NNN’s Five Practice Principles

  • 01. Mindful Engagement

  • 02. Reciprocal Communication

  • 03. Validation

  • o4. Shared Power

  • 05. Strengthening Skills



The NNN Approach

Mindful Engagement

Although definitions of mindfulness vary and many mindfulness-based interventions employ different mindfulness meditation techniques,[1] mindfulness is often trained by becoming aware of breath, body, thoughts or other present moments, resulting in a subjective experience in a non-judgemental way.[2] In NNN, mindful engagement occurs primarily by encouraging participants to:

  • Participate in a range of interactive or experiential activities, including Photo Voice work
  • Take notice of what they observe during the group sessions
  • Describe what they observe through a range of media, including group discussion, taking photos and writing postcards to practice.
[1] Chiesa, A., & Malinowski, P. (2011). Mindfulness-based approaches: Are they all the same? Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 404–424. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20776
[2] Coholic, D. A., & Eys, M. (2016). Benefits of an arts-based mindfulness group intervention for vulnerable children. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-015-0431-3

Reciprocal Communication

Reciprocal communication involves responsiveness, self-disclosure, warm engagement and genuineness. It requires facilitators to make themselves vulnerable to participants and express this vulnerability in ways that can be heard and understood by them. Reciprocity is in the service of the participants, not for the benefit of the facilitators.

Reciprocal communication is usefully balanced with irreverent communication, which focuses on curiosity, frankness and humour in engaging as a co-learner in the process.

In NNN, facilitators share their experiences in relation to the skills and concepts being discussed. It is even better if facilitators can share their own attempts (and especially their failures) with drama and humour. This can provide valuable modelling in how to apply skills and how to respond to vulnerability in a non-judgemental fashion. Irreverent communication can help challenge or change direction in the work by frankly observing or being curious about what is observed in the group.

Validation (particularly of trauma)

Validation means acknowledging participants’ experiences and perspectives, and acknowledging their perceptions as being true (or at least understandable). It does not necessarily mean agreeing with participants, and it does not mean that perceptions cannot be questioned.

Validation can improve relationships through active listening and by reducing negative reactivity, defusing anger and reducing feeling the need to justify actions.

Validation of trauma can help build knowledge that can motivate skill building and self-awareness for participants in managing distress. Four key practices that help validate participants’ experiences and emotions are:

  • Paying attention by being attuned, noticing and responding to cues in context
  • Reflecting back both content and feeling without judgement
  • ‘Reading minds’ by sensing and seeking out ‘what’s underneath’ the observed behaviour
  • Understanding even if you do not agree, and trying to see the roots of behaviour.[1]
[1] Lineham, M. M. (2014). DBT skills training manual (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Shared Power

While it is important to recognise the power imbalance inherent in the relationship (e.g., practitioner/client, adult/young person) and other potential power imbalances resulting from things like gender, cultural background and education, NNN seeks to share power.

Shared power underpins reciprocal communication and involves power-with rather than power-over.

Power with is shared power that grows out of collaboration and relationships. It is built on respect, mutual support, shared power, solidarity, influence, empowerment and collaborative decision making.

Develop or Strengthen Skills

Reflecting the theory of change underpinning the program, there is a focus on strengthening existing skills and building new ones.

This can involve building or strengthening the knowledge, behaviour, confidence, connection & coping

for participants in the program – in relation to the six key topics:

  1. Emotions
  2. Voice
  3. Empathy
  4. Power & Control
  5. Shame
  6. Choice