“Missing Out”. Excerpts from Lionheart’s Power Source Parenting

28/08/17 0


Once I got pregnant, things really changed with my friends.  Maybe they thought I was slowing them down.  They couldn’t smoke in the car or around me.  I stopped drinking so I couldn’t party with them anymore.  It’s not that they didn’t want to be there for me, but I just wasn’t as much fun for them to hang around with.  Also they got pissed off because they thought teachers let me get away with a lot at school because I was pregnant.  Everyone was treating me different.  They never called me to go to clubs because they thought that my big belly would chase guys away.  Their families told them not to hang out with me because I was a bad influence.  Once the baby came, things got even worse.  I couldn’t go out ever because I couldn’t find a sitter.  Then they almost never came around.”   Lisa, 18 years old

One of the hardest things to deal with about becoming a teenage parent is feeling like you’re missing out on the best part of being young — hanging out with friends, having fun, being free.  If you have a baby, you know that it’s almost impossible to do those things like you used to.  And that can be a hard pill to swallow.  Lots of things get in the way, like finding someone to watch the baby.  If you mom is helping you take care of your child, she might feel resentful if you are going out to hang out with friends.  She might feel that it’s your responsibility to stay home and take care of your child.  You probably have less money to spend when you go out than before you had a baby.  Babies take a lot of money to raise.  And most people taking care of children all day are sometimes too tired to even thin of going out.

NOt going out can make you’re missing out and can even lead to feelings of resentment toward the baby.  All parents need to hang out with people their own age.  Especially young parents.  You probably won’t go out as much and do all the things you did before you had the baby.  But it’s important not to isolate yourself from other people your age.  Being with friends is important.  It’s a change to connect and refuel and have a little fun.  So what can you do about it?  Here are a few ideas that other young parents have tried.

  • See if you can find activities your friends are into that you can take the baby along for, like going to a park or the mall for a short time.  (But be realistic.  If you have an active two-year-old, the mall might not be a good choice.  He’ll want to run around and you might just be chasing him rather than hanging with friends.
  • Explain to your mother that you understand what your responsibilities are, but that you’d really appreciate it if she could watch the baby for just two or three hours a week so you could go out.  (Find something cheap to do if you do go out so you’re not broke for the next week.)
  • Swap babysitting with a friend.  You watch her child for three hours one week, she’ll pay you back the next week.  Pick someone you can trust so the baby is safe.  Make sure the street goes two ways so you don’t get walked on — doing all the sitting and getting nothing back.
  • If the baby’s father is also a caretaker, work it out with him so that a few hours a week you get to get out and enjoy yourself and give him the same opportunity.
  • Make new friends — especially new friends with kids.  Talking to other people going through the same things you are is important.  They know the deal.  They can relate.  Plus, you’ll be able to hang out together and do things that your kids can do.  Rather than going clubbing, you can hang out at the park.  Instead of partying, you can bust open some Play Doh.  If this sounds lame or like a letdown, it beats being alone.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Jackie (my best friend).  I met her at a parenting group and we’ve hung out ever since.  Before that I didn’t really have no one.  She really gets what I’m going through with my baby and my baby daddy.  We chill when we ain’t working or going to school.  It helps me a lot just to know that I have someone who understands me.  Shana, 16 years old



Releasing Anger from Lionheart’s Houses of Healing Program

23/08/17 0

Some people are afraid to face their anger because they fear if they did, they might lose control.  That’s what they saw other people do.  They may feel that they have so much anger inside that they could and would destroy the world if they let themselves really feel it.  So they keep the lid on tight.  There is a tremendous amount of energy in this anger.  And it really won’t go away by ignoring or pushing it all down, even though it may seem that way at first.  If you have a lot of anger, it is important to channel that energy in as many healthy ways as you can.

There are several ways to channel your anger constructively.  One is physical release.  Run. Lift weights. If there is a punching bag, let yourself get into punching it.  Play any kind of sport.  Games like racquetball or basketball that require a lot of energy are great outlets for releasing some steam.  If you are confined to your cell, do push-ups or sit-ups.  Even take a towel and twist it as hard as you can.

As you’re running, lifting weights, punching the bag, or twisting the towel, you could even say “I’m angry,  I’m angry” — over and over and over for three or four minutes.  Don’t get into a story about your anger.  Don’t say “I’m angry” at a particular person.  Just keep repeating, as intensely as you can get away with, “I’m angry”.  Acknowledge your anger.  Let the energy of anger out.

Write about your anger.  Give your anger a voice in writing.  Write everything you are angry about.  Keep writing until you feel you have gotten all your thoughts and feelings down on paper.

Talk your anger out with a trusted third party.  Talk it over with someone you can safely share your true feelings with — someone who will listen without judging.  (a relative, friend, counselor, clergy…)

You can let that energy out in a way that is safe and won’t hurt you or anyone else.

It may take days, weeks or months to work through some of your anger.  Be gentle with yourself and respect what you need as you take this important step.  It is also important to bring a great deal of awareness to the process of working with your anger so as not to get stuck there and let anger become a trap.  If anger is within you, you need to feel it in order to let it go.  If, however, you get stuck in always feeling angry or always needing anger in order to set boundaries, then the anger which is necessary at first to empower and heal you eventually disempowers you and inhibits your healing.

Excerpted from “Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom”  Robin Casarjian  https://lionheart.org

Power Source: Taking Charge of Your Life excerpt “Our Anger – Our Choice”

09/08/17 0

The Lionheart Foundation’s Power Source Program for At-Risk Youth is a trauma-informed, social-emotional learning program gives highly at-risk adolescents effective ways to acquire basic emotional literacy skills – the absence of which have been shown to be pivotal in emotional, academic and social difficulties and the presence of which serve as positive anchors in the present and into adulthood.  The centerpiece of the program is a book: Power Source: Taking Charge of Your Life written by Robin Casarjian and Dr. Bethany Casarjian.  Below is an excerpt from the book. To learn more click here:  https://lionheart.org/youth_at_risk/the-power-source-program/

Our Anger, Our Choice

When you hold on to anger, it’s like saying to another person, “Here, you can have my power. Here, you can have my happiness. I’ll just give them to you.”  If you are angry at a person, imagine walking up to them and saying that.  Sound ridiculous?  Well, if you’re holding on to your anger, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Each time our anger is triggered, we have a choice.  We can throw gasoline on the fire by the things we tell ourselves.  Or we can choose to cool ourselves down with calming thoughts and anger management tools.  In the end, It’s a choice you make.  It’s a choice about real power.  Remember, anger sucks our energy and power away from us.  Nobody feels good walking around angry.  You might fool yourself into thinking you do.  But try feeling in charge of yourself for a while and you’ll never want to go back.



Program for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement

09/08/17 0

In 2016, Lionheart created an unprecedented 14-session program, based on HOH – The Houses of Healing Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement was carried out, with great success, to 460 prisoners in three Supermax prisons in CA over the past year.

In solitary, there is usually no programming available and prisoners naturally degrade psychologically.  Research indicates that the prolonged isolation associated with solitary confinement adversely impacts individuals’ physical and mental health.  The HOH Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement  will not only offer a connection to the larger world with weekly mailings over a period of six months, but will also deliver a program shown to reduce depression, anxiety and anger, the psychological symptoms associated with solitary confinement, while bolstering emotional competency skills.

Effective rehabilitation programs offered to inmates are key to helping them manage the extreme circumstances they encounter in segregation, their successful reintegration into society while reducing incidents of recidivism. The HOH program for prisoners in solitary confinement fills an enormous gap in programming and has met with great success in CA prisons with 160+ men (to date) reporting dramatic changes and a significant reduction in the negative and potentially debilitating effects of isolation on their emotional and physical well-being.

To learn more about the Houses of Healing Program click here:  https://lionheart.org/prison/project/

Houses of Healing (Bulk Orders)

Houses of Healing Program for Prisoners in Solitary

24/07/17 0

Lionheart’s Houses of Healing Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement to SHUs (Special Housing Units – another name for solitary), offers social-emotional programming to prisoners who need it most.   In solitary there is usually no programming and prisoners naturally degrade psychologically. Lionheart created this unprecedented 14-session program – The Houses of Healing Self-study Program for Prisoners in Solitary (HOH SSP)- that has been piloted in three supermax prisons in CA over the past year with great success. Approximately 450 men in solitary voluntarily registered, reflecting the enormous need and desire for support. Of the 160 prisoner evaluations returned thus far, 100% indicated that they would recommend the program to others. The vast majority indicated having a greater sense of hopefulness, gaining practical skills to manage the intense stress of solitary, and gaining insights that are helping them heal from both the trauma of solitary and what is usually a trauma-impacted early life.  Lionheart is in the process of seeking further funding to expand the program in other states.

The Power Source Workbook Now Available

20/01/17 0

The Power Provides educators, clinicians and youth workers with a skill-based, ready-to-use program that requires minimal preparation or additional training. The Power Source Workbook blends reading from the Power Source book with proven change-promoting exercises and approaches. Circles based on a restorative justice model are used are used to process and guide participants through the material while mindfulnessbased exercises increase emotional regulation skills. Intended for each participant to keep his or her own copy. Can be used individually or in groups.  Read More:



New: Power Source Workbook Available in January 2017

30/12/16 0

The Power Source Workbook provides an engaging, practical, and tested resource to accompany the book Power Source: Taking Charge of Your Life. This new addition to the Power Source programming family provides high-impact, evidence-based, social-emotional programming for adolescent students who have already demonstrated or who are vulnerable to risk-taking behaviors. The workbook exists in an easily delivered format, placing minimal planning or training requirements on staff. Carefully constructed to address the developmental tasks and challenges facing high-risk youth, the workbook focuses on increasing self-regulation capacities as well as increasing life and work readiness skills.  Contact: questions@lionheart.org

Houses of Healing Course for California Prisoners in Solitary

02/12/16 0

The Houses of Healing Self-study Course for prisoners in solitary/ segregation/ SHU.  The Lionheart Foundation started receiving registrations for the course on 5/29/16 from prisoners in the three CDCR prisons where the HOH Self-Study Course is being offered as part of the Innovative Grants Program in California. To date, 436 prisoners are participating in the Self-study course.  213 in Pelican Bay State Prison.  156 in CSP-Corcoran.  67 in California Correctional Institution. Lionheart continues to receive applications from prisoners.  Lionheart’s initial proposal indicated that we would take a maximum of 150 registrations (per prison) over the grant period – with a maximum of 50 (per prison) at any one time. Registrations have far surpassed this but Lionheart has accepted all registrations so as not to turn away anyone in solitary who might be motivated to use their time constructively. Hundreds of hours of volunteer time at the Lionheart office have contributed to making the delivery of this grant possible.

We have now received more than 80 evaluations from participants who have completed the course.  Feedback has been outstanding. A full report will be issued in late Spring, 2017.  

To learn more about Houses of Healing and Lionheart’s Prison Project:  https://lionheart.org/prison/project/


Power Source: Taking Charge of Your Life for at-risk adolescents

02/12/16 0

Lionheart’s Power Source Program    brings an evidence-based, trauma-informed social and emotional learning (SEL) program to at-risk youth and young adults.

Through mindfulness-based practices and a powerful platform of cognitive-behavioral skill building, the Power Source Program is designed to reduce risk-taking behavior, help youth master the developmental tasks of adolescence and increase social and emotional competency.

Available resources include:

  • The Power Source book (available in English and Spanish)
  • The Power Source Videos
  • The Power Source Facilitator’s Manual

Coming soon:  The Power Source Workbook

– Over 100,000 copies of Power Source in distribution

– Research on Power Source has been supported by NIH

Also available, Power Source Parenting: Growing Up Strong and Raising Healthy Kids –

a social and emotional learning program for at-risk teen parents


The National Emotional Literacy Project for Youth-at- Risk is sponsored by The Lionheart Foundation

PO Box 170115   Boston   MA   02117   Tel  781-444-6667    Fax  781-444-6855    www.lionheart.org

Coming Soon: The Power Source Workbook

02/12/16 0

The Power Source Workbook

A Trauma-Informed, Social and Emotional Learning Program for Adolescents

Increasingly, research is confirming what most of us know intuitively — that it is our social and emotional competence such as understanding and managing our emotions, developing and sustaining healthy relationships, and creating and following through on goals that largely predicts the quality of our lives. Helping youth develop the social and emotional skills covered in this workbook is a major contributor in launching them toward trajectories of success and well-being. These skills not only impact adolescents physical and mental health, but their educational outcomes and work-place readiness as well. The good news is that these skills are not capacities you are either endowed with or you’re not; they are entirely learnable. And that’s where the Power Source Workbook comes in.

The Power Source Workbook can be used by youth in:

  • High schools serving trauma-impacted youth engaging in health-risk behaviors;
  • Secure and non-secure detention centers;
  • Diversion and alternative to incarceration programs;
  • Residential treatment centers and facilities;
  • After school and community-based programs.

The Power Source Workbook is designed to be used:

  • in group settings;
  • one-to-one (with a staff/facilitator and a youth);
  • by youth working individually.

The Power Source book and workbook build youths’ capacity to:

  • Develop a cohesive and healthy sense of self and future orientation in the wake of trauma;
  • Recognize the emotional, social, and situational factors that lead to risk-taking and develop health-promoting behaviors in their place;
  • Increase interpersonal skills including managing conflict, repairing relationships, taking responsibility for one’s actions, self-advocacy, and seeking help;
  • Acquire the Social and Emotional skills associated with workplace readiness success;
  • Select positive peers and acquire the skills to maintain those relationships;
  • Identify individual and situational factors leading to substance use and learn alternative coping strategies;
  • Build skills to tolerate and manage distressing emotions such as anger, disrespect, shame, and fear.


A typical group-based session of Power Source Workbook includes:

  • reading a selection from the Power Source Workbook;
  • a mindfulness activity;
  • completing the content of the worksheet/s;
  • and sharing their answers in a Circle.


Table of Contents

     Who Is the Power Source Workbook for?

     Using the Power Source Program

     The Parts of the Power Source Workbook


Mindfulness Activities

     The Supplemental Workbook

     Making the Biggest Impact

Facilitator Presence

The Importance of Praise

Looking at Ourselves with Compassion

  • Using mindfulness skills ourselves
  • Looking at the connection between our own stress, triggers, and trauma history
  • Secondary Trauma
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