Friday, August 19, 2011

Life Space Interview

As many of you know the Community Bicycle Center is more than just fixing bikes. Its about problem solving, building communication skills and positive relationships, teamwork, and having fun. One of the ways that we incorporate many of these skills is through Life Space Interviews. Every now and then children experience a personal conflict or conflict with other kids that result in physical or emotionally unsafe behaviors. Sometimes that need help learning the skill necessary to resolve their conflicts and need a little adult guidance. Refer to the document below Seven Steps to the Life Space Interview. Ignore the references to restraining children which was an intervention used during Andy's tenure in a residential child treatment center two decades ago. Components of the I E.S.C.A.P.E. model have been helpful in teaching individual kids and groups of children how to listen to each other, express their individual needs, and determine ways to heal friendships and minimize the intensity of future conflicts.

In the Explore phase of the Life Space Interview process we focus on having each child involved in a conflict describe his/her view of the events preceding and during the conflict. Each child shares as if describing what a video would capture. They tend to want to share what they perceive the intention of the other child. Have them describe what actually happened from their perspective not intentions and motivations of others. The other children are tasked with listening to each other without commenting or making faces. Having another point of view is okay. Each child will get their turn to relay his/her view of the events. The facilitator must insure that each child can communicate his/her view without being challenged and does concern him/herself with seeking the truth. Usually the facilitator will restate what each child has said to confirm that the story was heard accurately and sometime this will be asked to be done by another child.

During the Alternatives phase we will use a desirability/probability assessment (also below) to help the kids determine the likelihood of following through with alternative behaviors in the future. First have the kids brainstorm options (alternative) ideas to prevent future conflicts that seem to keep reappearing with the same themes and outcomes. Usually we precede the brainstorming with figuring out what each child wants out of the situation like becoming friends again or having fun. The desirability assessment pertains to how attractive a particular option is to the child. The probability assessment pertains to the likelihood of the child following through with a particular option. We have found that both the desirability and probability must be rated at eight or higher for action to be realized. Sometime we ask what will it take to move a rating up one point. This assessment has been the key to determine what will actually result in follow-through.

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