“Video Interaction Guidance™ (VIG) is an intervention through which a trained practitioner aims to enhance communication within relationships. It works by engaging clients actively in a process of change towards realising their own hopes for a better future in their relationships with others who are important to them.
“VIG intervention begins by helping the client (family member/professional) to negotiate their own goals; interactions are then videoed and edited to produce a series of short clips with a positive focus. In the video sessions that follow, the client(s) and Guider review the micro analysis of successful moments when verbal and non verbal responses are attuned [harmonious and positively responsive (Kennedy, Landor & Todd 2011)] to the actions and initiatives of the other. They reflect collaboratively on what they see that contributes positively towards the achievement of goals; they celebrate success and then identify further goals for change. These reflections move quickly from analysis of the behaviour to exploration of feelings, thoughts, wishes and intentions.
“The VIG training process begins with a two day initial training course followed by three Stages of supervised practice. Guiders are supervised in their own practice through analysis of themselves in videoed interaction. Video is gathered of shared review with clients and these are used in supervision, focusing and building on micro moments of attuned interaction [ie ‘Principles of attuned interaction and guidance’ eg Being attentive; Encouraging and Receiving initiatives; (ibid p. 28) etc]. Particular attention is given to when the Trainee Guider activates the client to make initiatives, then receives the client fully and responds with ideas that can be understood and used to promote positive change.” (AVIGuk, About VIG. http://www.videointeractionguidance.net/aboutvig Accessed 04 June 2016)
What follows is a narrative of the separate and shared experiences of Trainee Guider, Fiona Clark (italics) and Supervisor, Jan Tavendale (bold), getting started on Stage 1.
I had gone into my two day VIG introductory training with no particular expectations. Then, within the safe environment of a group of colleagues, I was given a tantalising glimpse of the potential power of working with video; I knew this was something I had to pursue. I immediately noted interest to my manager. Then I faced the agonising wait to find out whether I would be offered the opportunity to embark on VIG guider training.
During this wait a chance conversation with Jan Tavendale, who would later become my VIG supervisor, only served to increase my conviction that this was the way forward for my work with families. My reaction was one of double delight, when I was finally selected for training and matched with Jan as my supervisor. My sense of excitement and anticipation was strong! I was eager to get started.
This feeling, however, was to be the start of an emotional rollercoaster. Over the following weeks, as arrangements were made for equipment to be purchased, my delight was gradually matched and eventually surpassed by anxiety, creeping self-doubt and what I kept telling myself was a lack of the right opportunity.
Which family would I work with first? Not this one because their problems were too complex. Not that one because they had so much going on just now it wouldn’t be the right time for them. I couldn’t dare choose this one in case I couldn’t find any positive clips to show them. In fact, what if I couldn’t select good enough clips? What if I didn’t get the shared review right? What if, despite my best intentions, my VIG intervention actually had a negative impact on the participants?
The responsibility as a practitioner felt massive; the prospect of potential failure terrifying; so despite my initial enthusiasm I remained immobilised in a quagmire of professional insecurity.
Dundee Educational Psychology Service (DEPS) was to provide a two-day introduction to VIG training to members of Dundee City Council’s ‘School and Family Development Team’. As a member of DEPS and an accredited VIG Supervisor I would be one of the facilitators of small group practice during these two days. I noticed mixed feelings in the participants. Some appeared already clear that VIG was not for them; some were put off by the technology, some by the micro analysis process, and some by the anticipated heavy time commitment required. Others seemed intrigued and excited by the apparent possibilities of VIG practice and seemed keen to be involved. Having supported their introduction to VIG the best I could, my role was to wait and see what I was asked to do next!
Meeting Fiona Clark at an unrelated training event, I was impressed by her attitude. I thought I was hearing enthusiasm, openness and a ‘can-do’ approach to her role and her existing practice. I was really pleased therefore, when our names were linked as VIG Trainee and Supervisor. Our first conversations were encouraging – negotiating what needed to happen next to get our VIG show on the road!
Providing Fiona with the VIG logbook which includes various proforma and information sheets, I encouraged her, from the start, to keep a clear record of progress as she went. Fiona was keen to get ahead with trying out equipment, developing video skills and identifying a client to approach for her first ‘try’. We agreed she would ‘Just Do It’ then let me know when she had a video to show me ….. What could possibly hold us back?
…… No news is good news? Hmm, I’m not sure. Although Fiona wasn’t initiating any contact with me, my phone and email contacts to her let me know she was still very keen. She just didn’t have any video yet … and no, she hadn’t approached a client yet. Fiona explained clearly what the barriers were in each case. Hmm….
Eventually we spoke again. Fiona still described enthusiasm and barriers simultaneously. We seemed to have reached a bit of an impasse…..
I reflected on the task facing Fiona. As Guiders we think about our scaffolding for clients and as Supervisors we need to think about scaffolding for our Trainees. What could I do different that would be helpful? How could I make sure we were truly working from Fiona’s starting point and at a pace which enabled her to move forward securely?
If I could break down the ‘stuck-ness’ by identifying smaller, less daunting tasks and if I could separate those learning opportunities from the context of clients for whom Fiona had a professional responsibility, could that make the overall task of getting started feel more do-able for her?
I began by asking myself, ‘What are the skills to be developed at the very beginning by the novice trainee?’ ‘What are the intended outcomes at this stage of development?’
A great deal is known about the science of change and the science of learning. It seemed to me that beginning by isolating the individual skills to be developed would be consistent with current pedagogy. The next step would be to identify the most appropriate context for the successful learning of each skill; and finally, to bring the skills together for effective implementation and further learning through practice of the ‘whole’.
I saw the skills as falling into two broad areas – technical and interactional.
In terms of technical learning, I know only too well how many things can go wrong in videoing (Tavendale 2001). Building enough technical competence to feel some confidence before meeting a client would be helpful. In this respect, I knew Fiona had been shown the basics of how to use the tablet for videoing and editing; I was also confident she was a dynamic learner who would explore and discover how the more detailed technical aspects could be achieved. Fiona could get on with this independently, even in an empty room.
The same is not true however in terms of developing confidence in recognising and practising the ‘Principles of attuned interactions and guidance’. This could only happen through increased familiarity with identifying and discussing real examples of these.
So, ‘Just do it’, I said; just make a video! Forget about clients for now; forget about outcomes for families; separate and reduce the sources of challenge and doubt; soften the expectations on yourself – just video somebody! Anybody! Who lives in your house? I asked. Do you have a friendly neighbour? Do you have a dog? Just video something. Video an interaction – any interaction! Any interaction as long as it is one where ‘not getting it right’ doesn’t matter and so doesn’t feel (as) scary to you. Just do it!
For some, this initial lifting of the focus from service users may seem a luxurious detour. We were not being strictly monitored or restrained by the number of supervision sessions or number of situations tackled (other than for accreditation purposes). I do realise not all supervision situations lend themselves to this approach. In this case, I thought that insisting on videoing a client context was potentially a false economy and might end up running into the ground – losing a potentially skilled Guider before she even got going. I therefore asserted our freedom to focus on what I considered the quality of learning experience and professional growth, believing a ‘festina lente’ philosophy would take us to the stronger long-term outcome of confident, ‘good practice’ interaction skills and application of VIG.
So, a date was set, a date when Fiona and I would meet to watch her video. In other words, a date by which Fiona would have caught someone (well, two ‘someones’ actually) in her lens and videoed a very brief interaction. Just Do It!
And she did!
With every communication from Jan my feelings of guilt were growing. The onus was on me to produce a piece of video as a starting point, and I still couldn’t identify a family I would feel comfortable videoing.
Jan was understanding of the barriers I faced and eager to support my progress in any way she could. When she suggested I adopt a different technique and try videoing someone other than one of the families I was working with it was as though a weight had been lifted from me. I felt much more confident about getting to grips with the mechanics of videoing and the micro aspects of attuned interactions and guidance without the added pressure of trying to improve outcomes for a family. My initial enthusiasm immediately returned!
I decided to ask members of my own family to be my demonstration models and wasted no time in getting started. Two of my grown up children (reluctantly!) agreed to take the starring roles and a date and venue were arranged. I was so determined to make progress that when my daughter was unavailable at the last minute I decided to go ahead anyway; I took her place alongside my son in front of the lens as well as operating the camera.
During my videoing debut there were inevitable teething troubles in getting to grips with the equipment, not least of which was that I couldn’t get the camera to start recording! Luckily my 19 year old son’s technological know-how far surpasses mine, so he was able to help me with this and various other hitches. The video was made; I eagerly awaited my first supervision session.
On viewing the recording with Jan, we immediately identified some basic ways I could improve the setting. We realised, for example, that the seating arrangements presented a real physical hindrance to facilitating attuned interactions. Not only that, I thought there was evidence in the video suggesting the gap between my existing communication skills and the principles of attuned interactions and guidance was nothing short of a gulf! (have I mentioned my feelings of anxiety? and the voice of my inner critic?) So, as Jan might encourage me to say, we identified a number of things I wanted to do different in the future; my first development points!
(Note to self: must do better next time! My inner critic wasn’t to be silenced that easily!)
So I started to cautiously appreciate the VIG way of ‘positive noticing’, recognising the micro elements that helped things go well; I did also feel excited to see some simple ways in which I could do something different that would help the interaction to be even more constructive. I had a strong sense of joint positivity and enthusiasm in the supervision session and I was eager to get back out there and genuinely build on my successes and development points!
The next hurdle I faced was to select appropriate clips for shared review and learn how to use the editing software on the tablet to isolate them. This was different from the software on the two day introduction, and as a result the editing accuracy of those first clips left room for improvement (initially described by me as “left much to be desired”!); more development points! Yes, notwithstanding all the positive viewing and identifying of strengths, my anxieties and inner critic were pretty strong too! Strong enough in fact to still come out on top!
I still had a sense of ‘Note to self: Must do better next time!’
This ‘dummy run’ still needed a shared review to complete the process. On completing this and bringing it to supervision, I could indeed see elements I felt proud of. These were, however, mingled with moments of cringing at seeing my version of attuned interactions on screen. As with the earlier stages, however, the shared review had been carried out in a non-threatening context and we focused on my strengths – so I was able to view the cringe-worthy moments without feeling physically sick. I could recognise and even laugh at them; I could see them as simply – ‘even more development points’!
Note to self? Must do better next time. Hmm … and maybe another development point – how to keep on reducing the volume on the voice of that inner critic? Turn up the volume on the inner and outer voice noticing strengths? It’s coming!
This experience had taken me on the first steps to becoming familiar with the process of setting up the VIG situation; recording and editing on the tablet; analysing the video and guiding the shared review. My ‘noticing skills’ (and skill in noticing strengths!) had increased exponentially and I had a much better understanding of the importance of the content of clips; the length of clips and the presentation of clips for the supervision session. I had also learned how crucial the guider’s own use of attuned interaction is to the success of the shared review!
Clearly there were significant lessons to be learned – a wide range of ‘development points’. The biggest relief was that what I feared would be my ‘blunders’ had been played out in a safe context with a member of my own family who was unaffected by the outcome. It felt to me that if I had been videoing a family from my client group, this process could have had very different consequences, even if only for my own sense of confidence and capacity. Other trainee guiders may not have these fears – for me, however, it felt like this approach took a real pressure off me and allowed me to move forward in a more relaxed, enthusiastic and ultimately confident way. It felt right for me. In fact, it felt absolutely vital for me and without it, I wonder if I would ever have got started at all. I might never have experienced the thrilling challenge of such skills development for myself nor the thrill of seeing these positive changes in the young people and families I am supporting through VIG.
With no further delay or procrastination, we were able to use that first piece of ‘family video’ for more than one supervision session; there were plenty of ‘lessons’ Fiona wanted to learn from it – and Fiona learned every one of them with impressive immediacy. She seemed much more able to focus on the new skills needed when all worries about outcomes of change for a family were removed. Now she was Just Doing It. Fiona’s technical camera skills; her skills in identifying appropriate, helpful – and beautifully brief – clips; her skills in reception and her skills in shared review were all strengthening rapidly. The ‘development point’ from each session became the strongly and securely ‘pleased with’ of the next. Fiona’s zone of proximal development [often abbreviated as ZPD – the difference between what a learner can do without help and what s/he can do with help (Vygotsky 1978)] was shifting quickly and easily; growth was immediate and solid.
From the most familiar, personal family situation, Fiona built on her initial grasp of attunement principles and applied them in a professional, although still familiar context of videoing two close colleagues. Again, the pressure of role expectation was removed and Fiona was able to identify further lessons, or ‘development points’. For example, Fiona was able to see for herself the necessity of clear negotiation of expectations on both sides – for the ‘videoed’ and the ‘videoer’. Gaps in this negotiation were less critical when videoing friendly, volunteer colleagues than if the subjects had been members of a client family when potential misunderstandings could have been unhelpful.
By now, Fiona felt ready to apply these developing skills in her work with a family. She was now easily able to identify an appropriate situation and to approach a mother with the confidence that came from knowing where her skills development had reached and what she should watch out for. Fiona had quickly and effectively absorbed the basic principles of attuned interactions and guidance. Thereafter Fiona progressed through a series of increasingly sensitive client situations, working her way steadily closer to meeting the criteria for Stage 1 transition. I think Fiona is now securely on her way to becoming a skilled VIG guider!
Fiona Clark, School and Family Development Worker, Dundee City Council firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Tavendale, Psychologist, Trainer & Coach, CPsychol, AFBPsS, HCPC Registered Educational Psychologist, VIG Supervisor (AVIGuk), email@example.com
AVIGuk, About VIG. http://www.videointeractionguidance.net/aboutvig Accessed 04 June 2016
Kennedy, H., Landor, M., Todd, E. (eds) (2011) Video Interaction Guidance. A Relationship-Based Intervention to Promote Attunement, Empathy and Wellbeing. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, p. 290
Tavendale, J. (2001) ‘Not Perfect, Just Magic!’ plenary presentation, collected papers. VIG International Conference, Dundee, Scotland
Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in Society: the Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, cited in