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Observing Interview Skills: a manual for users of the Jersey Supervision Interview Checklist

Produced by the Probation and After-care (Non-executives and legal departments)
Authored by Probation and published on 31 Dec 2012
Prepared internally, no external cost


This manual is a product of the research on supervision skills and offender engagement currently being carried out by Swansea University staff in collaboration with the Jersey Probation and After-Care Service. This is one of a number of studies done by Swansea researchers in the Channel Island of Jersey. Previous work has concerned risk/need assessment and the effectiveness of supervision (see, for example, Raynor and Miles 2007), and the present study grew out of a shared perception that developments in evidence-based practice in England and Wales had not yet paid sufficient attention to the impact of skilled one-to-one supervision. Would it be possible, we wondered, to carry out a systematic study of the skills and methods used by probation staff in individual supervision?

The original aim of the study was to collect about 100 videotaped interviews and to develop a checklist which could be used by observers to identify and note the skills and methods used. In particular, we wanted a checklist which would provide a reasonably accurate assessment but was simple enough to be used quite quickly by experienced observers, since we envisaged a possible use for such checklists in the observation of practice for staff development purposes. Participation in the study was voluntary, and the early stages were mainly spent developing the checklist and observing the interviews (for a fuller account of this part of the study see Raynor, Ugwudike and Vanstone 2010). The current version of the Jersey Supervision Interview Checklist, known as version 7C, attempts to strike a balance between comprehensiveness and user-friendliness, and covers the seven skill sets discussed in this Manual: interview set-up, non-verbal communication, verbal communication, use of authority, motivational interviewing, pro-social modelling, problem-solving, cognitive restructuring, and overall interview structure. Some of these we describe as ‘relationship skills’, used to promote communication, co-operation and trust, and others are ‘structuring skills’ intended to help probationers to change their thinking, attitudes and behaviour. In total, 63 items are assessed. Eventually we were able to collect and analyse a total of 95 interviews by fourteen different staff. No individual members of staff are identified in the reporting of results.

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