The AVP Program

The Basics


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.

Workshop Settings

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

How AVP Started

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.

AVP Core Values

The Underlying Core Values of Our AVP Organisation and Workshops

Core values are the fundamental principles that guide our actions and behaviours. The following core values, appearing in no particular order, are present throughout AVP, from our workshops to our
organisations, to our daily lives. They influence our behaviour and our way of thinking. They set AVP apart.

AVP-Trained Teams
A community of AVP-trained facilitators working in teams. We practise and model the attitudes, skills, processes and knowledge of AVP. This is present in workshops and throughout the organisation.

Shared Power and Leadership
Enabling everyone to participate in leadership roles. Acknowledging that none of us has all of the
answers, we share responsibility and draw on the strengths and wisdom of everyone in the group.

The belief that we always have options and choices in any given situation. We choose how we respond.

The conscious effort to acknowledge and consider, without prejudice, all natural and social differences, perceived or otherwise, in the AVP Community. We seek common ground by identifying and embracing

Good Within Everyone
The belief that there is something of value in all of us. We seek to affirm and connect with that capacity for good. We accept each person on their life journey.

Journey of Personal Exploration
The understanding that each person’s path is different. We each empower our own path, and begin by
being open to change.

Experiential Learning
Doing, listening, interacting with others, and reflecting on present and past experiences leading to reframing perspectives. Re-experiencing the self with peers.

Building, rebuilding and maintaining a sense of belonging, connectedness and safety with others.
Respecting and caring for oneself while respecting and being present for others.

Personal Nonviolence
Taking personal responsibility for not harming oneself or others. When we recognise there are
alternatives, violence is no longer an answer to conflict.

We are all part of this decision-making process seeking to reach an agreement that everyone can
accept, work with, and apply.

Creating an environment that is conducive to collaboration, personal growth and taking risks to change ourselves and our relationships.

Accessibility and Consistency
Staying true to AVP best practices and ensuring our processes, learnings and organisational operations are open, clear and easily understood. This is how we can recognise AVP anywhere in the world.

Mutual Respect
Building strength and confidence in oneself while honouring and connecting with others.

Transforming Power
We are guided by our optimism that when we are open to Transforming Power, every situation has the
potential to have a hopeful, positive outcome.

AVP International & AVP USA
Joint Education Best Practices Team
May 2017

AVP Core Values