past

Briefly, I am noting the positive effort of VOH to name the various psychotherapy models such as psychodynamic, cognitive therapy, jungian, and gestalt, which support it’s programs.

Click here to read this description:

(http://www.victoriesoftheheart.org/For_Professionals/Clinical_Models)

While there is also a section “for only professionals”, I am only evaluating what is open and transparent to the public. I have already mentioned this “for professionals only” section seems like a bad idea, and some might call it elitist. It is bad marketing for sure.

However, these references to clinical models are offered without any detailed intellectual discussion. The thoughtful reader is encouraged to assume the lack of detail is because this is a website which does not allow for more discussion.

If the “for professionals only” section offers more detail, it should be part of the main website available to everyone without discrimination.

Without any details, the website’s references to “clinical models” remains a minimalist intellectual effort.

As evidence of this minimalist intellectual effort within VOH, the “Publications” category under “For Professionals” you will find the exact same bibliography I provided as a handout for the men at VOH weekends I co-led years ago.

I was amused to find my bibliography on the website, mainly because I never intended nor was I asked to use it in this manner.

I also found it interesting that the “Publications” section states:

“We have prepared an annotated bibliography of books that address some of the issues explored during our weekends. Download (here)”

The use of the word “We” in the sentence suggests the bibliography was the effort of at least a few hours of the leaders collaborating and putting together something more comprehensive for intellectually interested readers.

Instead, the reality is that I wrote the bibliography many years ago without any input from others and it’s use on the website was a surprise, well, not a shock to me.

If you click here (http://www.counselinginchicago.com/books-and-websites-i-recommend/), you will go to my website and see my expanded bibliography I offer for anyone interested. The similarities of both bibliographies are obvious.

Knowing the men who are working at this, I believe there is an effort to begin exploring more scientific research to support VOH programs. This is an excellent effort. However, it is a very new effort begun sometime after 2007-08.

While I am only one of the people who witnessed VOH from the inside and outside, if asked on a witness stand under oath, if I was ever a part of any collaborative, organization wide effort to apply psychotherapy or psychological research to all VOH programs, I would have to answer “no”.

Now, others may have been involved in such an effort without my being aware of it. I just know I never heard concepts like psychodynamic, gestalt, jungian, or cognitive therapy used with any intellectual depth related to program discussions or evaluations.

Any of my VOH intellectual efforts I resulted from a request from the Chairman of the VOH board who I know was very interested in bringing research to the task of program development.

For example, he asked me to become involved in the VOH “Spirit of Generosity” training which was poorly designed effort at training volunteer staff for weekends.

Doing a little research into the program, I learned that the main focus of “SOG” seemed to be for the staff of the training to take the personal objects brought by participants and bury them somewhere on the grounds of Techni Center.

So, the participants then, lost their personal items, despite the fact that they may have been perhaps valuable pieces of jewelry.

If I understood correctly, the concept was to instill some sort of “Spirit of Generosity” in the participants by having them bring objects to the training, then be asked to “give them away” to be lost forever buried somewhere at Techni Center.

When I explained privately to the VOH Board Chairman this seems like a pretty bad idea and that some of the men who talked with me were angry that they lost valuable personal property, he readily understood the message.

Participants were asked to bring something of personal value to the experience without being informed they would be asked to give away the object and lose it forever. Symbolically, it was like “part of who they are” was being taken from them.

I told the VOH Chairman that a core goal in any psychotherapy program is the integration and consolidation of the many aspects of a person’s life, especially when adults grew up in dysfunctional families where their identity and well-being were assaulted daily.

To “take” something of value, and further, not ever give it back was a replication of abusive behavior common in these families. I saw absolutely no redeeming value.

In fact, I believed the “Spirit of Generosity” was actually more of a detriment to the men participating, perhaps harmful, and had no intellectual value, certainly no support in any psychological literature.

On the contrary, it might even be considered an effort to gain control over the men participating, make them even more dependent and confused, weaken their own identity and make them more susceptible to being influenced by the VOH power structure.

It was like the VOH power structure was sending the message, “hey, pay us several hundred dollars and you will learn how to be generous, and if you really become good at it, you will encourage every man you know to also pay us several hundred dollars to attend a training….then they can also do another training to help them become more generous and the circle continues…”

As an interesting note, I do not believe any of the early leaders were ever asked to attend this training, but I would be curious if they actually did so and “gave away” anything of value to be lost forever.

I personally was reminded of the common image of the bully taking something of value from the little guy to put him in his place. This is called stealing as an effort to intimidate.

Needless to say, the “Spirit of Generosity” ended immediately and a new volunteer training was created by the VOH Board Chairman and myself, called “Basic Staff Training.”

This may have been the first VOH training in which the title actually conveyed what happened at the experience! It was very highly evaluated, popular and served as the training ground for many of the newest VOH leadership.

The main benefit of this training were the educational modules on psychodrama. Participants learned for the first time in VOH’s history about the theory, methods and practice of psychodrama.

By the way, psychodrama is a psychotherapy model developed by Jacob Moreno in the early 20th century. Wikipedia offers this definition of psychodrama:

“Psychodrama is a form of human development which explores, through dramatic action, the problems, issues, concerns, dreams and highest aspirations of people, groups, systems and organizations.”

For more detailed discussion of my ideas and application of use of psychodrama click here:

http://www.counselinginchicago.com/category/mens-retreats/

and here:

David and the impact of domestic violence