On Saturday I had the privilege to begin a free course offered by my local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The 8-week program is entitled the, “Peer-to-Peer Education Recovery Course” and runs for two hours each Saturday.
We had an energetic facilitator and there were 10 participants in the class. We each got a three-ring binder full of information and I was impressed by how organized the room was when I arrived – name tags, pens, binders, etc., at each seat.
The session started with an icebreaker activity to help us learn people’s’ names. We had to say the person’s name then toss a ball to them. After they caught the ball, they repeated the process by turning to someone else. Soon we were tossing the ball without first having to look at the person’s name tag like we were a few minutes earlier.
After we ended the activity and were seated, the instructor began reading out of his manual. This was the only aspect of the entire session that I thought could be improved because he read from the manual word-for-word. But it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because he engaged us while he read, looking up periodically and remaining full of expression.
The first thing we reviewed were the core values that were created the week before. I missed the first week but was able to copy them into my notebook, below.
After a short 10-minute break we got into the instructional material for the day. Our discussion focused around the handout below and was based on the Bridges Consumer Stages of Recovery. This model illustrates recovery using three events: Crisis, Decision, and Awakening.
Here is what I took away from this portion of the session:
- Each event or crisis sets the stage on a person’s way to recovery.
- Each stage has a group of emotions and needs associated with it.
- The needs must be met before recovery can enter the next level.
- The stages of recovery –
♦ Stage 1 – Recuperation takes place after a crisis.
♦ Stage 2 – There is the decision to rebuild.
♦ Stage 3 – An awakening leads to recovery and discovery.
After we finished the portion of instruction, we did an activity called, “In the Moment”. I learned that this would be a regular component of each session and that it would teach us to focus our minds on the present instead of worrying about what was going to happen in the future. In the activity, the instructor placed a raisin on a plate, passed the plate around, and had us tell our thoughts on what we saw. It was an analytic task and everyone gave analytic answers such as “loneliness”, “courage”, and “death”. When the plate got to me all I could think of was a snack.
The instructor then put the rest of the raisins on the plate and repeated the activity, asking us to tell the class what we saw. This time I was able to think of something deeper than what my stomach was telling me to say. My response was that the raisin, though at the end of its life, still had something to offer. I also acknowledged that this raisin, for whatever reason, had gone down a different path than other raisins, which may have been processed into wine.
I enjoyed this session and believe that I am going to enjoy the rest of the course. We have a great instructor who is honest and transparent, and I am with a wonderful group of people who are willing to share themselves and learn from others. I encourage you to look into whether your local chapter offers this class and take it. You can go to the NAMI site and select your area to see what resources are being offered there. This link should take you the NAMI page at the site. and allow you to select your state.