People often ask me about what happens in parallel work with parents and young people – how do you get young people engaged and addressing their abusive behaviour. Adam Joolia, from AudioActive, has very generously shared the work they do with Break4Change in Brighton.
One of the things that makes Break4Change unique is its use of the creative process as a way of reflecting on and embedding the work done in the therapeutic and theory based aspect of the programme. This is where AudioActive, a pioneering youth music and arts charity come in.
After the first half of the young people’s session where they look at issues such as entitlement, power in the home, anger or the loss and gains from their behaviour; the young people go straight into a creative session with AudioActive where they revisit their learning and expand on what it means to them personally, producing lyrics, music and visual art as an expression of their feelings, values, regrets and hopes for the future.
The real value here is not in the work that is produced, but in the insightful and reflective process it took to get there. It takes a lot of discussion, deliberation and challenging from facilitators to get to point where the young people are even ready to put pen to paper. This in turn really requires participants to process and embed their learning in a much more meaningful way and has a powerful influence over what they decide to do with that learning.
A ‘video conversation’ strand also overarches the programme. Effectively a video camera (and skilled film practitioner) act as a back and forth messenger asking and answering contentious questions generated by the participants and sharing powerful insights between the young people and parents/carers throughout the 10 week programme. Because the reciprocal groups/individuals conversing are never in the same room, this medium removes the potential for arguments to flare up, or for participants to react/respond in a way that they didn’t mean or may regret later. Some participants have commented that they can listen to and consider what their child/parent is communicating in this format better than they would have done face to face, which really helps to build more empathy between them. This innovative, restorative aspect to the project has been incredibly powerful for participants, especially in helping to repair relationships that have often deteriorated beyond the ability to hold a civil a discussion, let alone being able to tell a family member they love them or simply that they’re sorry.
Many thanks to AudioActive for this insight.