Circles of Power
By Preventionist Deborah Dupre', B.Sci, MA.Sci.Voc.ED, Dip.Cont.ED.
June 10, 2004
202 Cloudy Bay Rd.
Lunawanna, Tasmania, 7150
Duprevent: Empowering families and friends to succeed in helping loved ones harming self and others with alcohol and other drugs get help - before hitting bottom.
CIRCLES OF POWER
Most alcohol and other drug rehabilitation programs require that Addicted people ask for help. Most people with Addiction cannot ask for help and therefore never receive treatment. Denial and delusion common to Addiction prevent asking. Most families want to help loved ones with Addiction but do not have all of the skills they need to succeed. Australia’s alcohol misuse crisis costs more than 7 billion dollars annually. Australia’s First Nation people are among the world’s most injured by the Addiction plague.
Throughout Australia, Aborigines consistently criticize Alcohol and Other Drug interventions for not healing affected loved ones or families. Aboriginal voices unite in belief of urgently needed family-based intervention programs and major funding for them. International and national intervention research reveals the present intervention shortcomings in Aboriginal communities. Criminal justice system and imposed alcohol law interventions neglect understanding or giving power to victim, family and community. In shear exasperation from a problem out of control, some communities use out-post banishment interventions, turning unwanted tribal members into a caste of "walking dead."
Circles of Power responds to Aboriginal calls for family healing and strengthening. Based on powerful, ancient ways to heal and learn, it is culturally appropriate for Aborigines. Aborigines survived 45,000 years of harshest conditions by gathering in circles to learn unique survival skills passed from generation to generation. Using this same method to survive plus state-of-the-art, new ways for family involvement, this grassroots program offers easy to learn, easy to use skills natural to Aboriginal families.
This tested and proven effective program gives power back to Aboriginal 1) families so they can succeed in helping alcohol dependent loved ones commit to rehabilitation, 2) individuals most negatively affected by alcohol, and 3) communities to actually manage the program.
Circles of Power is driven by local Elders and Aboriginal Strong Leaders that request and commit to 3-months of on-site support to learn the program from Dupre’. Dupre’ with Elders facilitates a 1-day dynamic, traditional, informal Learning Circle workshop open to the local Aboriginal community. This is followed by a second 1-day workshop for the community’s new local program leaders. Through these events, the community forms 3 groups of volunteers: Family Healers, Family Mentors and Awareness Raisers. Ongoing small-group Learning Circles and experience of guiding the community’s hardest hit, highest alcohol-related risk individuals in through 1) Family Healing Circles pre-treatment and 2) Circles of Compassion post-treatment empower these groups to keep the program alive.
Program flexibility and informal evaluations ensure Aboriginal ownership and meeting unique local Elder and participant needs, even needs unplanned or unexpected. The program includes cheery Nabi the Gecko Early Intervention Edutainment to enhance the program’s positive prevention messages to help reduce alcohol related harm and prevent at-risk behaviour destined for children not being heard.
This unique program restores family strength for more effective parents, their youth more risk resilient, and reduces costs incurred from waiting until addicted people ask for help, violence, punishment, goal and ‘sweeping up the wreckage.’ Duprevent invites you and your community to answer your people’s cries for help through this program’s technical skills and your wisdom of traditional learning and healing Circles of Power.
FLEXIBLE PROGRAM DETAILS
The following 4-month program details are flexible so unique local resources are used and special needs are met.
Circles of Power program grew from 30 years of families succeeding in helping addicted loved ones take first steps to get well and from real grassroots meetings with Elders, other Aboriginal community leaders and Dupre’ - seated in a circle on the ground in areas considered special or sacred. Tests of Family Healing Circles of this program far exceeded expected positive results. Positive outcomes in Halls Creek prompted its AOD coordinator to say, “No more circles! There’s no more space at rehabs with clients we thought we could never help but who now are asking for help.”
Since then, the program has been lengthened so families can learn it well enough to keep the program going locally. Local program sustainability is promising because of built-in on-going informal talks about how well it is working and what could make it better and because of hands-on learning opportunities afforded to: 5 Community Family Healers, 5 Families and 5 Mentor Teams, one mentor team per identified client and their family. The initial local pilot program in turn gives power to 5 of the community’s individuals most affected by Alcohol Dependency giving priority to Elders’ families, Sober-Up Shelter regulars, and pregnant youth and young parents.
The program builds strong links between Elders, strong Indigenous leaders, government and NGOs and enhances prevention work of agencies, thus promoting a whole-of-government model using existing strong resources, mainly Aboriginal Elders and families.
1. Community Learning Circle: After one month or pre-planning, the program begins with a 1-day, non-formal capacity-building Community Learning Circle held in traditional style and setting, open to all dedicated people with sincere desire to reduce levels of their community’s Addiction plague. During this event, the following Aboriginal resources form and begin developing:
a. Family Healers: Special Elders local Aborigines with special gifts or commitment to learning to facilitate the healing program with apprenticing Twin when Dupre’ exits.
b. Family Healing Volunteers: Family members dedicated to reaching out to effectively help their family members suffering with Addiction.
c. Volunteer Artists: Artists committed to the cause plan and develop a media campaign using Nabi the Gecko.
d. Indigenous Twin: By the day’s end, the person most dedicated and skilled to lead the program - maybe a professional already in similar role, strong leader, Elder or other ideal leader - emerges to apprentice with Dupre’.
2. Family Healers Learning Circles: Elders, grandparents, strong Aboriginal leaders, professionals and others with special caring gifts form the local program umbrella called “Family Healers.” Dupre’, Family Healers and the Twin learn to facilitate the program. They hold a 1-day Learning Circle – traditional style, seated on the ground in a special site they choose. There they plan the program according to unique community needs and resources highlighted in the Community Learning Circle including their special healing gifts. Then they participate in two months of on-going, hands-on learning, planning and implementing the program through small-group circles with families requesting support. They determine times, places to meet and what they need to learn for sustainability when Dupre’ exits.
3. Media Awareness Raising Campaign for Healing (MARCH): Artists individually invited to the initial 1-day Community Learning Circle help plan and implement a media campaign and march to change attitudes about helping Alcohol Dependent people and about Alcohol Harm Prevention. Edutainment with Nabi the Gecko supports the program with prevention messages such as “Helping people before they hit bottom,” “Answering cries for help,” and “Safe drinking guidelines” – in effective, appealing, light-hearted ways. Nabi helps raise awareness about “Listening to Children,” cited by UNICEF as the single most important skill adults can master to help children avoid later at-risk behaviour. Artists gain recognition on artwork contributions and are profiled in media photos and articles. Following the Community Learning Circle, initial Family Healers Learning Circles and MARCH, the family healing journey begins.
4. Family Healing Circles Family Healing Circles are based on Dr. Vernon Johnson’s proven method for families to help addicted loved ones get help, colleague, Dr. Walter Scanlon’s supporting research, Preventionist Deborah Dupre’s research and development with people of colour throughout her career and 14 years successful use of Family Structured Intervention. Dupre’ pioneered, developed and tested Family Healing Circles with Aborigines. Through basic Reality and Motivational counselling, Dupre’s circles empower families to help loved ones with Addiction. Through traditional Learning and Healing Circles and presenting reality in a receivable way, loved ones commit to rehabilitation.
A family member concerned about a loved ones’ Alcohol Dependency, wanting to give a Family Healing Circle to that loved one contacts Dupre’ or Twin asking for help to succeed in guiding their loved one to rehabilitation. The concerned family member names with Dupre’s guidance who they want to support them with their challenge. These include other strong, non-Alcohol Dependent family members, people most respected and loved by the Alcohol Dependent person plus one of the new Family Healers. They form a Family Mentor team
The Family Mentor team then has two separate 1-day private Learning Circles to learn and practice how to succeed using unique individual and combined love, concern and compassionate traditional resources to support the loved one to commit to rehabilitation. These private Learning Circles are held in sacred spaces they select to learn: 1) Whatever they determine they need to learn to affect change, 2) Basic AOD, 3) Family Healing Circle pre-treatment skills, 4) Basic Effective Parenting, 5) Basic Mentoring and 6) Facilitating Circles of Compassion post-treatment. If they choose, they add traditional communication and healing ways such as smoking, song, dance or art to new communicate skills they practice. Through these circles, they heal and gain power. Then they rehearse the Family Healing Circle ceremony so it is the greatest gift for their loved one.
The family leader then invites their loved one to the 3rd, final circle, the Family Healing Circle ceremony. There, each individual in the group uses traditional with newly learned, culturally appropriate techniques in a safe, dignified, comforting way to express their love, concern and how they feel about what alcohol is doing to their loved one. The loved one sees reality of their harmful behaviour, feels compassionate support to change and commits to rehabilitation. Dupre’ and a team member go with the client to the pre-arranged rehabilitation program waiting to nurture their new client.
5. Community Circles of Compassion: Circles of Compassion are no-cost self-help groups based on ancient techniques to solve personal and group problems. Men and women of goodwill gather in circles traditional or new sacred sites throughout the community to learn to communicate honestly in respectful privacy to help each other, particularly those needing and those returning from rehabilitation. Circles occur in different spaces every day, rotate leadership so all have equal opportunity to experience being a leader and no one dominates circles and there are no status differences or religious affiliations; only honest interaction and accountability. Circles Of Compassion care for those in pain and wanting to gain power to stop suffering. Circles of Compassion guidelines are:
PEOPLE EMPOWERED BY CIRCLES
Aboriginal Families learn in 2 Family Healing Circles with Dupre’ about Alcohol Dependency and receivable communications skills to succeed in helping their loved one get help. By succeeding in helping their loved-one get help, they gain power.
Aboriginal At-Risk Alcohol Dependent Adults gain power at their Family Healing Circle ceremony, rehabilitation that follows and Circles of Compassion follow-up support. Feeling no blame or shame, they accept support and commits wellness journey, thus gaining power.
At-Risk Children of parents with Alcohol Dependency in the program gain mentoring by the Family Mentor Team and the Family Healers. Children at-risk thus begin to gain their power.
Elders, Family Healers, Mentors, Partnering Individuals and Agency participants learn to provide on-going case management and assessment of family participants, evaluate the program and ensure clients are best served. By empowering those in need, they gain power.
One Twin apprentices with Dupre’ to learn basic counselling, case management, and leadership skills so the program continues after Dupre’s exit. By leading the healing journey, the Twin gains power.
CIRCLES OF POWER MANAGEMENT
Elders and Strong Aboriginal Leaders: This program first requires a request by an Elder or strong Indigenous leader for Dupre to work with that Elder and their community.
Circle of Power National Healing Consortium is committed to respectful, Aboriginal healing through traditional coupled with modern techniques. It offers more than a combined 200 years of professional prevention and rehabilitation experience, dedication to empower those most marginalized and a wealth of wisdom, research and networking resources for community access. Someone Who Cares Inc. manages the program with grants and private community contracts.
Circles of Power Consortium Members:
Deborah Dupre’ of Duprevent brings over 25 years of prevention and Indigenous Community Development expertise with Australia and United States Master’s and Post Graduate Diploma risk prevention research focused on participatory community research and development capacity building. Dupre’s professional experience includes harm prevention in U.S, Australia and 3 years in Least Developing Country, Republic of Vanuatu as Mental Health Consultant for World Health Organization and eight Pacific Island Countries specializing in mental health program research and development with Indigenous communities where she pioneered healing and learning circle programs from 1999-2002.
Warwick Murphy of Someone Who Cares is the administrator of the project. Warwick and his partner have over 30 years combined experience in management and in the AOD field. They managed a rehabilitation program in England and are now renown for going the extra mile to help families help addicted loved ones get well. Someone Who Cares and Duprevent share program monitor responsibility to ensure program effectiveness, reporting findings to the community.
Circles of Power Advisory Group supports Dupre’ off-site. They each bring rich resources to the program specifically to empower Australian Indigenous strong leaders and families to heal and further research in the field. Advisory group members are:
Dougald McLean, B.S, M.D. Fellow of Royal Australia-New Zealand College Psychiatry, TAS
Walter Scanlon, PhD, MBA, MA Structured Intervention Specialist
New York, NY, U.S.
Colleen Hattersley Aboriginal Linguistic Spec. NSW
William Fox, BEcon, BA, LittB. Statistical Advisor, QLD.
Stephen McAnulty MAPS, BA.,Dip.Ed.,Dip.Soc.Sc,Grad. Psychologist, NT