The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) began in an American prison in 1975, using experiential rather than cognitive based activities to facilitate insights and behavioural changes in dealing with conflict. Workshops are structured to cover key steps of building safety and trust, developing communication and cooperation, then conflict resolution/transformation. Facilitators model consensus decision-making and non-hierarchical team work. The foundation of experiential process works well with groups of great diversity including language, culture and educational level.
The aims of AVP as implemented by STARTTS are to:
Incorporating a brief experiential component we will:
The presentation will be based on a two year mixed methods evaluation. Results show statistically significant improvements in a standardised self-concept questionnaire (GSES) and measures of social capital. In the qualitative research participants consistently reporting more positive relationships, improved communication and being able to adopt a more considered approach to conflict resolution.
We will conclude by discussing implications for practice at both STARTTS and other services including how the partnership between AVP and STARTTS was established, how services can implement similar programs and the power of experiential community based programs.