NVC at Atascadero Sate Hospital
Group status 2/7/08
Non Violent Communication (NVC) was first taken into Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) about three and a half years ago. It was tolerated yet not whole-heartedly accepted. There was fear expressed by staff, fear generated by a need for emotional safety (and deeper, trust - wanting to trust that by being open and honest themselves that they would be safe in the company of the inmates). During the fall of 2007, NVC was accepted as an acknowledged training modality! Alicia Nowicki is offering 5 different 1-hr. sessions to inmates (clients). Staff was offered a 1-hr. intro about 3 weeks ago. The ripple effect of that intro is still being discussed. Psychiatrists, psychologists, nursing staff and other administrative staff are showing interest as they see the value NVC offers. Staff members have been invited to sit in on sessions and are giving positive feedback.
One psychiatrist sat in on a session and reported to Alicia after the session that she had been working with one of the imamates in the session for about 8 months. She shared that she had never seen him be more authentic. She guessed it came from the level of trust developed between the participants and Alicia.
One inmate, upon completion of some work of his stated, "How come I want to reach out and hug the world?"
"Sex offenders" are connecting with the idea of the act which placed them at ASH was a strategy to meet a need(s). They have been coached to explore how they might satisfy that need(s) in a way that would be welcomed and accepted by society.
Some of the "sex offenders" have been transferred to another facility, Coalinga. Alicia has received several calls from staff at Coalinga asking about NVC because the newly transferred are asking for it.
Patient Statement 9/14/09
Alicia Nowicki reported that in her beginning Non-Aggressive Communication group, one of the participants who on a previous occasion stated that the groups is "weird and not like any other group," made the following statement:
" When you ask us to say our feelings and needs in group I notice that other people have feelings and needs. When I see the feelings and needs of another person I see them differently. It brings harmony, a little bit, you know. I see it in everybody and everybody has that. I see that in someone I don't like. I had an hour conversation over the weekend about this. I feel like there is hope."
Editorial note: What is interesting in this statement is not only the content of the statement but also the fact that the participant is using the language of NVC to convey his message of hope of harmony.