Having Difficult Conversations: How Psychological Flexibility can help – with Dr Ray Owen

Psychological skills for effectively managing difficult conversations

27th Jan 2022


Originally hosted Thursday 27th January, 2022
Two hour Webinar + recording AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE HERE
Presenter: Dr. Ray Owen
Please note: you will have access to this recording for 6 months

Health and Social Care professionals sometimes have really difficult conversations with people:

  • Breaking very bad news
  • Dealing with angry people
  • Explaining that someone -maybe you – has made a mistake
  • Challenging a colleague about unacceptable behaviour
  • Raising a performance issue with a junior member of staff

For many of us, these are some of the most challenging moments in our work. And while training in conflict resolution, management or communication skills may offer useful specific techniques, there is one common factor that applies across all of them that might make a bigger difference: ourselves.

Because we are (mostly!) decent people, dealing with these situations can make us uncomfortable, embarrassed,  angry, anxious or overwhelmingly sad, and those can get in the way of us handling these essential conversations well. We can also get distracted by difficult thoughts & memories, or our own inner critic.

At worst, we end up avoiding these conversations altogether, sometimes with disastrous results.

The Psychological Flexibility model (the basis of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is an evidence-based approach that can help us to stay focussed on what matters to us in having these difficult conversations, stay ‘in the moment’ rather than getting distracted by difficult thoughts and feelings and so handle these tricky situations the best we can.

In this 2 hour webinar, you will learn:

  • What the Psychological Flexibility model is, and why it applies in this situation
  • What matters most to you as a professional having difficult conversations
  • How we get ‘hooked’ by difficult thoughts and feelings, and how to unhook from them
  • A simple procedure to make sure you arrive at the start of a difficult conversation in the best state to handle it well.

We’ll be looking at information and understanding, at practical skills and using some experiential exercises. These exercises will bring you into contact with strong emotions and thoughts about difficult conversations you have had in the past: please be aware of this in deciding whether to participate.

About Your Presenter

Dr Ray Owen is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Health Psychologist with over 25 years’ experience of working in Palliative Care and other physical health settings in the NHS, including significant amounts of grief work. As well as direct clinical work, he has extensive experience of teaching and supervision of other healthcare staff in providing psychological support. He is an ACBS Peer Reviewed ACT trainer, and an in-demand teacher both in the UK and internationally. He is the author of two successful self-help books published by Routledge – ‘Facing the Storm (2011)’ and ‘Living with the Enemy (2014)’ both of which were shortlisted or the British Medical Association’s Popular Medicine Book of the Year Award.

Ray has over 15 years’ experience as a trainer on the UK national Advanced Communication Skills programme for senior cancer professionals.


How do I access the webinar?

It’s super simple. The event will be hosted via Zoom. All you need to do is follow a link that you will be provided prior to the course, along with instructions. Just click and join the workshop 

Can I ask questions during the presentation?

Absolutely. You will be able to ask the presenter questions, just as you would in any workshop. You’ll also have the extra benefit of being able to interact with other colleagues who have also joined the webinar.

Will I receive a CPD certificate?

Yes, you will receive a CPD certificate.

Can I view the presentation afterwards?

Yes, a video of presentation will be available after the workshop is finished.  You’ll be able to go back over any part of the webinar to review or check anything that you missed. You also don’t actually have to attend the live webinar – if you’re not able to make it on the actual dates, you can still login afterwards and watch the recorded version.

What equipment do I need?

You just need a computer (PC or Mac), laptop or tablet that can access the internet. You need a good broadband speed that would allow you to comfortably stream a movie (such as a video on YouTube).

Can I still participate in any skills practice work?

Yes, Zoom allows you to easily connect with other participants’  in breakout rooms.

Will the Webinar work on my computer?

Yes! As long as you have access to a web browser and you’re connected to the internet, you will be able to attend. It’s that simple – all you need to do is go to the webpage link, login and you’re set to go. You can join the workshop on any device including your home computer or iPad. You can even join in using your smart phone.

How do I deal with any technical issues that come up?

We will have dedicated technicians on hand throughout the entire duration of the workshop. They will be there to help you manage any issues that may come up and get you back in to the workshop again. Also, if you think there may be a problem, be it with your work access or anything else, you can log in early to check if things are working for you, and be prepared.

There may of course be technical issues that come up on your end, which will be your responsibility to look after. But these are rare and we have an extra handy troubleshooting guide that comes with tips and tricks to deal with any problems.