CEP has launched the initiative to strengthen training and education of probation workers in the different EU member states. The CEP aims for a more permanent network of organizations to exchange expertise on pre-employment training and in-career further professional development in probation.

The general objective of the project

The general objective of the project was to develop one simulation per country, based on the principle of creating an effective working alliance between probation workers and clients. Effective in the sense that the working alliance matches the dual role of control and support that characterizes the work of community supervision of clients. The combination of counseling and control requires extra attention in establishing a working alliance.

In working with mandated (involuntary) clients, goals can differ, and clients can show reactance against the constraints. Therefore, one cannot presume the intention of the client to collaborate from the start. This is one of the key features of probation that is addressed in this project: how to learn to build an effective working alliance from the start of a professional-client relationship that fits the dual role of control and support that characterizes the work of community supervision.

Simulations were experienced as an effective training intervention, as they allow professionals to gain experience with the dynamics of building a working alliance in a safe learning environment that adds measurement.

Project execution

In the period from March to November 2022, a pilot project was done to create simulations on the DialogueTrainer platform with four European member states: Estonia, Romania, Finland and Catalunya.

The objective of this project was to:

  1. To create four online, playable conversation simulations in local languages, with English translations;
  2. To learn how online conversation training is appreciated by players and what they learn from playing.

To include local expertise, experts from the member states were trained to develop simulations on the platform, guided by professionals from the HU – Hogeschool Utrecht – and DialogueTrainer. These simulations were consecutively tested with 10-50 participants per local organization to evaluate effects and appreciation as a learning tool.

As a common context, the cases were defined as ‘getting to an agreement for a community supervision plan’ for a medium-risk client without predominating addiction or mental health problems. Combined with local expertise, two overarching principles were chosen which the simulations gave feedback about, namely:

  • Building an effective working alliance;
  • Using the principles of Motivational Interviewing.

As a result of the project, a learning module was created which includes the four local simulations including translations in English.

Do you want to try it for yourself? Play a scenario:

On 25th November 2022 the Dialogue Training meeting took place in Utrecht. The coordinators from the involved countries (Finland, Estonia, Spain-Catalonia, Romania) met to discuss the results and the future of the project.

You can find the final report here.


For more information please contact CEP Secretariat at secr@cep-probation.org.

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