This project will take a multitheoretical approach to developing self-compassion and coping for at-risk youth. These approaches will be conducted in the form of an experiential and psychoeducational group. The use of the concept of “driving all blame into one” in Chekawa’s Sevenfold Mind Training will consist of driving blame into the biopsychosocial model. Gilbert’s use of the biopsychosocial model in Compassion Focused Therapy will be utilized as a reference point. Additionally, Gilbert’s exercises and view of self-compassion and compassion for others will be implemented. Bilateral stimulation and forms of trauma or shaking-off exercises will be part of the group experience. We will also practice deep breathing, stretching and imagery meditation. The order of training events will be roughly based on Van Melik’s Lineage Project approach.
At-promise youth are faced with multiple biosocial and personal issues. One issue that often comes up is the use of blame and shame as a disordered coping skill. This psychoeducational and experiential group will help youths to understand the biopsychosocial model and develop coping and integration skills. Initially there will be a brief discussion of group rules and how the hour will proceed. The group will be presented with a topic or issue of difficulty, which will be chosen from one of Gilbert’s CFT exercises or a common trend in coping difficulty youth experience in detention. An example of such topic may be feeling wronged or unfairly treated by someone. There will be time to reflect on and visualize the topic of discussion. Each youth will discuss their experience of the topic or question asked.
They will then visualize the issue or a similar issue while doing a bilateral stimulation exercise in order to help soften around defenses and fears. A brief set of simple but rigorous Tsigjong (Qigong) exercises will be presented, in order to get energy moving around the body and shake off any remaining stress. This will be followed by some deep breathing and yogic stretching. The deep breathing and stretching is a mimicking of the relaxation process animals use after a stressful event to reintegrate and continue on with their daily lives. The difficulty initially imagined will be visualized again via guided meditation, but this time the youths will take a caring approach to the narrative and imagine themselves responding to their difficulty with self-care and compassion as well as compassion for others involved in the visualization, if appropriate to the topic. The group will wrap up with a brief silent meditation.
If allowed, a brief self-compassion and or coping assessment will be used at the beginning and end of four weeks of group. The object of the group is not to delve deeply into trauma, but to handle everyday concerns with self-compassion and skillful coping. The groups will need to be brief and only build on each other for three or four weeks, due to the unpredictable lengths of time youths spend in group therapy. Each weekly group should be able to stand by itself. I hope to gain from this project a sense of how these youths view difficulties and determine helpful ways for them to cope with these difficulties. I would also like to better understand the roll compassion plays in their daily coping. My thoughts are that using a combination of efficacious and researched treatments in a new way will yield changes in their ability to cope and increase the experience of self-compassion.
The first step in executing this project will involve researching literature on bilateral stimulation and other physical coping mechanisms. It will be important to have a basic understanding of the tools and techniques used as well as research on possible outcomes. CFT literature and techniques will also be reviewed to get an understanding of the model and some of its biopsychosocial influences. This will take about one month. Based on what is gleaned from the research phase the next step is to design group specifics. The purpose is not to limit creativity, but to provide a framework for creativity. This will take another month as successive groups and topics will need to be designed in advance.
Paul Gilbert – Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others
Chekawa – Path To Awakening: a Commentary on Ja Chekawa Yeshe Dorje’s Seven Points of Mind Training
Link to the Lineage Project Site