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Word Trees


Brainstorm - group

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Verbal Communication

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I know there are other names for this type of brainstorming and discussion work. But to me it has always felt like it is an upside down tree. you start with the Root and then work out all the Branches.

Job Title

Ask anyone what their job title is, write it at the top of the chart. Then ask the group for different words for Certifies? Nursing? Assistant? Here is an example from a sessionw ith all CNAs


















So you're not only a CNA! You are a Knowledgeable Caring Partner, you are a Capable Loving Supporter, you are a Skilled Gentle Groupie!!

I have done the same thing with Person Centered Care (PCC). It sometimes helps to take away the name and break it down. Especially if the term has become an icon of a term that is a assumed everyone should know or understand. One of my favorites that came out of a Word Tree fro PCC:

Individually Balanced Love


Write the wod HOME on the flipcahrt. Ask people what they think of when they hear or see the word Home. I sue this when i am talking about "I want to go home". What do I talk about you ask? Well, in my humble opinion when a person with dementia says "I want to go home"

I I think that some are referring to the ome they just left.

I think some are referring to the home they left 20, 30, 40 years ago.

I think some are talking about Home in Heaven.

I think some are referring to a feeling of home.

When you refer back to the flipchart of what we think abot (love, saftey, comfort, a mess, etc.) I think some ofour elders need these feelings satisfied.


I did this exercise when I was leading a TimeSlips training (www.timeslips.org) and have found it to be so powerful that I have used it at many different trainings. This works well for new staff or a new group. use it if you are talking about personhood or other issues of how we view our elders.

Ask the group what words come to mind when they see or hear the word Alxheimer's. have someone else write them down and walk around encoraging responses. "Whatever you want to say." I never try and get a specific group of answers but I do. Nine out of ten times the words I receive are all very similar to the ones you see on the next page. Once in a blue moon someone will offer a positive thought about Alzheimer's Disease.

THEN, after the issues of personhood and how we view elders has been discussed, return to the flipchart and read it aloud. Then take a different color marker and ask if there are any other words that come to mind.

Although the words that we all first though ot are true and are issues we have to confront everyday; can we change our mindset to think of the second set of words first?

If you use a flipchart ask someone in the group to come and write for you. Tell them and tell the group spelling doesn't matter, only write whatever you repeat. I'll simply thank them but I have heard of people who give little prizes to anyone who helps.

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©2003 Karen Stobbe and "In The Moment". Material may be freely distributed with proper accreditation.