Total honesty/total heart: Fostering empathy development and conflict resolution skills. A violence prevention strategy




Little, Marion

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This research assesses the impact of a violence prevention training, Total Honesty/Total Heart, based on the Nonviolent Communication model (Rosenberg, 2003) for conflict resolution and empathy development (including self-empathy). This study offers a strategic response to adolescent aggressive/violent behaviour. The participants, aged 16-19, were all experiencing the stresses of poverty and marginalization at the time of the study, and were familiar with both domestic and peer violence. Some had received criminal charges, some were raising children, and all were struggling to complete high school. The research methodology is located within the traditions of educational research and program evaluation. Subsequently, this project combines a simple quasi-experimental pre-training and post-training written test (providing descriptive statistics) with qualitative data gathered through training sessions and interviews. A case illustration is included to further enhance the findings. This approach allowed a rich multi-dimensional analysis to be generated for such a small pilot project (N=14). The test results showed a notable increase in skills comprehension and applications for the participant group, while the comparison group showed no increases. The participant group interviews revealed that the training had been engaging, and that the skills were practically applicable as well as meaningful. The case illustration revealed the transformative impact of integrating the Nonviolent Communication conflict resolution, empathy, and self-empathy skills into one participant’s life. In particular, this thesis suggests that self-empathy may be integral to supporting the development of conflict resolution skills specifically, and healthy relationships generally, for young women who have experienced abuse, trauma, and domestic violence.



Youth, Conflict resolution, Violence prevention, Nonviolent Communication, Empathy, Training, Self-empathy, Dispute Resolution, Peace, Effective Communication, Assertiveness, Needs