The 10 Tidal Commitments

The Fundamental Principles


Values Guiding Practice

The 10 Commitments

The values of the Tidal Model are to be found in the Ten Commitments. These reflect the philosophy of how we would hope we would be treated should we experience distress or difficulty in our lives.

The caring relationship is interpersonal and exists between persons. One is the helper, the other the person in need of help. Such help might also be called 'aid' or 'support'. In the Tidal Model we appreciate how both the 'helper' (whether professional, friend or fellow traveller) and the person need to make a commitment to change: bringing into existence a situation that previously did not exist.. This commitment binds them together. For this reason we named the core values supporting the practice of the Tidal Model, The Ten Commitments.

These Ten Commitments need to be in place if any team, or individual practitioner, wishes to develop the practice of the Tidal Model.

The Competencies

We have also developed 20 'competencies' - two for each individual Commitment. These competencies may be used to assess whether or not practioners are demonstrating the Commitments in their practice. To date, they have been used by senior managers to audit practice and by researchers studying specific care settings.

N.B. To simplify the language we use 'their'/'them' and 'they' as an alternative to 'his/her' and  'he/she'.


The 10 Commitments

1. Value the voice.

The person’s story represents the beginning and endpoint of the helping encounter. It embraces not only an account of the person’s distress, but also the person's hope for its resolution. The story is spoken by the voice of experience. The practitioner seeks to encourage the true voice of the person – rather than enforce the voice of authority.

Traditionally, the person’s story is ‘translated’ into a third person, professional account, by different health or social care practitioners. This becomes not so much the person’s story (
my story) but the professional team’s view of that story (history). Tidal seeks to help people express their unique experiences in a formal version of ‘my story’. All assessments and records of care are written in the person’s own ‘voice’. If the person is unable, or unwilling, to write the details of the story in their own hand, then the practitioner acts as 'secretary', recording what has been agreed, taking care to write this verbatim - in the person's own ‘voice'.

Competency 1: The practitioner demonstrates a capacity to listen actively to the person's story.

Competency 2: The practitioner helps the person record their story in their own words, at every stage of the caring relationship.


2. Respect the language

People develop their unique ways of talking about their experience, telling their stories. This is how they help others appreciate what only they can know. The language the person uses – complete with its unusual grammar and personal metaphors – is the ideal medium for illuminating the way to recovery. We encourage people to speak their own words in their distinctive voice.

Stories written about 'patients' by professionals are, usually, framed by the technical, professional language. By valuing – and using - the person’s own language, the Tidal practitioner shows the simplest, yet most powerful,
respect for the person.

Competency 3: The practitioner helps the person express themselves at all times in their own language.

Competency 4: The practitioner helps the person express their understanding of personal anecotes, similies or metaphors.


3. Become the apprentice

The person is the world expert on the life story. Professionals may learn something of the power of that story, but only if they apply themselves diligently and respectfully to the task by becoming apprentice-minded. We need to learn from the person, what needs to be done, rather than leading.

No one can ever know another person’s experience. Professionals often talk ‘as if’ they might even know the person better than they know themselves. However much information we might acquire within, for example, an assessment or 'history' this is a mere drop in the ocean compared with the knowledge of their own life story, possessed by the person.

If we wish to learn anything of any real value about the person, we must become the pupil - allowing the person to teach us something of their story.

Competency 5: The practitioner develops a care plan based, wherever possible, on the expressed needs, wants or wishes of the person.

Competency 6: The practitioner helps the person identify specific problems of living and what might need to be done to address them.


4. Use the available toolkit

The story contains examples of ‘what has worked’ for the person in the past, or beliefs about ‘what might work’ for this person in the future. These represent the main tools that need to be used to unlock or build the story of recovery. The professional toolkit - commonly expressed through ideas such as ‘evidence-based practice’ - merely describe what has ‘worked’ for other people. However potentially useful, this should only be used if the person’s available toolkit is found wanting.

Competency 7:  The practitioner helps the person develop awareness of what works for or against them in relation to specific problems in living.

Competency 8: The practitioner shows an interest in identifying what the person thinks specific people could do, or might be able to do, to help them  deal with specific problems in living.


 5. Craft the step beyond:

The helper and the person work together to construct an appreciation of what needs to be done ‘now’. Any ‘first step’ is crucial, revealing the power of change and potentially pointing towards the ultimate goal of recovery. Lao Tzu said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We would go further: any journey begins in our imagination. We need to imagine moving forward. Crafting the step beyond reminds us of the importance of working with the person in the ‘me now’: addressing what needs to be done now, to help advance to the next step.

Competency 9: The practitioner helps the person idenfy the kind of change that might represent a step forward in resolving, moving away from or living better with a particular problem in living

Competency 10: The practitioner helps the person identify what would need to happen to help them experience this particular step forward.


6. Give the gift of time

Although time is illusory, nothing is more valuable. Time is the midwife of change. Time flows through us - and our lives. We only become aware of its passing when we check our watches. Although we often complain of 'not having time' to do this or that, we have all the time there is. The real issue is what do we choose to do with the time available.

Given the chance to look back on our lives, what we would want to see our younger selves doing? Shuffling papers in an office?  Locking/unlocking doors? Doing any number of routine tasks? Or would we like to see our younger selves spending time with a person who needed our help? Ultimately all we have to give is our time. We need to give that time generously and wisely.

Competency 11: The practioner helps the person become aware that dedicated time is being given to addressing specific problems in living.

Competency 12: The practitioner shows appreciation of  the value of the time the person is giving to the process of assessment or care delivery.


7. Develop genuine curiosity

The person may be trying to write a life story but is in no sense an ‘open book’. We need to help the person to 'open up'. However much we think we have learned about human psychology no one can ever know another person’s experience. Practitioners need to express genuine interest in the person's story so that they can better understand both the storyteller and the story.

Often, professionals are only interested in ‘what is wrong’ with the person, or in pursuing particular lines of professional inquiry – for example, seeking ‘signs and symptoms’. Genuine curiosity reflects an interest in
the person and the person’s unique experience. Classifying and categorising features, which might be common to many other ‘patients’, is one thing. Discovering what is unique about this particular person is quite another thing. This aim must be our focus. Genuine curiosity is the means to realise it..


Competency 13: The practitioner shows interest in the person's story by asking for clarification of specific points and asking for further details and examples.

Competency 14: The practitioner helps the person unfold the story at their own pace.


8. Know change is constant

Change is inevitable for change is constant. Nothing lasts! This is the common story for all people. However, although change is inevitable, growth is optional. Decisions and choices have to be made if growth is to occur. The task of the professional helper is to develop awareness of how change is happening and to support the person in making decisions about what she or he will do next. That next step will determine the course of the recovery voyage. In particular, we need to help the person steer clear of danger and keep focused on the course of reclamation and recovery.

Competency 15: The practitioner helps the person develop awareness of the subtlest of changes in thoughts, feeling or actions.

Competency 16: The practitioner helps the person develop awareness of how these subtle changes have been influenced by their own actions, the actions of others or by other circumstances.


9. Reveal personal wisdom

Only the person can know him or her self. The person develops a powerful store of wisdom through living the life story. They may not be aware of it, but they have learned what works 'for' them and what, usually, works 'against' them. Often, people cannot find the words to express fully the sheer breadth of their personal knowledge. Often they have not stopped to consider what they know about themselves.  The practitioner needs to help the person reveal and value that personal wisdom, so that it might be used to sustain the person throughout the voyage of recovery.


Competency: 17: The practitioner helps the person develop awareness of personal assets, strengths or weakness.

Competency 18: The practitioner helps the person develop a sense of autonomy or self-belief thus promoting an awareness of their ability to help themselves.


10. Be transparent

 If the person and the professional helper are to become a team then each must put down their ‘weapons’. In the story-writing process the practitioner's pen can become a weapon: writing a story that risks inhibiting, restricting and delimiting the person’s life choices. Professionals are in a privileged position and should model confidence by being transparent at all times; helping the person understand exactly what is being done and why. By using the person’s own language, and by completing all assessments and care plan records (in situ) with the person, the collaborative nature of the practitioner-person relationship becomes even more transparent.

Competency 19: The practitioner tries to make the person aware, at all times, of the purpose of all processes of care.

Competency 20: The practitioner ensures that the person is provided with copies of all care-planning and assessment documents for their own reference.