WholeLife℠ Feature – TWH’s New Treatment and Transitional Program Class – “Courage to Search”

WholeLife 3-24-14

The growing efforts of The Women’s Home are all tied together by our comprehensive and very effective WholeLifemodel, which addresses the emotional/mental, physical, social, spiritual, vocational, and financial wellness of our clients and residents.

This week, ten residents of The Women’s Home Treatment and Transitional program began a journey in a new class aptly titled “Courage to Search.” They were greeted at the lunchtime gathering with a beautiful new journal and a panel of six enthusiastic and gifted volunteers, ready to guide their exploration over the next eight weeks of spiritual exploration. The clinical staff and community outreach team at The Home has worked closely with The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center to develop this unique program. Under the guidance of Institute Vice President Stuart Nelson, our group will utilize an evidence-based questionnaire that will be the basis for group interaction on topics including: life review, relationships, present values and decision-making. Stuart and an academic colleague formulated the questionnaire into what they call a “Meaning Systems Interview,” to encourage open-ended exploration and dialogue within the group, and also involves individual contemplation outside the group. In addition, the program will include a field trip to various sacred sites in the city.

In addition to Stuart, an impressive array of volunteers has stepped up to shape the creation of this additional offering to the residents. Alden Clark, Ann Lister, Angela Caughlin, Janet Vucinich, and Jo Reid have all worked diligently to prepare the curriculum. They will also serve as facilitators over the coming weeks. Their combined experiences and education include everything from feminist liberation theology, expression through creative writing, clinical therapy and personal growth through spiritual exploration.

Manager of Clinical Services, Emily Kemper, later told the volunteers, “I noticed that the clients responded positively, and in a way that allowed them to be vulnerable as a response to some of your personal sharing. What I thought might not happen did happen…your vulnerability touched their stories, and they were able to share them. I suspect that this will continue to happen, and that the similarities of your collective stories will open up the conversations, as…an ease and comfort that I have already seen from just one session.”

There is much evidence that recovery from addictions is not realized without a major spiritual birth or transformation in an individual who has lost the coping skills needed to “live life on life’s terms” because chemical substances have hijacked their ability to access rational and hope-filled thought. This is often described as faith in a “higher power”. Here at The Home, we look for creative ways to encourage the daily practice of spirituality through silent contemplation, affirmations, yoga, meditation, and sharing in community. Healing is greatly influenced and fueled through faith, shared experiences, and hope.

Providing spiritual care without a bias to a particular faith is often a very tricky path. But, for those that feel “spiritually bankrupt” or who have been unable to deepen their own personal perspective, it is imperative to start somewhere in the quest. In the short term, it is believed that the addition of this new class will result in learning about introspection, awareness of different systems of meaning, increased awareness of motivations, opinions and aspirations, and the increased familiarity with spiritual resources and sites around our diverse city.

In the long term, we believe that our residents’ behavior will be positively impacted by a healthier sense of spirituality, increased engagement within the community, and by gaining a personal spiritual “home” – once they exercise the courage to search.