Building Bridges and Collaborative Leadership


By: Ken McGill, LMFT

This year’s TCOM Conference in San Antonio, Texas will tackle the theme of Leadership.

“Many of us—if not all of us—are in a period of rapid change, and to successfully manage change requires leadership. However, leadership must take many forms at many levels of a system and often has little to do with formal power and authority. Leadership will be explored in all its manifestations within the collaborative processes and complex systems.”

Reflecting on this theme of leadership within the TCOM collaborative takes me back to my first CANS Conference in 2007, where I attended and presented for the first time. This conference was held in Boston, Massachusetts (the year the Red Sox won the World Series). I recall seeing my very first ‘duck boat’ and meeting some remarkable people.

While in Boston, I presented ‘Increasing Family Involvement with the Use of the CANS Tools.’  I was incredibly nervous, and I feared no one would attend my session. It turned out that attendees were very excited to learn about what New Jersey was doing[i].

From that point forward, I knew that I was in the ‘right spot.’

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I felt a strong duty to learn as much as I could about how others (other trainers, agencies and states) were utilizing these communication tools. That said, I was not aware that many of people I would meet as TCOM colleagues would become valued and dear friends.

Over the next six years, I attended and presented at CANS/TCOM Conferences all over the country. Dr. Lyons and the TCOM Team- are doing amazing work connecting with leaders throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and assisting them to better serve children, youth, young adults, adults, and their families.

The TCOM Framework and Family Systems

Bridging collaborations and building ‘shared visions’ is a crucial part of the TCOM framework. In Communimetrics, Dr. Lyons highlights the design and use of Communimetric tools, which aim to present information to every person involved in the process in an ‘accessible style’ while assisting in the effective measurement with both reliability and validity . Communimetrics increase the overall transparency of the process to all involved. These principles clarify the context or meaning of the information gathered—and shared.[1]

TCOM philosophy, by being integrated into the ‘work’, effectively addresses the needs of those individuals (children, youth, adults) within context of systems (family, school, community and work).

Transformational means that it is focused on the personal change that is the reason for intervention.
Collaborative means that a shared visioning approach is used–not one person’s perspective.
Outcomes means the measures are relevant to decisions about approach or proposed impact of interventions.
Management means that this information is used in all aspects of managing the system from individual family planning to supervision to program and system operations.

Moreover, the TCOM framework generates a ‘shared vision.’ Within this shared vision, the work becomes the focus of all activity.

When someone walks through my office doors, as a marriage and family therapist, they are seeking help to alleviate their pain or suffering. A shared vision—built between us—can help us gain more awareness and understanding, ultimately with the goal of increasing their overall health and wellness.

When creating a shared vision, we are not just focusing on the paperwork, or how often someone is seen, or if all of the slots/beds are filled. While working in collaboration with those we serve, therapy and its many facets are aimed at transformational processes. Within family systems, and considering families as systems,  we therapists/clinicians/administrators can become true conduits in real systems change by managing and sharing data using the TCOM Tools.

Bringing it Together at this Year’s TCOM Conference

My presentation at this year’s conference—Incorporating the CANS Tool from a Therapist’s Perspective:  Use of Technology, CANS and the Genogram— will be an interactive workshop for attendees to delve into TCOM philosophy and to investigate how it can be incorporated into a therapy session. Participants will explore the process of developing an individualized treatment plan, and understand how this process connects to the concepts of ‘transformation’ and increased wellness.

This session is primarily geared towards therapists, clinical supervisors and those working in agencies which incorporate ‘family therapy’ as part of their treatment milieu. Additionally, participants should be CANS Certified in order to gain the full understanding of this intense ‘hands on’ presentation.

My goals in sharing my own TCOM leadership journey are two-fold:

  • To get you interested in attending the TCOM Conference this year and to get you thinking about possibly presenting at a future conference.
  • To let you know that the TCOM Collaborative is more than just a conference. It is about joining something larger than the sum of its parts. It is a mass collaboration, a shared collaborative, and a movement consisting of compassionate, intelligent and creative individuals, all attempting to improve systems and the lives of children, youth and families on this ‘third rock from the sun’.

I truly hope that I have encouraged you to register and attend this year’s TCOM Conference. It will be an exciting three days in San Antonio—see you next week!

[i] At the time, New Jersey was one of the first states to develop and implement a statewide system of care with use of the CANS Tools and Wraparound.

[1] Lyons, John. (2009). Communimetrics. A Communication Theory of Measurement in Human Service Settings.

For more information about this post and how to connect to it’s author, visit the series home page here!

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