Girls Rising: A Guide to Nurturing a Confident and Soulful Adolescent

Girls Rising: A Guide to Nurturing a Confident and Soulful Adolescent

by Urana Jackson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941529188
Publisher: Parallax Press
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 850,735
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Urana Jackson has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and has worked with youth and their families for more than 20 years. She has impacted more than a thousand youths from various backgrounds as an educator, trainer, and mental health clinician in public schools and the private sector. She has a private practice working primarily with girls and woman, ages 12 – 35. Urana is also an artist and her personal practice of meditation and involvement in the Native American spiritual community has influenced her work tremendously. She lives in the East Bay of Northern California.

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Introduction

Girls in Hiding

I began my work with girls at the age of twenty– – – six. I was a young woman myself, still wrestling with my own issues of identity and self–worth, as a biracial female navigating my place between a wealthy white community and middle–lower income black community; as an only child from a single–parent home; and as an extremely sensitive soul trying to make my way through the challenging environment of Los Angeles in the 1980s. I was seeking the very empowerment that I was expected to offer the girls I was mentoring. It is no coincidence that we enter into this work as therapists, educators, and advocates, but so often our own wounds, and the way in which we heal from them, is reflected by and conducted through those people and issues we "serve." As the Eastern saying goes, "The teacher and the taught create the teaching."

My work with girls first began at an afterschool program in San Francisco public housing; three years later I moved to the girls’ unit at a juvenile detention center, and then, beginning in 2001, I spent thirteen years working in Oakland public schools. The young women I worked with came from a broad range of racial, ethnic, and socio–economic backgrounds. They were vibrant, intelligent, saucy, and creative, and yet many of them, regardless of their backgrounds and personal attributes, were struggling desperately with some issue: high levels of depression and/or anxiety, drug and/or alcohol abuse, social isolation, bulimia, anorexia, cutting, perfectionism, abusive relationships, and more. It seemed like as a collective these girls were going through a kind of initiation through fire, and the institutions surrounding them were ill–equipped to provide a container for such a chaotic and soul–deep passage.

Like many service providers committed to understanding and wanting to impact a particular issue, I began my process by asking some fundamental questions: What are the deeper, underlying issues at play? In girl–centered practices I have seen, what works and what doesn’t work? What is not being addressed? How can I convey what I believe is needed in a manner that is authentic, innovative, and respectful of the populations I serve? What are my personal strength and gifts, and how can they be employed here? It has taken more than seventeen years to answer those first questions. Girls Rising is my response to that inquiry.

The Curriculum

The curriculum in this guidebook is based on my seventeen years of experience working with adolescent girls and supporting their social–emotional learning; it is intended to provide parents, educators, psychotherapists, and any other adult working with adolescent girls a set of social–emotional lessons and activities to aid young women in a meaningful process of self–actualization. In a step–by–step process intended to engage teenage girls from a deeply creative and exploratory space, the curriculum incorporates writing, media, music, role–playing, and art processes, in addition to significant focus on group dialogue and interaction.

The curriculum is ideal for groups of anywhere from six to twelve participants, but it can easily be used with whole classrooms as well as between a parent and daughter, and other one–on–one configurations. The guide’s emphasis on groups is based on research showing that while boys’ process of individuation is often accomplished through their progressive separation and independence from their parents, girls develop through their connections with others, particularly with their peer group and a trusted adult outside their parents. Thus, in most cases, by providing a safe container for a small collective of girls, who will bond and learn together, adult facilitators are setting an ideal platform for girl development.

Informed by various psychological theories and practices including Relational Cultural Psychology, Humanistic Psychology, Depth Psychology, Expressive Arts, Cognitive/Behavioral and Gestalt therapies, the curriculum is divided into four themes based on the developmental needs and issues of adolescent girls: 1) self–awareness / self–esteem (Looks Within), 2) empathy and communication (Empathetic Attunement), 3) social awareness and connection (Necessary Action), and 4) mindfulness and existential exploration (Sacred Living).

Looks Within begins by taking inventory of the social influences that impact a girl’s experience, especially as it relates to gender expectations and standards of beauty. In this segment, girls are given the opportunity to define, and place themselves in, their own definitions of beauty and worth. The chapter explores girls’ personal experiences and familial patterns and how these influences impact individual thought paradigms, and then investigates the relationship between thoughts and emotions, as well as offers tools in observation that help girls transform challenging emotional states into more manageable and meaningful experiences.

Empathetic Attunement discusses and illustrates the inherent differences in human perspectives, while creating the opportunity for girls to experience realities outside their own. Through a lens of mutual experience, girls are exposed to communication tools to enhance integrity, openness, and empathy in their interactions with others. Empathetic Attunement also works to break down dichotomies of good and bad, and right and wrong, into a more expansive, nuanced, and multilayered understanding of people and experiences. This serves to empower participants with more complex and creative responses to life circumstances.

Necessary Action exposes and explores a variety of social issues facing girls and women around the world. Girls then take part in a series of activities that challenge them to investigate their ability to facilitate social change in their immediate environments. Finally, participants identify their own personal talents and interests and begin to visualize potential vocations that incorporate creativity and service.

Sacred Living is an exploration of esoteric ideas and practices that connect girls to a meta–conception of the world both inside and outside themselves. Girls learn how to align themselves with their intuition through mindful awareness and meditation, to both ground them and enrich their experience of the world. Participants also investigate existential questions and concepts from a wide variety of interfaith sources and begin to define for themselves what is meaningful in their conception of the Sacred.

While I believe that life itself, through its lexicon of experiences and lessons, is truly the most powerful force in transforming adolescents into young adults, this curriculum is an attempt to respond explicitly and proactively to the needs and the capacity of our young girls, to their right to a healthy and meaningful transition into adulthood.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Introduction



Chapter One: Getting Started

Setting the tone, creating space, establishing guidelines, and a word about the pedagogy


Chapter Two: Looks Within

Expanding and supporting girls’ self–awareness, self–identity, and personal development


Chapter Three: Empathetic Attunement

Building the capacity for empathy, learning skillful communication


Chapter Four: Necessary Action

Examining issues facing women and girls around the world, envisioning change, developing a personal plan for meaningful action


Chapter Five: Sacred Living

Introducing mindful meditation techniques, asking big existential questions, exploring the sacred


Chapter Six: Closing Ritual

Reflecting on the journey and marking the transition


Chapter Seven: Conclusion



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