The process

Background influences

The range of insights and understandings that makes up the body of psychodynamic knowledge is not easy to access or source. It lies scattered across a number of key texts and writings, many of which are hard to obtain or out of print. Psychodynamic perspectives on human emotional development are not widely taught within educational psychologists' training nor within initial or advanced teacher training.

This body of knowledge is barely referenced within the huge (and daily growing) number of books and practice manuals that address behaviour management for teachers and schools systems and the absence is especially marked in the North American literature on 'behavior'. Indeed our knowledge of the psychodynamic perspective on young people's behaviour and emotion is decidedly piecemeal and no doubt contains many gaps and omissions.

So we apologise in advance for our selective use of psychodynamic insights and the likely loss of many nuances and subtle tones.*

Another huge influence on the Circle of Adults approach has been the person centred facilitation work of Jack Pearpoint, Marsha Forest and John O'Brien (see O'Brien and O'Brien 2002 for an overview of this field of work). Our experiences in using person centred planning tools such as MAPS and PATH (as well as the smaller scale group problem-solving tool - 'Solution Circles") led us to recognise the importance of co-facilitation when working with the complexity of process generated by groups meeting to problem solve around behaviour. Our person centred planning work also led to the introduction of graphic facilitation to the Circle of Adults process. You will find the full beginners guide to graphic facilitation further on in this book.



The process

  • Uses both process and graphic facilitation to give the session clear structures (with negotiated and agreed ground rules) and timings. Up to 1 hour 15 minutes is the minimum generally required to complete all the steps in the process. It is not an invitation to have an open ended 'discussion' about a child or young person. A member of the group is chosen who will listen to the emerging story from the child's perspective. Later in the process this person will be asked to feedback their thoughts and feelings as the 'Child's Voice'.
  • Asks guiding questions designed to capture the emotional complexity and interactive nature of challenging behaviour. It seeks to understand 'behaviour' as an aspect of adult-child relationship and not as something solely about or within the child.
  • Fully explores the interactive aspects of the challenging situation and in particular the quality of the problem presenter's relationship with the young person.
  • Is explicit about the emotional drivers - adults' and child's - underlying the issue and seeks to get a better understanding of these.
  • Considers the system and organisational factors that are perceived by the group to be either helping or hindering the present situation.
  • Looks to build on the existing strengths of the problem presenter as perceived by the group.
  • Listens to the feedback from the 'Child's Voice'.