The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

Past Project: S.E.L.F. Groups

In our work with people who have experienced hunger and poverty, we heard a lot of stories about stress, trauma, and violence. We learned that these experiences are common and people may struggle with traumatic events of both their past and present. We began running S.E.L.F. support groups to help the families we worked with to move past these experiences and into a better future. The women of Witnesses to Hunger and Children's Health Watch were involved in these groups. Some Witnesses were also trained to lead these groups. In August 2011, the first group of S.E.L.F. participants graduated from the 12-week training including five Witnesses. They helped lead on-going groups with additional women throughout the City of Philadelphia.

Part of the trauma-informed Sanctuary Model®, S.E.L.F. is a guide for healing from past trauma, violence, and other challenging life experiences.

S.E.L.F. stands for:

Safety – Group members learn about four types of safety: physical, social, moral, and psychological safety. They also learn tools for dealing with unsafe situations.
Emotional management – Group members learn the importance of naming their feelings and understanding how to control them.
Loss and letting go – Group members learn that every change involves loss. Members learn how to deal with losses in a healthy way.
Future – A very important part of the healing process is looking toward the future. S.E.L.F group members learn to make plans for the future while remembering the past.




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