Inexcess: In search of recovery

Help and support for people and families
dealing with drug and alcohol problems

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Video: Ronnie Purslow - Family Constellations workshop participants

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Part two of our film with Ronnie covers the weekend workshop he delivered at Sharp, Liverpool. We speak with Ronnie who led the weekend, Jacquie Johnson-Lynch who was one of the weekend assistants and three participants on the workshop.

Ronnie has written these words to provide background to himself and the weekend and Jacquie has added her thoughts:

In early 2005 I created Innerlight now known as Heartstream. I lead workshops and trainings which integrate all I have learnt through my journey of the last 9 years. I work extensively with, Breathwork and Family Constellations. I have studied around the world with such teachers as Bert Hellinger (Family Constellations) and Leonard Orr (Integrated Breathwork/Re-Birthing) and Duane O’Kane (Transpersonal sychotherapy/ACIM).

Nearly 3 years ago, through training with Duane O’Kane (a transpersonal psychotherapist in Vancouver, Canada) I met Jacquie Johnston-Lynch the Head of Service at SHARP Liverpool. She too was in recovery and continuing her personal and professional development with transpersonal and spiritual Leadership Training.

Jacquie says, “After getting to know Ronnie I could see his mode of facilitating and leading workshops really had something to offer the recovering community. We really wanted to bring his work to the treatment centre but we had to clearly weigh up the risks. The work can be anxiety raising in itself. It creates and uncovers the very feelings that clients had self soothed with heroin, alcohol, crack, cocaine, marijuana etc. We had to be sure that we weren’t setting up a whole load of relapse triggers, when what in effect we were wanting to do was strengthen, deepen and increase capacity for change and growth in recovery. Eventually we came to an agreement that we would pilot a weekend called SOUL RECOVERY with clients who had graduated treatment and/or had at least 15 weeks clean and sober. Each client who wanted to attend had to have a brief session with me so that I could make them aware of what it was they were putting themselves forward for. I would also liaise with their focal counsellor or the continuing care worker to ascertain how robust they were currently presenting as within the project.

We have now held 4 weekend workshops and are in the process of planning more for 2008. As yet, we don’t have empirical evidence to validate the efficacy of the work, but we are keeping on-going records and longer term evaluations. There has become a core group of clients who are clearly seen as ‘stepping up’ their recovery and having their emotional and spiritual development come in to alignment with their physical and cognitive well being. Some of the workshop participants have now got two or three years cleantime and are being supported to practically ‘assist’ on the workshops. Hellinger’s work of Family Constellations calls for “representatives” and this is met through the work of the assistants team.”

Jacquie and I both have personal experience of the work and been trained in our respective areas and used this to make informed and calculated choices about what might work. By trusting the clients thirst for change and working at the level of willingness and strength they have, we have created a rich and powerful workshop which has brought many struggling addicts in early recovery to life again.

By opening up the ‘inner field’ of the person in a group environment supports clients to understand themselves and each other on a deeper level. As we do this we can uncover feelings which have long been buried and these are not just sadness, guilt and pain. We also support happiness, joy and peace and the focus is really on uncovering more life force. To learn the lessons from our past, celebrate who we are and get excited about where we are going. Give the already inspired recovering addict more strength to pursue their dreams. To support addicts to redirect all the determination, focus and passion they used in active addiction in a more positive way.

As the facilitator I have to be sensitive to each client’s needs and abilities and respect the pace at which they wish to work. Addressing family issues helping clients connect with their feelings and looking at what is needed for each individual. We never know what will be in the room but I am ready to work with the client as far as they are willing to go.

Everything we do is an invite but as time goes on people show more and more willingness. I have no intention of making addicts small and no intention to take them further than they can go. I just have a passion to support the people I love, to have a more love and hope filled recovery. I love supporting extraordinary people with an extraordinary past, live an extraordinary recovery.

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Category: Features Duration: 7:21

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