Video Interaction Guidance: Closing the Gap. 7th AVIGuk International Conference 2017, Glasgow. Report on Day Two
Ailsa Darling and Eveline Chan
The VIG 2017 International Conference was held in Glasgow and had strong contributions from Glasgow and North Lanarkshire Psychological Services. Following on from the first day of the conference, Fiona Williams (Senior Educational Psychologist in Glasgow North-East and Advanced VIG Supervisor) introduced the second day of the conference hosted by Glasgow City Council. The event was held in Glasgow City Chambers and attended by VIG trained practitioners. The day took a ‘World Café’ format, with ten tables thematically linked to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance where VIG is recommended, to allow discussions about practice issues and consultations about how the method and its governance should develop.
Five ‘practice’ tables provided practitioners with an opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise from their respective roles. Five ‘process’ tables also enabled members of AVIGuk to put forward their ideas and opinions to influence the future direction of the Association. This paper details a summary of the day’s discussions written by two Trainee Educational Psychologists highlighting key themes and reflections.
VIG & Attainment: Facilitated by Rhiannon Quinn and Imogen Wootten
Aim: The overarching question considered by the group was, ‘How do we evidence impact?’
In Scotland, the poverty related Attainment Challenge is at the forefront of practitioners’ practice in education and increasingly, VIG has been used across local authorities to tackle attainment issues, though the overarching question considered by the group was ‘How do we evidence impact?’ Discussions reflected the recognition of VIG as having a positive impact but it seems evidencing the effect on attainment outcomes is challenging and yet to be done. With the increased pressure to evidence attainment, a key theme which emerged was the methodological complexities of capturing quantitative data for an intervention which typically yields that of a qualitative nature. It was recognised that research indicates the positive impact of VIG / Video Enhanced Reflective Practice (VERP) on the development of relationships and resilience in children and that building our personal knowledge and awareness of that will support our practice. Practitioners shared ideas and experience of measurement tools used for attainment outcomes. Some of these include the ‘How Nurturing is Our school?’ (HNIOS) framework developed by Education Scotland, use of the York Assessment of Reading Comprehension (YARC) to track literacy and use of video-coding pre-and -post VIG intervention. It was acknowledged that the interpretation of attainment and its measures may differ across authorities, though the increase in demand for outcome measures calls for better collaborative working between local authorities to allow for the development of evidence based practice.
VIG & Autism: Facilitated by Jo Birbeck and Heather Sked
Aim: The overarching question of, ‘How is working with autism different to working with other families?’ was posed to the group.
Practitioners reflected on and shared their practice with the general feeling that they bring the same components and qualities to their work whether autism is presented or not. The VIG process remains the same in relation to videoing, micro analysis and the shared review. Attention was given to the significance of analysing non–verbal communication when working with autism. VIG enables practitioners to break down something that might feel quite simple and straightforward, such as eye contact, though in reality, this is a complex process where VIG can facilitate the finer analysis of non-verbal communication which is crucial for autism. Furthermore, the role of ‘being curious’ for both the parent and VIG guider was recognised as a key component to success in the process. Other factors such as timing, a willingness to change and being mindful of the parent’s goals versus the VIG guider’s goals were also considered as key elements to success.
Difficulties in embedding and adopting VIG as ‘a way of working’ were identified. It was recognised that the implementation issues to systemic working were similar to that of direct individual work. These related to establishing buy-in and getting people on board, commitment of time and availability of resources such as funding and staff capacity. Factors which support the practice of VIG were identified as a shared understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the VIG guider and support from management to fulfil this role.
Video Enhanced Reflective Practice (VERP): Facilitated by Heather McLean and Maureen Granger
Aim: The overarching issue of how to approach the implementation of VERP was considered by the group.
Potential issues regarding the complex process of implementation were considered. Discussions reflected the potential barriers in engaging clients with VERP. Highly vulnerable clients were highlighted as particularly difficult to engage, therefore practitioners considered the use of other interventions to first promote engagement before using VERP.
The involvement of managers in VERP training was viewed as a positive way to effectively engage practitioners within an organisation to participate in VERP sessions and to value VERP as an intervention. Discussions also explored the use of VERP alongside other initiatives such as precision teaching, numeracy and literacy programmes and nurturing approaches. Positive experiences in implementing these were highlighted when initiatives have been flexible enough to allow the focus to be on attunement and relationships.
Clear group expectations from the initial stages of VERP training were also perceived to support the implementation of VERP, through establishing a supportive group environment and ethos required for reflection for personal learning and progression. The balance of group participation versus the power of the individual reflecting on their own practice was considered, alongside the role of the facilitator in supporting this through effective questioning and appropriate modelling.
VIG and Attachment: Facilitated by Sandra Strathie and Anita Heyes
Aim: The question of ‘Should we be talking about VIG in relation to attachment?’ was addressed by this group.
The overarching question stimulated conversation, with a general agreement that this depends on what we mean by attachment and also the context in which we work. Practitioners agreed that instead of attachment we should perhaps be considering relationships, attunement and wellbeing. Although many practitioners acknowledged the term ‘attachment’ is often used within a professional context as it often forms part of their training, it was felt that the language of ‘attuned relationships’ is much more supportive and makes more sense for families. Practitioners perceived attachment to be more of a professional descriptor which can often come with a connotation of blame that is contrary to the principles and values of VIG, which focuses on the idea that positive change is possible and all are trying the best they can. Furthermore, categorising individuals as having a particular attachment style was viewed as unhelpful to VIG as an intervention, as a label can encourage individuals to feel change is less likely. Furthermore, practitioners suggested this could be addressed by promoting the power of VIG in detracting from these labels and by developing a philosophy of encouraging positive relationships and attunement. On the other hand, practitioners felt that VIG should still be suggested as an effective intervention for promoting positive attachments within the NICE guidance. The use of VIG as a strength-based assessment method for attachment was also highlighted as a supportive strategy in encouraging engagement with families.
VIG for Children on the edge of Care: Facilitated by Calum Strathie and Fiona Williams
Aim: The overarching question of how to appropriately implement VIG with children on the edge of care was considered by the group.
VIG was considered a highly relevant intervention in supporting children and young people on the edge of care and was used by a range of practitioners to support families. VIG was perceived to be beneficial for particularly vulnerable groups of children such as young people within kinship care who often do not receive a lot of support from services. Although kinship care placements were highlighted as more robust in terms of susceptibility to breakdown, several difficulties of implementing VIG as an intervention with this group were recognised. Practitioners identified challenges in engaging families such as the vulnerability of parents and carers, their priorities and their motivation to become a carer. Practitioners discussed the need for the implementation of VIG to be appropriately timed and dependent on individual circumstances. Furthermore, it can act as a positive assessment and evidence of parenting skills.
The implementation of VIG at a systemic level in order to support parents to prevent a child from going into care was also considered. Practitioners shared positive experiences of building staff capacity in VIG in a number of settings, whilst recognising the difficulties in managing dependence of families requiring long-term support. It was suggested that VIG could promote positive relationships and attuned interactions for families who return to services to seek support.
Training: Facilitated by Helen Gibson and Monika Celebi
Aim: Discussion of the current training model.
It was discussed that the current training model is much more advanced compared to the model 20 years ago. This related to factors such as accountability and level of competency. It was suggested that accountability is perhaps higher nowadays due to the number of complex cases experienced by VIG trainees and practitioners, leading to higher levels of competency. It was also felt that the speed with which practitioners complete the stages does not necessarily reflect a higher level of competency as there are a number of variables which have an impact on trainees’ progression through the stages. These related to the nature of the cases experienced, the receptiveness of parents and teachers to the process, existing skills of the trainee and their circle of support and supervision provided within their role. Practitioners explored how they could adapt the current training model to better support trainees to develop their theoretical knowledge as well as skills in practice. Suggestions of developing new resources were made; however practitioners acknowledged they must be mindful not to re-invent the wheel and thus methods of sharing practice need to be developed. It was agreed that the practice element of each stage of training enables trainees to develop the relevant experience and the process of supervision allows trainees to target their personal learning and working points.
External Communication: Facilitated by Hilary Kennedy and David Gavine
Aim: Practitioners explored methods to better establish communication and relationships between VIG guiders.
Various methods to maintain engagement with accredited practitioners were considered and explored. It was felt that often accredited practitioners do not wish to continue their training to become a VIG supervisor and as a result they will often lose contact with AVIG. One method identified was the possibility of engaging accredited members via CPD registration which would allow AVIG to track, monitor and support the use of VIG beyond the practitioner’s accredited training. Discussions reinforced the need for effective external communication to ensure AVIG can promote what they do, to ensure consistency and fidelity of VIG methodology across countries and to allow for the sharing of good practice. Practitioners explored avenues such as increased use of Skype between VIG guiders to share practice, adapting the website to make this accessible to the relevant people and increasing the promotion of VIG conferences around the world to support effective external communication.
Video Enhanced Reflective Practice (VERP) Training: Facilitated by Miriam Landor and Clare Lowry
Aim: Facilitators delivered a brief around the new VERP training pathway which is currently being developed.
A workgroup within the AVIGuk board were asked to develop a VERP training pathway as a parallel to the VIG training pathway. This was designed for those who wish to espouse the VIG values and principles and way of working but who do not have a remit of individual case work; rather their remit is to support the professional development of others, for which they could use VERP. Traditionally within the VIG pathway, trainee guiders have the opportunity to try VERP during stage three of their training whilst still under supervision. The new VERP pathway will allow non VIG trainees to take up full VERP training as an alternative to the current VIG training. The four-staged pathway of the VERP training was described by the facilitators with questions from current VIG/VERP practitioners. The new VERP training pathway is currently in pilot and will be evaluated at the end of the year. It is anticipated there will be many questions that will be teased out upon review of the model.
Internal Communication: Facilitated by Jenny Jarvis and Sophie Levitt
Aim: Discussion of strengths and areas for development within current methods of communication within AVIGuk.
The internal communication session allowed practitioners to feedback to the board what was working in terms of how the board communicate with AVIGuk members and what could be improved; it also allowed board members to share new developments and changes within the organisation. Members felt receiving updates and alerts via email were helpful in communicating important information. However, facilitators recognised that it can be difficult to relay important information to all members due to the demands of practitioners’ everyday work. Some practitioners felt using a personal email address encouraged them to check for updates.
Furthermore, some practitioners had experienced difficulties providing subscription payments when these are meant to be funded by their organisation, which meant practitioners were often self-funding their subscription and attempting to claim back payments. Some organisations had access to purchase cards (rather than relying on practitioners using personal card details) which it was suggested works well.
Proposed changes in terms of payments from new trainees were highlighted. Trainees will now be asked to pay their subscription at the beginning of their training and will not be able to access the website until they have paid their invoice to make this an easier process. Furthermore, due to difficulties experienced by some organisations, if a contract is taken out organisations will be able to pay the subscriptions directly to the supervisor who will then be responsible for paying the individual subscriptions, rather than using an automatic system. Further information regarding topics highlighted and charging methods for renewal fees will also be announced on the AVIGuk website.
Research: Facilitated by Martin Carey and Stephanie Satariano
Aim: Discussion of challenges in conducting research and how AVIGuk can support practitioners.
This session acknowledged the challenges practitioners face when conducting research due to the demands of their day to day job and the time consuming nature of research. Facilitators understood the need for research to be manageable and therefore encouraged practitioners to consider ways AVIGuk could support members to conduct research. A number of suggestions were identified such as receiving advice and support from experienced members regarding routine outcome measures and methodologies that practitioners could utilise. The possibility of developing a searchable systematic database of tools, where practitioners could also input data which could later be analysed and reported in research, was highlighted as useful method of collecting and analysing research data. Practitioners also felt setting up a forum to communicate and share knowledge and expertise between members would be beneficial. Furthermore, the idea of a holding a specific research conference which members could attend to seek advice and support in conducting research was highlighted. This was considered to also provide opportunities for networking with other practitioners to conduct collaborative research across the association.
Key themes from the day were summarised and highlighted by facilitators, with each table generating many questions and avenues for future developments of AVIGuk. Practitioners were invited to reflect on how to best take forward these ideas at an individual practice level and also at a systemic level. Practitioners’ ideas captured on the paper tablecloths will be carefully considered by board members to ensure the voices of AVIGuk members are heard and to inform next steps for the Association.
On the whole, Day Two of the International VIG conference 2017 was filled with intellectual discussions and enthusiasm from AVIGuk members, stimulating inspiration and hope that VIG can foster and promote positive outcomes for children and families.
Ailsa Darling, Trainee Educational Psychologist, Glasgow North East Psychological Service. University of Dundee. firstname.lastname@example.org
Eveline Chan, Trainee Educational Psychologist, Glasgow South Psychological Service. University of Dundee. email@example.com