Workshops (Carlbrook)

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This page consist of a description of the workshops used at Carlbrook.

List of workshops

In order to reach the higher level and earn visits from the family, the detainee has to pass marathon therapy session called workshops. There are 5 workshops based on workshops by the now closed CEDU facilities.

The names of these workshops are:

  • Integritas (Integrity)
  • Amicitia (Friendship)
  • Animus (Passion)
  • Teneo: (Tenacity / Perseverence)
  • Veneratio, (Honor)

Here are a detainees description of each workshop along with some good advice:

Integritas: Honesty

Description: You're woken up by your student supports, you're on bans with the whole school, eat breakfast, and head over to the workshop room.

You go in, there's music and your supporting advisers. You assign yourself a Truth (what is true about me), get a workshop journal (I don't believe these are ever read by staff) and then start learning some tools.

I think we did our heroes in the morning. I believe silver ball is this day. After lunch, I can't really remember what happens....(this was 4 years ago now, almost exactly), and then that night is a group of sorts.

Peers and staff give you feedback about how you don't live your truth and you're forced to figure out your lie. This can last very late, until after midnight. When everyone is done, you go back to special dorms set up (people are just moved around so all the workshop kids are in the same room)

Advice: Lessons to learn that make this marathon workshop easier to pass:

  • You are what you do, not what you say you do. (If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck.)
  • Silver Ball (Every child is born a shiny silver ball....and then shit happens to it/on it)
  • Pendulum (The more you feel pain, the more you feel joy)
  • Truth (What is fundamentally true about you)
  • Lie (The Main Belief that keeps you from your truth)
Exercises Description
Feedback on truth Peers and staff give you feedback about how you don't live your truth and you're forced to figure out your lie. This can last very late, until after midnight. When everyone is done, you go back to special dorms set up (people are just moved around so all the workshop kids are in the same room)

Amicitia: Friendship

Description: In the circle of exclusion, the other students are the ones responsible for barring the student undergoing the exercise to enter. If you succeed, then an adviser pulls you out and you start all over again. It was emotionally harsh, especially when taking into account some of the issues I had with relationships that I detailed earlier.

We did rudimentary honor lists beforehand, and we didn't do skits. Our honor lists were generally things that were stupid, like not doing laundry, swearing, what have you. We didn't have consequences for Amicitia, but I'll get to that more later.

We also didn't have communal naps either, nor were we ever prohibited from talking about workshops with anyone who had already been through one. You were allowed to talk about your experience, and the tools you gleaned, but not about other people's disclosures/statements/feedback. Confidentiality, for both workshops and group, was very highly stressed, for good reason. And we weren't allowed to tell our parents until they had gone through their version of the workshop, before our second parent visit.

Advice: Lessons to learn that make this marathon workshop easier to pass:

  • The harder the truth to tell, the truer the friend that tells it.
  • I am my brother's keeper.
  • No man is an island.
  • Friends are the family you get to choose.
Exercises Description

Animus (Passion)

Description: Honor lists, this time we had to come up with consequences too, for each infraction. Things like "I didn't take my shoes off in the commons building" = "I will organize the mud closet after last light before going off to my dorm to bed."

The first day occurs right after school. Students write there goals for the workshop while continuing to "come clean" with all past events. The first four hours occurs going over workshop rules. Students are forced to stand until each student comes out with every small action including owning frayed pants, going a minute over a phone call, or taking stiring straws outside the dining hall. After a grueling four hours of standing up, students go to the "break out" room while the advisors prepare for the next event. Students then enter the workshop room with pitch black darkness with a skit occuring in the middle. Students sit around the "older student" who is being the "actor" of the skit. The student is in some type of situation that changes throughout different Animuses but usually deals with issues as heavy drug use, suicide attempts, and/or being passed out. Fake drugs are placed around the student. This scene usually causes a reaction of fear and depression and most students cry during the experience. After watching the passed out student surrounded by drugs or red paint symbolizing blod, a few older students enter...react in the way they would in real life, and carry the student out in hope.

The next day students have to stand again until everyone is "in standard" and everyone admits to small issues such as not wiping down the water off the shower or more frayed pants issues. Afterwards, students sit in a circle and come otu with 5 private "disclosures" while sappy music is in the background. These disclosures are 5 secrets that you want no one to knwo that usually have to do with sexual experiences or abuse situations. Afterwards, they play intense music and lie the students on teh floor. While on the floor and in tears, they give the students a notepad and a black market and you are commanded to draw your "inner self"... while people draw hideous figues, supports and advisers go around saying "is it THAT pretty" causing more heartache. After goign to lunch and being on bans, students notice two posters on opposite sides of the room... one saying LIE and the other saying DEATH and advisers ask us to stand in a line from who was closest to life and who was closest to death. Everyone was inclined to wlak towards the death wall...thus causing a clutter and everyone pushing eac other in violent ways to get "close" to the wall... I remember seeing a man physically harming a girl to get towards the wall.

They gave us partners after the wall exercise... and our partners are to put us in a "waxed statue" position of what our lives owuld look like in 5 years if we didnt care about our lives. Girls were lying on there back or people were injecting drugs... symbolizing there downhill track.

After another break, students get in a circle and one by one the student stands in front of everyone (including staff) and wills in the blank "I stand for being ________" ... This causes emotional breakdowns. Then they describe WHY they stand for what they do. Following this, we had the pillow fighting in which a student slams on a pillow with all there force and cries out in angry and pain... usually last between 2-3 minutes and is physically and emotionally draining... often causing a few students to throw up. In celebration, they play dance music and students dance, in exhaustion, to the music. This was my favorite part. The third day.... not a lot of actions occur but it is a powerful experience. Students are sprawled on the floor adn taken on a guided meditation... the story? All teh students in the peer group are on a boat... the boat sinks and there are only 3 seats on the safety boats. In a panic, the students are demanded to stand up and notice the 3 physical chairs in the room. Instantly, the advisors tell us to fight for the chairs and instantly the students start physically fighting eachother to gain a seat...but after a few minutes the advisors tell us to stand in a circle... Given only 3 votes, the students must walk around in a circle, stare at each person in the eye and claim to that student whether if they "live or die"...

The students who got the most "live" votes got to sit in the chairs and the students sitting on the carpet (drowning) have time to request to say something to a loved one. Afterwards, we are given to go on a break and write a one page obituary for our death. When the students return, the whole workshop room is transformed into a eerie funeral scene with the "dum da da dum...da da da dum dum da dum" funeral music playing. With a personal object symbolizing love all around the candles in the room, we are asked to read our obituary. After we are done, we are guided to the floor and placed in a idol position...lying down... with our eyes close and an advisor saying "rest in peace... (name)..." Afterwards we get a motivational speech on the floor and this is probably the most emotional part of hte workshop... we our then risen by teh supports and given a candle... following this, all the older students who have passed the workshop enter the room with a candle and there is a ceremony of life in a dark room full of candles... following this comes a dance party in the commons building (which tends to be the most envied moment for pre-animus students and the best moment of a carlbrook stay) It certainly was mine!

Exercises Description

Teneo: (Tenacity / Perseverence)

Description: I think this workshop was also three days. I know there was a running in place exercise. You ran in place and ran your "negative self talk" and you just didn't stop, some metaphor about the fact that you never stop beating yourself up. And it was where we did our I/Me tool. Our parents sent the school, in secret, pictures of us as little kids and stuffed animals from home, animals that a lot of us hadn't seen in a long time. And when you're in the thick of your I vs. Me, you're given the picture of me and told to imagine telling all the awful things you tell yourself to that little kid. Heartwrenching, I know. then the next day you do a disgust excersise where you write everything I tells me and the supports are screaming things that I says to help make the list long. then the adult supports read the list out loud and have you make a sound to match the pain inside and then they get you on the ground eventually. The rest of the workshop was just building on the I/Me concept. There are other aspects, but it was a 4 day workshop that I went through three years ago, I don't remember all that much about the rest of it.

Advice: Lessons to learn that make this marathon workshop easier to pass:

  • The way is thoroughly known.
  • I thinks; me feels.
  • There is only now.
Exercises Description

Veneratio: Honor

Description: Last workshop. 5 days. Some on campus, some off. This was a workshop very much unlike the others. The first day? Maybe 2; were spent recapping the other workshops.

Oh, just remembered the first night. They brought in booze, drugs (or prop drugs) cigarettes, porn.....made the workshop room look like a crack house. Then we watched the last ten minutes of Requiem for a Dream. I damn near puked. I still refuse to watch that movie. Then we were asked what we were afraid of, what things were calling out to us when we got home. And we each had to go up and grab those things one at a time.

These were done on campus. Then there was a "baggage hike". I don't remember what it was called, but we went on a long hike and carried a brick in our arms. Some metaphor for the weight of the baggage we carry around. We did some of the exercises again, but they were different this time around. We knew what was coming and we were guided into working the metaphors and exercises into a positive light [1]

Either the third or fourth day we were taken off campus to a very nice conference center and continued the workshop there. I think it's simply because we needed the vertical space and we were doing more outdoor exercises. We did another exercise, this one with balloons of vice. Money, booze, sex, drugs....we had to hold them out in front of us, arm locked, until we were too tired to hold them up, and we went outside to let them loose. We talked about our personal hells, and described them. I believe drawing might have been involved. Then that night we figured out our individual honor codes, the thing/things which we know we are and yet are too afraid to be.

I'm powerful and trusting. Yeah, it reads like a kitschy saying that you tell yourself in the mirror every morning. It did get me through some rough times after graduating though. Kind of like a slap in the face when I'm being ridiculous.

Once you figure out your honor code, you're crowdsurfed for a lap around the room. The only thing I really remember about the next day is we talked a bit, nothing too deep, just recapping the workshop, and had a really great meal, while sitting on the floor with our peer group, talking quietly. It was dark and candle lit, and there was soft music. It was for the sense of family, so they said, and so that when we left, we'd have someone to turn to if we needed (I believe.) Don't quote me on that.

Then we cleaned up our corner of the convention center and headed back to campus. Oh, and over the course of the 5 days, we had to read an abridged version of Les Miserables

Exercises Description

Family workshops

Also there are 4 family workshops a year where the parents go to the campus to see their child and make some efforts of minimizing the feeling in the detainee for being banished from home. During these family workshop there was family group therapy. The participant in the therapy are three families and two therapists and a higher-level student. The detainees can confront their parents, share things or discuss whatever they wanted to.

Exercises Description

See Also


  1. In the book "What It Takes To Pull Me Through" (ISBN-10: 0618145451) by David L. Marcus the same exercise is described to have taken place at Academy at Swift River (ASR). At that time ASR still used Lifestep, which have the same origins as Carlbrook's workshops