An interview about the new "Training Materials" with the author, Dr. Agnieszka Smrokowska-Reichmann

- Where did the idea for new "Training Materials" come from?

- Writing new materials was forced by circumstances. The textbook I wrote, "Compendium of Caregivers and Therapists", published in 2013, is simply out of print. We couldn't leave the training participants to just take notes on their own.

- The new "Training Materials" are approximately 100 A4 pages. There are no photographs here, only a few graphic elements illustrating selected topics. So there is really a lot to read. I assume it was quite tedious work?

- Yes and no. Let's start with a positive context. The topic of Snoezelen has become embedded in my biography and scientific career. I lecture this subject to occupational therapy students at the Academy of Physical Education in Krakow. I conduct stationary and field training. I advise various institutions arranging Snoezelen Rooms. I am the author of articles about Snoezelen published, among others, in multi-topic studies in the field of occupational therapy. I give lectures about the Snoezelen method at conferences in Poland and abroad. A few weeks ago, we completed a three-year international research project between universities from the Czech Republic, Poland and Catalonia, in which we focused the Snoezelen method with very good results. Snoezelen is a topic that has fascinated me for many years and to which I have devoted a significant part of my research journey. Working in this field is a pleasure for me.

As for the difficulties I encountered in this project, they resulted from the need to select the content that was most useful in direct work with the patient in the Snoezelen Room. The training carried out in previous years made me clearly realize that participants primarily expect knowledge that could be directly applied in practice, effectively and efficiently. The training participants are professionals, often working in helping professions for many years as pedagogues, special pedagogues, therapists, psychologists, etc. This had to be taken into account when preparing the materials and, of course, during the training itself.

As the Polish Snoezelen Association (ISNA-MSE POLAND), we also have another important goal, which may not be immediately visible, but which we must not neglect. The idea is to teach thinking according to the Snoezelen idea and Snoezelen philosophy and consistently translate this attitude into practice.

- And more specifically? What does this postulate mean for someone who, after training, takes responsibility for Snoezelen in his facility?

- Good question! Let's look at the following three examples:

Example 1. Facility X is looking for savings. The latest idea is to combine the Snoezelen method and SI therapy in one room. This would, of course, be an absolute mistake. The training graduate will be able to demonstrate the differences between these two methods, which require separate therapeutic spaces. The graduate knows that if it is not possible to provide two different rooms, at least two completely separate areas must be allocated and moreover, care should be taken to ensure that SI classes and Snoezelen sessions do not conflict with each other.

Example 2. Parents of a child with intellectual disabilities expect "quick effects of Snoezelen therapy." “But we pay for it.” By learning about the history of the method, the role of the caregiver/therapist and the eight axiomatic principles during the training, the training graduate will be able to explain to these parents what the specificity of the World Experience Room is and how much the Snoezelen method differs from directive and task-based therapies. However, it does not mean that you will not see the effects of a Snoezelen session. They will appear for sure.

Example 3. A Snoezelen Room set up in a facility for chronically mentally ill people clearly does not bring anything positive from the perspective of the patients' well-being. On the contrary, it causes them anxiety and discomfort. A training graduate visiting this room for the first time immediately notices serious mistakes made in its design and arrangement, namely:

- The room is colorful and should be white.

- There is much too much equipment in the room.

- Useful equipment is incorrectly arranged.

- Lighting and background music have a overstimulating effect.

To sum up: During a two-day training, it is not possible to discuss all potential threats and errors related to the incorrect use of the Snoezelen method. But the most realistic goal is to show how one can and should respond to the basic requirements and principles of what I call a "Snoezelen event".

- So the "Training Materials" constitute well-thought-out substantive support?

- The previously mentioned compatibility of these materials with lectures and workshops is just one of the benefits that I wanted to offer to the training participants. It was equally important for me to set a guiding line and clearly outline what the Snoezelen method is and what is clearly contradictory to this method. The training graduate therefore has a solid base of basic knowledge about the method. When encountering specific difficulties, she/he should consider: What are these problems about? At what point in the training did we talk about these or very similar issues? This should be accompanied by another reflection: Where in the textbook is there a hint that could be a starting point for further independent search for a solution to the difficulty?

- And it actually works?

- I don't have the latest feedback yet. The first training with the new "Training Materials" took place only a dozen or so days ago. However, the strategy of transferring knowledge, which in a sense anticipates problems, has already been tried many times in my teaching practice with positive results. For example: It is no coincidence that we give such priority to the eight principles of the Snoezelen method in the training and in the Materials. Because about 80 percent of errors and mistakes in practicing Snoezelen result from "forgetting" one or more rules. The Snoezelen method is seemingly simple to use, but it is by no means obvious. However, a graduate of the training and a reader of "Materials" does not have to worry about anything. With solid preparation, over time he will become more and more confident and effective in using this unique, wonderful method.

- Thank you for the interview!

- Thank you for the opportunity to present the new manual to Internet users visiting the ISNA-MSE POLAND Association website.