Why do people make decisions that most of us find hard to understand? Why do they engage in damaging relationship conflict and/or stay in it?
I have looked at these kinds of questions over the last 20 years in my work as a lawyer, mediator, judge and counselor at law. I found some helpful answers in a variety of theories, including personality theory. At the same time, relationship researchers, some looking at the same questions, have made incredible strides by using scientific methods. These researchers are now providing fairly clear insight, although accessing their findings is not always easy. The Conflict Science Institute’s primary goal is to port relationship science findings into practical tools for lawyers and any professional working with people who are struggling with relationship conflict.
In 2009 I became the first Associate of Bill Eddy’s forward-thinking High Conflict Institute. As I gained competence with Bill’s elegantly thoughtful techniques I found my ability to understand and help clients increased dramatically.
In 2013 I graduated from a one year program in Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB). I thought of that program as an LL.M. equivalent in Client Science. IPNB, a comprehensive meta-model founded by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, seeks to move away from a purely psychological perspective on human behavior. IPNB looks at human suffering not as a disease but as dis-ease, rooted in early childhood experiences (attachment), and in neuro-bio-physiological functioning uncovered through research methods such as brain imaging. IPNB super-stars include Dr. Stephen Porges and his Polyvagal Theory (PVT). Although the name is ungainly, it is one of the most helpful science-based theories. PVT explains, with hard neuro-physiology, science certain human behaviors; such as the fight-flight-freeze response.
In 2014 I founded the Integrative Client Counseling Institute (ICCI) to begin porting IPNB knowledge and techniques into the legal world, and to facilitate developing new techniques.
There was no model specifically for legal professionals describing in detail human behavior, thought processes, and feelings, so I developed the Integrative Client-Centered Model (ICCM). The ICCM provides a comprehensive model which is both generic and can be filled with details from existing relationship models, and also includes specific details for the components. For the example, the listening component can be filled with any of the many existing listening models, or with ICCI/CSI’s Integrative Listening model.
As my work progressed, I began to explore attachment theory and I discovered an advanced theory based on attachment science, The Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM), the brain child of Dr. Patricia Crittenden. Mainstream attachment theory was interesting, but finding details sufficient to utilize within the context of conflict resolution work, was difficult and scattered. Dr. Crittenden and her colleagues not only organized the effects of a person’s attachment experience, they provided rich details. Dr. Crittenden also refocused the definition of attachment in a slight but important way. For the DMM attachment involves a person’s need for protection from danger, and a relationship with a person who can provide protection. This describes a parent and child relationship, but also, the relationship between a lawyer and client. Clients hire lawyers precisely because they need protection from some from of danger.
Quite similar to IPNB, the DMM is a meta-model utilizing many scientific perspectives, and primarily attachment, to describe human behavior, thought processes (including memory processes), and feelings. The DMM likewise provides a humane view of why people do things many of us don’t understand, describing such behaviors as self-protective strategies learned in childhood to maximize safety.
The DMM describes how human information processing, as well as self-protective strategies, narrow in the face of danger. It also describes self-protective strategies with fine detail. I found DMM concepts gave me clearer insight into questions such as: why do some people stay in abusive relationships, why do some people seem most comfortable when in conflict, why are some people conflict avoidant, and why do some have difficulty accessing their memories of abuse?
As I combined elements from IPNB and the DMM which I found highly relevant for my work, I began to put them together into what eventually became the Conflict Model, a model of conflict psychology and neurobiology. It could be more specifically described as the Conflict Model of Human Personality and Function in the Context of Danger. The Conflict Model circumplex is based directly on the DMM model circumplex. The Conflict Model is one of the key components of the Integrative Client-Centered Model (ICCM).
While understanding human behavior in the context of conflict provides a strong foundation for counseling, listening, communication, narrative building, and optimizing decision making, it also provides a strong and unique foundation for other lawyer skills such as deposition techniques, negotiating, persuading judges, delivering client satisfaction, improving conversion rates, and about cross-examination.
Conflict science is about working with people, and also about improving the full range of lawyer skills. When we apply Conflict Science Institute concepts to litigation skills, that’s Lawfightingtm .Mark Baumann
So, in 2019, with the help of my colleagues, I refocused the Integrative Client Counseling Institute into the Conflict Science Institute, and our journey continues. Thank you for spending some time with us. I hope you will consider joining our efforts to improve outcomes in the legal environment and contributing to the long road ahead.
Mark Baumann, J.D.
Director, Conflict Science Institute
Mark Baumann, J.D.
Director, Conflict Science Institute
Mark Baumann is the founder and director of The Conflict Science Institute and has developed several of CSI’s integrative models for high conflict professionals, including the Conflict Model. Mark has served as a family law litigator, counselor, mediator, educator, and professional speaker since 1988, and as an ad-hoc board member of the International Association for the Study of Attachment (IASA). In addition to teaching CSI concepts worldwide, Mark continues to develop CSI techniques through the practice of family law, with a focus on attachment, trauma, and domestic violence. (His complete C.V. can be found here)