Toward a more perfect union
   - Chico Enterprise Record July 11, 2005
Toward a more perfect union   Toward a more perfect union

What makes the difference is outlook. "The ones who succeed are the ones with the attitude, ?I'm here and I'll do what it takes,'" said a Chicoan who teaches communication skills to couples and businesses. With a master of science degree in counseling psychology, McHatton is a certified communication instructor through a company based in Littleton, Colo. Since he was trained in Monterey five years ago, he estimates he has worked with more than 2,500 people in Chico.

His next session, free and open to couples, will be Aug. 28 at Neighborhood Church, 2801 Notre Dame Blvd., Chico.

"Sometimes people just hope they can communicate better, but a hopeless situation makes that difficult. Hope is a big thing, there is no price tag on that. If they invest their part in this, they will be exposed to a skill set to be effective in communicating.

"It's like a basketball clinic: You can't make a basket at first, but you know how to hold the ball and shoot it."

His workshop will convey efficient, straightforward steps, he said, and success will happen when participants follow through.

Besides his education and training, McHatton believes in marriage — in his own marriage with Sara McHatton, and in the philosophy behind a committed union.

Lee McHatton presents programs on relationships

Sara McHatton helps out at his classes. The couple have two young children and she is a wedding planner.

People come to McHatton because they have relationship or parenting problems, or because they have troubles at work. They all have something in common: A desire to learn to communicate effectively.

McHatton has seen success repeatedly. He said the No. 1 ingredient for success is desire. "I've seen it with couples and businesses," he said. "People increase the skill level of communication and they learn to listen and talk better."

His literature outlines what people will learn with him. Couples explore how to create faster, better resolutions to conflict, expand understanding of self and partner and reduce tension and disagreements, among other things.

People having problems in their work environment discover how to increase personal power and influence, reduce tension and stress, and acquire greater skill in negotiating change.

Couples typically disagree about how to spend money and time, said McHatton, and they also disagree about how to raise children.

Parents often get trapped in a power struggle when issues arise about their children. "I studied to be a school psychologist, and I understand people learn in different modalities — visual, auditory — but we are all in the learning process."

In his private practice, McHatton counsels children ages 4-18. "I like kids. They are so honest."

McHatton has seen that some things tend to be universally true. "Females are more receptive to the therapeutic process," he said, but added it's indivdiual. He also remembers a husband who wanted to change.

"He said she was not a good communicator. But after some time with me, he realized he was not a good listener. And this is not about blame and shame."

McHatton also said when people who attend the class volunteer to role-play, it reveals a desire to learn. "It's anxiety-provoking to volunteer but they learn more by doing it," he said.

An example of a business that got some relief was an auto repair shop, which two brothers ran. "They could not get along and had the entire place polarized. The employees were in two separate camps. We discussed options and the younger one realized he really didn't want to be in the business anymore. He sold his half to his brother and they were, literally, brothers again."

McHatton explained there are levels in relationships where therapy will be accepted, and those where it won't. "In the beginning, people are generally not listening. In the middle, they start communication work. And by the end, there is some resolution."

In general, people having communication problems must learn to get beyond "negative energy," he said. "I try to see their particular issues and help them see it, too."

McHatton said he comes from "a family of farmers," and was raised by his mother. "My dad wasn't around, but I could see that communication was important. I was the third out of four boys."

McHatton said the classes "are steeped in Biblical truth, but this could be taught in public school ... Scripture is available for those who want it. Sometimes people find a conflict, such as what is the purpose of life, and this material can help."

People may not start out seeking answers about purpose and spirituality, but they may end up in that direction. "It's not about church," said McHatton. "Spirituality is a personal process."

He said in the past three decades a lot of research has been done on communication and a lot of it is online.

Besides couples and businesses, McHatton assists individuals who think they need help with communication.

Lee McHatton can be contacted at his Private Practice and Consulting Firm at 1430 East Avenue, Suite 4C Chico, CA 95926 or by phone at 530.566.1212