This is why communities frequently start Circles of Wellbriety for many areas of dysfunction. Circles of Wellbriety can evolve into a team committed to bringing healing to their communities as well as themselves. This creates a “Healing Forest” where all family and/or community members can begin the healing process. They are about creating new thought patterns, new attitudes, and new feelings about yourself. The Programs are designed in a series of modules that foster this process. Participants watch a video that explains the teachings and how to apply them. In addition, participants share their insights and experiences in a talking circle. They also learn how to mind map their own innate knowledge around these teachings and then apply that knowledge to their daily lives and decision-making processes. For those working in Circles of Wellbriety, strong social and emotional bonds have been created that help the participants develop trust, autonomy, and other healthy feelings and thought patterns.
These lead to emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual growth and balance. Depending on the community, the culture, or the group, various additional experiences are added. Drum groups, sweat lodges, singing, learning traditional dances, learning a traditional language, and listening to local Elders can be part of the Program. The framework allows for the program to be adapted to fit the cultural and spiritual preferences of the participants. Also, materials are designed for men, women, youth, and family members who may have gender- or age-specific issues.
Determining whether a program works or not depends upon implementing it the way that it was intended. One of the most important things to remember about Wellbriety Training programs is that they each have a “natural order.” This means that certain topics are scheduled before other topics. In the Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps, it is important to complete Step 1 through Step 12. Some teachings and concepts have to be understood before a person can get the most out of what comes later. One must learn about one’s self before trying to understand the family, the community, or the nation. Wellbriety programs help individuals in the community and those returning from incarceration or treatment to reconnect with their traditions to promote recovery from trauma, substance use, and mental health problems. Wellbriety is about whole-person wellness, and it means to be balanced mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, it’s about living a sober lifestyle but being connected to traditional principles, values, and natural laws. Our goal is to start with the individual, then work toward healing the family, the community, and the nation.