SLIM: an effective way of thinking


Scientific knowledge on reintegration and motivation until now offers hardly any practical advise for individual interventions. The focus is mostly on what works for most people. But in practice the question is what works for whom and when. People differ, and if an intervention does not work for someone, it often harms. 

Six underlying working principles can be derived from research. They all sound plausible. Normalize, give attention, create opportunities, train, take by the hand, and co-create are all effective, but also partly contradictory. There is not one single best way. The Subjectively Logical Intervention Model offers guidelines for tailoring support to individual needs. Among others for the large group of people on social benefits for whom self-sufficiency is not assumed feasable.

SLIM is a new, scientific theory on effective interventions that can be used in guiding people as well as in and policy development. It was developed in a European consortium of knowledge institutes and local policymakers. The point of departure is that interventions are effective if lifeworld and systemworld are connected and strengthen each other rather than clash. People have an image of themselves ("this is how I am") and policy is based on an image of the subjects of the policy ("that is how they are"). When those images co-incide, an intervention normally works. For the simple reason that the assumed causality of action and reaction actually applies. In essence it is all about people’s ambitions and abilities. The steer, the gaspedal and the hand brake. Interventions can be aimed at people themselves, at their social surroundings, or their social opportunities. Micro, meso and macro. Interventions can take social normality as a starting point (the system determines the direction) or can take people’s own ambitions and normality as a starting point (the lifeworld determines the direction). SLIM helps to find an adequate strategy in each situation.

The model is a practical instrument to support people towards participation and self-sufficiency, and applies to all social services. Supporting people to find a job, education or self-employment, debts counseling, social participation and self-sufficiency, domestic violence and so on. Young people, old people, refugees, minorities, women, men, people with work limitations. Or caseworkers, accountmanagers for employers’ services, social workers, teachers, prison guards, coaches, therapists, managers, aldermen, social entrepreneurs and so on. The model applies to all situations in which people and systems cooperate, and where the aim is to change and improve without blueprints. This includes a transformation that many organisations attempt to achieve, towards client-centred working and focusing on intentions rather than rules. We developed several instruments and methods based on this model, and are continuously developing.