Recovery home integrates racial healing circles into drug treatment program

CHICAGO-Pamela Frazier, founder and executive director of an Englewood substance abuse recovery home called N' The Spirit Transformational Living, recalled a time last fall when a white woman in the home called an African-American woman the N-word.

Although the situation was de-escalated, Frazier realized that she needed to find a way to encourage healing at the recovery home, which supports a racially mixed population of women, most of whom are African American.

Remembering how a healing circle earlier this year unlocked some memories from her childhood and helped her learn some things about herself, Frazier began incorporating racial healing circles into her treatment programs in March. She believes the racial healing circles are making a difference at the recovery home.

"I think the racial healing circles helped the ladies think about some life experiences, identify some feelings from them and differences that are racially based," Frazier said.

Frazier said the healing circles are helping her residents feel comfortable talking about their experiences and feelings, instead of keeping them bottled up inside or hiding them for the sake of fitting in. "We want them to be able to talk about it, and to talk about it freely."

The agency defines a racial healing circle as "a safe space for individuals to meet and discuss issues and concerns in a way that allows each voice to be heard." Frazier felt that the first two healing circles at the recovery home were learning opportunities, not only for the women in the recovery home, but for the staff as well. At first, all of the women were placed into different rooms with a staff facilitator. Staff members found that instead of speaking with facilitators one-on-one, the women were more comfortable talking with each other.

Frazier plans to continue having racial healing circles at the recovery home. The racial healing circles are funded by a $12,000 Healing Illinois grant and are a partnership between N' The Spirit Transformational Living and Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Greater Chicago. TRHT is a community-based plan to help address the effects of racism by hosting racial healing circles. Since March, almost 5,000 people have joined the virtual healing circles. To learn more about the racial healing circles visit the N' The Spirit Transformational Living website.

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