Learning How to Manage Conflicts More Effectively

Lessons from a conflict resolution guru.

Merre Larkin
6 min readOct 13, 2021


Photo by Nicole Wreyford on Unsplash

At the program where I worked as a clinical counselor, I was often referred to as the conflict resolution guru. That meant that when two clients were having a conflict, I was often called on to run the conflict resolution session.

By conflict, I mean CONFLICT. A conflict in this environment would mean two clients who were consistently at odds, often yelling at each other, often coming down off the substances they’d been using, combined with the symptoms of their mental health disorders.

Often, one would threaten the other, and vice versa. These women didn’t play.

Why I loved resolving conflicts

It’s not that I didn’t feel anxious walking into the therapy room upstairs with the two warring women. Oh, I did. Sometimes, another counselor would accompany me, especially if one of the women was my client and the other one was another counselor’s client. But I was assumed to be in charge, whether I did it alone or with someone else.

I came to love conflict resolutions because of the results. Usually, I’d get to witness two women who seemed to hate each other be able to find a common ground, to the point where they’d be hugging and crying at the end of the session.

My experience with conflict resolutions renewed my faith in people being able to work through their differences. I know some conflicts cannot be resolved. But most of the resolutions I presided over ended well. Or at least with some semblance of hope.

Of course, there were a few “resolutions” that ended with the two participants being just as angry at each other as they had been when they entered the room. But often, even these two women, over time, would think about what had been said in that room, soften their stubborn resolve, and I’d see them chatting away at dinner as I stopped in to say goodbye before heading home at the end of my work day.

I’d walk out the door feeling quite content.

How I structured the conflict resolutions

I first learned how to manage conflict resolution sessions through several trainings, and…



Merre Larkin

Writer and avid reader. Life coach. Educator. Counselor. Marathoner. Survivor. Here to share, here to learn.