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Working with symbols: towards the creation of a SymfoS trainers network in Sicily

Is it possible to support educators and teachers working with disadvantaged young people and at the same time to improve the system of scholastic and professional orientation?

Two intense afternoons of work involved a group of Sicilian social workers, teachers, psychologists, educators who took part in the  SymfoStraining for trainers on the 5th and 6th April at Quarto Tempo in Palermo (Italy).

The group was composed of professionals and representatives of local and regional institutions and organizations offering education and professional guidance service aimed at disadvantaged young people. For all of them, the SymfoS approach represents an alternative method compared to traditional working methods that are common in the field of educational and vocational guidance and the training offered a potential new set of working tools to adopt.

The first afternoon was dedicated to the origins of the symbol work and to the introduction of the principles underlying this type of work. The work with symbols was initiated in Germany in the psychotherapy field and is then developed with a slightly different purpose within the European project SymfoS. The method is in fact used in education and career guidance specially to support young people with communication difficulties.

The first practical demonstration introduced the opening technique of the SymfoS counselling process: “The Basic Clearing”. This technique is a tool that allows to quickly identify the needs of the client and the degree of intervention the young person needs and establish the necessary support category (information, professional guidance or holistic guidance).

In this practical demonstration the participants of the training were actively involved in order to allow them to experience first-hand the intervention and alternate in the different roles involved in a SymfoS session: the client, the observer and the consultant.

>Download Symfos Basic Clearing here

During the second afternoon was introduced the second SymfoS consulting technique, called “The resources and competence pathway”; an intervention aimed at exploring the young person’s life path, her/his objectives and the resources she/he can use to achieve a concrete goal. Also, in this case the demonstration actively involved the participants.

As part of the SymfoS project, a methodology for group work has also been developed, focused on the involvement of peers, which integrates the other consulting scenarios: Methodology for individual learning and career pathways, supported by peers or buddies, introduced to the participants during the training but will soon be published, in the download area of project site

A special training session was dedicated to the presentation of all work and learning materials: wooden boxes, symbols, support materials and training manuals that can be downloaded from in 5 languages. The group received instructions on how to create the own work kit and opened a discuss on possible adoption of the method in own working environments.

SymfoS is creating an international network of trainers that will support the work of the new SymfoS trainers at the local level so that more and more young people can take advantage of this alternative guidance service.