News and Comment

A picture tells a thousand words – engaging in difficult conversations

Friday 21 October 2011


By Carol Ward, OPM senior fellow and treasurer of CRASAC, and Dianne Whitfield, centre manager of CRASAC

At voluntary organisation CRASAC (Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre) we have recently been working with staff and client groups to identify outcomes that we want to achieve with clients, and to review ways that things could be done better.

Facilitating conversations with the counsellors was not an issue. The challenge came in working with clients, to help them think about what outcomes would be meaningful for them, and to enable a discussion about the move from victim to survivor status.

An even bigger challenge was having the same discussion with a small group of children and young people. The youngest was only 12. How do you talk about service outcomes and life after sexual assault and rape?

Picture it

The answer came in the form of using pictorial representations of outcomes. The group were asked to draw the effect that CRASAC had had in their lives. The drawing from the 12-year-old (see below) was incredibly powerful, and summed up far more eloquently than all our literature research, staff workshops and outcome tables could ever do. This picture is now being used (with the client’s permission of course) to discuss with commissioners the value of the service provided.

So when you need to engage in a difficult conversation … try using a picture.