The AVP Program


prison workshop – USA


communication skills – Johannesburg, South Africa

The Alternatives to Violence Project is a network of volunteers running workshops for anyone who wants to find ways of resolving conflict without resorting to violence. We work in the community and in prisons.

the thinking behind AVP

We understand that conflict is a natural and normal part of life, and that it is possible to learn new ways of handling it. By holding workshops in which the participants consider the underlying causes of friction and violence, practical ways of dealing with situations of conflict are worked out.

Our workshops build on everyday experiences and try to help us move away from violent or abusive behaviour by developing other ways of dealing with conflicts. They help us to increase the respect we have for ourselves and others.

To participate in a workshop, contact your local group.


deepening communication skills – Hereford, Britain



a lively exploration of cooperation! – Orange Farm, South Africa


trust exercise to explore community – Kerala, India


using roleplay to explore conflicts – Mombasa, Kenya

An AVP basic workshop takes 2-3 full days, and explores the five pillars of AVP: affirmation, communication, co-operation, community building and transforming power.

affirmation and communication

Improving communication skills forms an essential part of our workshop. We begin with introductions, agreeing on boundaries for the workshop, sharing names, and getting to know the group.

The exercises help us improve our listening skills, and share what is good about one another (affirmation) – something we typically don’t do enough of.


Learning to co-operate in a group can take different forms, even without communicating verbally!

AVP is an experiential programme – everything we do in our workshops begins with our own experiences.

Before we start discussing co-operation in the workshop, we first remind ourselves how it feels to work in a group, either co-operating with the others or not!

Reflecting on what we learn from our experiences, and listening to what others have learned, helps us to grow as a person.

community building

Group construction and trust exercises help build a sense of community, as do fun games and shared storytelling of experiences.

Doing such exercises together is fun, and also teaches us a lot about ourselves and others.

Our trained facilitators will debrief each exercise, drawing out lessons and insights from the group.

AVP workshops are great teambuilding tools – participants get to know each other much better, and build a valuable basis of trust and understanding.

transforming power

A key element of AVP is pre-emptive conflict resolution by creatively transforming unhealthy relationships through sharing, caring, improved communication skills and sometimes even surprise and humour.

Role-plays and other forms of drama allow us to explore possible approaches to different forms of conflict.

Important insights are gained through the roleplays, which are flexibly adapted and debriefed as they run, again helping us to assess and digest whatever we learn.

further workshops

An ‘advanced’ workshop builds on the principles of the first workshop, and each group works towards a consensus to choose topics they will explore in more detail.

Participants who have experienced our workshops and want to deepen their involvement can also train to become facilitators with AVP.

To participate in a workshop, contact your local group.

AVP is for everyone, everywhere.

AVP workshops are designed to easily adapt to the particular characteristics of each setting.


AVP has been known to help reduce violence within prisons, reduce recidivism, and improve communication both among the incarcerated community and with prison authorities.

AVP workshops are being held in:
community residential facilities / halfway houses
local jails
state and federal prisons
youth detention centers


AVP has been known to help improve interpersonal relationships and reduce incidents of domestic violence.

AVP workshops are being held with:
companies and corporations
faith communities
government agencies
non-profit organisations
remote communities
rural communities
urban communities
youth groups


AVP has been known to help reduce classroom-related violence and improve playground friendships and academic skills.

AVP workshops are being held with:
children aged 4 to 8, with special curricula designed for a series of 1 ½ hour sessions
elementary / primary school children
middle and high / secondary school youth
university students

AVP began in 1975 in a New York prison at the request of long-term prisoners. A workshop was held for youth coming into conflict with the law. The success of this workshop quickly generated requests for more, and the programme quickly spread to many other prisons.

It soon became obvious that violence and the need for this training exists as much outside prison as within, and that everyone in all walks of life and circumstances is exposed to and participates, in some way, in violence, whether it be physical or psychological.

This programme has now spread to over 50 countries around the world, including New Zealand, Costa Rica, Israel, Russia and South Africa.

AVP began with support from the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) but the programme is non-denominational, and works in many social and religious contexts.
our principles

The Alternatives to Violence Project is an international voluntary movement which organises workshops empowering people to lead nonviolent lives, based on respecting and caring for ourselves and others.

We believe there is a power for peace and good in everyone, which can transform our relationships.
AVP is open to all ages, backgrounds and genders. Our workshops are not allied to a particular faith or sect.

Links to archive on AVP-related research

Miles, I. An activist reflects personal narratives as a tool for social change AU-2014.pdf – an AVP facilitator reflects how the use of AVP and restorative practices could have impacted on his social action activities
Shuford,J Application Description 2013.pdf – the most recent research document
Kayser, T 2010 Minnesota AVP Impact on Anger Study 2013.pdf – STAXI study on states of anger
Joy,Towards Transformation 1995.pdf – an alternative to violence within the context of the criminal justice system

Morrison, Austad, Cota, HIPP Youth 2011.pdf – Help Increase the Peace, a youth-focused program in peace education
Halfman, Couzij,NL Narrative conflict & evaluation-2008.pdf — A model to evaluate AVP programs from Netherlands
Gerdes, Segal, LietzUS Human Relations Index-2013.doc — Instrument to measure empathy
Roberts, Theory .. Evaluation of Project-US2004.pdf – A violence reduction program for early adolescents
Williams, Reduction of Violence-US2012.pdf – study of reduction of incidents of violence in Solando Prison, California

Tomlinson, Britain Lit Review 2007.pdf – A review of the literature concerning AVP
Halfman, Couzij,NL Narrative conflict & evaluation-2008.pdf — A model to evaluation AVP programs from Netherlands
Gerdes, Segal, LietzUS Human Relations Index-2013.doc – Instrument to measure empathy
Labatt-Simon AVP Internet Facilitator Survey – US2008.pdf

Delahanty, USA Lit Review 2004c.pdf – Summary of research on the effectiveness of AVP
Graaff, Study on Conflict Resolution-ZA2005.pdf – Study of prison conflict resolution workshops including AVP
Hoppe, California Prison Friends Outside 2003.pdf – The Creative Conflict Resolution outcome study
Miller & Shuford, Delaware Prison 2005.pdf – AVP and recidivism
Phillips, NZ 2002.pdf – An evaluation of AVP workshops in Aotearoa / New Zealand
Sloane, Delaware Prison 2002.pdf – Study of the effectiveness of AVP workshops in a prison system
Sloane, Delaware Prison 2003.pdf – Lessons from the Cell Block: a study of prison inmate participants in AVP
Walrath, Maryland Prison 2001.pdf – Evaluation of an inmate run AVP: the impact of inmate to inmate intervention
Williams, Reduction of Violence-US2012.pdf — study of reduction of incidents of violence in Solando Prison, California

Morrison, Austad, Cota, HIPP Youth 2011.pdf – Help Increase the Peace, a youth-focused program in peace education
Roberts, Theory .. Evaluation of Project-US2004.pdf — A violence reduction program for early adolscents
Coggins, Baltimore HIPP 2005.pdf – HIPP Middle School Program evaluation
Doppler, Sydney Primary School Research 2008.pdf – Review of Restorative Practices study in Sydney Primary School
Stuart Nonviolence and youth work (AVP) Australia 2004.pdf – Model of youth work practice based on research & inspired by AVP

Agizah & Dundas Kenya Evaluation 2007.pdf – Impact of & Vision for Alternatives to Violence Project workshops in Western Kenya
Chico & Paule, Rwanda 2005.pdf – lessons from AVP workshops with Gacaca Judges, May 2004-March 2005
May, Uganda 2008.pdf – Teaching peace transforming conflict: exploring participant perceptions of the impact of peace training in Uganda
Niyongabo & Yeomans, Rwanda 2003.pdf – An evaluation of AVP in Rwanda

Bischoff, How restorative is AVP-US2001.pdf — Evaluating AVP according to a Restorative Justice yardstick
Wilmerding, Report on AVP in Congo-2005.pdf
Liveoak, Arrieta, Alternatives to Violence Project Colombia-2006.pdf
Chico, I am my neighbour’s mirror-2007.pdf — a community rebuilding after genocide, Rwanda
FPT-AGLI report on African AVP projects-2007.pdf — report on AVP and related peace projects in Africa by various authors
Sabin, AVP inmate to inmate-US2008.pdf — communication and community building
AVP An Instrument of Peace-JShufordUS-2009.pdf
Zarembkha AVP soars with youth Turbo Division-2011.pdf – Kenya Turbo Division Report
AVP and Trauma-JShufordUS-2013.pdf – AVP is part of the trauma-informed practice
Kluck, AVPI Epistle from Guatemala-2011.pdf — epistle from the AVP International Gathering in Guatemala in October 2011.