Welcome to the first edition of the Family Piece Initiative (FPI) Intern’s Blog. This blog will be written by Katie Z. and Anna K., both social work interns, who will be spending the next nine moths learning how to intervene with those who batter. It is our pleasure to share with you some of our learning experiences as we pursue the knowledge and skills to become facilitators for a batter intervention program (BIP).
The first significant lesson we learned at FPI was through an orientation class. Orientation is the first class that participants attend during their 27-week program. We were invited to engage in the class alongside participants who had been court-mandated to the program. Shortly after this class began, it became obvious that we were going to be asked to become vulnerable and take ownership for our own cruel behaviors, exactly what we ask of our participants. Somehow, in what seemed like just a few minutes, the facilitator had all of us sharing things about ourselves that we wouldn’t normally share in every day conversation. Her approach seemed so natural, but we are still not sure how she so easily got us to open up. It was sobering for us to participate in a process that asked us to examine our own beliefs, attitudes, and adverse emotions. It became clear that the FPI journey to becoming a skilled facilitator begins with the ability to look at ourselves.
We’ve included a picture of what the board commonly looks like at the end of the orientation. The checkmarks are the behaviors that the participants are able to own at the end of this particular session.
For us, one big take away was that we all have a river of cruelty, or a history that impacts our lives in ways that can be unknown and invisible. FPI offers a unique environment that allows us to examine and process the cruelty we have experienced. Who would have guessed that we would have to do so much personal work to accomplish our goals in our internship?
The co-founder of FPI, regularly says, “we can only go with people as far as we are willing to go ourselves.” During our first few weeks of being here, we have learned that facilitating a group for those who batter is much more complicated than just following a curriculum. It’s difficult to imagine mastering the skills of facilitation at this early stage of our internship. We are both discovering that looking at ourselves is the start of a much larger journey. A journeythat we hope you will continue following, by checking back with our blog next month.