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Removing barriers for partners of sex addicts: Creating safe groups

A Door of Hope: Peer Facilitator Training

Next virtual training series begins Wednesday, March 7

A Door of Hope: Peer Facilitator Training

Begins Wednesday, March 7 6:30 – 8:30 pm CT

Meets weekly, 11 two-hour virtual sessions

“Leading a group (ANY group) takes SKILL. Some of this is natural skill and some can be - and needs to be - learned. This training is comprehensive and covers ALL the major considerations for group facilitation. Leading a group of TRAUMA survivors is a BIG responsibility and so, getting educated is important to be able to recognise and manage the dynamics and emotions of a group of traumatised women.”

Catherine (Cat) Etherington, Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC), Certified Partner Coach – candidate APSATS, ADOH alumni

As Cat described, leading a group of trauma survivors is a big responsibility. Here at ADOH, we recognize that responsibility when facilitating partner groups, and we bring a trauma-informed approach to the training experience.

Personally? I love the group experience – whether leading OR participating in them. I understood - and benefitted from - the depths of spiritual and emotional connection that naturally develops in a well-facilitated group. Until becoming trauma-informed, however, I was unaware of just how deeply the group experience can impact participants. Well-known trauma expert, Judith Herman, describes it here:

“Traumatic events destroy the sustaining bonds between individual and community. Those who have survived learn that their sense of self, of worth, of humanity, depends upon a feeling of connection to others. The solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience.

Trauma isolates; the group re-creates a sense of belonging. Trauma shames and stigmatises; the group bears witness and affirms. Trauma degrades the victim; the group exalts her. Trauma dehumanizes the victim; the group restores her humanity.

Repeatedly in the testimony of survivors there comes a moment when a sense of connection is restored by another person’s unaffected display of generosity. Something in herself that the victim believes to be irretrievably destroyed – faith, decency, courage – is reawakened by an example of common altruism. Mirrored in the actions of others, the survivor recognizes and reclaims a lost part of herself.”

The ADOH workbook and training cover the necessary skills, knowledge and practices critical for facilitating partner groups. With a foundational understanding of the sexually betrayed partner experience, it equips peer facilitators to build safe groups where partners can move forward in their healing journeys.

But why spend 11 weeks on peer facilitator training? Because people involved in support groups led by well-trained facilitators grew. They…

  • Decreased their isolation, developed a sense of community

  • Found their voice

  • Received and provided safety, empathy, validation, and support

  • Shared information and resources

  • Experienced increased social networks and friendships

  • Became empowered

  • Rediscovered hope

  • Increased self-awareness, gained insights

  • Learned coping skills

  • Moved from a victim identity into a

But don’t miss the italicized caveat: Well-trained. According to an analysis of research literature by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury five elements are essential to creating and maintaining a peer-to-peer program that ensures members experience those benefits:

  1. Adequate planning and preparation, including identifying needs of the target population and aligning program goals to meet those needs.

  2. Clearly articulated policies to avoid confusion, especially around role boundaries and confidentiality.

  3. Systematic screening with defined selection criteria for peer supporters such as communication skills, leadership ability, character, previous experience or training, and individuals who can serve as positive role models.

  4. Leverage benefits from “” status, such as experiential learning, social support, leadership, and improved self-confidence.

  5. Enable continued learning through structured training, by providing an atmosphere for peer supporters to support each other and improve peer support skills.

If interested in discovering more, please head to the "Peer Facilitator" page. To arrange an interview, simply answer a few questions on the letter of interest document and email it to me at

After the interview, if you decide to move ahead, you will complete the peer facilitator application and return it via email. The $150 training fee includes support throughout the training, as well as the opportunity to participate in a secret Facebook group for those who complete training.

If you have further questions, email me at

Quote: Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political

Quote 2: Defense Centers of Excellence, Best Practices Identified for Peer Support Groups,

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