The Akiona Law Podcast was fortunate enough to have Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter from the High Conflict Institute. Bill and Megan are co-founders of the High Conflict Institute, where Bill developed the high-conflict personality theory. Bill has a background in studying personality disorders because he spent over a decade working as a therapist. He became a family law attorney and mediator because he discovered he was passionate about helping people resolve their disputes.
As an attorney, Bill’s background in mental health allowed him to see that conflict was created by people with personality disorders. And family law disputes escalated because a party had a personality disorder. This meant in many of his family law cases, Bill saw it wasn’t a family dispute but rather an individual who showed a particular set of personality disorder traits. These individuals were likely to blame others, have all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions, and extreme behaviors. And people with these behavioral traits seemed to constantly create conflict. Bill identified these individuals as high-conflict people (HCPs). Bill saw their behavioral traits were counterproductive to a healthy family or developing a co-parenting relationship.
The Value of the High Conflict Institute
Megan encouraged Bill to create the High Conflict Institute because she saw many contested family law cases were driven by HCPs, and they flooded the courts with more cases than it could handle. Bill strongly emphasizes not to tell a high-conflict person that they are a high-conflict person. Instead, the High Conflict Institute teaches a co-parent how best to manage a high conflict person (HCP) using some of Bill’s below evidence-based techniques:
- Responding to hostile emails using a BIFF (brief, informative, friendly, firm) Response®.
- Communicating with EAR (empathy, assurance, respect) statements.
- Making proposals instead of arguing.
The High Conflict Institute’s Parenting Without Conflict® class helps parents learn how to manage their emotions to protect their children so they move forward together but separate. The goal is to help parents find peace instead of finding themselves in court. Unfortunately, if you find yourself in court with a HCP, hopefully, you can show you are trying to de-escalate the conflict caused by the other parent.
An All-Inclusive Solution
The High Conflict Institute offers affordable course options for co-parents during or after separation or divorce. Their online classes teach co-parents how to communicate both verbally and in writing in a way that reduces conflict. But, as Bill puts it, it is important to recognize they are not therapists. Instead, they teach people the skills to manage conflict communication. As Bill notes, almost anyone can benefit from taking their New Ways for Families® online course. This includes professionals who work in the space and parents struggling to find their footing post-divorce or in a parenting case.
Flexible thinking and a willingness to learn new skills is crucial in developing a co-parenting relationship with your high-conflict ex. The idea is adding tools to your tool box so when dealing with a HCP, you can use the appropriate tool to de-escalate conflict. Those who actively sharpen those tools can succeed in co-parenting despite being in a relationship with a HCP. Parents can also teach their children the skills about how to reduce conflict, which is essential in today’s social media conflict driven landscape.
Find Resolution Alongside Akiona Law, PLLC
Many people—family law attorneys included—feel trapped in a cycle of promoting conflict. We reach out to innovators like Megan and Bill because conflict will never disappear. The difference is how you react to it. Our goal is to help you navigate it instead of reacting in a way that fuels it. At Akiona Law, PLLC, our goal is to reduce conflict in your family law or divorce case, not increase it! Contact us to schedule your consultation today.