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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Effectiveness of the life space interview?

Hi ,

I am undertaking a literature search for evidence re the effectiveness of the Life Space Interview as taught in TCI and in other crisis systems such as LSCI. A search of academic / clinical papers and books produce 195 hits when the phrase "Life Space Interview" is used. When combined with the word "research" the number reduces to 9. The earliest paper, as one would expect, is by Redl and was published in 1957. The most rigorous of these is An Evaluation of the Effects of Life Space Crisis Intervention Grskovic, Janice A;Goetze, Herbert Reclaiming Children and Youth; Winter 2005; 13, 4; Whilst this is thoughtful paper and appropriately tentative – it is small scale.

Besides my use of online academic research can anyone point me to other empirical studies. I note that there are a number of clinical based papers with rich information about individual children.

I'd be very interested in hearing others views of LSI either within TCI or for example LSCI.

Johnnie (in Ireland)

I would be very interested in this research too! I took the TCI training and really like the LSI. I use it at my work sometimes and find it very useful for prompting reflection and an action plan for resolving situations.

Nancy Marshall

Hi Johnnie:

Let me acknowledge my bias before answering your inquiry. I was very fortunate to have studied under Henry Maier and James Whittaker in the 70's so I was introduced and weaned on the Life Space Interview early in my career as a youth worker. Moreover, I am currently a Master Trainer and Regional Director for the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute which was founded by Dr. Nicholas Long, an early associate and colleague of Fritz Redl. Dr. Long is largely responsible for translating the LSI concepts into a functional and teachable set of skills and techniques. for youth workers, teachers, caregivers, etc.

I believe Redl first talked about the concepts of LSI in his book Children Who Hate,pp 35-36, when he referenced the "Clinical Exploitation of Life Events". Redl was beginning the discussion on how youth workers could use life events as teachable moments and how a crisis could be used as an opportunity to help youth gain insight into their self defeating patterns of behaving. He stated, "Because we are there as part of the life scene in which the behavior takes place, we can exploit it for clinical purposes before it becomes repressed or tricky denial mechanisms and diversion tricks spring up to ward off our attempts to get at some of the subsurface motivations and attitudes that are behind it". He went on to say, "As an integral part of the techniques of exploiting life issues, the whole interview apparatus of the treatment home shifts from 'interview by appointment', to a more mobile strategy, applicable to ongoing behavior at its moment of incidence". Brendtro referred to this as "counseling on the hoof" and devotes a chapter to LSI in Re-educating Troubled Youth.

Redl first outlined the concepts of the LSI when he published "The Concept of the Life Space Interview" in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, January 1959. Redl further discussed the LSI in When we Deal with Children, 1966.

In graduate school, Maier and Whittaker discussed it frequently and Whittaker expanded upon the LSI in his book, Caring for Troubled Children in 1979. Nicholas Long and William Morse also relied upon Redl's work in treatment settings and developed LSI for use in schools in their book Conflict in the Classroom.

Although I believe that Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI), as it is now called, is the most useful and effective set of skills available today for youth workers and teachers, it is true that there has not been a lot of research. There is currently a study taking place in Belgium, but the magazine you mentioned, Reclaiming Children and Youth has published many articles on LSCI. In Vol. 11:4 Winter 2003, Carol Dawson from New York City Schools published, "A Study of the Effectiveness of Life Space Crisis Intervention for Students Identified with Emotional Disturbances." Robert DeMagistria and Steve Imber also published "The Effects of Life Space Interviewing on Academic and Social Performance of Behaviorally Disordered Children". In 2002, Lawrence McGowan wrote a great article in Reclaiming on "Life Space Crisis Intervention and Functional Behavioral Assessment: the Guiding Models".

Your best resource will be the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute web page, Through that site, you can look at resources, current research, and directly contact Carol Dawson about her study in New York City schools. Hope this helps,

Michael Perry, MSW
Positive Youth Interventions

Hi Michael,

These are amazing resources! Thank you! I am using aspects of life space intervention techniques at my school and it is great to have the evidence to back up the practice. I will be sharing this with my colleagues and employer :) Maybe we can advocate for training!

Nancy Marshall

Hi Arthur,

Here's a couple references that might be especially relevant in your search:

Dawson, C. (2003). A study on the effectiveness of Life Space Crisis Intervention for students identified with emotional disturbances. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 11(14), 223-230.
Forthun, L., Payne, C. & McCombie, J. (2009). Life space crisis intervention in a school setting: Final results. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 18(1), 51-57.
Grskovic, J. & Goetze, H. (2005). An evaluation of the effects of Life Space Crisis Intervention on the challenging behavior of individual students. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 13(4), 231.
Morse,W. (1991). Crisis intervention in residential treatment: The clinical innovations of Fritz Redl. New York, NY: Routledge
Morse,W. (2008). Connecting with kids in conflict: A life space legacy (Brendtro, L. & A. James Eds.). Lennox, SD: Starr Commonwealth.
Nawrocki, M. (2007). Thanks for chucking that at the wall instead of me: Teaching at-risk children and youth. Toronto, ON: Chestnut.

James Freeman

Thanks all for taking time to reply – much appreciated.


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