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What is relational awareness?

Look at this table. Down the left-hand side are three qualities that work together as an approach to developing relational awareness. Across the top are three dimensions that sometimes play into each other and are congruent (the feeling between us is the same at the feeling within us and around us).  Sometimes they are at odds and what we think, feel and do is in conflict within and between us and does not fit with how society sees things. Put together the three qualities and dimensions make a grid of nine elements and these might be thought of as the different instruments in orchestrating ourselves in relationship to people and the world around us.

The relational awareness grid

This grid is like a palette of nine elements of relational awareness. Click on one to open it up and read what it says and then click again to close it down. Move back and forth to see how they work separately and in combination.

This grid is like a palette of nine elements of relational awareness. It is being constructed for mobile, please use the desktop site to access the grid for the time being.

The relational awareness measure  

The relational awareness measure is a questionnaire linking to items on the grid. It seeks to measure variations in the quality and extent of relational awareness in difference contexts.   

To complete a pilot version of the measure follow this link RAM pilot 082020


Quoted from the process of development paper

We are seeking a measure that can help explore, formulate and evaluate the mix of factors that contribute to the qualities and dimensions of relational awareness between people in groups and teams in various settings.  We are expecting to identity variations in context such as in different teams, settings or different kinds of therapeutic intervention.  We would hope an established measure would be used in conjunction with measures of the qualities and contributing social and organisational factors.


Do different organisational cultures, family systems, types of therapy or therapeutic styles contribute to different relational awareness scores.  Are there variations with personality type or the kind of medium or activity involved?   How much do relational awareness scores vary in the context of varying severity of developmental trauma?


With a measure of relational awareness, it will be possible to do research and evaluation into what contributes to increases in relational awareness and which components are independently activated. 

We want to explore the measures as it is administered separately, or in combination with a measure of the benefits of relational mapping.  We want to test and evaluate if relational mapping and comparable methods of training in the skills of relational awareness leads to increases in RAM scores both individually and with cohort groups of trainees. In the context of relational mapping we want to explore which approaches to mapping and which aspects of mapping correlate with changes in relational awareness.  We a design of the measure which has face validity and an immediate utility and appeal at the point of completion by participants.  


We intend the aim of the RAM to be an aid to measuring changes in relational awareness when other methods of training or no methods are used.  For example, there may be an increase in relational awareness when staffing levels are increased or decreased or if management culture changes or in the case of health the mix of patients or client’s changes. 


From individual therapy with a map (Potter 2020) and from training using mapping to develop relational awareness three clusters of skills have been identified: hovering, shimmering, participating. Our intention is to develop a measure of relational awareness that cuts across these and focuses on awareness of the relationships involved.  


Comparative data on relational awareness will assist clinicians and community teams to work more effectively: with clients with complex needs, team processes working across professional groups, the interaction of the different levels of organisation and the social dynamics of differences of culture, status and identity.  It is hypothesised that increased relational awareness of clinicians and within teams will lead to a cultural shift away from ‘transactional’ interactions, to those that are experienced by the client and clinician as more collaborative, reflective and therapeutic. It is also hypothesized that it will have a direct benefit on a team’s ability to function in healthy ways. (Nolan & Butler, 2017).


The measure may prove to be of use widely with individuals, groups and organisations where working relations, tasks and systems are complex in both public and private sectors.  However, it is intended for specific use with mental health and welfare professionals in multi-disciplinary teams for reflective practice, case discussion and supervision.  It may be of use cross culturally and in different context such as in measuring the climate of relational awareness in individual and group therapy/counselling and in the context of creative and educational work. 

To read more, the PDF can be accessed by clicking the link at the top of the article. Or, buy the book for an even deeper exploration than the free articles provided on the downloads page.

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