People in my Life Figure Set leaflet

Download the pdf file of the Figure Set leaflet here:

Walkthrough - People in my Life Digital version 1

This walkthrough is a guide to the practical aspects of using the 2017-19 version of People in my Life Digital

Download the pdf file here:

Walkthrough - People in my Life Digital version 2

This walkthrough will guide to the practical aspects of using the latest version of People in my Life Digital

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Relationship Overviews

When people are focused on the day to day tribulations of their situation, they can lose sight of the larger picture of their aims and values.  
Using figures in a conversation about relationships invites people to consider their situation from an elevated position, a bird's eye view, where a broader context can become apparent.  This is a relationship overview.  As they survey their situation, reflect over associations, and talk about their understandings, fresh insights can give impetus and direction for constructive change. 

In the conversation, people will be looking at the relationship overview as well as at each other and the aspect will involve both participation and observation.  When setting out and arranging the figures they will be exploring as well as demonstrating their view of their relationships.

A relationship overview invites questions like 'What is in my life?’, 'What is good for me?', 'What is difficult?', 'What supports me?', 'What hinders me?', 'What is lacking?'
In an elevated observing position you can explore the way that you see things and how they could appear differently.

In conversations with couples, families or groups, people are able show each other their point of view and talk about the implications of their differences. Figures help children to  express themselves, and family sessions are more child-friendly when children have something concrete to relate in addition to words.

Visit the relationship overviews website to learn more about the way they can influence and enhance conversations about relationships.

Some theoretical perspectives

Here are some thoughts about the ways that relationship overviews can be used in accordance with various systemic approaches. We would be pleased to hear from you about your thoughts on this way of working.

Circular Questions
You can also ask the person to rearrange the figures to show how they think another person see things. “If your sister were to set out the figures now, can you show me how you think she would do it?” Why would she do it like that?

The mentalizing window invites family members to reflect over a person's reactions to particular situation, how they remember what they said, what they believe they were thinking, feeling, and sensing. They can then discuss the implications of their various understandings and review their opinions.

The original Family Dialogue Set was developed to encompass the problem systems or language systems approach that has now become the collaborative approach.  All the relevant participants in a difficult situation can be brought onto the screen and their perspectives and contributions can be considered. 

The trouble trolls in the app can represent externalised problems and brought into a narrative about the scope of a problem and the determination, means and resources for tackling it.  The Trouble Trolls are in different colours and sizes to represent a variety of difficulties a person or family may be struggling with.

The Fantasy Friends represent 'magical' problem solutions that can be brought into the conversation.  The clown can be said to have the ability to make someone who is sad happier.  The conversation could concern who the clown would think needs help the most, what could make the person happier, how would others notice that this had happened and what consequences would that have for them.  Similar conversations can concern a fairy who can grant certain kinds of wishes, a clairvoyant who can look into the future where things have changed and a robot with the strength to intervene in threatening situations.  Children may find their own ways of using the figures and an experienced professional can be creative in ways of including then in conversations.

Drawing a genogram is one of the most useful aids to conversations about family relationships. Genograms can be made constructed using figures, bringing more to life what is usually a plain diagram.  The genogram or family map is a useful tool in work with individuals, couples and families.
The blue lined background can be used as a base to produce a genogram illustrated and brought to life with figures.  Family members that are deceased but still very much a part of people's thoughts and feelings can be included and shown in grey scale to indicate that they are no longer alive.  Genograms can be useful in talking about how the culture of the family has developed through generations.  Attitudes, coping strategies, health and sickness, interests and preferences, conflicts and alliances can be discussed in the light of the family's present situation.  Symbols and labels can be added to make these aspects more apparent.

Attachment Narrative
When figures are placed on the background, questions like who sought comfort where and how it was given can be brought into the conversation.

This approach was fronted by Bronfenbrenner who devised a way of mapping social networks by drawing symbols on a 5-sector circular chart.  Others have developed their own versions of his original chart. The 6-sector Circle background used is the same as the Circle Board of Family Dialogue Set, developed for the placement of figures instead of drawn symbols.  The advantage of using figures is that the visualisation of the social network is more flexible and dynamic.  With People in my Life the sectors can be defined and named in any way by using the label function and figures can be both placed and re-arranged as the conversation around them develops.
Labels can be added to define social areas such as family, relatives, friends, school/work, religious institutions, clubs or teams, professional helpers. Figures can be placed in the relevant sectors and closenedd to the centre can show their importance or relevance to a person or circumstance.
The social network is mapped with a particular focus on significant others who are placed in relation to each other while the conversation unfolds. Themes for conversations concern fundamental relationship issues such as closeness and distance, fellowship, personal boundaries, difficulties, trust, comforting, recognition, consideration, care, support, belonging, communication, understanding, similarity and difference. Talk about resources, shares activities and interests, decision-making, influence, mutuality, ambivalence, resistance and progression. Perspectives from the past, present, and future, regret, anxiety, hope, longing, intention, concern, and fear can be shown as a basis for discussing understanding and change.

Emotional Awareness
Some people have difficulty in recognising and expressing basic emotions and this can leave them at a great disadvantage in dealing with and understanding relationship issues.  The coloured circle board has been designed so that each of the 8 segments can be defined as a different emotional response.  There are several theories of emotion, each proposing a different number of basic emotions and so the sectors have not been given names but can be defined by a therapist in the way they find most useful. Emwich, the consultant used in the film Inside Out proposes 8 basic emotions identified with colour. Recent research has indicated that there may be almost 30 basic emotions, and that there has been a tendency to focus on the negatives and overlook the positives.

The importance of relationships for health and wellbeing

The British Mental Health Foundation has recently published a report called 'Relationships in the 21st Century: the forgotten foundation of mental health and wellbeing'.  It is based on the evidence of a wide range of interviews and research, and is written in clear, plain English. It also contains a comprehensive reference list.  Download the pdf from here.

Small figures

The New Zealand GP Dr.John Barton has hosted the Small figures website for many years.  He uses Playmobil figures in conversations and runs a training course.

Play of Life

Carlos Raimundo in Australia has developed this set of Playmobil figures and objects and, together with his daughter Melanie, offers courses in how they can be used.

Contact list

You can join our contact list here and be kept up to date on developments.
People in my Life is not sponsored through advertising and we do not to share information.