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The Alternatives to Violence Project: Experiential Workshops for Promoting Psychosocial Transformation and their Application with NSW STARTTS.

The Alternatives to Violence Project: Experiential Workshops for Promoting Psychosocial Transformation and their Application with NSW STARTTS.

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:

  • Restore trust and skills required for interpersonal communication and community building
  • Enhance the ability of individuals and communities to manage conflict
  • Provide a professional and personal development process for workers

Incorporating a brief experiential component we will:

  • Describe the history, philosophy, aims and practice of AVP as it has been implemented for people from a refugee background in Australia
  • Discuss its application at STARTTS with professional and client groups
  • Explore some of the challenges involved including maintaining the voluntary nature of AVP, for both facilitators and participants in a professional context, and the time commitment required of newly arrive refugee participants
  • Present clinical and community development outcomes from its evaluation.

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.

  • Startts, Maroubra, Australia
Areas of Interest / Categories: FASSTT 2019, Psychotherapy, Therapy, Violence