Learning to Support

I am posting this article today from Colorado – as I attend the IACSAS Redeeming Sexuality and Intimacy conference 2016. (You can read my review of the 2015 conference here.)

One again I find myself surrounded by the people I consider “the greats” in this field of sexual addiction healing, and the treatment of betrayal trauma. It is such a privilege to learn directly from them via presentations and workshops. Even better than the learning, though, is the networking. The comforting hugs, encouraging smiles, and the actual laughter (rather than the FB emoticons or LOLs) are so precious. Sharing our stories and praying with each other — rather than (distantly) for each other— feels like a foretaste of heaven.

The Rest of the Year

And while I can’t hug them or hear their laughter most of the rest of the year, I do get to Skype (or Hangout) with some of these women on other days. (See the video interviews for more). Sometimes, I even get something better than that.

For example, for eleven weeks at the beginning of the year I got to spend two hours every week on Skype with the amazing Donna Meredith-Dixon (a friendship struck up at the 2015 conference).

This came about because at the end of last year Donna completed a training manual for small group facilitators. More specifically, the manual is for peer facilitators of groups for betrayed wives/wives of sex addicts. As a peer facilitator of one such group, I was keen to get my hands on it. Then I found I could do one better… I could get my hands on it AND go through it with its author. “Bonus,” I thought.

What “A Door of Hope” Taught Me

And “bonus” was right. Even just on its own A Door of Hope is an amazing resource for preparing betrayed wives to facilitate support groups. It is so thorough and professional that I enjoy showing it off (like I did last weekend) to my counselor friends. Nevertheless, it’s still completely comprehensible to lay people like myself.

While the book (which will soon be available as a free pdf – or a low-cost print version) can be tackled on one’s own, there’s definitely some big advantages to going through it with Donna as part of a small group.

Our time-zone challenged group consisted of Donna (Texas), myself (New Zealand) and the wonderful Amanda Jackson (Worthy of Love ministry) in Queensland, Australia. Despite our diverse locations we had little difficulty making this work. And I know Amanda and I were so glad we did. Meeting with Donna adds a degree of depth to the learning that one just can’t draw out on one’s own. We were able to bring current issues to Donna and get her insight into them. We were able to discuss our personal strengths and weakness as facilitators and get guidance and encouragement. It was truly brilliant.

What it Covers

This is an incredibly, in-depth training, so I can’t list everything we tackled. However, some of the highlights included:

  • How to plan and prepare for a group within a church, or other, setting
  • How to screen prospective group members for group readiness
  • How to refer those who are not ready (or who need extra help) to professionals and/or services in our area
  • How to provide information about the purpose of the group and the group process to attendees -- and help them set goals for the group
  • How to inform group members of the facilitator’s obligation to report certain types of information to authorities (and how to understand of what types of information that is in our jurisdiction)
  • How to ensure confidentiality, group safety and group members’ rights
  • How to provide a safe environment and take reasonable precautions to protect group members against harm resulting from interactions within the group
  • How to ensure a complete process for the group in opening, working with and closing the group
  • How to show appropriate respect to group members’ perspectives and individual needs
  • How to assess our own strengths, weaknesses, biases, etc. as a facilitator and how these can impact on our work with groups

All of this framework was continually filled in with information about the multidimensional partner trauma model (M-PTM) and the specific impacts of sexual addiction/betrayal on the addict and their spouses.

Donna, and IACSAS, are currently looking at making this a certificate level training course: that is those who complete it will become “certified” in group facilitation. This book, and this course, are such a gift to our community. I really can’t speak highly enough of them.

For more information: Life is Ahead.