Essential Partners

Essential Partners. Bold Explorations in CommunityEssential Partners’ method, called Reflective Structured Dialogue, helps people with fundamental disagreements over divisive issues develop the mutual understanding and trust essential for strong communities and positive action.

It draws on strategies developed by family therapists to promote effective communication in the midst of painful differences. The method also incorporates insights and tools from mediation, interpersonal communications, appreciative inquiry, organization development, and psychology and neurobiology.

The model is characterized by a careful preparatory phase in which all stakeholders/sides are interviewed and prepared for the dialogue process. This approach enables participants to share experiences and explore questions that both clarify their own perspectives and help them become more comfortable around, and curious about, those with whom they are in conflict.

Use Essential Partners’ Reflective Structured Dialogue method when: There is a need to resolve conflicts, encourage community healing after a crisis or trauma, or improve relations among groups in your community. 

Topics suited for this process: Political polarization, Jewish-Muslim relations, race relations, and other value-based conflicts.

Why we chose this model: This method offers an approach to conflict resolution that seeks to restore trust, gain understanding and move toward collaborative action. This allows a campus community to engage deeply with one another on issues where there is great tension, and also could serve as a tool for thorough exploration of diverse perspectives on an issue.

Visit the Essential Partners website

Learning Sessions







First 30 Days: Getting Started
Resources: Essential Partners


Fostering Dialogue Across Divides: A Nuts and Bolts Guide

The flagship guide for conducting successful dialogues using Essential Partners' Reflective Structured Dialogue.

Helps build upon the foundation of the webinar session with a detailed manual for running dialogues.

Get Fostering Dialogue Across Divides: A Nuts and Bolts Guide

Dialogue: A Virtual Workshop

A series of 12 videos outlining Essential Partners' approach to dialogue

Helps introduce oters to Reflective Structured Dialogue and prepare them to participate in or facilitate dialogues.

Get Dialogue: A Virtual Workshop


Additional Resources

Essential Partners has a whole host of resources available on their website.

Resources include guides for specific topics and additional manuals for facilitators and organizers.

Get Additional Resouces


These resources are offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) that seeks to strengthen libraries' roles as core community leaders and agents of change. LTC: Models for Change is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

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Get started with the free e-course, "Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries."

LTC: Accessible Small and Rural Communities will offer more than $7 million in grants to better serve people with disabilities.

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Learn basic facilitation skills with ALA's free guide, "Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries."