Sara Nickerson-White

Sara Nickerson-White

Humber College, Toronto, Canada


Sara Nickerson White is a passionate researcher and evaluator. She firmly believes in the ability of collaborative research and evaluation to make a difference in the lives of children, youth and families. Due to her developed methodological expertise, and her continuous curiosity, Sara has been a successful researcher and program evaluator for over 15 years. She has designed implemented and managed research and evaluation projects for communities and agencies across all Canadian provinces and has managed large-scale national and international research projects. Currently, she is a professor at Humber College in the School of Community and Social Services


Ultimately this workshop asks: how do we, as health care practitioners, actively and deliberately do authentic collaboration when working with children, youth and families? It focuses on how practicing professionals can purposively develop the deep meaning of what is said (content) as it is said (context) and thus, improve the quality of care they provide. The goal of this workshop is twofold. First, to demonstrate the typical absence, yet necessity, of authentic collaboration when working with children, youth and families. Second, to detail four phenomenological hermeneutic (PH) tactics that provide a basis for doing the primary language work required to know, do and be authentic collaboration in one’s professional practice.

Inspired by the work of Parse (1998, 2001, 2005), informed by theorists such as Heidegger (1962) and Gadamer (1975), and rooted in the interpretive work of van Manen (1990); this workshop takes on a restructuring approach to consumer-practitioner communications. Moving away from techniques that typically re-center communications within the horizon of the professional ‘listener’, this work deeply considers the interpretive moment of being, knowing and doing authentic collaboration when in relation with children, youth and families.

Four PH authentic collaboration ‘tactics’ (de Certeau, 1984) are detailed. Tactics include: sense-making; truth, method and world recommended; ego, alter; and lived experience description. Each tactic is shown to guide the practitioner in the development of an ‘experience’ (Gadamer, 1975) that relies on an expansion of their possibilities of understanding given the finitude of their own professional horizon. Workshop participants will apply of these tactics using case study examples.  By activating workshop content in this way workshop participants will live through the promise the PH professional practice approach holds for: strengthening the dynamic, self-aware, responsive and ethical nature of care (White, 2007) that children/youth/families deserve and that professional practice standards demand.