How psycho-social interventions can help counter and prevent violent extremism

In this article from the Globe and Mail, our Research Director, Mike King explains how the use of specialized psycho-social interventions like the Evolve program can help counter and prevent violent extremism. 

Snippet from Original Article

Published by Dakshana Bascaramurty in The Globe and Mail on May 16, 2022

In Alberta, the Organization for the Prevention of Violence, or OPV, has enrolled about 50 people in its psycho-social deradicalization program called Evolve since it launched in 2019. Many participants have found Evolve on their own, while others have been referred through family, friends or even the police or courts. The program experienced an uptick in referrals since the winter convoy protests.

Though some subscribe to conspiracy theories like “The Great Replacement,” staff in the program never start off trying to correct or argue with the beliefs of participants, explained Michael King, OPV’s director of research. For one, it just makes their beliefs more entrenched, and also it doesn’t do much to build trust with people who usually have high levels of mistrust in institutions.

Instead, he said, mentors (who were previously involved in extremism themselves), social workers and a psychologist look at things the participant might be struggling with: securing housing, for example, or finding a new job.

“If you start helping them with that [and] you’re sticking with them for a few months, then they start saying, ‘Okay, I can trust this person.’ And slowly but surely you get to a point where ideology can be a topic that will be put on the table and discussed.”

Dakshana Bascaramurty. “Canadian online searches grow for far right and white supremacy content.” The Globe and Mail, 16 May 2022

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