New job theory uses your hands

Looking for the perfect job can be a challenge and for some it can be harder than others depending if you are a left or right brain thinker or if you are primarily literate or kinaesthetic.

Looking for the perfect job can be a challenge and for some it can be harder than others depending if you are a left or right brain thinker or if you are primarily literate or kinaesthetic.

Michelle Stirling is a local employment counselor who has a new method she hopes will address that. Stirling operates Ponoka Employment Services, which is a sub-contractor to Alberta Employment and Immigration through Ponoka Neighbourhood Place. She recently presented her ‘Rainball theory’ at the Building Tomorrow Today Conference.

The conference was held in Edmonton and is a career practitioner conference that started in 1995. It is the second largest career development event in Canada and one of the largest gatherings of career development professionals in North America with more than 800 people attending.

Other presenters spoke on a wide variety of career topics including Alberta Green certificate, teamwork, prior learning assessments, social justice careers, Aboriginal careers and more.

Stirling was invited to present her theory by the selection committee. Her focus is on disadvantaged groups like dropouts, aboriginals and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

“I believe many of these people are right-brained or ‘hand smart’ and capable people, who just don’t ‘fit’ well with our current hi-tech, literate and less-manual society,” said Stirling.

The conference theme was about putting fun back into work. Stirling’s method uses play dough.

“It’s childlike and fun, the participants loved it,” she said.

Stirling describes her theory as a ‘hands-on’ approach to career modeling/counseling wherein the client literally has an opportunity to put their own life in their hands by modelling what comes to mind with play dough and metaphoric 3-D objects.

Stirling came up with the theory while she was taking a course at Athabasca University on career theories. One of her assignments was to integrate several other employment theories and she found all the theories to be focused on literacy skills.

“I remembered learning in a massage course that our hands are seen by our brain as being 10 times the size they are. Then I remembered going through some profound experiences with sandtray and dramatherapy, which use the hands and right brain, not words,” said Stirling. “Rainball on the road map developed out of that desire to serve people who are less literate, or people who are overwhelmed by life issues.”

She thinks that when a person comes in for help looking for a job it is a very complex task. Using your hands to model your life map can be a great tool for helping someone find their path.

“The right brain is a powerful ‘seer’ that puts together patterns and synthesizes information. If given a chance, it will tell you a lot of things about yourself – but usually our left brain is too busy ‘doing the talking’,” said Stirling. “The hands are also ‘intelligent’ – so by using clay, the hands, the right brain and literally ‘putting their life and road map in their hands’, this method helps people see their path, and gives them a sense of control.”

In the conference workshop the participants first made snails, then rainballs and road maps. It was all packaged in gift bags to highlight that the gift was in their hands … in their hands.

Stirling enjoyed the conference and although there still needs to be more research on her theory she thinks it has potential. Many practitioners at the conference said they would be willing to try it with their students or clients.