Transactional Roles and Responsibilities … and Intensive Interaction

‘Being with’ someone with Intensive Interaction

I was recently teaching a group of aspiring Intensive Interaction Coordinators, and during one of our discussions, I shared a slide with them that I had previously used in some of my more advanced Intensive Interaction training (and which I developed with my then clinical psychologist colleague Dr Jon Wain).

This slide (see above) is an attempt to delineate and detail a number of ‘transactional roles and responsibilities’ that care staff might (or perhaps should) carry out during their time spent with those they care for. I shared it with the coordinators as we were talking about ‘Being with‘ people with social or communication difficulties using Intensive Interaction.

‘Being with’ was a term I had used initially in the book Understanding Intensive Interaction: context and concepts for professionals and families (Firth, G., Berry, R. & Irvine, 2010, JKP: London), where I referred to it as being synonymous with more everyday social phrasing, such as: ‘tuning in with’, ‘hanging out with’, or ‘sharing quality time with’ a person, but I go on to say that: ‘Just ‘being with’ someone can only happen if we put to one side any agenda of physical care, behaviour modification or educative development, enabling us to share moments with people in a way that is truly non-directive’. (p.58)

In the 2015 slide above I try to define this social state more clearly, saying that ‘being with’ someone should be: Purely equitable, two-way, task-less, contingent, emotionally attuned, negotiated in structure, open-ended, and purely social in nature i.e. just like Intensive Interaction; and it being qualitatively different from doing things ‘to’, ‘for’ or ”with’ people.

Anyway, I have since received an email from one of the coordinators, Sally Mordi (SLT and Clinical Lead for Autism for the Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust), who had used the admittedly inaccessible terminology of my original slide to develop a more accessible version that is usefully populated with everyday examples. I think it works really well – so I’ve decided to share it with you (with Sally’s permission).

Sally Mordi – 2022

You might also have useful examples to add in yourself, depending on who you might use the diagram for or with. Getting such learning resources closer to, and more grounded in, the practices and experiences of those who might use them (in terms of content and accessible language) can only be a good thing in terms of their potential effectiveness.

Developing our and other’s ability to think reflectively around such care ‘roles and responsibilities’ can, I think, only help us all further develop our care practices; including the equitable, two-way, task-less, contingent, emotionally attuned, and open-ended use of Intensive Interaction.

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