Institution: Denkzeit Society e.V.
Duration/funding: — Homepage
Target groups Many clients who come to Denkzeit have a noticeable lack of impulse control, emotional outbursts, low frustration toleration and a propensity for violence. Emotional patterns of group-focused hostility are often present and tensions and conflict with gender roles concepts can be seen which result in sexist or homophobic attitudes. They are a highly charged group of perpetrators who cannot be reached by punitive sanctions alone. These perpetrators often plausibly convey the desire to commit no further violent acts and to completely acknowledge their guilt. However, in their daily life they often find themselves in situations of conflict which lead to aggressive confrontations where they feel helpless. The delinquent tendencies, which usually started early on and have continued over a long period of time, are usually rooted in traumatic experience at an early age (neglect, violence, abuse). Processing elements and gender-specific socialisation and experience with trauma also play a part. Because of damaging early relationship experience, important functions of self and relationship regulation were not able to properly develop. Clients tend to either avoid intense social relationships or break them off at the first sign of stress. These young people often tend to be extremely mistrustful and withdrawn. Others behave openly aggressive, provoke and continually receive negative reactions from other people.
Methodological approach The Denkzeit training programmes are psychodynamically oriented, social-cognitive on-to-one training sessions which are particularly aimed at juvenile delinquents and young adult who tend towards impulsive violence. Aspects of affective prejudice, group-focused hostility and violent extremism are also taken into account. Denkzeit e.V. has recently begun to design a training module for working with noticeably violent young women as well as more explicitly integrate the current gender-role aspects in the programme for this type of intervention. The Denkzeit training programmes have nearly all been manualised and have a modular structure. Nevertheless, the professional working relationship is largely responsible for a successful process. The working relationship requires the trainer to follow a supportive, transparent, sympathetic approach with clear boundaries which is also free of shame and willing to face conflict. During the training, they must allow themselves to become personally involved in the relationship with the client so that they can use this experience to promote development.
In the first module exercises the client learns to recognise and emotionally think through situations of social conflict. The specific intervention strategies of the individual modules aim to enable the client to better orient themselves in interpersonal situations than previously. A problem solving process has been developed based on evidence-based psychodynamic research (e.g. Körner and Friedmann, 2008). The model depicts unconscious and split perception and action processes which take place within moments in social situations. Because many of the clients are prone to dissocial (and dissociative) behaviour, they are particularly limited in every step of this process. Therefore, each step will be systematically worked on with suitable exercises.
Close attention is particularly paid to the selective, negative perception of situations as well as a tendency towards hostile projections which are typical for the clients. It is methodologically taken into account that this hostile projection is usually a result of damaging early relationship experience. The unforgiving inner dialogue (“I am rubbish”) occurring regularly causes a mental split and is externalised by means of projection onto others. The combination of this projection with feelings of xenophobia and/or group-focused resentment is particularly relevant to society, as this also means that the projections based on personal life experience are often additionally strengthened by the surrounding social environment.
In the second training module the clients learn to be more aware of their feelings, to identify built-up aggression, interpret body signals and tell the difference between different levels of anger. Individual strategies are developed which can be applied to various situations in daily life. Thus, the relationship to the trainer will also always help build the capacity to empathise with others and realise that they might have other intentions, attitudes and reasons for acting than you do. A strict behavioural training is not enough for this learning process but, rather, the process must be supported by the psychodynamic reflection experience of the client which also allows them to become consciously aware of the hidden projections, emotional splits and resentments at work. In contrast, programmes for perpetrators which only focus on training alternative ways of reacting to situations of conflict are rarely effective over a longer period of time.
In the third module the client explores the question of “right and wrong”. However, these principles are not merely given to them by the trainer; by exploring the issue of moral standards and developing a strategy for thinking things through the client is encouraged to more sensitively observe the moral content in social situations. In the training, they often work with dilemmas where they should not try and find what the trainer might consider the “correct” solution. The goal is to work out an autonomous moral standard that is deeply rooted within the young person and can be adapted depending on the situation, but still remains incorruptible. A clear, supportive framework for the working process and a personal yet professional attitude is particularly important as a starting point from which the work and relationship with the trainer is offered. All agreements reached will be discussed and agreed upon together with the client. A particular focus in working directly on relating and relationships are those projections (and projective identification), with which the clients unconsciously make other people respond in a way which matches their own hostile and negative expectations. The explicit exercises in the manual and the implicit relationship and interpersonal situation with the trainer work hand in hand. The psychodynamic-based Denkzeit training programme has been scientifically evaluated and has been proven to reduce delinquency and stimulate lasting personality development in a sustainable and effective manner.www.denkzeit.com Mail: info[at]denkzeit.com