Thank you for visiting our website to find out more about our Heart, Mind & Soul programs for teens and young adults.
I founded Heart, Mind & Soul (HMS) in 2003 while working as Assistant Director of NCSY in New England. At the time, I felt strongly regarding the need for a program for Jewish teens that focused on personal development rather than religious development, and thus, Heart, Mind & Soul was born.
I am passionate about primary prevention: instead of focusing on the treatment of existing problems, primary prevention seeks to help prevent the onset of problems by enhancing protective factors (Ripple, 2004), by building up our teens and getting them in touch with their unique competencies and abilities, with what makes each one of them valuable as a member of our families, their communities, and the Jewish people.
As such, HMS is a program for Jewish teenagers, developed specifically to enhance teens’ hope, motivation, self-esteem, and connection to community. As a Shabbaton experience, it also allows participants the opportunity to meet other teens from different communities/schools and spend Shabbat together.
In terms of the protective factors to be strengthened, hope is a key factor. Hope is not only correlated to our children’s global life satisfaction but is a psychological strength that can reduce the impact that negative life events have on an individual (Valle, Huebner & Sudno, 2006). Additionally, through experiential activities and exercises, teens are encouraged to view themselves as capable and lovable, to use self-esteem as a tool to become more willing to take responsibility for their lives, and to motivate themselves to achieve.
According to Cowen (1982), an effective prevention program, in addition to maintaining a group orientation and a proactive stance, must have a sound theoretical foundation. Heart, Mind & Soul is based on Adlerian Psychology, with a focus on how we each create beliefs about ourselves and the world which then can either help us achieve our goals or hinder our ability to do so (Kern, Belangee & Eckstein, 2004).
Additionally, a heavy emphasis is placed on what Adler called Gemeinschaftsgefuehl, usually translated as “social interest” or “feeling of community.” According to Adler, “a social person is much closer to happiness than the isolated person striving for superiority… This sense of belonging that cannot be denied anyone, against which there are no arguments, can only be won by being involved, by cooperating, and experiencing, and by being useful to others. Out of this emerges a lasting, genuine feeling of worthiness” (Adler, 1926). Adler’s beliefs are synergistic with the timeless wisdom of the Torah and its stress on Tikkun Olam and Areivut.
Overall Goals of the Program
- Teach responsibility and accountability
- Provide the benefit of a group setting (i.e. support; variety of ideas, advice, and opinion; overcoming fears of revealing self; concept of “not alone” and help is all around)
- Help teens know that they are lovable and loved and how and where to look for love
- Show them how capable they are and how to develop their capability
- Validate feelings and discuss ways to appropriately express them
- Address how to become an effective, contributing “team player” at home and school
- Teach the concept of how to create hopefulness
- Stress the importance of self-reflection and self-quieting
- Encourage teens to translate and adapt newly developed skills into society (e.g., in relationships with friends and family, etc.)
Do you think your child can benefit from Heart, Mind & Soul? Contact Sandy Trencher by phone at 860-922-9336 or via our online form to find out more, to speak with parents of past participants, or to discuss payment and scholarships.
Adler, A. (1926). Quote from Individual Psychology. Retrieved on January 9, 2007 from http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/hstein/qu-comm.htm
Cowen, E. (1982). Primary prevention research: Barrier opportunities. Journal of Primary Prevention, 2, 131–141.
Kern, R., Belangee, S. & Eckstein, D. (2004). Early recollection: a guide for practitioners. Journal of Individual Psychology, 60(2), 132–140.
Valle, M., Huebner, E. & Suldo, S. (2006). An analysis of hope as a psychological strength. Journal of School Psychology, 44(5), 393–406.