The NODES Model – supporting ethical practice

Liane Hambly (2022)

The nodes in our brain are critical for connectivity. One of the factors that impedes our ability to connect with others is our unconscious bias – we inevitably warm (feel safe with) to people who seem more like us than those who don’t. It is the way our brains are wired. But we can do something about it – we can reduce the impact of our unconscious assumptions and bias by the following process:

Notice – be aware of who you warm to and who you don’t. Reflect in the moment – what label would you give your emotions, for example, like, boredom, irritation, indifference)

Own your stuff! – Knowing yourself, how your preferences have been shaped by life experiences to date, societal and cultural norms. What behaviour in other people tends to trigger a positive or negative reaction, and why. This self knowledge helps you to recognize when the reaction is really about you and your baggage. Another practitioner may not have the same reaction, which leaves us with the question, is there such a thing as a difficult person or just someone that I find difficult (or people who are like me, in my profession, find challenging). Of course there are some examples of unacceptable behaviour (oppressive, exploitative, deceptive etc) but are my reactions just about norms?

Distance – carrying out this self-reflection should enable you to decide to stand back and not take things personally. Critical distance reduces the level of reaction and may help you to put the reaction to one side (to “bracket” it)

Empathy – put yourself in their shoes and work hard to understand what might be going on for them, what might lie behind any challenging behaviour or attitudes. Seeing the ‘story behind the story’ is a skill we can learn.

Sensory or Supervision – if you have a strong reaction then you may struggle to bracket it. It might be that your reptilian bit of your brain has been triggered, tat part concerned with flight, flight, freeze or fawn. When this happens it is difficult to rationally think your way through the situation. Therefore, you can reduce your reaction by paying attention to your senses (the emotional, experiential part of the brain)- what can see, hear, feel under foot, smell, taste? This activity calms triggered states. The S can also stand for supervision, discussing the case with someone else who can help you understand your reaction, what may be going on for the other person, and consider how to work through it.

This Model was created by Liane Hambly (2022)