What is Intentional Practice?

Intentional practice is a mindfulness-based intervention design and implementation methodology that is designed to be applied by individuals, programs and agencies to make a difference in the lives of the people they are entrusted to support.

Intentional practice is designed to increase the probability that safe and higher impact intervention outcomes (psychological or behavioural) will be delivered. In other words, increase impact and reduce unintentional harm. “Interventions” include a program, strategy, relationship exchange, piece of communication, teaching moment, skill-building approach, clinical or non-clinical method, or any activity or process (delivered with intent) that is designed to deliver a growth outcome.

Intentional Practice spans and integrates system and practice. It can applied across an entire program, agency or institution, but also operationalised in moment-to-moment supporting adult roles (e.g., teacher, youth worker, parent, manager, supervisor, carer, support worker or professional).

Intentional Practice is an umbrella term that refers to any intervention where the  supporting adult (or program/institution) brings moment-to-moment awareness (or mindfulness) of the desired outcomes (“what”) and associated processes (“how”) within the intervention (Raymond, 2016)

It is a ‘how to’ method that brings individual, program and institutional mindful awareness to three key questions?

  • What is the intent or energy we are bringing to an individual relationship or intervention process?
  • What outcomes are we are hoping to achieve?
  • How, or by which method or process, are we seeking to deliver these outcomes?
  • Are we having a growth or activating effect?

Intentional practice is a methodology that embraces complexity, diversity, science and context, multiple disciplines and systems, and the “moment”:

  • Complexity and diversity – intentional practices values human diversity and the disentangling of complexity in a manner that can translate to the delivery of local growth outcomes.
  • Science to context – intentional practice translates science and best-practice evidence to the needs, circumstances and context of an individual, program or system.
  • Integrating disciplines – intentional practice is a method to integrate outcomes (‘what’) and processes (‘how) from multiple disciplines (positive psychology, trauma, sustainability).
  • ‘System’ to the ‘moment’ – intentional practice offers a ‘bridge’ to translate and integrate the system (program, institution, multiple layers) to the ‘moment’ (moment-to-moment teaching, practitioner or supporting adult roles).

Intentional practice has been developed in response to three problems that impact on the capacity of interventions to hit the mark or make a difference in the lives of the people they support.

At the heart of intentional practice are the following six features (Raymond, 2016):

  • Directed Awareness – it is a method of directing individual and organisational attention or awareness to the key conditions that activate positive growth and learning outcomes. It is underpinned by the skill of mindfulness.
  • Outcome and Process Focused – it brings ongoing awareness to the delivery of outcomes (or the “what”) and the method (or the “how’) to deliver those outcomes
  • Inclusive – it values all disciplines and supporting adult roles, and seeks to bring unity and shared understanding around a common language and approach.
  • Multi-Leveled – it can be applied in multiple ways, for example, to guide moment-to-moment supporting adult relationships, or be applied across an entire program model or institution.
  • Skill-Based – it is comprised of skill elements that can be learnt, acquired and developed by anyone.
  • Empowering – it seeks to empower both individuals and institutions to draw upon existing knowledge and wisdom, and values individual creativity, personalities, interests, needs and experiences.

The following video provides an overview of intentional practice.