Since the book Houses of Healing was published about 150,000 copies have been distributed to prisons and jails throughout the United States. The Lionheart Foundation, publisher of Houses of Healing and the sponsor of this course, has donated about 60,000 of these books to prison libraries. Hundreds of prisoners have written to tell us how the book Houses of Healing (HOH) has changed their lives.
This is the only time I have ever reflected on my life and what led me to the way I’ve lived. I feel after reading Houses of Healing and doing the exercises a weight has been lifted off my shoulders that I’ve been carrying around forever.
Cynthia MCI Framingham, MA
This book has really been an eye opener to me. So many years I have gone through many groups and one on one therapy and have never had the burden and relief that I have gotten from Houses of Healing. I pray that anyone who reads this book can get as much as I have gotten from it. Robert State Prison Riverhead, NY
Throughout my incarceration (28 yrs off & on), I have read hundreds of books. I can honestly say that “Houses of Healing” has made the biggest impression on me than any other book I have ever read. It has been a huge help in helping me reorganize my thinking while letting me know that I was not the only person feeling like I did… The insight I have gained has been immeasurable. Phil CSP-Lancaster, CA
… Houses of Healing was for me the first glimmer of light on a dark horizon.
… I found Houses of Healing remarkable in that it fit my situation right on the money.
… I just wish I could have found this book years ago.
Like these individuals, many incarcerated men and women get access to Houses of Healing through the book alone. They might find it in the prison library or a friend, staff person, or cellmate suggests they read it. To make the Houses of Healing Program available to men and women in solitary / segregation, Houses of Healing is being offered in this self-study course.
Assignments are mailed to prisoners each week for 14 weeks. Like any self-study course, no one checks up on whether you do the assignments but like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. As prisoners read the weekly mailings and do the assignments, we hope they will feel encouraged and inspired by what they are learning from week to week – and as a result, really want to do the assignments and step into the course with both feet.
Being in solitary confinement is extremely challenging for most anyone no matter how emotionally “together” they are when they first go in. Because of this, each session starts with a section called “Doing Time in Solitary.” The “Doing Time in Solitary” sections do not directly connect to topics covered in Houses of Healing. They are written to be an additional support while in solitary (as well as when prisoners return to population or the outside community). These sections offer important advice, coping strategies, and inspiration, often from men and women who were locked up for long periods of time in solitary.
Every session includes “Participant Notes.” The Participant Notes give prisoners an overview of the topics to be addressed in that session. The notes also provide some additional encouragement, and suggestions on how to work with the lessons.
The pages titled “Self-work” give prisoners the assignments for the week, as well as worksheets that correspond to the assignments. If they participate fully, I trust that this program will be a great support for them – and perhaps like it has been for many incarcerated men and women before, a real game changer.
Being in solitary involves dealing with many challenges. Exactly how challenging solitary is for each person depends on many things. Some of these things include: how restrictive the isolation is; the circumstances that preceded their being put in solitary; how long they will be/or have been in solitary; and their emotional state/mental health when they were put in solitary. Other factors include how isolated they are; whether or not they have a cellmate and if they get along with him/her; whether there are others around who they can communicate with; whether they have a TV to pass some of the time; and what access they have to books. Other key issues include the quantity and quality of mental health and medical services when they need them; how they feel they are treated by staff; whether they have support and communication from people outside the prison as well as whether they receive visits and can make phone calls to people who are important to them; and very importantly, what skills they have for managing their stress (anxiety, frustration, anger, etc.). These issues and others greatly influence the degree of difficulty and challenge solitary confinement brings to each individual person.
In the Houses of Healing Self Study Course, prisoners are offered many skills for managing stress. These are skills that can be useful wherever they are. They will be encouraged week in and week out to give this program their best shot. All research shows that long-term isolation takes a toll on emotional and physical health and well-being. In this course prisoners are taught techniques that have been scientifically proven to guard against, minimize, or slow down this downward spiral – tools that keep the people who practice them more in control of their own life and well-being. The techniques they learn have been proven to increase resilience which is the ability to withstand or recover more quickly from challenging circumstances. Prisoners gain insights about themselves and their lives. And they will hopefully discover greater psychological and emotional freedom – even behind bars – even while in isolation.
“If I had to do that time in solitary over, I would work out daily, read a lot, try to keep positive thoughts in my head, eat only what my body needed, and try to keep my head up no matter what.” Ken. on death row at 16 years old