By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
THE CARMICHAEL Road community now has a place of refuge for people who are hurting with the opening of the latest branch of The Family, a group therapy programme spearheaded by Bahamian psychologist Dr David Allen.
The Family: People Helping People, is a yearlong program created by Dr Allen that uses faith-based interventions to help stem the tide of anger and violence taking a toll on Bahamian society.
The Carmichael Road community centre at the Flamingo Gardens Park was recently opened under the patronage of Dr Daniel Johnson, MP for Carmichael.
The purpose of the programme is to provide a safe, secure environment where group members can begin to heal their broken relationships with their family and community. The primary goal is to improve socialisation in light of burgeoning rates of crime, family disintegration, and economic impoverishment. The particular problems addressed are anger management, conflict resolution, low self-esteem, lack of forgiveness, and parent education.
It is led by professionals where therapeutic interventions are closely matched to the specific problems with which participants present, and are offered entirely free of charge. The interventions provide for socialisation, interpersonal skills, self-esteem enhancement, anger management, conflict resolution, revenge elimination, community bonding, affective learning, and the development of mature spirituality.
“Carmichael Road is a key place because this is where the island is growing. We want to be here because our program decreases depression, revenge, trauma, and shame. The Family increases self esteem and forgiveness. People are hurting. I always say every Bahamian has a close knit social fabric of about 100 people. If you have 119 murders, it is 119 times 100 people that are affected.
“This program is a blessing for young people. We have seen how it has helped the lives of the boys and girls at the industrial schools. We are hoping to get into the prison.
Our research has shown when a child is traumatised by serious violence they can become a killer. So what we are trying to do is get to the trauma. If we do not get to the kids who are traumatised it will develop and develop until it turns into revenge,” Dr Allen said.
Dr Johnson said he is confident that the new branch will have a positive impact in Carmichael Road because Dr Allen’s intervention methods have been “tried, proven and tested”.
Kendrick Kemp has participated in The Family and was able to find comfort and encouragement during the group therapy sessions.
“I used to live on the streets so I could not trust anyone. I do not share my business with anyone. Abuse at a younger age shut me down from a young age. But I came to The Family and I saw white people and black people sitting down together. I was like wow.
“I came for a couple of months but never said a word and never cracked a smile. But there was this lady there and as she shared her story (she touched me). She was a couple steps from dying (from cancer) but she was sitting there telling her story and saying how she wants the best for her kids, but she was sitting there with a smile on her face.
As a result of his participation in the group sessions Mr Kemp was inspired to share his story and get his life on track.
Dr Allen hopes that more persons benefit from the new branch of The Family.