One of the things we often get asked, and we make sure we advise on during training and Coaching and Mentoring, is the importance of recording the details of an Intensive Interaction. The thought processes required for recalling what occurred, often illustrate the significance of things that were not obvious at the time of the interaction. Regular recording supports practice and can form the basis of sound, planning for “what next”. This is especially relevant to individuals new to Intensive Interaction, as the logging of hugely positive interactions is rewarding and motivating, and the noting of “I’m not sure” interactions opens focused discussion in a controlled and potentially productive way.
This is an example from a recent consultancy day we provided for the team who were involved, to illustrate what a record could look like.
Record of Intensive Interaction Session
Interaction partners: Jenny, Anne, Janet
Date and time: Thursday 23rd January 2020
Place and situation: Lounge. Jenny in her chair. Anne and Janet either side, Anne on the floor to Jenny’s left, Janet on a bean bag to Jenny’s right. Initially Jenny curled up in chair, legs pulled in, eyes closed, head resting on her hands (on arm of chair).
Describe what happened between the interactive partners?
Jenny, Anne and Janet spent 25 minutes together exploring how Anne and Janet could support Jenny to recognise and understand that they were there to be with her and to find ways to explore how some of the things she does could become intentional communication. The time felt focused and unhurried.
What action/s (movements, sounds etc) were copied and celebrated?
Anne and Janet initially focused on Jenny’s breathing. Loudly exaggerating their own as she exhaled and commenting on this. They added a physical recognition of Jenny’s exhalation by applying pressure with their hands on her shoulder as she breathed. Jenny responded by moving her shoulder. This shoulder wriggle was repeated often throughout the 25 minutes and we discussed the subtle difference between “get off” shrugging away movements and “oh what’s that?” awareness movements.
Anne and Janet noticed Jenny’s left foot was moving rhythmically and made it clear to her that they had noticed, by gently tapping it and then patting the sides of the chair in the same rhythm, as she moved. Jenny appeared to notice this. Hint of a smile. Janet and Anne embellished and extended the interaction by counting out loud as Jenny moved her foot and then tapping her foot AND the chair for the same number. The number varied. The speed and ferocity of movement varied and we matched our tapping as closely as we could.
Jenny seemed aware of this turn taking and the interaction lasted for many repetitions. Eventually Jenny sat up straighter, crossed her legs, and studied Janet’s face for some time. She turned to study Anne’s face. This lasted for several minutes. Anne and Janet used sounds each time she looked in their direction (different to each other) and exaggerated facial expressions. Jenny used her voice, so the sounds we used were variations of hers. Her head turns became more definite. At one-point Jenny laughed, as if recognising she was leading.
Janet and Anne introduced a song (the resolution song) and explored how it could support Jenny to be in control of the group interaction. They ended up, only singing when Jenny looked their way (side to side).
What was significant? (new, different, possible progress)
The length of time Jenny remained focused and engaged (longer than usual by quite a lot).
Jenny’s almost immediate interest in Janet’s face.
The lack of “pushing us away”.
If your interaction partner enjoyed the session, which parts in particular?
The moments when Jenny seemed most engaged were during the foot tapping section, which she led and which she ended by sitting up and seeming more alert.
The section when Jenny was indicating who should sing/respond by turning her head towards them (our use of this movement, not necessarily intentional communication from her initially) On reflection it might have been better to stay with this and repeat for longer, rather than changing what we were doing.
Other comments/plans for next time
Opportunities for two people to spend time with Jenny would be very beneficial to her. Exploring the notion of control can be very motivating, especially if done in a playful way.
Must remember not to make sounds/add physical contact unless in response to something Jenny does. Making sounds that make her laugh, to make her laugh, are a different thing and verges on entertainment.
This is quite detailed and recording needn’t necessarily be as in depth as this. Noting “Sally was rocking, I sat opposite her and rocked too, she looked at me, smiled, made eye contact and stopped rocking. This happened several times” is valid too. It demonstrates the basic elements of Intensive Interaction that can then be explored more fully and might give others ideas about what to try.
So, make a note, keep a note, chronicle, document as much as you can. Perhaps we’ll consider the usefulness (or not) of photos and videos next!