Collaborative Problem Solving

The Psychology and Therapeutic Services utilise both the 'Solution Circles' and 'Circles of Friends' techniques to help individuals.

Solution Circles

Solution Circles are tools to build ‘community capacity’ and provide an effective way at getting ‘unstuck’ from a problem in life or at work in short and powerful way; approximately half an hour.

This process was designed by Marsha Forest & Jack Pearpoint and is popular as it’s a short and powerful, effective problem-solving tool. It helps to build “community capacity” as it assumes and demonstrates that nearby people – in any community or workplace have the capacity to help if asked.

Feedback from people who have experienced Solution Circles are that it is a quick and easy tool to learn and have incorporated them into their workplace peer supervision practice. Outcomes are that people can see a way forward to a problem,

having spent a short time with a group of colleagues. Having a named person to follow up with a phone call, text or email feels supportive and increases the likelihood of following up the immediate next step.

Circles of Friends

The Circle of Friends is popular approach to taking a wider look at the relationships in a person’s life. Each successful circle generates its own stories and fresh insights into what inclusion in school means. It enhances the inclusion of a child or young person who is experiencing difficulties because of a disability, personal crisis or because of their behaviour towards others. It also helps all circle members to develop greater empathy, self-awareness and social interactional skills.

Circle of friends is a proactive educational approach that aims to help children create a support network and improve peers’ understanding of their behaviour

Unlike many interventions, it is peer support rather than an adult trying to bring about change. Pupils can often be more motivated to respond to peer support than to intervention from members of staff.

When a circle is established a group of volunteers meet regularly with the ‘focus child’ and an adult facilitator. The circle acts as a resource to suggest strategies and set targets to deal with difficulties that have been jointly identified by the members of the circle and the focus child.

The approach often starts with a whole class session which can be facilitated by a member of the team. In this session, volunteers are invited to be part of a smaller circle of friends or friendship group which will meet more regularly.

Who can benefit from this approach and what outcomes can you expect?

Young people who are isolated, excluded, vulnerable and / or need support in developing friendships and social skills. The emotional support from this approach helps social inclusion and this also results in greater self-esteem and confidence.

The volunteers also gain a lot from being part of the Circle of Friends. They develop their understanding and empathy as well as gaining skills in working together in a collaborative group context.

Young people who are isolated, excluded, vulnerable and / or need support in developing friendships and social skills. The emotional support from this approach helps social inclusion and this also results in greater self-esteem and confidence.

The volunteers also gain a lot from being part of the Circle of Friends. They develop their understanding and empathy as well as gaining skills in working together in a collaborative group context.