I am beat from an intense weekend of training, but before I head off to bed, here's a brief rundown on the experience. Michael and I went to this training program because our friends at Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSSS) were sponsoring it and we have a great deal of respect for them. They have been instrumental in providing couples enrichment programs for adoptive parents of special needs children and we have learned so much attending their programs for the last few years.
In April, we were fortunate to be invited to attend a leadership training program for adoptive parents in the Hill Country, also sponsored by LSSS. Funding for marriage and family support programs is drying up in our bad economy, and LSSS is trying to recruit and develop people from the served communities to step in and help.
One of these programs is Twogether in Texas which is a premarital course that the state of Texas sponsors for engaged couples. The state fee for a marriage license is $60 and, by completing this 8-hour course, a couple can get that fee waived. Since Twogether in Texas is free to the participants, this is a good deal. The state also waives the usual waiting period after getting your marriage license. These incentives are designed to lure people into taking a class that can help them have a better marriage with better communications.
The program that Twogether in Texas uses is based on the "Family Wellness" training program. A couple of psychologists developed the program twenty years or so ago and it is widely used for couples education, family education, premarital education, etc. In fact, there are seven different Family Wellness curricula, all based on the same theoretical framework. Once you have graduated from the framework training, you can teach any of the seven classes.
We did not know this information when we showed up at the hotel Thursday morning. We expected our fellow attendees to be other adoptive parents. They weren't. Instead, the classes were filled with professionals from the community. They included clinical psychologists, MSW therapists, ministers, consultants, and a variety of private practitioners from all over the Southeast Texas area. We felt overwhelmed at first, as it appeared that we were the only "civilians" in the crowd.
We took it in stride, though, and joined into the training wholeheartedly. Family Wellness master trainers, Michelle and Joe Hernandez from California, did an excellent job of guiding us through the material for three days with the help of some other folks who were doing master trainer internships. We knew several of these people from their involvement in our post-adoptive services programs.
We learned the material and we learned how to instruct and coach others in the material. I can't say enough about how exciting the program is. Family Wellness concepts are deceptively simple and easily accessible, but it became clear to us in the first few hours of training that they were also enormously powerful. Since we have participated in quite a bit of couples/marriage enrichment programing through our post-adopt affiliations, we think we are good judges on these points.
I won't go into the training much more because I truly am tired. Three long days in the classroom, plus preparation time each night for our mock training sessions really took it out of me. (Each training team had to prepare and present a six to eight minute class from the material on Friday and on Saturday mornings.) My body doesn't tolerate that kind of abuse and my lupus is kicking into high gear tonight. I have a lot of joint pain, from my knuckles to my hips to my toes, plus tremendous fatigue. I will need to do a lot of extra sleeping for the next few days to get the beast back into its cage.
At the end of the day today, Michael and I graduated. We are now certified Family Wellness instructors. Because LSSS paid for our training and books, we have promised to present two free Family Wellness courses, one within 8 weeks and another within a year. The courses can be from any of the seven curricula. We will be looking for opportunities to fulfill this commitment, so if you have any suggestions for organizations or groups who could benefit from or would like to sponsor such training, please let us know.
More when I am rested.