The Kelman Institute’s interactive conflict intervention and counselling approach is specialised on interactive and dialogical methods of conflict resolution and transformation. It is based on insights generated by an integrative conflict analysis that combines social-psychological, sociological and cultural anthropological theories of interpretation.
HKI is at pains calling for new methods that are critical of “naive” forms of dialogue and go beyond classical mediation or negotiations at round tables. It developed the approach of “reflexive conflict dialogue”: this form of interactive conflict transformation is particularly designed for in complex and protracted conflicts. It accompanies and engages various conflict actors at first separately in internal self-reflection. This reflexive and complex conflict analysis is intended to prepare the actors for constructive encounters, negotiations and methods with the other/adversary.
In the dialogue process the main objective is to raise the awareness of political and social power relations (on a social structural level), ideological and cultural assumptions and attitudes (on a cultural meaning level) as well as of biographical life stories (on an individual level) of violence experiences that partially remain unconscious, but interplay in a complex way and inhibit creative conflict transformation. This is why the HKI explicitly is critical of idealistic “discourse approaches” with an emphasis on rationality and consensus. Rather, contradiction and difference are to be respected and endured; emotions are to some extent be expressed and subsequently transformed.
Such dialogues are ideally conducted on manifold levels:
- within the conflict parties themselves,
- between the conflict parties,
- on the different social dimensions, including political decision makers and political parties, as well as civil society institutions (such as churches, representative organisations, media and the like) and specific demographic on community level, like women and the youth,
- cross-border initiatives, especially with regional neighbours and other regional cooperative entities.
Such a conflict dialogue is part of the approach that is now known as „Interactive Conflict Transformation“. It was developed at the IICP and is now further elaborated by its successor HKI. This approach follows the pioneering work of Herbert C. Kelman’s in regards to his »Interactive-Problem-Solving«-workshops – a social-psychologically oriented approach of conflict resolution. Yet again, the HKI approach also integrates other methods of social-psychological conflict transformation such as Socio-drama, Gestalt Pedagogy, Constellation Work, non-violent communication and solution-focused dialogue. In addition to those social-psychological approaches HKI’s frame work also embraces sociological and cultural anthropological approaches, such as complexity thinking of the French social philosopher Edgar Morin.