As I observe hard work paying off, the hours I spend creating topics for groups becomes bouquets of flowers on a beautiful holiday. The reward returns over and over again, as I see the light go on in my client’s eyes and the positive responses from each as they grow through difficulties.
Often we forget the power of empathy in the work of mental health and addiction recovery. We have tools we use to build rapport with clients, yet we forget becoming real with them builds more bridges to openness than does rote memory of how to connect with someone. Take the lens of empathy and apply the same concept to working with angry, hurt, and scared men with domestic violence on their criminal complaint history.
Now, when you look back at the men, you realize its more than commandeering a list of accountabilities toward negative behaviors used toward their partner. What you have is men, who embrace coming to group and who choose to make an impact by revealing their behaviors because they know they are not judged for them, but encouraged by the honesty.
A group member shared over the past three weeks different sparks of knowledge and awareness he had gained from the sessions. Tonight, the same group members acknowledged he was just coming to get the legal requirement, still getting insight, but his eyes were opened to the ability to make a lasting change. He wanted to become a portal for peace. The light truly shone in this specific client’s eyes.
As the group explored values, each client noted some powerful concepts even I didn’t expect. They unanimous value they placed on relationships with significant partners and children was: trust and respect. Secondly, they added knowledge and dependability, and finally, they added work ethics, and peace.
We unpacked what values, goals, and beliefs meant to each of them throughout the two-hour program session. We looked at ways to improve ourselves from the new knowledge we received, were validated by each other’s wisdom of experience, and encouraged to speak up when we had a different view than what was presented.
As I feel like the commercial, “but wait! there’s More!,” I realized how transparent the men were in group, even with a visiting clinician who wanted to get some insight in working with domestic violence perpetrators. She was floored, because the men were coming up with some powerful examples of core values, and what they mean to them. She didn’t expect personal growth topics, she expected the hammer to come down and accountability to flow.
My co-facilitator and I shared the value of empathy and using a trauma-informed lens in our work. When we practice in this manner, we open the door for the group members to embrace change and choose to walk through the struggle of life. We see men, bare their souls by sharing “I feel like I am lost” to other group members, who lift them up and carry the torch.
Work becomes the meaningful template for a future of purpose, while we consistently focus on what we bring to the world. As I sit back and relish the gift of group work, I am amazed at how incredibly blessed I am to do this work, bring my personal twist to it, and instill hope in a hurting, pained, and deeply troubled world.
May the work we do continue to cause positive ripples across the pond of life, where each one, reach one becomes a motto worth living out daily.
~Just a thought by Pamela
Previously published on medium
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