Saturday, February 1, 2014

SIVA (Supporting Individuals Through Valued Relationships)

This past week, I attended both a SIVA (Supporting Individuals through Valued Attachments) Training and a Train the Trainer session.  I'm pretty excited about the framework and the possibilities in using it to help facilitate increased intrinsically motivated self-management skills in students.

SIVA is a safety management framework with the focus of working with people to pro-actively identify and maintain safe behaviour and situations. Foundational to the SIVA philosophy is the belief that true safety is built on communication and the establishment of trusted relationships. An understanding that an intervention can never be of greater importance than a trusted relationship is the key to building the relationships that assist with avoiding crisis situations and ensuring that students are available for learning.

Some key take-aways related to SIVA from this past week for me include:
  • SIVA is specifically designed for supporting people with complex needs (disability and mental health). The framework factors in the person's individual needs as well as the fact that there is often a "caregiver" involved with that person on an ongoing basis (not necessarily one on one but there is extra human support involved in some way). 
  • SIVA is an overall model that guides support and interaction rather than a crisis intervention program. SIVA philosophy guides how we perceive, think and problem solve to ensure safety at all times. 
  • SIVA is a dynamic system. It is not rooted a trajectory about a person and then creating a static crisis response plan. The work done within the framework is about supporting and scaffolding growth towards valued relationships and self-management. 
  • SIVA is goal-directed rather than consequence-driven. The goal is to successfully maintain safety (emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual) at all times.  When we are able to maintain safety for an individual, we are able to discover with them ways to increase their level of participation and engagement in inclusive activities and settings.  
  • Collaborative teaming is a key component of the framework. This involved including the student and all stakeholders in the dynamic process.  The framework is set up so that even those with the most complex needs can play an active role in the creation and ownership of their safety management plans. 
  • SIVA promotes self-management and empowerment. The approach starts with the understanding that when people feel powerless they are also feeling unsafe. When they feel powerless and unsafe, they will begin creating artificial ways to gain power.  We often call these behaviours "maladaptive". We need to work with the person to feel safe (aka "empowered") so we can reduce the need for that person to create the maladaptive ways of gaining power and replace them with appropriate ways to self-manage and have power and control. Power and control are not bad things as having power and control of one's self also means having responsibility for one's actions. Power and control only become an issue when it infringes on the rights of other people.
  • SIVA believes that it is the strength of the relationship and the ability to create safety that allows a person to be available for interventions, therapy, education...etc. We cannot deliver programs to students if they are not first available for learning. We need to be cognisant at all times that what we are doing is creating the safe and trusting environment for this to happen.  
To learn more about SIVA, check out their website at