Miranda’s Experiment: Role-playing in Men’s Group
“This is never going to work.” “My partner won’t understand.” This is the pushback Men’s Therapist, Miranda, would receive over and over again as she worked with the guys in her process group to create their self-control plan – their plan to avoid using abuse.
In the men’s program at Domestic Abuse Project, guys don’t always want to be there. Many are court ordered – they aren’t in group by choice. They can be resistant to the fact that they did anything wrong, or they can downplay incidents of violence they have perpetrated.
The men’s program is long, at a minimum of 24 weeks, so that therapists have plenty of time to work with the men – helping them move away from this resistance so that they can take ownership of their violent behaviors and learn ways to control their actions.
With so much resistance to the plausibility of the self-control plan, Miranda came up with a new idea. Role-playing.
Miranda wasn’t sure how the new idea would go over. Role-playing can be difficult for a lot of folks, let alone the guys who really struggle with being open to a new process. Miranda worked to create scenarios that truly reflected the experiences of the men, giving each “partner” a description of the history of the relationship, allowing them to adopt this role. The men had to practice sharing their self-control plan with their “partner” and their “partner” had to accurately reflect how the discussion might evolve – the partner worrying due to a history of violence, of substance abuse, or even just a pattern of unwillingness to communicate about any issues in the relationship.
Miranda was surprised by the results – the guys were into it! Sitting in a semi-circle they leaned in close, drawn in to every interaction. They kept yelling, “scene!” to start and end the role-plays. Once one of the guys starting blaming his “partner” or using unproductive language, the other guys immediately would call him out on it! Other group members jumped in, adopting the “partner” role to add other plausible reactions, helping the guys practice in a scenario as real to life as possible.
More than that, the “partners” played their role well – engaging in a difficult topic in a true to life way. They used all the emotions that bubble up when discussing safety after violence. Many of the men portrayed their “partner” as compassionate and understanding. Every single pair was able to reach a positive resolution by the end of the role-play.
Usually when the clock nears 8pm, the guys are itching to get out of process group. But this night they wanted to keep role-playing, so much so that Miranda had to cut them off at 8:15. The guys urged that all men who write a self-control plan should have to role-play sharing the plan with their partner. And they wanted to help write the role-play scenarios themselves.
The hard work these men had done in the therapy group was paying off – they could take the perspective of their partner in an empathic way, they could call each other out on any partner-blaming or defensiveness, and they could successfully reach a resolution without resorting to abuse. These are the moments that show that the slow work of therapy leads to a future without abuse for these men, their partners, and their families. This is the everyday work of creating a world free of domestic violence.
Support Healing: Help Us Provide “Snack Packs” for our Child Clients
Many of the children we work with are facing food insecurity and don’t have the resources to meet their basic needs – they are hungry. It is difficult for them to focus on healing from domestic abuse and trauma when they are concerned about where their next meal is coming from. And, we retain more clients – families come back for services – when we can help them meet some basic needs.
One way we’ve been helping meet clients’ basic needs is through Snack Packs. Snack Packs are brown bags full of items that form a fairly nutritional whole, are shelf-stable, and can be prepared without a stove.When children comes for therapy services they are able to take home a Snack Pack.
We rely greatly on volunteers to fulfill this need of our clients, to provide Snack Packs. Can you help us fill our shelves with Snack Packs?
Generally, here is what has been included in each bag before (brands don’t really matter, but might help with your planning):
- chocolate pudding snack
- small juice box (kirkland brand, apple, fruit punch, and apple berry options)
- 1 fruit leather
- Single serve oatmeal (just add water)
- Granola bar
- Fruit cup
- Single serve Easy Mac (just add water)
- Snack bag of Annie’s bunny crackers (assorted cinnamon, cheddar, chocolate chip, chocolate)
- Snack bag of Snyder’s pretzels
Folks have either donated the bags pre-packaged, or donated all the things, and staff have packaged them. Feel free to email Anna Zaros at email@example.com or call at 612-874-7063 x207 if you have any questions or to coordinate drop-off of your donation.
Sarah is working towards her MSW in Clinical Social Work at St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas. She hopes to gain a more intimate understanding of how domestic violence affects families as well as deepen her awareness of how to provide healthy alternatives throughout her time at DAP. Ending domestic violence is important to Sarah because she believes that helping one family or one generation heal can help make larger cultural shifts that our society deeply needs.
Zoua is working towards her Masters of Social Work degree in Clinical Mental Health. She decided to intern at DAP because she wanted to be a part of the holistic approach to ending domestic abuse. She believes that ending domestic abuse allows for the individual and family system to live a good quality of life which is a basic human right.
Meet the Interns: Shellie
Shellie is working towards her MA in Counseling Psychology at Saint Mary’s University. She hopes to gain new and different insight and perspectives surrounding the issues of domestic violence throughout her time at DAP. Ending domestic abuse is important to Shellie because she knows that it is a social issue and affects us all.
Meet the Interns: Silvia (not pictured)
Silvia is studying to earn her Master of the Arts in Clinical Psychology at Argosy University – Twin Cities. She was drawn to DAP because of the belief in the empowerment of women and children through the use of a nondirective, person-centered approach. Throughout her time here, Silvia hopes to gain a better understanding of trauma-informed care, and hopes that our society will improve as a whole for future generations through the work that DAP does.
Meet the Interns: LaKandis (not pictured)
LaKandis is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services at Metropolitan State University. She decided to intern at DAP because she hopes to gain skills that she can utilize for violence prevention. She wants to learn to be part of the solution to end domestic violence. This is an important goal for her because she believes that women deserve the right to be happy and safe in relationships.
Meet the Interns: Laurie
Laurie is studying both Art Therapy and Marriage & Family Therapy at Adler Graduate School. She hopes to use art therapy to work with women and children rescued from human trafficking/sexual slavery, and she sees a correlation between domestic violence that is part of so many stories of these survivors. Throughout her time with DAP, Laurie hopes to learn more about domestic violence in the community – especially how to use effective and sensitive approaches to use with domestic violence survivors.
Meet the Interns: Britt (not pictured)
Britt is currently working towards a Master of Social Work degree from St. Kates/St. Thomas. She is most looking forward to seeing the progression of clients’ growth as they move through DAP’s programs. Ending domestic abuse is important to Britt because it’s a widespread issue that is rarely discussed even though it affects so many people either directly or indirectly. She believes that breaking the cycle of violence is important for promoting healthy relationships in future generations.
Meet the Interns: Jenna
Jenna is working towards her B.A. in Gender Studies with a minor in Violence Prevention and Intervention at Metro State University. Ending domestic abuse is important to her because she believes that all people should have the ability to live a happy, successful life.
Meet the Interns: Alex
Alex is studying Counseling Psychology at St. Mary’s University. She is interested in social justice and working with people who struggle with anger, anxiety, emotional regulation, and other difficult emotions. During her time as an intern, Alex hopes to gain empathy, courage, counseling skills, and insight into why abuse happens and how it can be prevented.
Meet the Interns: Chee
Chee comes to us here at DAP from Augsburg College, where she is currently working towards her Master of Social Work degree. She decided to intern at DAP because she works as a domestic violence advocate for women and children, and wanted to gain more knowledge of the work to help perpetrators. Throughout her work with clients, Chee hopes to become a more well-rounded, open-minded advocate so that she can better serve the community.
Meet the Interns: Armani
Armani is currently studying Psychology with an emphasis in Family Studies at Concordia University. She is coming full circle as an intern at DAP after having completed the Children’s Program when she was growing up. Armani hopes to be able to learn more about others’ experiences compared to her own, and hopes to better understand domestic violence from the male perspective.
Meet the Advocates: Nora
Nora has been an Advocate at DAP for 6 months and is using her personal experiences to guide her in her work with clients. She became inspired to join our Advocacy team after having her own experience in which she felt that she had no voice in the criminal justice system, and wanted to help empower other women to have a voice. Nora believes in the mission of DAP and finds that if even only one person is helped by her work, she knows it was worth it. She identifies her work as an opportunity to heal other people by practicing the arts of seeing, feeling, hearing, understanding, and seeing the value of clients and accepting their perspective and needs.
Meet the Advocates: Barbara
Barbara has been an Advocate at DAP for 16 years and she’s seen it all. She became an Advocate because she is a survivor of domestic abuse herself, and knows that people in these situations often don’t want the relationship to end, they just want the abuse to end – and DAP can help to make that happen. What keeps Barbara going is knowing that she can help survivors live a life free from abuse, and that they know that there is someone who cares about them and will provide a shoulder to lean on. She finds comfort in knowing that she can help people find the power to turn abusive situations around, and that it is not the fault of the victim.
Ben and the Protection Potion
When Ben’s mother told him he would not be coming to DAP anymore, he was confused. He loved coming and playing with all the different toys in the play rooms, and he liked talking with his therapist, Leah. Who would Leah play with when he left? How would he know she would not forget about him?
More than anything, Ben was worried Leah would miss him too much. So he created a protection potion to make sure she would be okay when he left—that way she would always have something to remember him by.
On Ben’s last day of play therapy, he took a mason jar off one of the shelves and dumped out the contents. Then, he collected the items that he needed for his protection potion and added them to the jar one by one. As he poured some yellow paint into the jar, he told Leah, “this is happiness, so that you can always feel happy.” He added red paint to represent fifteen hearts, “in case you ever need a new heart, you’ll have fifteen extra ones” he said. He added bubbles so that Leah could have the ability to breathe underwater, glitter to represent extra lives, and finally, sand for safety. He gave his potion to Leah and told her that he wanted her to always keep it on her desk so he knew she would be protected when he could no longer come to DAP.
For Leah, Ben’s potion illustrated Ben’s healing process. Through play therapy, child clients learn how to work through their trauma by using toys to represent their reality. Ben’s protection potion signified the trust that he had developed with Leah. And this trust is key—healthy attachment to a supportive adult is an important step in a child’s healing from domestic abuse. Therapists work to create that relationship with their clients and then help them transfer that relationship to an adult in the child’s life other than themselves. Ben didn’t add anything to his potion to symbolize it, but his potion was a true sign of the growth and healing he achieved through DAP.
At the end of their session, Leah told Ben that he would always be in her heart, and that his potion would always stay on that special spot on her desk. Today, the mason jar and its contents do continue to sit on Leah’s desk, protecting her from harm.
Executive Director Sarah Clyne Celebrates 6 Months at DAP
In case you missed the news, DAP has added a new Executive Director to our ranks! At the beginning of 2015 Sarah Clyne became the third executive director in DAP’s history. Sarah comes to us from Joyce Preschool where she served as Executive Director for four years. She is also a member of Mayor Betsy Hodges’ Cradle-to-K cabinet, which works to eliminate disparities for children in the City of Minneapolis from before birth until three years of age. Sarah has a strong background in education and working with children in the K-12 public schools, and she brings this passion with her to DAP.
Sarah brings to DAP the leadership to continue and grow our programs, as well as some fresh ideas going forward. Throughout her time as Executive Director, Sarah hopes to elevate the unique work that we do here at DAP by creating relationships and collaborating with other similar organizations. By partnering with other organizations, we will be able to fill gaps in the resources available to our clients and continue to strengthen and improve all of our services. Some of Sarah’s specific short-term goals include growing our case management services, building upon the culturally specific groups we can offer, and adding services for children ages 0-3 to our youth services program. By continuing to draw attention to domestic violence, DAP can do what it has done for the past 36 years: drive transformation of individuals and communities and create environments free of domestic abuse.
“I was attracted to DAP’s unique holistic approach – that we have therapy for everyone in the family. When you think about the cycles of violence, it’s really important to address the needs of everyone who is affected, and DAP does that. I wanted to be part of an organization that looks at abuse from a unique perspective and helps the whole family heal.”
Your Support Made the Difference!
Help DAP Transform Families!
Join us in honoring the victims of domestic abuse and supporting those working to end it. Attend DAP’s Annual Fundraising Luncheon on Tuesday, October 13th.
Be a Table Captain!
DAP is still looking for Table Captains for our luncheon fundraiser. Table Captains invite their circle of friends, colleagues, and family to fill their table of ten. Without captains, DAP could not make its fundraising goal each year. If you are able to support DAP in this very meaningful way, please contact Anna Zaros at firstname.lastname@example.org right away.
Meet Our New Women’s Program Intern!
Beverly originally started at DAP as an Advocate while she was interning with us during her undergraduate studies. She is now working with our Women’s Program while she works towards a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from St. Mary’s University. Throughout her time here, Beverly hopes to gain experience and develop skills that will help her grow as a therapist.
“I believe in the work that DAP is doing because I saw the need for healing through the women’s eyes that I advocated for. I also understand the need for the men whom I saw in court to have a place to receive help for dealing with their behaviors and learn ways to address these behaviors.”
Welcome to DAP, Yoel!
Yoel is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Minnesota. He is excited to learn about domestic violence from a clinical context and hopes to gain perspective on how culture plays a role in domestic violence. Throughout his time as a Men’s and Children’s Program intern with Domestic Abuse Project, Yoel wants to understand domestic violence from a U.S. perspective and hopes to implement awareness in the immigrant communities of the Twin Cities.
“As a Masters of Social Work student focusing on Clinical and Community Practice, I want to understand the deeper impacts that domestic violence has on society.”
Welcome to DAP, Yoel!
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