Keeping You on Top: Avoiding the Collaborative Avalanche

Date and time: 
May 15, 2023 - 7:00am to May 26, 2023 - 10:00am
Event type: 
IACP Event

In nature and in Collaborative Law, there are few things scarier than an avalanche! With the growing Collaborative Law movement, more and more couples head out of the traditional boundaries of court in search of a process that supports their unique needs. In the Collaborative “backcountry”, terrain is neither patrolled by the Court nor controlled by the confines of the law, creating its allure. Beyond the boundaries of the court system, the ever-looming threat of [emotional] avalanches ending the process is very real. Around our table, the conditions are vastly different from those found within the more regimented confines of a court process and all-knowing Judge. A humbling reminder of human nature, conflict at the Collaborative table, like an avalanche, can easily obliterate anything unfortunate enough to be in its path and risk the successful outcome of the Collaborative Process, and wound professional egos along the way. While the techniques for predicting and avoiding Collaborative avalanches are generally reliable, anyone who ventures into the “backcountry” will never be completely safe from the threat of an avalanche. The goal of this course is to help professionals make an informed assessment of avalanche danger and make smart decisions to minimize the chances of having to deal with an avalanche and know what to do in the event one occurs to dig out from the collapse. Out here, avalanches accommodate no one -- by the time an avalanche is triggered, you’ve already made all the mistakes.


Course Objectives:

Session 1: BACKCOUNTRY BASICS: RECOGNIZING AVALANCHE TERRAIN. Participants will gain insight into his/her/their own personal experiences and share with other to begin linking outside our own practice bubbles. Basic myths, beliefs, and misconceptions about “avalanche territory” will be explored as it relates to exploring self-awareness when dealing with conflict and resistance. Participants will learn how to pay attention to emotional clues – which can unearth unacknowledged feelings, concerns, and priorities – that can be central to resolving the conflict if they are understood, their importance communicated. Combining external dimensions with the internal world (attitudes, relationships, feelings) professionals will learn the skills to recognize avalanche terrain and then can determine the best course of action for all parties involved.

Session 2: ANCHORS OR OBSTACLES? Participants will focus on process management, using resistance and “debris” the clients give off to move the process forward.  When we can predict how to respond to the obstacles, we create anchors for the team and clients in the process. We will discuss avalanche “characters” and problem types. Participants will learn to identify his/her/their own triggers while in avalanche territory. Techniques for rolling with resistance will be explored to use the clients’ own motivation and movement through the process. Skills for rolling with resistance will be taught and practiced. 

Session 3: STRENGTHENING YOUR “BACKCOUNTRY” BRAIN.   Participants will get a crash course in the Neuroscience of conflict. Participants will learn the biology behind the way that the brain processes conflict, so that they can experience conflict with a clear-mind and learn to make effective choices, instead of making choices that are driven by the chips on our shoulders or the unspoken frustrations that can drive our behavior in the short term. Calm Decision-making can be the most critical tool in your survival kit. Skills for effective listening and connecting to clients in conflict will be taught and practiced. 

Session 4: PACKING YOUR PERSONAL AVALANCHE SURVIVAL KIT.  Participants will learn the difference between burn-out and compassion fatigue. Strategies for building resilience and equanimity will be explored so that each individual develops his/her/their self-care plan for maintaining professional quality of life. Equanimity – the secret sauce – will be explored at a deeper level, so that practitioners learn with complete openness to experience, without being lost in his/her/their own reactions. The key to achieving equanimity and surviving avalanche territory is to be present in each moment.


Seminar Dates and Times:  

May 15, 19, 22, 26, 2023

7:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT (please check your local time here)


This course will be taught by Deborah K. Gilman, Ph.D, active IACP member, Licensed Psychologist, Child Specialist, Collaborative Coach.

Digital handouts and materials will be provided via email prior to the start of the seminar.
Registration is open to active IACP members and non-members:

IACP members: US $500.00 *Please login to your account before registering*

Non-IACP members: US $550.00


This seminar is limited to 30 participants.  Additional interested parties will be added to a waitlist and contacted by IACP if a space becomes available. 

Participants are expected to participate in ALL online sessions to be eligible to receive a certificate of attendance.  The sessions will not be recorded.


A Zoom link will be emailed to registered participants in the confirmation email. 


Online via Zoom

Contact email: