OUR MODEL OF HEALING
Our Model of Healing:
Our programs are run by survivors of child abuse, for survivors of child abuse. We believe that survivors understand what other survivors are going through the best. Our guests appreciate being supported by people who truly understand the pain, confusion and suffering that comes from childhood trauma. We carefully select and train survivors, who are dedicated to their own healing, to ‘walk alongside’ our guests on their healing journey.
Safety. We recognise it is vitally important for survivors to feel safe. We cannot heal unless we feel safe. Confidentiality is strictly upheld and we strive to ensure each guest feels safe at all times.
All types of trauma affect the brain. All types of trauma and abuse affect the brain, particularly when it continues for a long time. Research has found psychological / emotional abuse has similar and in some cases worse effects than physical and sexual abuse. It does not matter what type of trauma (or abuse) you have experienced, even a single event can have long lasting effects on your life so please do not judge yourself and think others deserve more support than you.
Living in Community. We aspire to live as a loving, healthy, functioning community. Guests, peer support volunteers and facilitators join together in all aspects of the healing week, including spiritual reflections, preparing and sharing meals and community work.
Understanding of power / authority. We recognise our abuse has made us very sensitive to people who abuse their power. All people are treated equally and with respect. All members of the community are treated equally and we do not ‘tell’, advise, try to ‘fix’ or ‘control’ anyone.
Survivors take responsibility for their healing in order to regain their own power. Our guests refer themselves to our programs; when they want to come, not when others want them to! Each person is encouraged and expected to be responsible for their own actions, emotions and behaviour. Guests are supported to develop their own insights, make their own decisions and choices and realise they have the answers within themselves.
Survivors connect with their trauma for effective healing. Scientific research supports what we, as survivors, have intuitively known: to facilitate healing we must unlock and express the emotions that we ‘shut down’ when we were traumatised as children to enable us to survive. Our guests are lovingly supported to re-connect with, and re-empower the ‘child’ part of themselves – the part of themselves that felt the pain and can still be carrying the memories of their trauma. While it can be a relief for survivors to tell their story, be heard and believed, our primary focus is the acknowledgement and expression of the emotion associated with trauma.
No time limits. We encourage our guests to stay with the process of healing throughout the week and guests decide what is right for them from our program. Our guests are lovingly encouraged to continue their journey of healing when they leave and are invited to return to us as many times as they need to. We do ask they leave a three-month period between healing weeks to achieve maximum benefit.
Mutual learning. We use all opportunities to learn from each other. It is understood that guests, peer support volunteers and facilitators are all survivors of child abuse and childhood trauma and everyone has the responsibility to grow and learn throughout the healing week.
Unconditional love, acceptance and understanding. At Heal For Life survivors are heard, believed and validated. We express our love and compassion for each other and share our feelings each day.
Connection with a higher power. Heal For Life is run on the teachings of Jesus (equality, non-judgmental, caring). However, our guests are encouraged to explore their own spirituality. People of all faiths are welcome and we believe that connection with a source of ‘Higher Power’ is an important factor in an holistic healing model.
Our Philosophy of Healing:
- The Heal For Life Foundation believes that every person has the innate ability to heal from childhood trauma and abuse.
- Our innovative healing programs are based on the latest neuroscience research, combined with our own anecdotal and intuitive knowledge. All of us who devised the program are ourselves survivors of childhood trauma and child abuse.
- We consider it essential for each person to be in control of their own healing journey, as each person knows best what they need to do in order to heal.
- We see healing as holistic i.e. involving body, mind and spirit.
- We believe feeling loved accepted and validated is essential for a person to heal.
- We believe that those of us who have suffered child abuse or childhood trauma are the most able to understand and help others to heal.
- All people, regardless of race, religion, gender, culture or sexual preference have the right to heal.
The Objectives of our Healing Programs:
By the end of this Healing Week, we hope our guests will be able to:
- Find and establish a safe place, either in reality or in their imagination.
- Recognise the importance of feeling safe.
- Be in touch with their ‘inner child’ and recognise the importance of this relationship for their own healing.
- Love, re-parent and re-empower their victim ‘inner child’.
- Demonstrate by the way they speak and act that they are beginning to love themselves.
- Actively engage in, and take responsibility for, their own journey of healing.
- Actively counteract feelings of shame or guilt by fully appreciating that childhood abuse was not their fault.
- Use knowledge of the effects of trauma on the brain to explain how the changes in their own developing brain have affected their emotional and behavioural patterns.
- Use knowledge of their attachment style in childhood to understand and begin to change their current relationships with others.
- Demonstrate developing skills in the use of new tools that can help when in crisis or when entering a challenging situation.
- Demonstrate increasing self responsibility in daily living which shows respect for the interconnectedness between physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.
- Apply the principles of Transactional Analysis so as to improve relationship with self and to counteract negative parental messages learned in childhood.
- Continue to practice setting appropriate boundaries with self and others.
- Feel confident to apply what they have learned during the healing week to their situation when they get home or their day to day living.
- Laugh more often and find more joy in living.
Strategies for the Healing Programs:
The following strategies are used in delivery of our programs:
- Educate guests as to the importance of safety and of having a safe place.
- Provide the resources for creative expression to allow guests to connect with the right side of brain e.g. use non-dominant hand to paint, work with clay.
- Help guests to connect with their ‘inner child’ via visualisations.
- Explain to guests in each workshop the importance of loving the ‘inner child’. Let the guests discover for themselves what happens when they give time and love to their ‘inner child’.
- Ensure the community life aspect of the program is functional and non-abusive.
- Empower the guests by encouraging them to make their own decisions in relation to healing and future action.
- Active listening.
- Explain fully to the guests in Tuesday’s workshop why children cannot be responsible for what happens to them.
- Teach attachment theory to the guests so they can understand their relationship with others.
- Teach the effects of trauma on the brain so the guests can understand themselves.
- Teach tools so the guests can know how to help themselves when in crisis.
- Do daily labour so the guests can learn how to work regardless of feelings and so they can recognise any dysfunctional attitudes towards work which may impede them in life.
- Teach the guests Transactional Analysis so they can understand themselves and others, and understand how their childhood has affected their attitude towards themselves and others.
- Explain boundaries every day and revise on Friday so guests can learn the importance of boundaries in every aspect of their lives.
- Facilitators and volunteers role model behaving in a loving manner towards each other and so demonstrate by action self-love.
- Ensure the support team look after themselves too, nurture themselves and take time off to self-care when allocated.