If you are comfortable with using data technology, then the digital version of People in my Life has much to offer. It is portable and well suited to younger people who are well versed in relating to images on a screen.
Originally developed for data tablets, the latest version also functions with Macs, PCs and laptops. It is colourful, easy to use and flexible, designed to support dialogues about all kinds of relationship issues.
It is excellent for one-to-one conversations on a 10" data tablet, but when working with groups and families it is best connected to a second screen or projector.
People in my Life Digital requires 2GB ram to run and can be downloaded and tested free of charge for a 30 days trial period.
Steven and Nick talk about the Digital Set
Elements of People in my Life Digital
Symbols and labels
Thoughts and feelings screen
People in my Life contains about 300 different figures, drawn to be fairly representative of a multi-cultural population. They are easily moved around the screen.
There are women, men, youths, boys, girls, pets, and a few special figures. They are drawn with simple, neutral faces and normal body shape but they vary in age-group, size, hair and skin colour, colour and style of clothing and there are a few cultural variants. The simplifications are based on the idea that we are basically similar and equal.
In the figure-selection window the figures are arranged in groups of women, youths, girls, men youths, boys, babies, and pets. When a figure is chosen, it can be given the name of the person it represents. This can be added or changed as you go along. A figure can be chosen several times, it can be easily changed to grey scale, moved, turned and revolved.
There a five Trouble Trolls in different colours that can be used to represent externalised problems in relationships. If, for example, a child is struggling with managing anxieties, they can choose a trouble troll to carry the thoughts that are plaguing them.
The troll can be used in accordance with the Narrative approach developed by Michael White and David Epston; exploring the problem landscape, inquiring into alternatives to the dominant narrative, building alliances and developing strategies to regain control. The child can talk about how the troll is affecting their life, the occasions when they are stronger than their difficulties and how they can gain support to regain control of their situation.
Steven and Nick talk about the Trouble Trolls
Steven and Nick talk about the Trouble Trolls
The Fantasy Friends are four figures designed for conversations with children that are aimed at finding resources and resolving difficulties. A fantasy friend can represent the kind of resource that someone in a relationship overview needs to deal with their situation, developed to introduce a solution-focussed approach. The figures represent different aspects of changes that when brought to the screen can function similarly to a miracle question. They are a clown, a fairy, a fortune-teller and a robot. The clown can represent fun and happiness, the fairy good wishes, the fortune-teller hopes for the future and the robot strength and determination and open for these kinds of questions:
"Imagine that this clown has the ability to cheer people up if they are down in the dumps. If he came here, who do you think he would want to try and help? What do you think he might do to make them happier?"
"Imagine that the fairy can change things, as if by magic. What do you the think she would want to do?".
"If the fortune-teller can look into the future. What do you think she might see? If she saw a bright future, what would it be like? What would a difficult future be like? How do you think things turned out like that?"
"The Robot is very strong and likes to protect people and stop people doing bad things. Who could he help and who would he stop?"
They can also be used in other ways suitable to the conversation.
Steven and Nick talk about the Fantasy Friends
There are several backgrounds for figure placements in the app. One is blank, while the others have patterns that support different kinds of conversational focus. The patterned backgrounds are the Hexagons, the Social Network, the Coloured Circles, the 5 rows, the Scale, and the Stage.
The plain background lets you set out the figures freely.
The Hexagon background has a single hexagon centre where the figure of the person setting out their relationship overview can be placed. It was designed to give a structure that would be easier for younger children to relate to. Each hexagon has place for one figure. The shades of the rings of hexagons clearly indicate the distance from the centre.
The Network background is an adaptation of Bronfenbrenner's social network chart and can be used in a similar way. People in my Life figures bring colour and life to the 'chart' and they can easily be moved to represent new and alternative perspectives. Labels can be written for the six segments of the background to define the various social contexts.
The Colour Circle is similar to the network, but with 8 segments. The segments can be labelled to represent themes that figures can be placed to represent. For example, each can represent a different emotion and figures can be placed to show how someone experienced a particular situation or relationship. Segments can also represent alternatives in decision making and figures placed to indicate preferences.
The Lines are intended to support setting out genograms or family maps with figures. Each of the 5 rows can represent a generation of a family.
The Scale can be used for placing fugures to show the degree a person evaluates a particular theme or situation, and how they perceive other people's evaluations.
The Stage is designed to support playing out the way a person has experienced a situation, who was present, what was said and done. It can also be used to show a 'repaired' version of the situation after it has been talked about.
Steven and Nick talk about the backgrounds
The symbols area contains a variety of special figures and symbols that can be used in combination with the people figures.
The weather symbols can be added to show different moods
The stars can indicate people who are particularly important or helpful
The circle can be placed under or beside figures of groups to indicate belonging or identity
These can encourage reflection over somebody's thought process
The arrows can indicate movements in relationships
The houses can represent different homes or institutions (such as schools, shops, offices or clinics) involved in people's lives.
The Thoughts and Feelings Screen
When any figure is selected the thoughts and feeling screen invites reflection over how that person understands themselves in a particular situation or how they are understood by others.
This screen is about mentalizing - helping someone to better understand their own reactions or the state of someone else in a certain context.
An image of the person appears and beside them several bubbles. One represents what the person was thinking about, one is for what is remembered that they said, one is for what they were feeling, emotionally and one for what their bodily sensations were at the time. Key word can be typed into the bubbles. There is also an area under the figure for writing keywords about the situation and what happened.
Connecting a data tablet to a screen
If you use a data tablet when talking with a family or group it is convenient to connect to a second, external screen, TV, or projector. There are two basic ways of connecting a data tablet: via a cable or by screen-casting. Connecting via a cable usually requires a suitable adapter. Screen casting with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connects to a smart TV or via an Apple TV box, Chromecast Miracast, or similar receiver.
Data security is paramount with The People in my Life Digital. Using it involves little confidential written data. All data is encrypted and stored within the program, which is stand-alone, off-line, and not accessible via the internet.
This app has been built to achieve a high level of data security. This is achieved in several ways. The data in the program is encrypted. The program is stand alone and does not exchange information or data with any other programs, so all data remains encrypted within your device. The program does not run connected to the internet. As it is primaril visual there are no revealing texts about the people using it.
To ensure anonymity, use a coded name at the start of the session to identify the family. At the end of a session, the program will ask whether to save or delete the current data. Saved data is encrypted and is stored as the identifying name chosen at the start.
For enhanced data security, the program has a password mode that is recommended for counsellors and therapists in health and social services, child protection, education and similar settings.
In password mode, you register an initial password which will be required each time the program is started. When it has been idle for 15 minutes, the password is required again for you to continue.
When ending a session, all the data is deleted automatically, unless you spesifically choose to store it for later use.
Deleted data it cannot be retrived. If the password is forgotten the program must be re-installed.