Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom is a groundbreaking book (available in both English and Spanish) for prisoner healing and (re)habilitation. Houses of Healing deals directly with root causes of crime, violence, and addiction and offers a practical approach to emotional growth that speaks specifically to the challenges facing incarcerated men and women.
Having worked with hundreds of inmates in Massachusetts prisons for over eight years, author Robin Casarjian, a veteran teacher and counselor, developed the emotional literacy curriculum/ program presented in Houses of Healing.
From the outset of her work in prisons, it was clear to Ms. Casarjian that until prisoners were able to heal issues that were, for many, at the root of their criminal and addictive behavior, they would be unable to extract themselves successfully from the criminal justice system. It was also obvious that resources for prisoner rehabilitation were sorely needed.
In 1992, she founded The Lionheart Foundation for the purpose of making her emotional literacy curriculum/program available to prisoners around the country. To achieve this goal, in 1995 the Lionheart Foundation funded the publication and free distribution of Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom. This project, called the National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners [link], continues to expand today.
How It Works
Houses of Healing offers an in-depth program in emotional habilitation and personal growth as well as the consistent encouragement needed to engage successfully in this challenging and demanding process. The author draws the reader in by speaking clearly and directly to the situations and feelings that most all incarcerated men and women struggle with. Numerous firsthand accounts of prisoners who have worked the program are interspersed throughout the book.
In Houses of Healing, prisoners learn how to confront issues such as childhood wounding, grieving, managing anger, facing the impact of crime, and taking ultimate responsibility for themselves and their actions. The program offers guidance in stress management techniques and healthy, practical coping strategies. It addresses, in depth, the necessity of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others – subjects that are often overlooked and misunderstood despite the fact that they are essential to the cultivation of empathy and emotional and spiritual maturity.
Guiding prisoners toward a restored sense of self in a context of respect, encouragement, and inspiration, Houses of Healing combines essential tools for change with a deep understanding of the challenges facing the offender population.
Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom can be used, as thousands are using it today, independently or in group courses in many settings and formats. Prisoners use the book for self-study over months and even years. Counselors and chaplains use Houses of Healing to complement their treatment programs and/or create entirely new programs. Houses of Healing courses are led by mental health and substance abuse counselors, chaplains, volunteers, and even prisoners. (For additional guidance or assistance, they often use The Houses of Healing Training Manual and the Houses of Healing Educational and Training Video Series.)
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Robin Casarjian is the Founder and Director of the Lionheart Foundation and its National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners. She is a public speaker, writer, and consultant with extensive experience in education, stress management training, psychotherapy, and administration. She is author of Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart (Bantam, 1992) and Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom (Lionheart Press, 1995).
Whether in inner-city classrooms, hospitals, corporations or prisons, Robin’s work has been widely acclaimed for its clarity, directness, and unwavering vision of the enormous potential within all people.
Robin’s professional career began in 1973 when she received a graduate degree in education from Columbia University and became a teacher of special needs children. She moved on to direct a small alternative school for children with severe behavioral problems who had been excluded from the Boston Public Schools. She subsequently trained in the psychotherapeutic technique of Guided Imagery and Music, using visualization as a powerful creative resource, and started a private practice. From here her career expanded as a public speaker and workshop presenter.
Robin became well known as a stress-management consultant and trainer within the corporate, medical and lay community. She conducted trainings that were telecast live to 35 major corporate sites across the country and numerous trainings specifically for DuPont, the U.S. Army, and the Harvard Community Health Plan, where she taught for six years.
Working with people from diverse backgrounds and in different settings, Robin realized the central role that forgiveness plays in the healing process. Translating the age-old spiritual concept of forgiveness into a grounded, commonsense, day-to-day practice, she wrote her first book. Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for A Peaceful Heart, published by Bantam Books in 1992, is now available in seven languages.
Robin’s expertise in stress-management and forgiveness resulted in appearances on PBS and local and national talk shows, including ABC’s 20/20 and Oprah Winfrey. She has also been interviewed in numerous national magazines and publications.
Volunteering in a Massachusetts state prison in 1988, Robin developed a course for inmates entitled "Emotional Awareness/Emotional Healing." Witnessing the profound impact this course repeatedly had on prisoners, Robin was inspired to bring her work to prisoners across the country.
Her vision was to capture the essence of the course – respect, encouragement, new teachings and ideas, practical "hands on" exercises, questions for reflection and self-exploration, as well as personal accounts from prisoners – in a book that would be easily available to prisoners anywhere in the country.
Toward this end she wrote Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, with the intent of distributing free copies to all prison libraries in the U.S. She founded the non-profit Lionheart Foundation in 1992 in order to support this endeavor. She called the project The National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners (NELPP).
To accompany this book she wrote the Houses of Healing Training Manual and co-produced the Houses of Healing Educational & Training Video Series. A major thrust of her work with Lionheart now is setting up and facilitating statewide trainings for front-line correctional rehabilitation staff throughout the United States.
In Lionheart’s latest major initiative, the National Emotional Literacy Project for Youth-At-Risk, Robin is collaborating on the publication of a program for at-risk teens and young adults that will be distributed to juvenile detention facilities nationwide.
In response to the massive expansion of our nations’ prison system and its punitive emphasis, Robin also conducts grassroots public education about the need to make prisons places for people to heal (and about the exorReview:
"Like no other book in recent times, this one caught on quickly and deeply." -- Brian Murdoch, Director of Recovery Programs Suffolk County House of Corrections, Boston, MA
I have never read a book so instrumental for positive change. So many experts have said what is wrong... -- Marcelino DeLeon, Psychologist
I read this book and found it to be the greatest self-healing book ever written for any situation... -- Joan Boucher, Librarian, State Prison, Cranston, RI
You helped me reach pain that you seemed to know was there better than myself... -- John, London Correctional Institution, London, OH
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