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Newsletter, July-September 2017

Training seminar for Ladya program

A training seminar on Ladya program for primary prevention of risk behaviour and HIV/AIDS among teenagers was held from July 6 to 10 at the church of St. Maron the Hermit-in-Bolshaya Yakimanka in Moscow. It was organized by the St. John of Kronstadt Charity with the support of the coordinating center for opposing drug addiction of the Moscow Patriarchate Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service.

The seminar was conducted by Ms. Victoria Afonina, a psychologist, chair of the board of directors of Blago, a regional public organization in the city of Bryansk, and Ms. Yelena Severina, a psychologist. Both trainers have a great experience of teaching Ladya program.

The Ladya program is intended for work with children from 13 to 17 years of age. Experience though has shown that it also helps those who have long passed the teenager age. So, for 5 days the 23 attendees of the seminar were delighted to play lively games, to discuss about happiness and loneliness, to draw posters and invent stories. To learn to work with teenagers under this program, the teachers and psychologists had to master Ladya through their own experience.

- The Ladya program envisages a special approach to prevention. It is special in that it addresses the deep causes of problems and is aimed to inculcate in children a system of spiritual and moral guidelines that will eventually reduce to a minimum the risk of behavior deviations, - says Natalia Ischenko, a St. John of Kronstadt Charity psychologist responsible for the seminar organization.

'Happiness', 'I and My Life', 'Man and Woman', 'Good and Evil', 'Overcoming Problems' - altogether there are 23 lessons. Some of them are devoted to the prevention of HIV infection and drug addiction. Each 1,5-hour lesson includes various activities, such as discussion on the teenager's experience, reflection, role-playing games, reception of new information.

The Ladya program is intended not only for inchurched children, but also for an ordinary school audience. It can be easily adapted for use in a milieu in which Christianity is not the dominating religion since the basic moral guidelines in Russian religious traditions coincide. The program has successfully tested in various regions in Russia.

It was not for the first time that the St. John of Kronstadt Charity organized the Ladya lessons, but the seminar proved special in that most of the attendees turned out to be inchurched and very pro-active people.

- The group was highly motivated and resolved. Many participants in the seminar expressed a wish to continue training for the Living Water and Way to Home programs and readiness to help the St. John of Kronstadt Charity to conduct various events, - Natalia Ischenko said.

In conclusion of the seminar each participant was granted the training certificate and a book with a detailed methodological material (in 200 pages) on the Ladya program.

Below are some responses of the seminar attendees:

Olga Krutova, a Christian psychologist, Orthodox Family center, oncology psychologist:

- I was told about the Ladya program by my fellow-student and colleague. He said that this program is a real hit. And now, after the 5-day seminar training I can say with confidence: the Ladya program is something more than a hit. The seminar is already over but I continue thinking about questions raised at it and making my own big and small discoveries. It is as if a self-unpacking onion of meanings has been set in me: It seems I have understood something, have made a discovery but I immediately begin thinking about another subject that we considered in class, and it is as if a new layer is taken away and my previous discovery appears in a new light and becomes deeper and more meaningful. Ladya is a very powerful, profound and integral program and training for its use is full of meanings. And this effect is achieved through playing exercises, interesting and serious discussions and debates.

I was struck by the lessons devoted to the subject of dependency on psychoactive substances and bulling. Through seemingly simple and even familiar exercises it was vividly and utterly concretely shown how one gets into the captivity of dependency and the price to pay for it. Even I, an adult person, was touched to tears. The work at the lessons on 'Man and Woman', 'Values', 'Origin and Culture' made me think about many things and make an 'inventory' of my life. And precisely for this reason I think the Ladya program is beneficial for not only teenagers but also their parents, since many themes make you look at your life anew.

I have lived through these five days of the training seminar in one breath. A profound bow to the trainers Victoria Afonina and Yelena Severina, the organizers of the seminar and to our whole large, so diverse and now so close group for the trusted and benevolent atmosphere, dynamics, complete openness and generosity with which each shared his or her experience.

I have found new meanings and resources and realized how I can build anew my work with my teenager charges. I am preparing to start a teenager group with the use of the Ladya program in the new academic year in the Orthodox Family center. I plan to use some topics in individual and group work with adults.

Elizaveta Pakhomkina, a psychologist:

- All the five days of the seminar passed just magnificently - intensively, positively and informatively! I have a feeling that the attendees have become one family. I hope to see many again at the Living Water and Way to Home programs. Thank you very much to the leaders, Yelena and Victoria. They invest so much energy to put across as much as they could the remarkable experience of Ladya. There was a very warm and friendly atmosphere at lessons. The communication with experienced psychologists and wonderful women participants in the seminar is worth a great deal. I was the youngest one and gained an experience of communication with older people. There was another advantage in that men were involved in exercises on the third day of the seminar because their views of family values differ from women's ones. A charge of positive emotions was received by all!

Svetlana Dvurechenskaya, a psychologist counsellor, Raduga health center, Sysolyatino village, Naro-Fominsk district:

- I liked the seminar very much. It was strong, intense, interesting and well structured. There was much information, excellent exercises and great opportunities for practical use.

Ladya is remarkable in that it does not scare teenagers away by a negative approach. The program shows positive things and offers various opportunities for manifesting oneself in one's good works.

The seminar demonstrated forms of interaction first with teenagers and later with parents in relations to teenagers. I work mostly with adults and I am working out now a program for teachers for developing psycho-emotional stability. Ladya will help me bridge a gap between a child and an adult person for improving family relations.

In the course of the seminar its participants looked into the inner image of their own childhood. These exercises produced an experience of one's personal life experience in dynamics and all this was very vivid. Especially strong was the day devoted to dependencies, forms of risky behaviours and bulling.

Galina Aliulova, a psychologist:

- I encountered the Ladya program for the first time when I was seeking further professional development as psychologist. At that time I was grabbed by this program's usability in practice. It is very important for me because in my MA course I deal mostly with theoretical aspects.

I have also struck up a lot of emotionally and spiritually useful contacts. I am grateful that I found myself at this seminar and met the trainers and attendees. Ladya is a door that opens up a new way for me…

Natalia Nevedrova, teacher for Nursing specialty at College No. 6:

- I am privileged to work with teenagers. Our students are senior teenagers. It is the age of when the 'unyielding' period is ending. It is a difficult but very interesting age, a process of separation and individualization. The authority of a company prevails over the clever speeches of teachers. Teenagers are still children but they think they are already adults. Very contradictory, vulnerable but at the same time very responsive. If you get to them, they will respond with a powerful youthful wave of trust and love. This feedback is very precious…

As class supervisor I have to conduct formation classes. And one wishes to conduct these classes not as a pure formality, in a mentor's tone, but to make them captivating and as useful for children as possible. It is important that the content of formation classes should be capacious and properly structured, aimed at the children's outlook, at the response they can give by virtue of their age and development.

I received education in teaching and medicine. Now I am being trained for the MA degree in psychology. When I heard about Ladya I realized that it is what will help me in my approach to the work as a class supervisor and not only to it. Psychological, spiritual and moral aspects are often treated at lessons. Indeed, standing behind conventional nursing manipulations is interaction with living people in the state of disease. At lessons we often discuss concrete situations and sometimes it is simply necessary to escape from the manipulation algorithm and take up the worldview questions …

The training seminar met my high expectations and provoked a great emotional response. I liked the exercises, which first seemed very simple, easy and cheerful but they bear a powerful hidden motive and later overwhelm you with a wave of reflection and self-analysis… It is very important for a teenager to come to some conclusions on his own, and Ladya fully takes this peculiarity in account. It helps unobtrusively to form in a teenager a stable moral pivot.

I will certainly use Ladya in the teaching process. But we had better avoid making it an 'an obligatory course' for it to preserve its soul…

Natalia Shirshikova, a psychologist:

- A remarkable seminar! I liked the trainers very much. Though at first it seemed there was a lack of certain depth and instruments. But later we were explained that it was simply impossible to include all this in a 5-day course and that there are special detailed seminars for this. We have enrolled on them too, for the program has gained our interest indeed.

At the seminar there was an opportunity to look into some important things of our own. This inner work is going on after the lessons as well. The Map of the Soul exercise was very impressive. It was important for me to look at the subject of friendship, especially as it concerns its boundaries. The Values and Meanings lesson has given much to me…

Very enriching for me was also the communication during the lessons with other participants, my colleagues. Now I am looking forward to the Way to Home and Living Water seminars.

From the materials on www.protivnarko.ru

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