This is the text of a peer-reviewed paper that Gener Lapina (from AVP and Family Support Newcastle) and I had published as part of the 2018 Family and Relationship Services Association conference. The citation with a link to the published version is:
Stuart, G. & Lapina, G. (2018) The Alternatives to Violence Project: Reflections on a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution. FRSA Conference e-Journal (3), 62-69. Available from: https://frsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/FRSA-conference-ejournal-2018.pdf
Strengths-based practice is widely accepted as an important foundation for social work, family work and community work in a range of settings (Hunter, Lanza, Lawlor, Dyson & Gordon, 2016; Oliver & Charles, 2016; Saleebey, 2013). There are, however, a number of challenges or dilemmas involved when adopting a strengths-based approach in certain contexts where there are significant risks associated with people’s safety, such as working with perpetrators of domestic or family violence and in child protection.
In this paper we explore some of the dilemmas involved in offering Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops to parents and partners. We provide a brief overview of AVP, discuss some characteristics of strengths-based group work and then consider five dilemmas we’ve faced in offering the program.
AVP is a community-led initiative that began in the 1970s in New York’s Greenhaven Prison. The program was developed following concern expressed by senior inmates about the cycle of reoffending amongst younger inmates, and a desire to help their fellow inmates develop skills in navigating conflict, without resorting to violence. After much success in Greenhaven, AVP was soon introduced to other prisons and then expanded to other countries and to a range of other contexts (Addy, 2009; Kayser, Roberts, Shuford & Michaelis, 2014; Kreitzer & Jou, 2010; Lambourne & Manirakiza, 2017; Walsh & Potter-Daniau, 2017). Continue reading