Jean McElhaney

Jean McElhaney

AUCKLAND – Jean McElhaney

Jean McElhaney, CNVC Certified Trainer

In part due to the miracle of bold requests made from the heart, I’ve relocated to the North Shore of Auckland from Madison, Wisconsin (USA). I feel so grateful for the warm welcome I’ve received and happy to be part of a truly global network.

What brought me to NVC was my decades-long interest in nonviolence: I read Marshall’s book sometime before 2004 because it had the word “nonviolent” in it. But NVC is not about words on a page; for me, it is about the magic that happens when we truly connect with what is underneath all that, in ourselves, in each other, and in the relationship between us. It’s about how my heart softens when the separation between “you” and “me” falls away. Since 2005, I’ve attended workshops with many different trainers, including: Marshall Rosenberg, Jeff Brown, Miki Kashtan, John Kinyon, Robert Gonzalez, Susan Skye, Sarah Peyton, Gina Lawrie, Gina Cenciose, Dominic Barter, and more. I’ve completed a year of NVC-based mediation training. I’m also trained in and have shared BePeace, which is inspired by NVC and Heartmath. In 2013 I was certified as a trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication.

Part of what I love about NVC is the congruence and wholeness I experience in how it integrates different parts of me: licensed professional counselor & clinical social worker, peace activist, interfaith minister, and student of English Literature.

In the US, I collaborated with others in sharing NVC in prisons, practice groups, work settings, spiritual groups, and more. NVC informed my work in the mental health field. I’ve co-organized workshops for other trainers, co-founded a local organization, and participated in a regional NVC organization. Another colleague and I offered Restorative Circles practice, training, and experiences. I especially loved sharing NVC with people involved in protests at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011.

For me, NVC is a deep, rigorous, and practical spiritual path, a moment-by-moment invitation to practice love and truth (satyagraha) and to embody both compassion and self-responsibility. It is not so much about how to form sentences as it is about accessing an empathic space of presence which bridges “inner” and “outer,” “giver” and “receiver.”

I love that NVC is so practical that even major corporations are now incorporating empathy skills to achieve real world goals. Training with Marie Miyashiro, author of the Empathy Factor, very much inspired me about the possibilities in this area. It excites me that NVC can applied to one’s self, within interpersonal relationships, and at organizational levels. It can support self-acceptance, forgiveness, decision-making, conflict resolution, effective team-work, systemic change for groups, and so much more.

I also see it as both the kind of social change I want in the world and the means for moving in that direction: a “third way” between being passive or aggressive. When I notice patterns I want to shift (in myself or in the world!), I want to do so with compassion – sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce. My social change work has included transforming my own “enemy images,” teaching counseling clients to practice self-empathy, mediating disputes, and encouraging protestors to identify the longings behind their political strategies.

 I offer coaching, empathy sessions, mediation, practice groups, and workshops to individuals, couples, groups, and organizations. With a background in the field of sexual abuse, I’m very interested in supporting people to heal from trauma. I also am especially interested in supporting people who focus on helping others or the environment: activists, counselors, social workers and therapists, health care providers, clergy, law enforcement and corrections staff, educators, etc. The needs-based approach of NVC can support deep self-empathy, transform us/them thinking, and promote collaboration so this sort of work can be sustainable over the long haul.

 In addition to NVC, I love Dances of Universal Peace, my spiritual communities, and the views from Waiake Beach and Long Bay. I can be contacted at: or by ringing 9 473 7344 or 022 192 3202.

For workshops offered by Jean, click here


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