A program called Houses of Healing has helped transform the lives of more than 100 men at San Quentin State Prison.
Chris Gallo, a recent graduate, describes it this way:
“Houses of Healing is a comprehensive look into the self. With discussions on self-understanding, healing relationships, and stress management, this 30-session class instructs on being true to one’s core self. Participants learn to identify and deal with their sub-personalities, such as anger, selfishness, control, insecurity, and low self-esteem.”
“The Houses of Healing book and course written by Robin Casarjian over 20 years ago are currently implemented in over 200 men and women’s prisons across the country,” said facilitator Susan Shannon.
“This course is a great class to take for seasoned programmers who would like to go deeper into some of the core teachings of other foremost San Quentin self-help groups, as well as for men new to any program at all.”
Some graduates have become master facilitators of other programs. The Houses of Healing groups are limited to 15 or less, and run approximately seven to nine months.
Father George Williams, the Catholic chaplain at San Quentin, brought the program into The Q. More than 100 men have completed the course and more are on a waiting list.
Here are some comments from students:
“Houses of Healing is a must for any lifer who wishes to be able to express himself better on the impact of his crime, anger, abuse and self-worth.” — Allen
“The program…took me by the hand and led me to my past, which helped me understand the grief, pain, and suffering I created.” — Flavio
“It helped me to maintain an attitude of introspection. It has reinforced my emotional awareness and allowed me to develop relationships I might not have had otherwise.” — Ray
“I learned how to forgive myself. Before I learned that I walked the Earth feeling shame, guilt, and a lot of fear. Once I learned the value of self-forgiveness and how to forgive the sun got brighter and the air cleared. I became whole again.” — Glenns
“It helped me have further understanding in accepting responsibility for my actions.” — Richard
“Houses of Healing is really life-changing.” — Harry
“Thanks to House of Healing, I have been able to connect my childhood trauma to my criminal behavior. I’m filled with joy from what I’ve learned in this class, and now my life feels very complete.” — Darnell (Mo)
“I know the pains that I have caused will never go away,but now I have a better understanding of where it started from as a child, and I can heal that inner child.” — Lee
“I’ve learned forgiveness plus how to breathe, to watch the sky, and to meditate. I now think cool thoughts, not just hot ones. I’ve learned that Houses of Healing isn’t just about short time or short-term fixes, but a life change that I must use each day. I thank Houses of Healing for giving me more tools for my tool box of life.” — John
“The biggest impact for me has been the acknowledgement of those sub-personalities and the realization that they are not a part of my core-self. I am not broken or distorted, but pained by the echo of my past. By following the guided steps, I have been able to resist and re-write my story.” — Chris