For the past three decades Sanctuary staff members, Joe Foderaro, LCSW and RuthAnn Ryan, MSN, have been using S.E.L.F. as a powerful psychoeducational tool to organize treatment, training, and even system evaluations. S.E.L.F. stands for "Safety", "Emotional management", "Loss", and "Future", four key domains of recovery from just about anything - and everything.
Beginning in 2002, the Parenting Collaborative of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services funded CommunityWorks to provide S.E.L.F. Group training to a number of different organizations including:
- Women Against Abuse (domestic violence shelter)
- Interim House Residential and Outpatient (SA treatment for women)
- People's Emergency Center (shelter)
- Achieving Reunification Center (DHS family reunification center)
- Red Shield Family Residence, The Salvation Army (shelter)
- Warwick House (child and adolescent residential treatment)
- Pathways PA
- H.E.L.P Inc.
- Jane Addams shelter
Currently, Joe and RuthAnn facilitate S.E.L.F. groups at our emergency room-based intervention program for violence, Healing Hurt People, at Hahnemann Hospital (adults) and at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, both in Philadelphia.
For more information about training in the S.E.L.F. Curriculum, contact Joe Foderaro or RuthAnn Ryan directly.
S.E.L.F. Manual Described
S.E.L.F. Curriculum detailed pdf
S.E.L.F. Introductory Material, free download
Here are some comments from some of the group participants:
This group is important to continue because…
- It gives everybody the opportunity to share what they are feeling inside.
- It helps us get stuff off our chest towards one another and know where the boundaries are without hurting each other.
- Some people require it.
- The community gets to speak on different things/issues that are really important. That they may not/cannot share at another time or in another group.
- It helps us deal with issues that may bother us in a safe environment and atmosphere. It also allows us to give and get back helpful feedback.
- Learning S.E.L.F.
- S.E.L.F. is a very good group. You can get a lot out of S.E.L.F.
- This group teaches you how to safely manage your feelings.
- It allows us to let out how we feel and what is bothering us.
- It has an impact on how to handle angry and different issues.
- Basically it helps me to focus on feelings that still come up in life.
- It gives me a lot of insight related to my recovery and the process of S.E.L.F.
- We need to talk about safety, emotional management, loss, and future.
- There are people always in need of awareness and solutions to behaviors and feelings…. including me.
- It helps you to express yourself.
- It keeps me focused and together as far as reality.
- We need it.
How can what you have learned in group help you?
- It can help me to remain open to others so they can help me with what I am feeling.
- It helps me deal with my temper and lets me know when to stop and how to go about the situation.
- It helps me recognize when someone’s safety is put at risk.
- I will talk about my issues instead of holding it all in.
- If I practice maintaining volume control in my daily life, it can ease a lot of unnecessary stress and tension.
- It teaches me to talk more to my peers.
- It has helped me a lot – safety and affect management—to know how to control my anger.
- What I learned about is my feelings and how they can be presented differently.
- How to get along with people.
- Help to be able to speak out and participate in S.EL.F.
- To stay aware.
- Given me more courage and confidence with my recovery and to realize I am not alone.
- By taking heed to what I learned.
- It can help me when feelings or situations of mine are in need of a new perspective. Putting things through the S.E.L.F.model sets things in a better perspective.
- I no longer have to hold things; I speak on how I feel.
- By following what I have learned.
- To be safe.
Are you using S.E.L.F.? Please explain how knowing about Safety, Emotional Management, Loss and Future has made a difference for you?
- I am now able to recognize when I’m feeling an ouch or an uh-oh and be brave enough to say yes or no.
- It is helping me with learning how to deal with grieving my brother’s death and that I can and now have a choice with what goes on in my life.
- Not really. I guess I do but I don’t attribute that to S.E.L.F.
- I know longer hold things in. I speak on things I need to talk about.
- It helps me practice self-discipline in my daily life. It helps me see that the choices are mine to make.
- When we have a situation we use the words: Yes, No, Uh-oh, Ouch.
- Yes I am. I know just when and where safety comes and goes. I need to learn how to control my anger.
- ABOUT FUTuRE: Now II know how to move on with life without the use of drugs.
- I try to refer to each letter of S.E.L.F. when I need to present my feelings.
- Helps to be able to speak out and participate in S.E.L.F.
- It has made life easier. Once you have the tools and begin to use them one feels more confident.
- By me doing the steps it asks of me.
- Yes, I use S.E.L.F. Knowing about S.E.L.F. and applying it to my life keeps me grounded and focused. It keeps me conscious of what I am going through and conscious of a solution.
- I really don’t know.
- Yes, to gain things I’ve learned.
- I have learned how to grieve and be safe.
Do you think learning about S.E.L.F. can help “stop the cycle of violence” in dealing with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews? How?
- Yes! Because I can stop and think and talk the situation out at a minimum tone and keep the affect of the conversation at the “0” point level.
- Yes, it teaches me patience and how to deal with violence when it comes to me and how to act when people say bad things or do bad things to me.
- If we take it seriously and apply it to our lives.
- Yes, because people talk things through instead of fighting.
- Yes, because children usually practice leaned behaviors. If I can change the way my behavio8rs affect them today. tomorrow their children won’t repeat the cycle.
- Yes, it has helped me a lot because I know just when to put S.E.L.F. to use.
- Maybe: I think it helps during disciplining your children or anyone. Yes, because it teaches you how to deal with situations.
- Yes, because there are areas that can always need improvement. But physical; violence among family is not one of them.
- Yes, by understanding you begin to accept. Once you accept you learn how to deal with it.
- Yes, because it shows us a better way of looking at things.
- Yes I do…if the recipient is in full understanding of how it can really work for them because it is a solution to over expressed feelings and actions in a constructive way. S.E.L.F. is guided by people who are good at it and then teaches it to others until it biomes repetitive enough to do on your own and pass onto others.
- Yes, I know how to go about situations now with the help of S.E.L.F.
- Yes, because it is positive.
- Yes! (I don’t have any of the above children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews).
This group is important to continue because:
- I learn about safety.
- This group has helped me with learning how to be safe in all that I do.
- It helps you identify with your trauma and deal with it now that you are sober.
- I can express my feelings.
- I learn how to be safe in my recovery.
- I use S.E.L.F. now in every area of my life.
- It can help me in a lot of areas in my life.
- I need to stay clean and sober to share my experiences, strength.
- Safety is important.
- We discuss important issues such as safety.
- It teaches me to be safe, to maintain my volume when I get upset.
- I work on my issues.
- We need to be safe.
I think the group would be better if:
- People got more honest with themselves.
- People are more open.
- We had more time.
- Once in awhile we pick a topic to discuss as a whole.
- People use S.E.L.F.
- More days of the week.
- I don’t know, sorry.
- We all participate.
- We continue to practice how to stay safe and calm and protected.
- Everybody uses S.E.L.F.
- I enjoy it as it is, “sharing.”
- It is good now.
- I enjoy it as it is.
How can what you have learned in group help you?
- It will help me by sharing.
- It will give me the power to do the things I’ve learned about S.E.L.F.
- I am able to place my problems and face and connect them to S.E.L.F.
- Be aware of the uh-oh and ouch.
- To stay protected, moving on, letting go, stay balanced.
- It can help me if I feel, like I need the uses of any safe behaviors.
- To express my feelings about myself.
- How to grieve.
- Learning how to manage my feelings in a safe way helps my recovery.
- Being calm when I do get angry or when I get a Yes, No, Uh-Oh or Ouch.
- Keep my hand on the volume control knob