Partners & Clients
Inspired by the work of Joanna Macey and Bo Lozoff (Active Hope and We're All Doing Time: A Guide to Getting Free) Tree House worked with Prison Staff and Inmates in the Therapeutic Wing of HMP Liverpool to design and deliver a personal development course for 18 prisoners which was delivered over a period of 9 months.
The programme, Escape From Fortress I, had as it’s premises that however traumatic or difficult our path to here we have the innate capacity to heal ourselves, indeed that we are, though others can help, the only one who can. The programme comprised of 12 sessions which were structured around the four cyclical stages described by Macey as the Work that Reconnects.
Like Brene Brown, she sees our biggest challenge as our resistance to facing up to the painful realities we find ourselves in, as individuals and as a planet. In order to really address our pain we need the courage to feel it at its darkest level even when we fear it might overwhelm us. It is the first stage of the process, appreciation, which is designed to give us that courage as explore ways of appreciating ourselves and the world around us. For the vast majority of those we worked with this was the first experience they ever had of being told by others that they had qualities which were deserving of appreciation.
Fuelled by a sense of worth, and a connection with others, course participants were better able to undertake the next stage of the process, Honouring the Pain. This required participants to think about, express, and seek to atone for pain they had experienced, and had inflicted on others. Expressing shame both within the group and, in subsequent phone calls and visits from family and friends, lessened the burden being carried by the group and gave them the mental and emotional space to undertake the next two phases of the programme which were, seeing with new eyes and going forward which were principally concerned with developing a series of commitment which the participants made to themselves relating to their future conduct.
Following the success of the programme in the prison the same programme was offered, with the support of the Workers Education Association, to local people in a programme called Learning How to Fly.
Like the prison programme this placed emphasis on liberating our own capacities as people and taking action to transform our own lives and like the prisoners, programme participants described the impact of the programme as akin to a liberation.
"To say I was sceptical about “Fortress I” when I first agreed to take part is an understatement... (expand to read more)
“Before “Fortress I” I always wondered why I made the same mistakes over and over again... (expand to read more)
"I now know it would have been a huge mistake not to have taken the course... (expand to read more)
“I entered the “Fortress I” programme with the attitude of it can’t hurt to try it. I now know it would have been a huge mistake not to have taken the course and to have shied away like I have done in the past.
“When I started “Fortress I”, I didn’t know what to expect but what I do know was that it was most definitely worth pursuing... (expand to read more)
“When I started “Fortress I”, I didn’t know what to expect but what I do know was that it was most definitely worth pursuing because I had to change my whole demeanour from the person I was to the person I’m becoming. Where “Fortress I” started for me in truth, was the appreciative interview. This was where all group members could appreciate each other, and say a bit about themselves to kind of break the ice, so everybody felt comfortable and relaxed in each others’ presence. This for me was when all masks were put down; I realised I allowed myself to wear masks when I was faced with certain situations within my past. And I knew if I kept wearing these masks then I would never be true to myself or to other people.