence-based practice’ - describes what has ‘worked’ for other people. Although potentially useful, this should only be used if the person’s available toolkit is found wanting.

6. Craft the step beyond: the professional helper and the person work together to construct an appreciation of what needs to be done ‘now’. Any ‘first step’ is a crucial step, revealing the power of change and potentially pointing towards the ultimate goal of recovery.  Lao Tzu said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We would go further: any journey begins in our imagination. It is important to imagine – or envision – moving forward. Crafting the step beyond reminds us of the importance of working with the person in the ‘me now’: addressing what needs to be done now, to help advance to the next step

7. Give the gift of time: although time is largely illusory, nothing is more valuable. Time is the midwife of change. Often, professionals complain about not having enough time to work constructively with the person. Although they may not actually ‘make’ time, through creative attention to their work, professionals often find the time to do ‘what needs to be done’. Here, it is the professional’s relationship with the concept of time, which is at issue, rather than time itself (Jonsson, 2005).. Ultimately, any time spent in constructive interpersonal communion, is a gift – for both parties (Derrida ,1992).

8. Reveal personal wisdom: Only the person can know him or her self. The person develops a powerful storehouse of wisdom through living the writing of the life story. Often, people cannot find the words to express fully the magnitude, complexity or ineffability of their experience, invoking powerful personal metaphors, to convey something of their experience (Barker, 2002). A key task for the professional is to help the person reveal and come to value that wisdom, so that it might be used to sustain the person throughout the voyage of recovery.

9. Know that change is constant:  change is inevitable for change is constant.  This is the common story for all people. However, although change is inevitable, growth is optional. Decisions and choices have to be made if growth is to occur. The task of the professional helper is to develop awareness of how change is happening and to support the person in making decisions regarding the course of the recovery voyage. In particular, we help the person to steer out of danger and distress keeping on the course of reclamation and recovery.

10. Be transparent: if the person and the professional helper are to become a team then each must put down their ‘weapons’. In the story-writing process the professional’s pen can all too often become a weapon: writing a story that risks inhibiting, restricting and delimiting the person’s life choices. Professionals are in a privileged position and should model confidence by being transparent at all times; helping the person understand exactly what is being done and why. By retaining the use of the person’s own language, and by completing all assessments and care plan records together (in vivo), the collaborative nature of the professional-person relationship becomes even more transparent.



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