raft: Regional Alternatives in Forensic Treatment developed by the Center for Therapeutic Justice (CFTJ)
The CFTJ raft Facilitator encourages the expression of feelings at the initial group session, and clients are immediately engaged in the group process. At this time, it is natural for a client to have strong feelings of resentment and anger. Most clients are outraged, because they do not believe they should have to pay for the group, they do not think they have any substance abuse issues; and they often believe they have already experienced injustice in the criminal justice system.
Addiction is a feelings disease; therefore, feelings must be recognized, and this is done in a safe and supportive environment with an engaging, listening facilitator. The client not only has to recognize his or her own feelings, now each client is asked to recognize the feelings expressed by each of the group participants. Clients identify, empathize, and bond with one another, developing trust. Sharing a "common enemy" or problem, participants go through a collective catharsis of "getting it all out." This intervention provides the essential opportunity of "being heard and not judged."
Often, to the surprise of the client, this begins a first of a lifetime experience ~ a journey of self-exploration that was not intended or ever imagined. The crucial goal of the group for each individual, "to take a good, long, hard, honest look at yourself," supported by and through relationship with group peers and the group facilitator, is the catalyst for client awareness, responsibility, empowerment, and corrective action.
As the group sessions continue, the therapeutic process is seen in an increased level of the group's expression of feelings and honesty. In addition, clients demonstrate a greater ability to listen to one another, respect differences, ask for help, share meaningful life experiences, and express care for one another. This is true whether they are admitting to an addiction and find fellow sufferers or if they are in denial and find support in mutual denial. The CFTJ raft facilitator promotes awareness and insight, cognitive dissonance, and discussion that results in client reevaluation of preconceived beliefs and family and societal programming. A typical client comes in resistant, expecting to be lectured, criticized, and shamed and finds, instead, that he or she is accepted, heard, and valued. Shame is considered to be the core of addiction, and raft is intentionally respectful of its role in preventing client engagement.
When a client is able to express, or watch other participants express remorse, loss, and then hope, it sparks longing for an improved quality of life. This propels the group through a remarkable and potentially attitude-changing process in a short amount of time. Participants begin to realize that they can transfer the awareness obtained in group to all their relationships. Hungry for more information, most clients state appreciation for being in the group and comment on how it has helped them when asked to complete the group evaluation. In addition and not surprisingly, there are always some clients that express a desire to continue the group.
For more information on Center for Therapeutic Justice, contact Co-Directors:
V. Morgan Moss, Jr., Ed.S., LPC or Penny B. Patton, Ed.S., LPC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (757) 561-8907