engaging agency symbol

Hypocrisy in anything whatever, may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised - Leo Tolstoy

At WinGate, we understand the simple yet profound principle that the kind of change that matters, is one that comes from the inside out, a change of heart. We train our staff to be ‘engagers’ of agency and internal choice, rather than ‘provokers’ of resistance and external compliance. The only way one person can to help another person, with an intention toward helping that person change from their inside out, in a genuine and more lasting way, is to engage their agency, not just control their behavior. Among other things, engaging the agency of another human being entails: becoming chosen as a mentor, being an example, cultivating humility, remaining unoffended, capturing curiosity, loving those whom you seek to help, interjecting powerfully, and letting go of culturally pre-conceived ideas of how to get another person to change. We help our staff be this way, and do these things…every single day.

Creating and using cultural wilderness living items, coupled with principles having to do with the character traits that must be maintained by our staff members (mentioned above,) we produce a vehicle for establishing a mentoring relationship of trust. Engaging the student’s interests and natural curiosity, and reducing their resistance, is a hallmark of our program. As students become engaged, the metaphors of creating useful tools and developing new-found skills become external models of inward possibilities. As students become engaged, they begin to see that the positive relationships they are having with those in front of them in the wilderness, can extend to those at home. We are pioneers in developing and utilizing this model of Engaging Agency™ in a wilderness therapy setting, and we have been refining it for decades.

If you would like to know more about this concept, reading the following book is a good start:

The Way With Children, by M. Shayne Gallagher