Regular readers will know I have made several posts regarding the New Warriors Training Adventure. In discussions of NWTA, other groups come up in conversation. Specifically, Journey into Manhood, the weekend adventure sponsored by People Can Change. The founding of PCC is reported on their website:
People Can Change was founded in September 2000 by Richard Wyler, a man who had personally experienced enormous transformation from unwanted homosexual attractions. Originally, People Can Change was essentially a Web site containing personal success stories of men who had experienced change, plus online support groups for those who were struggling and seeking information and support.
Today, there are more than a half dozen online support groups of, collectively, hundreds of men from all over the world. There is also an online group for wives.
People Can Change grew further in 2002 when David Matheson, a therapist specializing in “gender affirming therapy,” joined Rich to co-create the first Journey Into Manhood experiential healing weekends.
Since that time, hundreds of men from more than a dozen countries have found tremendous healing and growth through the Journey Into Manhood weekend program. Dozens of these men have returned to serve as volunteer weekend staff. Many of them also contribute substantial time and talent to support the mission of People Can Change and support those who currently struggle.
In many ways, JIM and PCC appears to be modeled after Mankind Project and New Warriors which is understandable given that Wyler and Matheson have been involved in New Warriors as initiates and staffers. With the attention to New Warriors and the mention of JIM in the recent Southern Poverty Law Center article, I wanted to get some clarifications from PCC about JIM. I asked Rich Wyler several questions and followed up with a phone conversation. Here are his answers:
1. What is the relationship, if any between New Warriors and JIM?
1) There is no relationship between Journey Into Manhood and the New Warrior Training Adventure or its parent, MKP. People Can Change (the organization that runs the Journey Into Manhood experiential weekend program) is an independent organization completely separate from and unaffiliated with MKP.
2. Are you or your partners still staffing NWTAs?
2) I have not staffed NWTA for several years, nor has David Matheson, my co-creator of the Journey Into Manhood program. I don’t know whether other senior staff volunteers have or not. We do not monitor the volunteer efforts of our staff.
3. Does JIM endorse MKP and NWTA?
3) We do not endorse MKP or NWTA, although we do make information about NWTA available, along with information on Christian- and Jewish-variations of New Warriors (Dare to Soar, Marked Men for Christ, Call of the Shofar, etc.) along with other programs, such as various 12-step programs. It’s an information list of resources, not an endorsement list.
4. Do you have a policy that does not allow staff to refer JIM participants to NWTA? Or instead are JIM encouraged to refer men to NWTA? Or is it up to individual JIM leaders?
4) PCC as an organization makes men aware of a variety of resources that have proven helpful to others in their process of growth. NWTA is one such resource. PCC does not have a policy governing what individual leaders and volunteers can and cannot suggest to participants. Our volunteer staff are free to share with others what they have personally found helpful in their own experience.
5. If you do refer to NWTA, do you indicate to men that the experience might help reduce SSA?
5) Many past participants of NWTA have reported that as they grew in their sense of personal power and their own sense of masculinity, and as they felt more connected to the world of heterosexual men at large — factors that the NWTA experience can facilitate — they have experienced a diminished sense of SSA. Additionally, many men consider NWTA to be a significant part of their overall growth process. However, PCC does not have an official position on NWTA’s helpfulness in overcoming SSA specifically.
6. Are initiates into JIM allowed to talk about what occurs at a JIM weekend?
6) The Journey Into Manhood confidentiality agreement states:- I agree to forever keep confidential all names and identifying information of those participating in the “Journey Into Manhood” weekend.
– I agree to forever keep confidential any and all aspects of what others experience this weekend and anything they may choose to disclose about themselves, their lives and their feelings.
– I also agree to keep confidential specifics about the actual processes and activities used in the course of the training. This is to preserve the confidentiality of the training for others who may participate in the future, so that it may have the greatest possible impact on their lives.
– I am, however, free to share with others my own feelings about the training and what I experienced in the course of the weekend, if I choose, as long as I do so without violating my commitments to confidentiality as noted above.
I appreciate Rich’s candid reply which is more than I can say for the New Warriors leadership. I still await MKP Executive Director, Carl Greisser’s responses to my contacts weeks ago.
In my post about the Southern Poverty Law Center article, Rich said the JIM processes do not include memory recovery work. However, JIM does activities similar to NWTA which evokes strong feelings about past memories. On inquiry, Rich does not believe JIM processes elicit false memories of past events. We may disagree here that one can be sure.
I also asked Rich why processes are kept confidential. He said he believed the methods work better if the man has his emotions engaged rather than intellectually going through a process. It is my contention that for something to be offered as a means of change, there should be something inherent in the process that is potent which cannot be eroded significantly by knowing it is coming. Otherwise, we are really talking about an attempt to attach strong emotion to a set of new perspectives which, if adopted, might explain life in a way that provides increased certainty or understanding. These processes offered by NWTA and JIM seem more like efforts at persuasion – persuading a person to adopt a different view of self or others. Strong emotion is the lubricant for such persuasion. One can argue that such means are good if the change is desired. This may be so.
Speaking of outcomes, Rich indicated that he has some new survey data coming out soon that looks favorable for PCC. When it comes out, I will be happy to post it for evaluation. I want to thank Rich for his openness to discuss this matter of great importance to him.
Read my other posts on New Warriors and the Mankind Project here.