Overview

Incarcerated individuals and prison staff are praising the power of Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, the groundbreaking book/curriculum for healing and rehabilitation that has transformed the face of programming in many prisons nationally.

The book Houses of Healing is a guide that instructs, encourages, and speaks to incarcerated individuals, providing a path to behavioral change, dignity, and respect for oneself and for others.

Houses of Healing offers readers the guidance and support that is needed to explore their histories of trauma, to take responsibility for offending behavior, and to learn evidence-based skills associated with reduced recidivism and greater levels of self-management. Using a proven combination of bibliotherapy, mindfulness-based techniques, and cognitive-behavioral skills along with a heavy dose of inspiration, Houses of Healing has been a cornerstone of jail and prison programming for nearly 30 years.

The program 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. 

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.

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:

  • As a 13-session group program/intervention delivered with the guidance offered in the Houses of Healing Facilitator Manual
  • When used in conjunction with the Making Time Count workbook, as a 13-session self-study program in segregated and restricted housing or in general population as a self-study or basis for a group. (The Making Time Count workbook is designed to be used in conjunction with the Houses of Healing book.)
  • 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 re-entry programs as well as other focused interventions and individual counseling.

Houses of Healing has been taught by hundreds of corrections professionals, mental health and substance abuse counselors, prison volunteers, and increasingly by mature individuals with long-term sentences. Many prison chaplains embrace the program because it is infused with an inclusive spirituality meant to increase participants’ social, emotional, and spiritual maturity.

Lionheart’s Executive Director with men who had completed the Houses of Healing Program in California

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. The program also comprehensively 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. 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.

Program Resources

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:

(English)
Book for incarcerated individuals
(Spanish)
Book for incarcerated individuals
Facilitator’s Manual offers a complete guide to group facilitation
13-session Workbook
integral support for Houses of Healing
6-session Workbook
integral support for Houses of Healing
DVD Series assists in the delivery of the program

Research

Research and ongoing program evaluation are critical components of ensuring that our resources are not only effective, but are revised to incorporate the growing body of knowledge in the fields of social and emotional learning, trauma, and effective treatment delivery.

Testimonials