Apr 12, 2011

Learning Stages and Your P.E.T. Skills

Learning any new skill takes time and practice. P.E.T. is no different from learning a new sport, language or work procedure.

P.E.T. teaches skills and concepts that are foreign to most people. Each person has a feeling about which "stage" of learning you are in. These are the four basic stages that participants find themselves in during and after going through the P.E.T. course, reading the P.E.T. Book or completing the F.E.T. Program.

Stage 1: Unconsciously Skilled:
You don't know what you don't know. You interact with your children and others in your relationship network unconscious of the fact that there are P.E.T. alternatives to your usual ways of communicating and solving problems.

Stage 2: Consciously Unskilled:
You know what you don't know (and can't do). Sometimes there are feelings of guilt as parents understand the negative effects of their non-P.E..T. behaviors on their children. The desire to learn and use P.E.T. skills grows.

As you start using your new skills, parents can feel extremely awkward and even phony. At this stage, not only does it seem phony to the parent, but also to the child or other person who is the recipient of their efforts. Using your new skills may sometimes elicit comments like "What's wrong with you?" "You don't usually talk like that!" "Don't try to be my shrink!"

Stage 3: Consciously Skilled:
At this stage in your skill development, parents are conscious about what they are doing. They make clear decisions about when and how to Active Listen and send I-Messages. Even though you are consciously using the skills, in most situations they come across as natural to the child or recipient.

Stage 4: Unconsciously Skilled:
At this stage, using the P.E.T. skills is done with little or no thought - the skills are not turned on and off depending on the situation. Active Listening and I-Messages have become the normal way the parent communicates. This stage is equivalent to Mastery Level learning in education.

However, even when this level has been reached by an individual, there are still times and circumstances, such as extreme stress or difficult conflicts, when you revert to consciously thinking about how and when to use the P.E.T. skills.

Being unconsciously skilled also does not mean that a person has "arrived" and has no more room for improvement. Ongoing refinement and mastery of the P.E.T. philosophy and skills continue on as a part of a person's life-long learning process.

So what stage are you in? As always, questions and comments are encouraged! Feel free to post a comment or question here on the blog or email family@gordontraining.com.

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Posted by Selena Cruz George, P.E.T. Program Manager

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