We advocate a constructive approach to working with offenders and people at risk based on developing their sense of social consciousness
Most current research suggests that experiential methods are at the heart of effective practice with offenders and that programmes should use a range of active learning styles and incorporate opportunities for individuals to safely practise new skills.
The following theoretical models and literature provide the underpinning for much of the company’s approach to working with offenders and those at risk:
Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977) explains the principles by which learning occurs in a social context. It describes how new skills are best taught through an interactive process and offers an important conceptual framework for helping participants to develop new skills in a conscious and structured way through rehearsal and skills practice role-play opportunities.
Cognitive-Behavioural Theory provides a framework for understanding the ways in which our fundamental beliefs and attitudes affect our thinking, our feeling and, ultimately, our behaviour. One of the main aims of our drama-based work is to help create a gap between the participant’s beliefs and his behaviour. Playing the role of a victim of crime, for example, will often challenge the participant’s belief that nobody got hurt as a consequence of his offending and that it was ‘just a laugh.’
Role Theory suggests that much of human interaction can be understood by considering the roles and scripts we perform as we go about our daily lives. This concept allows individuals to consider which roles would be useful for them to develop as they move forward. For example, an offender who has spent several years in prison and who has never worked might want to rehearse and practice the role of employee.
Desistance literature identifies the factors that might support and sustain the process of abstaining from crime. Many of these factors are embedded into our theatre and drama-based practice, including:
- the development of a mature outlook and mature relationships - working collectively and co-operatively in a group environment and challenging self-centered thinking
- building positive social ties – through drama-based activity participants are invited to reflect upon the impact their offending has on their social networks and are encouraged to develop life skills which will enhance social ties.
- disrupting negative identities – through the taking on of new roles (in scene work and performance) and the relationships built with Geese practitioners, participants are able to constructively challenge the potentially negative identities they have internalised and develop hope, belief and motivation for the possibilities of new identities.