Bay News Editor and reporter for NZME.

New group for men to talk from heart

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When Salvation Army facilitator Mike Donovan launches Tauranga's men-only Positive Lifestyle Programme next week he believes his biggest hurdle will be getting them to talk.

The counsellor was looking forward to discussing self awareness and exploring topics including anger, depression, stress, loneliness, grief and loss but said he would take one session at a time to see where they led.

"I am hoping the guys will talk for the start and that will be a big challenge. I think this programme is really trying to meet a need for guys ... they like to achieve life by themselves but this is a way for guys to get together and I hope they will be able to talk about some of those things that may be impacting on them.

I am hoping the guys will talk for the start and that will be a big challenge.
Mike Donovan, Sallies facilitator

"We may provide a counselling service for some guys who want to take it a bit further and journey a bit deeper with some of the topics that may be significant to them."

Building self-esteem was a major for most people, he said.

Salvation Army Tauranga community ministries manager Davina Plummer said the programme was created in Canada and used in Australia and New Zealand.

She said evidence showed it had been a life-changing experience for men to talk about things that were buried and it was powerful to set goals.

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Taking that first step was difficult and often the hardest part but the Salvation Army was a safe non-judgmental place, she said.

"They can be honest and make progress."

Tauranga mother-of-one Karen Palmer said she had no trouble talking when she attended the women's Positive Lifestyle Programme just before Christmas.

The 43-year-old said she was rebuilding her life after a spinal injury five years ago and she found it hard to find the positives in her life.

"I wasn't aware that I had not grieved a lot of losses in my life and I struggled with setting boundaries and saying no."

Ms Palmer said after the course: "I walked away with my spirits totally lifted.

"I am not afraid of the journey I am about to take on now and I feel awesome, it's great."

She was embarking on study to become involved in social work and the future looked bright.

"This has given me the encouragement and confidence to take it on."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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