When the management of social services in the Municipality of Herning, Denmark began to review the composition of contents in cases they realized that in a growing number of the social workers reported that in many families, the male parent often complained of being isolated within the family or being left in a situation where frustration over lack of tools and understanding of situations often could spill over. It appeared to be evident that with a changing role of ‘fatherhood’, changes in relationships between family members etc. it often ended in rather explicit rows – and in some cases the children (teenagers) would approach the social services with a wish to be assisted in finding somewhere else to live.

2 experienced A.R.T. animators/trainers were then asked to consider if their knowledge from social psychology, A.R.T. groups, Family TIES and dialogue experience could form a frame for an attempt to involve this group of adult men who often – in their own words – didn’t know what to do when rows and conflicts erupted. An aim to prevent such situations from developing into uncontrollable situations was soon established. Invitations to come for an introduction to a series of group events were issued through the case (social) workers.

Having now finished 2 seasons with 2 groups the animators/trainers have now had a chance to look back on what worked. It is clear that elements from A.R.T. when it comes to understanding a situation, rehearse different ways of reacting/behaving and sharing experiences with others works very fine. Other elements like understanding the reason for certain types of reactions and perhaps more importantly what could be the reason behind certain types of conflicts etc. Included in the activity was also training in simple dialogue. Listening etc. But perhaps the most significant element was the insight gained by going through the ‘chained’ elements of management which led to a clearer understanding of how to manage this and how to use techniques to self-evaluate etc.

At the moment due to the global health crisis it is not possible to start new groups but the two animators/trainers are using the time to seek out possibilities for developing the concept including a sort of manual but they are also out looking for establishing more formal evaluation of the work.

More information can be obtained from Lars O. Kristiansen at buflk@herning.dk or Carsten Merrild at bufcm@herning.dk