California Institution for Women

I just got done teaching/observing a three-day Choice Theory training with 15 inmates and one community member at the California Institute for Women. This was an incredible experience on many levels.

First, I was there to help people interested in becoming instructors of the Basic Intensive Training through the William Glasser Institute meet the requirement of co-facilitating a Basic Training. There were four people, all of whom I had done the Basic Instructor Training Phase for in LA a few weeks ago. So, without a lot of planning and a great deal of flexibility, they created a seamless 3-day experience for the participants. Each of them, Les, Kyri, Ryan and Brian demonstrated a good understand of Choice Theory, adult learning training skills and an openness to learning even more than they already do. I saw no egos, personal agendas, or one-u-pmanship. I was very pleased to be a part of this training delivery team. Each day at the end of training, we spend at least an hour to debrief. Everyone listened intently and were open to all of my suggestions.

Then in the group, there were four people who have been studying Choice Theory for some time. I was impressed by their level of understanding and rather than attempting to show off to the others in the group, or even attempt to provide help to them, they stayed in learner mode and recognized that while they had a lot to offer, they also had much to learn. That was refreshing.

I was also amazed by the way the inmates easily and readily learned Choice Theory. I am not naive and realize this population can be very good at running cons. I used to work in a maximum security mental hospital in Pennsylvania. There was no conning going on in the Choice Theory room. Women came there and actually got real and expressed things they had not previously expressed. Emotions ran high. Women actually made changes right before our eyes. It was one of the most profound and humbling experiences I have participated in.

But perhaps the most impacting part of the weekend was the changes and the learning that occurred in me. I have always known the power of Choice Theory. I know it cuts across cultures, socio-ecomonics, gender and generations. What I had never witnessed was the desperation in the inmates to learn something that will help them break out of their destructive patterns. Teaching Choice Theory to them was like giving water to someone lost in the dessert. Not sharing this information is a huge loss for lose in need.

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