Video Interaction Guidance: A Relationship-Based Intervention to Promote Attunement, Empathy and Wellbeing

Edited by Hilary Kennedy, Miriam Landor and Liz Todd
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London

Reviewer: Dr Greg Pasco, Research Fellow
Centre for Research into Autism and Education, Institute of Education

When Chris asked me to review this book I agreed as a favour to him, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy reading it or to learn anything of particular interest from it. Within half an hour of picking it up, however, I was loudly proclaiming its merits to my wife Anita, a speech and language therapist who works with young children. Now she wants my copy…

The obvious first question to ask about this book is “What is Video Interaction Guidance?”, which is helpfully answered by Hilary Kennedy in Chapter 1. She states that Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is an “intervention where the clients are guided to reflect on video clips of their own successful interactions…in a process of change towards better relationships with others who are important to them.” (p.21). Subsequent chapters explain the breadth of contexts and important others that are the focus of VIG, from the relatively familiar approach aimed at promoting responsive and sensitive parental communication styles with infants and young children to the completely unfamiliar (to me at least) initiative to enhance interactions between lecturers and their students in higher education.

What holds the diverse applications of VIG together as a relatively coherent theme for this book is the underlying philosophical and theoretical orientation behind the use of video technology in relation to the facilitation of better communication and interaction and reflective practice. This is eloquently articulated by Colwyn Trevarthen in his contribution. For over four decades Trevarthen has been at the forefront of work that illuminates the dynamic and rhythmic nature of interactions between young infants and their mothers. He describes how he was introduced to the work of Harrie Biemans, one of the pioneers of VIG in the Netherlands:

One idea that grew from discussions with Harrie ….. was that [his] course on Video Home Training might parallel or reproduce the sequence of stages in communication with an infant – from ‘courteous’ proto-conversations of the early weeks, through the fun of games in the middle of the first year…preparing the way for object use and for language. (p.204)

Readers with experience of the range of communication-focused interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents will be familiar with the Hanen More Than Words and the National Autistic Society’s EarlyBird programmes that use video feedback to enable parents to reflect upon and modify their interactions with their children. Mentioned briefly in Chapter 8, which focuses on ASD, the suggestion is that these approaches are probably only scratching at the surface of the potential benefits of VIG. Whilst the evidence base for VIG (along with many other approaches) in relation to ASD is still very limited, Ruben Fukkink, Hilary Kennedy and Liz Todd describe the growing body of evidence in support of VIG across the range of contexts in which it is used in Chapter 4. This includes large-scale, methodologically rigorous studies as well as more descriptive single case and case series studies. Relatively few of these studies have been conducted in the UK, but whilst the familiar appeal for more research is repeated here, this should not detract from what appears to be an impressive set of positive outcomes in support of the use of VIG and similar video-based approaches.

My one slight niggle with the book is that, given the wide range of applications of VIG, I don’t feel that it is appropriate to describe it as an ‘intervention’ – perhaps it would be more accurately characterised as an ‘approach’. This is an inspiring book for anyone engaged in working with young children with disabilities and their families, and should serve to broaden the understanding of how powerful this approach can be. However, regardless of our field of work, anyone whose life and work involves interaction and communication with people we care about, including our children, partners, friends and colleagues, might benefit from reading a few chapters from it. Now, what has Anita done with my copy?

Dr Greg Pasco, Research Fellow
Centre for Research into Autism and Education, Institute of Education