Project Place board member, Cathy Claflin, facilitates a therapeutic environment for her Life Skills enrichment workshop. Here, the aim is to identify personal challenges and then develop strategies to create what Cathy calls “good mental hygiene”. Participants share their challenges with the group and everyone listens attentively before offering encouragement, validation of each other’s feelings, and advice. “When you speak your feelings, you create change,” reflects a participant who says that being able to identify and talk about his feelings has positively transformed his life. Similar experiences are exchanged and reflected on. There’s a true sense of comradery that fills the room and makes it a safe space to express yourself and learn from Cathy, as well as from peers.
Near the end of the workshop, participants reflect on their support networks and who they could call if they needed to talk to someone. One of the participants shares, “I only had two people to talk to before I came to Project Place. Now I’ve met other people who are going through similar struggles. I’ve made some real true friends here, some who are in this room right now.” If someone struggles to identify friends in their support network, others in the group immediately step up and say they were a friend they could call on. One of the participants discusses his challenge of losing all his friends as a necessary part of his sobriety. Others relate to the experience of having to disengage from friends who were not healthy in their lives and totally start afresh. “We’re all here because we want to change the path our life was going in”, reflects one of the participants. Cathy reminds the group that they are now part of a community of people ultimately working towards the same goal, and they are now positioned to begin building new healthy habits and networks to carry them forward.