Houses of Healing
for adults in prison and jail
The book Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, with its new workbook companion, Making Time Count, offer an engaging, research-driven curriculum/program for behavioral change, emotional healing, and successful rehabilitation and reentry.
Houses of Healing has been a cornerstone of jail and prison programming for nearly 30 years.
The Houses of Healing Program is a powerful 13-session social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum created specifically to address prisoner rehabilitation. The centerpiece of the program is the book, Houses of Healing: A Prisoners Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, designed to offer skillful guidance and equip prisoners with the tools to effectively manage difficult emotions, take stock of and heal the unresolved trauma that often plays a role in propelling criminal behavior, take responsibility for offending behavior, and change life-long patterns of violence and addiction.
Using a proven combination of bibliotherapy, mindfulness based techniques, and cognitive behavioral skills, Houses of Healing (HOH) provides a path to behavioral change, dignity, and respect for oneself and for others. Prisoners learn evidence based skills to cope with the stress of incarceration, manage conflict in healthy ways, and reduce recidivism. The program also addresses many of the issues that lead to an individual’s incarceration including the lasting impact of early childhood trauma and the legacies of intergenerational abuse, incarceration, and substance use.
The Houses of Healing curriculum provides participants the opportunity to:
- Practice mindfulness meditation, emotional-regulation, and stress-management techniques
- Learn cognitive-behavioral skills to reframe challenging situations and alter life-long patterns of violence and addiction
- Acknowledge, work with, and heal childhood trauma
- Transform anger, resentment, and unhealthy guilt and shame
- Work with and adopt forgiveness as a practical strategy
- Explore and heal grief
- Acknowledge the impact of crime, build victim awareness, and take responsibility for offending behavior
- Nurture spiritual growth
More than 170,000 copies of the book, Houses of Healing, have been distributed in state and federal prisons as well as larger county jails nationwide with approximately half of these distributed free of charge. Programs based on Houses of Healing have been the centerpiece of five “Innovative Grant” programs serving more than 1,000 incarcerated men in the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation over the past five years.
Prison inmates and staff nationwide praise the power of Houses of Healing which has transformed the face of programming in hundreds of prisons and has been a cornerstone of jail and prison programs.
Who It helps
Houses of Healing is specifically written to address the emotional, social, behavioral, and spiritual growth and development of those involved in the criminal justice system. The Houses of Healing Program offers a transformative approach to helping individuals create lives of purpose and dignity whether they remain inside the prison walls or return to the community.
One formerly incarcerated individual describes how he has changed as a result of participating in the Houses of Healing program.
Why It Works
Houses of Healing is a trauma informed, mindfulness based, cognitive behavioral curriculum designed to equip incarcerated individuals with greater self awareness while increasing their capacity to manage difficult emotions.
Through the use of research driven approaches to behavior change, and the inspiration derived from first hand accounts of other incarcerated persons, the Houses of Healing Program has been widely embraced by both jail and prison staff and incarcerated men and women. Houses of Healing offers evidenced based, high impact strategies to help participants learn effective skills to regulate difficult emotions, reduce the stress of prison, and manage conflict in healthy ways. In addition to guiding participants through the process of taking responsibility for offending behavior, the program highlights the necessity of self-forgiveness and the forgiveness of others – subjects that are often overlooked and misunderstood despite their well documented link to the cultivation of empathy and emotional maturity.
The Houses of Healing Program includes a range of materials allowing it to be flexibly used across different populations and settings and with programs with varied needs.
The Houses of Healing resources include (click on image to learn more):
Ways to Utilize It
Houses of Healing offers considerable flexibility in how it can be utilized with a range of resources supporting varied implementation approaches. The Houses of Healing program can be used:
- By simply reading the book and reflecting on the exercises.
- As a 13-session program/intervention delivered with the guidance offered in the Houses of Healing Facilitator Manual.
Houses of Healing has been taught by hundreds of corrections professionals, mental health and substance abuse counselors, chaplains, prison volunteers, and increasingly by mature prisoners with long term sentences.
- As a 13 session self study program offered through the Making Time Count Workbook, in conjunction with the Houses of Healing book.
- Can be used in groups in general population, but also lends itself to self-study programming for segregated and restricted housing
- As an adjunct to individual work and groups focusing on life skills, anger management, violence prevention, victim impact and restorative justice, substance use/recovery treatment, and reentry programs as well as other focused interventions and individual counseling.
Many prison staff, including chaplains, embrace the program because it is infused with an inclusive spirituality meant to increase participants’ social, emotional, and spiritual maturity.
Research and ongoing program evaluation are critical components of ensuring that the Houses of Healing resources are not only effective, but are revised to incorporate the growing body of knowledge in the fields of social emotional learning, trauma, and victim-offender impact treatment.
The Lionheart Foundation regularly receives emails and calls from concerned family and friends of incarcerated adults who are due to be released from prison. Thousands of inmates are released each year without access to, or knowledge of, the support networks to help them transition back into society. We have compiled a list of reentry programs below, listed by state, to help people connect with the services or contacts they might need.