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Alumni Association launches first service project: Alternatives to Violence

Mary Watkins  |  Co-Chair, Depth Psychology Program
Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, Ecopsychology Specialization
Watkins ≥ Mary
| originally posted on 16 Aug 2012

“I found a doorway to even more meaningful work in this workshop. The Alternatives to Violence Project is the kind of work I long for.”

“I gained a new understanding of the action needed to shift the increasing violence in our society. I learned about how deeply violence has penetrated into the norms of American life, and about the transformation that can occur in the most violent of circumstances.”

“The mix of ‘serious’ and playful exercises was really incredible and really brought the material to life. I think that everyone can benefit from this experience!”

“I have a much better understanding of the complexity of the life of correctional officers [from the role play], particularly their effort to be powerful in order not to be manipulated by inmates.”

“I realized that I had not had an experience of forgiveness until very recently. It really touched me, and made me wonder why it has taken me so long to seize opportunities to forgive and to be forgiven.”

“[From this AVP experience] I will see all people as human beings, and be less afraid of them and myself.”

This past weekend the Alumni Association of Pacifica Graduate Institute in conjunction with the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology specialization of the Depth Psychology Program launched the initial stage of its first service project: Training facilitators to conduct workshops in prisons and community groups for the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP). Thanks to Pacifica’s Director of Alumni Affairs Dianne Travis-Teague, to Public Program Director Toni D’Anca, and to Alumni Association Steering Committee Co-Chairs Lupe Zuniga and Holly Reusing for their help in making this workshop happen. AVP workshops empower people to lead nonviolent lives through learning conflict resolution skills, affirmation, respect for all, community building, cooperation, and trust. They help participants “manage strong feelings such as anger and fear, deal more effectively with risk and danger, build good relationships with other people, communicate well in difficult situations, help people recognize the skills they already have and learn new ones, be true to oneself while respecting other people, and to understand why conflict happens” and how it can be transformed.

The workshop was both moving and fun, and alumni and other participants promised to return to carry their training further. Alumni (Evie Abat, Maureen Murdock, Jeff Hull, Ray Sullivan, Tim Weitzel, Judith Dickey, Sandra Easter, Betty McEady, Ann Leonard), one spouse, six current students, two faculty, four staff and workshop facilitators joined together to experience an Alternatives to Violence Basic workshop. In November an Advanced workshop will be offered. To become a facilitator, an individual needs to participate in three 2-3 day (18 hours) trainings (Basic, Advanced, and Training for Facilitators) and then apprentice as a co-facilitator in three more. These trainings will take place once a quarter at Pacifica, bringing alumni home to Pacifica, facilitating their engagement with current students, faculty, and staff, while making creative use of their depth psychological acumen in a common project.

If you are interested in learning how to co-facilitate such workshops in men’s or women’s prisons, juvenile justice facilities, or in the community, and would like to join this training initiative, please email me:

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