DARE to Connect aims to reconnect couples whose relationships have been plagued by discord, neglect, and sometimes violence. DARE uses a form of Acceptance and Commitment Training that can be provided by practitioners that are not trained as psychotherapists. This form of ACT helps couples bring compassion and connection into their homes, thereby benefitting their entire families.
THE STORY OF OUR PROJECT
A new way of relating
In 2015, men began coming to the Commit and Act shelter asking our staff members for help. They saw themselves as perpetrators and wanted assistance turning around their lives and relationships with their partners. At that time, Dr. Tom Szabo began offering online ACT training to Commit and ACT therapists who were going to counsel these men. Dr. Tom began to suspect that the men who sought our help would benefit from learning relationship skills. It also became clear that these men and their partners would profit from learning to use psychological flexibility skills in their daily lives.
DARE to Connect began as a research project on teaching couples with histories of intimate partner violence partnership skills. The project was successful, and soon Paramount Chiefs asked us to scale the program up. That is when we turned it over to our champion couples and social workers.
Today, we use a Train-The-Trainer model to teach couples across the region these important skills. Couples in Tikonko came up with the idea that instead of giving them travel money to teach other couples, we should help them create a sustainable community cassava business. We purchased an industrial grater and a building and helped these DARE champions establish a community agribusiness. Since then, we have expanded across Sierra Leone into the production and sale of peanuts, rice, and vegetables.
DARE to Connect grew from there when a 10-year-old child, Emmanuel Bockarie, suggested we train youth gangs effective ways to socialize. Dr. Tom taught a few pilot groups with Emmanuel, Tamba Fellah, and Jamie Nyaa. The team conducted research, and the schools are asking for more!
“Commit and Act has helped change the culture of silence which was a big gap in our relationship".