Welcome to men's work and welcome to your Handbook!
This handbook has been created to respond to three needs:
- The need for Vancouver Men's Evolvement Network to express its philosophy in a tangible format, so that others could understand and see who we are.
- The need for men's organizations to be more visible, responsive and available to the community of men looking for men's services.
- The need to create a format or methodology whereby men's groups could do good work, and have a structure in place so groups could maintain themselves through the inevitable ups and downs of group work - the realization being that the simple good intentions that bring a group of men together are not enough to keep it together when things start to get heated.
Of course any 'leader-less' men's group is ultimately self-defining, and creates its own experience, and thus is free to use or discard any procedure it chooses. Other manuals on men's work recognise this self-authority and do not offer a structure to the degree that this one does. The 'prescription' laid out in this handbook is intentional and defines a philosophical orientation to group work that, it is felt, will help create a healthy, safe and beneficial group experience.
The 'approach' that this handbook attempts to describe/establish is as follows:
- The essential orientation of one man towards himself/others is of respect & honour.
- We speak our truth as we are able to, ie as we are aware/conscious of it; this means doing the work of honestly looking inwardly at our feelings/intentions/impulses.
- We take ownership for our thoughts/words/actions/feelings and take back our 'projections'.
- We openly and consciously discuss and establish healthy/appropriate group rules/guidelines which seek to create a safe non-shaming, non-abusive place for us to do our men's work.
- The support and healing we experience comes from sharing and witnessing each others journey; from taking the risk of revealing ourselves, becoming vulnerable and so developing deeper intimacy and trust - this can only happen in a safe non-shaming, non-abusive place.
At first glance all of this might be overwhelming to someone approaching group work for the first time. But remember, this is a 'process', a journey undertaken in the company of men, who, like you will be learning things as they go along. I applaud your courage for stepping into this place, and I invite you to begin your journey into men's group work with hope for a good outcome, with openness towards your fellow travellers and your Handbook for Starting and Keeping! a Men's Group - your guide through unfamiliar territory.