For the third time international youth workers came to share ideas, try out and develop methods and tools and learn with the users of ASPI under the August sun of Domžale. Association ASPI organised with Youth Center Domžale again an international training course funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union at the end of August 2022. This time the topic was human relationships, specifically Friendship, Family and Partnership as in intimate relationships. The training had 13 participants from Spain, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Greece and Slovenia as well as up to 20 users of ASPI in three workshops arranged as part of the training course.

The training course started already on 22. 8. Monday evening as the participants arrived from their countries and settled into the hostel Hiša na Travniku at Dob pri Domžale. The arrival evening was reserved to light activities and getting to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere. The question cards made during the first international training with the users of ASPI were a great success, bringing people together around the common table to ask and answer the questions.

The first full training day continued getting to know each other. In the morning there were more official introductions, this time including also the organisations the participants came from followed by going through the programme of the training and exploring the theme of first steps into a relationship through different exercises. In the afternoon the participants were brought to have a sneak peak of ASPI and CZM so they would have an idea where the workshops of the coming days would happen. The day was a couple of hours shorter than the others so the participants had time to explore Domžale.

Next three days the programme of the training followed the same overall structure. Starting at 9 o’clock in the morning after a healthy breakfast, there was a short energising activity, opening words of the day and an input from an expert. After the session with the expert the participants got into work designing the afternoon workshop on the day’s theme. Then lunch, some siesta time and taxi’s to Domžale where there was time to make the final preparations before the users of ASPI came. After the workshop there was still a short reflection with the participants on how the day and the workshop went before going back to the hostel for dinner and free evening.

ASPI’s own relationship therapist Robert Mlakar had on Wednesday morning an orientation to relationships in general, explaining the foundations of good relationships and how our attachment styles affect our relationships. Next morning Robert spoke about different family systems and how power, rules and boundaries are addressed in them. On Friday, couple therapist Jasmina Sanda led the participants to explore how to address different needs and the four main challenges – criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling – of intimate relationships.

The planning of the workshops took place in the beautiful grass field behind the hostel. The trainers  Teja Oblak, president of Association ASPI and Kalle Ristikartano led the participants to agree on aims for the workshop, choose methods to develop suitable for the task and then helped where needed. On Wednesday the participants worked in three smaller groups, on Thursday as one bigger group and on Friday in pairs as the workshop’s methods would follow suit. In general the participants took a pretty ambitious approach designing the activities for the workshops, coming up with plenty of ideas, questions and other add-ons.

After well done planning the afternoon workshops succeeded well in their aims. The interaction between the international participants and users of ASPI were lively, the themes of each day were explored to various depths and different approaches and methods to address the topics were tested and found mostly working well. As always, the time felt too short at the end, but still through the three workshops the users and participants got pretty comfortable working together. Out of the days, the Thursday workshop on Family was considered the hardest for all and the Friday one-on-one workshop the best, followed closely by the Wednesday small group workshop.

The training was not all about learning, planning, implementing and evaluating. The participants also got to eat out at Gostilna Dela and Pica Sedmica and some had time to visit Ljubljana for a concert and others went to Lake Bled to see more of Slovenia. All in all the feedback from the participants and users has been very positive and many have expressed being already waiting for the next edition of the international trainings.

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