The complexity of human relationships is never simple to follow; it is like intricate lacework, but lacework made of steel". Mignon G. Eberhart
NEVET's context-informed approach focuses on what professionals need to be aware of, including their preconceptions and biases and an in-depth understanding of "self and other." Built into this process is a new underlying premise of professionalism; in order to be an expert you cannot know everything, but must be accepting of complexity and unpredictability with a willingness to constantly discover from a not-knowing position with the intention of asking questions. The awareness of contexts helps us view the complexity of a constantly evolving and changing reality in which knowledge alone is no longer the basis of expertise.
NEVET believes that professionals of the future will face the need to adapt and adjust to constantly changing, complex realities.
There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives." (Audre Lorde)
As we begin to look at reality through an awareness of different contexts, it soon becomes apparent that they overlap and intersect in people's lives. Intersectionality focuses on how social categories such as gender, race, socio-class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and other aspects of our identity interact on multiple levels and contribute to discrimination, exclusion, social inequality, and systemic injustice. We believe that widening our perspectives to understand this complexity is an important part of training in the helping professions. We emphasize that culture becomes one context among many influencing contexts alongside gender, economics, history, politics, power relations, discrimination, and exclusion.
“Resilience is a mesh, not a substance. We are forced to knit ourselves, using the people and things we meet in our emotional and social environments” (Boris Cyrulnik)
Strengths are positive factors, both in the individual and in the environment, which support well-being and coping. Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’, to ‘recover’ from adverse life experiences. Much attention has been given to the risk factors that have led to families and individuals being over-represented as “at risk”. Much of the psychological literature focuses on deficits and binary categories of normal and not normal. The context-informed perspective urges practitioners and researchers to proactively search the resourcefulness and resilience that exists in families and individuals. People can grow and change. Everyone has a range of abilities and strengths which, with the right support, can be utilized to give them a better future. Furthermore, solutions will not be the same for everyone; individuals’ strengths and circumstances are different, and people need to be fully involved in identifying their goals and building upon their strengths and resources. According to the context-informed prespective: individuals live within families, communities, societies and cultures, and all these contexts, determine their well-being.
"The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty" ( James Madison)
Who owns knowledge? who will have the right to control the circulation of knowledge? and even more importantly, who will have the right to benefit from it?
At NEVET we believe that knowledge should be accessible to all, scholars and communities alike. Therefore, NEVET's goal is to disseminate its context-informed research, including the innovative methodologies and database for context-informed training assessment and treatment. Moreover, we see knowledge as a collaborative product of the researcher and the local and international communities. The participants of our studies are full partners in the construction, ownership and possible dissemination of knowledge.
"As we grow as unique persons, we learn to respect the uniqueness of others." (Robert H. Schuller) In NEVET we embrace personal identities of the group members and regard diversity as an asset.
The greenhouse includes research students from diverse cultural, ethnic, national, gender orientation, and religious backgrounds. We believe this diversity to be one of our precious assets and strenghts. NEVET is a venue that enables an expression of opinions, experiences, and perceptions that are driven by the multiplicity of identities of the participants. As part of the reflection required in the research process, the members are encouraged to explore and maintain their unique identities and share their experiences and points of view with the rest of the group. Exposure to the uniqueness of the other "flexes" the consciousness of complexity and "resonates" the personal complexity of the observer. In many cases, the researcher confronts multiple parts of his own identity: cultural, genderial, religious, or political, and the expectations of the academic research world. These identities place the researcher in many different locations at times making him an insider, an outsider, or both. This exploration is essential for reflexivity, especially in qualitative research, which requires active acknowledgment and explicit recognition about the ways positionality affects the research process and its outcomes.
“Every human relation is to some degree a power relation...every power relation is not bad in itself, but it is a fact that always involves danger.” (Michel Foucault)
An understanding of underlying power relations in all social systems and human interactions is essential for professionals and researchers. In many societies there are excluded minority groups who live under personal, institutional, legal, and structural forces that restrict, oppress, humiliate, and prevent them from obtaining equal access to resources and opportunities. Becoming aware of the existence and effects of privilege, inclusion, and exclusion, is part of the perception of complexity. When working with families in various contexts, this broader view can foster a deeper understanding of the complexity of the therapeutic or research encounter which is laden with power gaps. Awareness of power relations, and their influence provides the means to address unspoken identities that inadvertently shape interactions.
If you want to run fast, run alone; if you want to run far, run together." (African proverb)
As a research and training venue, NEVET strives to create a safe space that enables creative learning experience and exploration for its members. Since researchers come from diverse disciplines and cultural groups, they each contribute their knowledge to the group. By constructing a collaborative, non-hierarchical work model faculty members and research students create together, conceptualize, and contribute to the research. Partnership is formed in our research groups were we study, write and present our findings together. NEVET's research publications are collaborative, and enable researchers with all levels of experience to learn from each other. NEVET’s "Mentoring Program" aims to help MA students reach their full potential and integrate in the greenhouse as effectively and quickly as possible with the active guidance of doctoral students and greenhouse researchers. Productive professional relationships among colleagues serve as modeling and contribute to the mentee's research. The mentor role includes academic socialization, careful listening to the needs and expectations of the mentee, helping him/her establish realistic and attainable goals and explore new areas, offering suggestions and feedback, and keeping the mentee aware of his/her progress and success.
"There is no innovation and creativity without failure." (Brene Brown)
Sharing experiences and learning from the experiences of our participants is a key part of our learning. NEVET holds bi-weekly meetings for all participants to share experiences and discuss research. We share our failures and challenges and learn from our successes to inspire future development of unique research methods and research tools.
“Outside research cannot be installed like a car part - it has to be fitted, adjusted, and refined for the contexts we work in.”( Mike Schmoker)
Much of NEVET’s research aims to contribute to the fields of training professionals, interventions with individuals, families and communities, and policy. As such it is designed with careful consideration of “do no harm”, adhering to ethical principles, high sensitivity to the research participants and careful consideration of presentation and publication. Our reaserch leads to action when researchers or research participants use the data to influence policy change or plan and conduct interventions.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” (Aristotle)
Professional development involves reflectivity through becoming aware of our own assumptions, as well as alternative meanings. An understanding of context refers both to our own contexts as people and professionals and the contexts influencing the people we work with. Examining these issues as part of professional context-informed training encourages trainees to explore their own identities and social positioning and the ways in which these shape their assumptions, attitudes, and images with regard to the "other". Such reflection can facilitate the acknowledgement of the ways in which fears and stereotypes influence attitudes, beliefs, and feelings.
Read more about Nevet's training program for professionals, for enhancing reflectivity in working with communities: Here