Trauma informed care framework
Foundations is shaped by, and draws upon, the three stage trauma informed care framework, emphasising key principles of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. Whilst the theme of engagement, safety, and stabilisation is foregrounded and built upon throughout the group program, there is, at times, emphasis on reviewing and revising personal meaning making, and a commitment to the development of an increased sense of personal and relational integrity.
It should be noted that Foundations does not operate with a prescriptive treatment focus, in the sense that it does not only aim to alleviate symptoms or ‘fix’ problems. Foundations content and processes are designed to support participants to individually and collectively address traumatic impacts, to increase knowledge and understanding, and to enhance personal and relational well-being and overall quality of life.
In addition to utilising a trauma informed care approach, Foundations acknowledges the gendered context of men’s lives. Gender is a significant aspect of personal identity, and while every man is unique, men face some common social pressures about how they are expected to behave, feel, and think. The Foundations model acknowledges that gender influences the context in which sexual abuse occurs, how men make sense of their experience, and how they respond. We suggest that the subject of gender is more than a discrete topic or theme for a group session, but an essential consideration for understanding men’s lives. These two lenses – trauma and gender – inform and infuse the Foundations model.
In developing this Foundations group manual, we do not underestimate the importance of facilitators and organisations ensuring they have done the necessary preparation work to produce a safe, supportive, and productive group program that works for the men. Whilst we recognise a temptation to dive right in and engage with the ‘Session content and facilitation notes’, we encourage facilitators to take time to ensure they have adequately oriented themselves to group work with men who have been sexually abused, and have undertaken the essential planning and preparation with the necessary systems, policies, procedures, and practices in place. To support the development and delivery of a successful Foundations program, we have provided what we consider as introductory baseline information and resources.
Contents of manual
- Base knowledge and introduction to trauma informed framework
- Group facilitation, knowledge, skills, preparation, tips, and challenges
- Pre-group interview, intake, and assessment
- Group structure & organisation
- Session content and facilitation notes
- Session #1. Introduction to Foundations: Group guidelines – Hopes and aspirations.
- Session #2. Self care: Common effects and strategies to enhance safety and stabilisation.
- Session #3. Challenges men face: Barriers to disclosure
- Session #4. Re-viewing the past: Silence and secrecy – Self blame, guilt, and shame
- Session #5. Mid-group review: Emotionally-engaged living
- Session #6. Developing healthy relationships: Trust, intimacy, sex
- Session #7. Justice/injustice, revenge, telling, and getting on
- Session #8. Consolidating learning & building a valued life
- Appendices 1: Assessment & review documents
- Appendices 2: Participant resources & workbook
- Appendices 3: Facilitator resources
The partnerships informing Foundations
Living Well is a service specifically designed to assist men who have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted, as well as partners, families, friends and service providers. It provides information, face to face counselling, and group support in Brisbane, Australia and surrounding areas, and telephone and online counselling support in Queensland state wide. The Living Well Group Program commenced in 2006, in response to a request from men who had been sexually abused to meet, engage, support, and learn in partnership with other men. The initial Living Well Group Program has evolved and transformed to become the Foundations Group for Men.
Men & Healing is a psychotherapy centre for men based in Ottawa, Canada. The centre is known for its innovative “Men & Healing” group program, for male survivors of sexual and physical abuse, that was developed within The Men’s Project (1997-2015). Foundational elements and strengths of the Men & Healing “Phase I” program form the basis of this manual. The “Men and Healing” program has won a number of awards, its effectiveness has been established through two evidence-based studies, and is now being replicated and drawn upon within Canada and internationally.
1in6 Inc. USA forms the third service in this international partnership, and in a supportive role, has also played a part in the creation of Foundations. In essence, this is a collaboration of the learned experiences of men, spanning three countries, in their quest for healing and enhanced well-being.
‘The Foundations group program manual for working with men sexually abused in childhood’ has been produced with a grant from the Commonwealth of Australia Department of Social Services, to support the delivery of Royal Commission Community Based Support Services.
Fundamentals of Foundations
Regardless of what continent men live, and such services operate on, the fundamentals of the work are clear. Men gather together in a supportive and professionally-facilitated environment in their quest for healing and well-being. Each week, the group centres on different themes and topics, and provides an opportunity to address concerns, enhance understanding, and develop skills and ways of managing, with a focus on getting on in life. There is a careful balance struck – while the variable impacts of past childhood sexual abuse on men’s lives are continually addressed, it is also a circle of men who are working together to enhance their personal and relational well-being in the present.
Certainly, an eight session/week group program cannot be considered an end point in addressing childhood sexual abuse and recovering from complex trauma. In drawing on current research and practice knowledge in trauma informed care, and working with men sexually abused in childhood, we understand Foundations as simply that: a foundation for men’s continued journey toward personal, relational, and community well-being that is to be built upon into the future.