“The communication course is the most extraordinary course I’ve ever done!” says 44-year-old Dutch lawyer Edwin Mac Gillavry, who lives with his wife, Inge, in Leiden, Netherlands, and attended Acem’s interpersonal communication training in May 2008.

”The course was very intensive. I know no other course that runs for eight days from early morning till late at night. But the most important difference was that this course was not about instructors telling us a lot of theory about communication. Rather, it was a course in which I, together with my fellow group members, was helped to discover the ways I communicate. We had to figure it out for ourselves. Just being told by others how you communicate won’t change anything. You have to see it on your own. And that is exactly what we did in the communication course. I received feedback on how I acted, and I gained insights into what triggers me and what is at the root of my patterns of behaviour. It was like seeing myself reflected in a mirror – just what I needed.”

Edwin found the communication course useful both at work and in his personal relationships. In his experience, the way you communicate is shaped by your development as a person. Experiences from the past, whether in private life, education or the workplace, determine who you are and how you communicate, including how you react to others and how you perceive certain situations. In the communication course, therefore, it is important to talk about both your past and present. Insight into the past sometimes throws essential light on the way you communicate now.  “I talked about lots of issues in my life, big and small. The most important thing was to talk, to interact, to start discussions, to make yourself and the group reflect.”

Edwin compares the communication group to a family. During the week of the course you can learn a lot from the other group members. At times things ran smoothly, while at other times Edwin felt more edgy. There was an intensity in the group which helped bring to the surface impulses and behaviour patterns that would have taken a long time to become manifest in daily life. This, Edwin finds, provided a good opportunity for learning.

”It’s always hard to open up just by yourself. It is essential for the group process that all the group members try to be open about their worries, frustrations and reactions. Only if you feel secure in the group will you be able to get the maximum out of the course. Sharing with the rest of the group is vital.”

Will he go again? “Definitely! I still have much to learn.”

Acem Training in Interpersonal Communication 2011