The workshop was originally created for people serving life sentences in prison, with the intention of supporting them in living more meaningful lives, whether or not they ever parole. The name of the workshop, “Freedom to Choose,” is derived from the work of Viktor Frankl, who was a psychiatrist interred in a concentration camp in World War II.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is the power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
– Viktor Frankl
The Freedom to Choose Project workshop teaches communication skills, relationship skills, and also works at the emotional level, offering a specific skill set to heal the underpinnings of anger, thus preventing conflict. These skills also support people in healing the causes of addictive behaviors and are congruent with the 12-step model. Emphasis is placed on forgiveness as a foundational life skill. The beginning workshop is presented on two consecutive 8-hour days.
Freedom to Choose has many advantages and results indicate it may be superior to currently available programs of this nature. It is also uniquely supportive to people dealing with addiction issues. It goes beyond traditional approaches that teach elements of cognitive-behavioral models and life skills training. Elements that distinguish Freedom to Choose:
Aside from inmates, our programs are designed to successfully address the needs of men and women in many vulnerable/underserved populations:
We encourage support staff (such as counselors, law enforcement officers, family members and friends to attend when possible). That offers the primary participants the opportunity to experience a wider base of psycho-social support stemming from a common experience.
FTC offers community workshops designed to fit the needs of targeted populations including: criminal justice system (both staff and clients), addiction recovery system (both counselors and clients) and other under-served populations. (Addiction programs work with but also go beyond the 12-step model.) The introductory workshop is conducted over a 2-day period, while a third day can be added as an advanced workshop.
As a way to enhance and practice new skills learned at an FTC workshop, FTC offers Community Nights upon request. These evenings are designed to provide a brief introduction to the work for families and friends of past participants, and as a way to practice utilizing skills for past participants.
FTC has been providing workshops within the California prison system for 12+ years. Our workshops range from 2-3 days, with the Advanced Workshop taking place on the first day and the Intro Workshop on the 2nd-3rd day. We also offer 2-day advanced workshops on special topics including: addiction, emotional freedom, healthy relationships, and many more. Each workshop serves up to 250 inmates. It is offered in English with simultaneous Spanish translation. The large format offers benefits to the participants in terms of experiential learning, while at the same time affording obvious economies of scale. With each workshop in the prison, there is an overwhelming response to this workshop.
Inmate graduates of the Freedom to Choose Workshops have the opportunity to participate in advanced workshops, and to support their peers by assisting them in learning the skills. The Mentor Program has grown to include approximately 350 inmates who enthusiastically volunteer to support their peers.