I’m often asked, what is a good men’s group? My standard answer is that it’s not therapy, its men learning what we didn’t get to learn growing up. All that is true, but it doesn’t explain what occurs during the meetings. Nor does it explain how, in six months, a man’s life can be transformed so that his once failing marriage brings joy to both partners.
Before I started my new groups eight years ago, I wanted a complete redesign of my men’s group structure, so I stepped back and looked at what really changes people. I was looking for what worked in a quick, graceful and sustainable way. It certainly wasn’t telling someone how to be. Nor was it endless hours of analyzing what doesn’t work. Whenever either approach was used on me, not only did it not work, I got pissed and walked away.
Men aren’t broken
We’re not broken. We’re not bad. What we are is floundering: I realized that our problem was that we never had models or teachers on how to win as men. Our “problem” is not a therapeutic problem; it’s a learning issue.
I knew I needed to design a method that built on our innate, yet dormant masculine wisdom. This wisdom doesn’t exist outside us; it lies deep inside of us. We needed to be archeologists digging out buried treasure and ancient wisdom. We needed to take each man deeper into himself.
It turned out going deep was easier and more fun than we expected. Most men crave this form of self-discovery. It’s like going back to the house you grew up in to explore your old attic. You discover old memories in the items stored in the attic. You get to complete and reframe past experiences. You even get to take home a few of your old favorite possessions.
The core of our work is a process that takes men deep. I developed the Healing Journey as a guided experience for a man to free himself of what binds him, so he may reconnect to what he lost as he survived his childhood, or even an adult experience. The Healing Journey weaves in many traditions and approaches I learned over the years.
A core to the Healing Journey and much of the work we do in these groups stem from the work of Milton Erickson, MD, a psychiatrist who developed an indirect way to utilize the unconscious mind. My primary teacher in this art was Stephan Gilligan, PhD. Back in the 1980s I began studying Ericksonian Hypnosis because it wasn’t standard hypnosis. It was a way to communicate with the unconscious, so it became an ally in healing and creation.
This video that Stephan recently did not only beautifully explains the work he’s developed over 40 years, it explains much of our work in our groups. He weaves into the video many of the aspects we work with – stress, PTSD, mindfulness, somatic psychology and the body. He does a better job explaining what we do than I could.
If you want to learn how to create a group that takes it members deep into their own resources, witnesses their healing and transformation, and then champions their success – watch the video.
A documentary film on the Sandpoint Men’s Group, About Men, will be released this spring. Here’s a trailer for the film. This documentary was shot over three weeks last summer exploring the inner workings of our group. This film will give you more insight to what we do, as well as the impact of our work on our families and community.
Free to Win sponsors One Day and Two Day men’s groups to introduce our work to more men. What we do is actually easy to learn with some good instruction. As the film will show and any man will tell you, it’s also a lot of fun. Men Corps is our nonprofit offering all the protocols to starting and running a group for free.
We are here to help you also have a powerful group. You deserve to win, with the help of other men. You can do it. With our support you can do it quicker and easier than we did. Go for it.
What are your thoughts or feeling around winning as a man?