- What is Journey Into Manhood?
- What is an “experiential” workshop or retreat?
- Does it work?
- What is “psychodrama” or “guts work,” and how does it help?
- Who runs the program?
- What makes you qualified to run a training or retreat like this?
- Who attends the program and why?
- Why so much secrecy? Why aren’t you more public about what happens at Journey Into Manhood?
Registration & Fees
- How do I sign up?
- How do I apply for a partial sponsorship or a payment plan?
- After paying the deposit, how do I pay the rest of the fee, and when is due?
- What does the registration fee cover?
- What is your refund policy?
- What if the weekend I want to attend is already full? Is there a waiting list?
Location, Time & Transportation
- When will I get detailed information on where the program will be held, travel instructions, and other details?
- Where exactly will the program be held?
- What time does it start? What time does it end?
- Do you provide transportation assistance?
- Which airport should I fly into?
Preparation & Confidentiality
- Is there anything else I need to do to prepare?
- What about confidentiality?
- What will I need to bring with me?
During the Weekend
- Can I call home or work during the weekend?
- What if I don’t want to participate in one of the processes?
- What if I want to leave early, or want to leave for part of the time?
- What if I have some physical limitations?
- What if I have special dietary needs, or if only eat kosher food?
- Will my religious values be respected? Will my religious practices be accommodated?
- What is the minimum age to attend?
- Why is there so much online criticism of your organization and of Journey Into Manhood?
- How do you respond to critics who say that you use questionable techniques that have not been scientifically proven to be effective?
- What’s this I saw online about beating a parent “in effigy” (beating a punching bag that represents the parent)?
- I heard there is nudity at Journey Into Manhood. Is that true?
- I heard you use “therapeutic holding” at Journey Into Manhood. What is that, and why?
- I read online that you verbally assault the participants and call them names. Is that really true?
- How does it make sense to put together a bunch of guys who all experience homosexual temptations? Shouldn’t they stay away from each other to avoid being triggered?
What is Journey Into Manhood?
Journey Into Manhood is a 48-hour immersion in intensive self-discovery and personal-growth work. It is designed specifically for men who are self-motivated to address unresolved issues around men and masculinity, especially around distress or internal conflict over experiencing homosexual attractions.
We create a highly supportive yet challenging environment for men to address underlying core issues that may have resulted in painful internal conflicts. Like not feeling “man enough.” Or not “one of the guys.” Or an unmet yearning for male attention, acceptance and affirmation.
Journey Into Manhood is an experiential weekend. You won’t just sit and listen. You’ll actively participate, connect and explore. We create opportunities for you to experience healing, growth and brotherhood, not just talk about them.
What is an “experiential” workshop or retreat?
Experiential workshops primarily use active participation methods—live, personal experience—rather than lectures, discussion or analysis as teaching methods. They use processes designed to enable self-discovery—to create “aha” moments of insight into one’s self, one’s behavior patterns, thinking patterns and feelings.
Hundreds of organizations and individuals offer “experiential weekend” retreats or workshops in the United States each year for personal growth and empowerment, self-discovery, emotional healing, spiritual enlightenment and more.
Examples of experiential processes at Journey Into Manhood may include:
- Guided imagery (visualization)
- Emotional processing (especially around, anger, grief or fear)
- Shame release
- Psychodrama (or a simplified form of it sometimes called “guts work”)
- Inner-child work
- Therapeutic holding
- Profound, introspective questions
- Sentence stems
- Body awareness and connection (breathing, posture)
These types of processes tend to elicit much more profound self-awareness and dramatic, even cathartic emotional shifts than typical didactic teaching or dialogue ever could.
A typical feature of experiential learning of any kind is that experiential processes are designed to be experienced, not revealed, discussed or analyzed before participation. Therefore, the specifics of the experiential process are intentionally kept hidden from the participants until they can experience it themselves, firsthand.
Does it work?
Journey Into Manhood has had a powerful, life-changing effect on hundreds of men since 2002. Nevertheless, it is ultimately up to you to determine how dramatically “JiM” will affect your life over time.
Journey Into Manhood equips you with new understanding, the opportunity for emotional breakthroughs, new friends and meaningful support. But you must follow through to truly make it a turning point in your life.
In following up with past participants over the years, we’ve regularly heard men say that they often:
- Feel more masculine, more confident and more secure in their identity as men.
- Have more meaningful male friendships and more support.
- Feel better about themselves overall.
- Report a decrease in unwanted sexual behaviors and even a decrease in the frequency or intensity of their homosexual feelings.
- Are less distressed over whatever same-sex attractions remain.
- Feel more grounded as men in their relationships with women—and sometimes more romantically interested in women, as well.
- Are generally more at peace.
It is common for us to hear comments like these:
“JiM was the single most transforming event of my life. I have found a home among those who understand me and whom I can understand. My sense of shame and isolation have almost vanished. I have learned that what I was always seeking and am now getting is healthy meaningful connections with other men.”
— Karl, age 51, Louisiana, USA
“It has helped me emotionally. It has also saved my marriage. My SSA has significantly diminished over the past seven years.”
— Rick, age 50, Texas, USA
“It opened my eyes to a whole new world of support and connection with others who share my same desire to live according to my faith’s values versus the world’s view of those with SSA.” — Doug, age 41, Utah, USA
“It was a life-changing experience. It has given me the opportunity to see myself as a man among men and to be confident in who I am as a man.” — Nathan, age 35, Virginia, USA
“It has given direction and focus behind my faith-based desire to live in accordance with my religious values and personal convictions. It has provided a framework for building meaningful friendships and meeting my needs for connection within a community of men. JiM has given me hope.” — Seth, age 31, Maryland, USA
“It’s been one of the biggest life-changing events in my life. It enabled me to stop acting out sexually, helped me immensely with my porn addiction and opened a new world of connection with men.” — Jason, age 38, California, USA
“JiM is a seminal influence in my life. It brought me into a world of support and love beyond anything I could have imagined.” — Warren, age 57, Utah, USA
“It gave my wife and me the tools and understanding we needed to communicate effectively and move to the healthiest point in our relationship yet. It allowed me to start healing from wounds I wasn’t even aware of, and offered me the people and resources to continue that healing. It reconnected me to God and a sense of purpose in His plan for me.” — Jordan, age 27, Utah, USA
“My entire life has changed for the better. I am more authentic and comfortable with myself, my feelings, and who I am. I no longer live in fear. I experienced a reduction in SSA feelings and an increase in opposite-sex attractions as a result.” — Blake, age 62, California, USA
What is “psychodrama” or “guts work,” and how does it help?
Journey Into Manhood offers participants an opportunity to individually process unresolved, underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to their distress over their same-sex attractions. This is through a simplified type of psychodrama that we call “guts work.”
Psychodrama is taught at major universities as a means of helping people break through negative patterns of behavior and thinking and to break through painful, unresolved emotions. “Guts work” is used on many different types of experiential weekends (including gay-affirming programs) as a simplified form of psychodrama, typically led by trained lay people (non-therapists).
At Journey Into Manhood, lead guts facilitators are highly experienced men who typically have facilitated or co-facilitated at least 100 Guts processes in the past and usually have participated in special guts training workshops. Some are licensed counselors; most are trained lay people. They have also been observed by other, more experienced facilitators and have been recognized as skilled and effective.
“Guts work has been the most significant part of building my understanding of myself, freeing me from shame and building up my confidence as a man. What I like about “guts work” is that the man doing the work sets the agenda and the facilitator is there to follow the things that are coming up in the man. I’m still blown away by how powerful that work can be and the depth of insight into myself I can get through doing it. It’s incredibly beneficial.” — Aaron, age 36, California
“It changed my life, and I’ve seen it change others, too. It healed wounds. I’ve seen guys overcome hurts from the past and feel supported for the first time. It opened my eyes to things I did not know about myself, and for the first time in 20 years I can cry again and feel my feelings.” — Britt, age 41, Wyoming
“I have been a part of many psychodrama processes with a variety of men involved. I have seen men go through intense emotions and pain to come out of this work at peace and with a smile on their face. This work is never pushed onto the men involved. It is completely up to the individual man if they 1) want to even be a part of it or 2) what they want to work through during their guts work. This work has hugely benefited me, my wife, and dozens of men I know. It provides an outlet for emotion in a safe way that brings deeper peace.” — “Jerry,” age 30, Alberta, Canada
Who runs the program?
The event is run by about 15 to 20 volunteers. Almost all are men who have been through the Journey Into Manhood program themselves in the past and, having benefited greatly, return as volunteers to “pay it forward” by serving others.
What makes you qualified to run a training or retreat like this?
Journey Into Manhood is a peer-led program that grows out of our personal, individual experience as men who have been through a journey of addressing incongruent same-sex attractions in ways that align with our faith, values, morals and beliefs.
It is not therapy. There is no “diagnosis,” no “treatment plan,” no counseling or advice-giving. It is, however, an intensive personal-growth workshop that is designed to touch deep emotions, raise self-understanding and build self-esteem, assertiveness and healthy personal boundaries.
The program was co-developed by Rich Wyler, who had personally experienced a significant reduction in his former same-sex attractions, and David Matheson, a licensed professional counselor.
Before organizing the first Journey Into Manhood weekend in 2002, Rich Wyler had already accumulated some 600 hours of experience, training, and practice facilitating in-depth self-discovery work. He has since become a certified life coach and accumulated an additional 3,000-plus hours of hands-on experience facilitating deep personal-growth work in experiential self-discovery settings in five countries.
Since the first Journey Into Manhood in 2002, at least 37 licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists from three countries — as well as many medical doctors — have served on the volunteer team running the program and have personally affirmed its value for those who want what we offer.
We currently have six men qualified to lead Journey Into Manhood weekends. Three are licensed mental health professionals, two are professional life coaches, and all have a great depth of experience in facilitating deep personal-growth work through hundreds or even thousands of hours of experiential personal-growth programs.
The rest of the volunteers — about 15 to 20 men — typically have all been through the Journey Into Manhood program. They volunteer to return to “pay forward” the great benefit that they gained. Senior volunteer facilitators typically have between 5 to 20 prior workshop experiences and hands-on training with Journey Into Manhood, and most have attended and staffed other organizations’ experiential healing programs as well.
Who attends the program and why?
- The minimum age of participants is usually 21 years old, although exceptions sometimes may be made by for especially mature 18- to 20-year-olds. Minors are not accepted.
- The average age of attendees is about 36.
- Men have attended from 49 U.S. states and from 47 countries.
- A large majority are Christian, Jewish or Muslim. Others are of other faiths or are non-religious.
- About 10% have previously been openly gay or in long-term gay relationships.
- About 30% have never acted on their SSA in-person with another male.
- About 50% have had secret affairs, multiple anonymous hook-ups or have lived a secret double life.
- About 30% are married to women and want to hold their marriages and families together.
- Fewer than 10% have never dealt with SSA at all. They are heterosexual men working through other internal conflicts and issues around men and masculinity.
Men attend because they are internally conflicted over their same-sex attractions or are dealing with confusing or painful emotions or unresolved wounds around men and masculinity. They want to resolve or at least diminish their sexual conflicts, experience self-acceptance, feel a sense of belonging with the wider world of men, and to heal emotional wounds around past relationships and painful past experiences.
Why so much secrecy? Why aren’t you more public about what happens at Journey Into Manhood?
Our program is not secret, but it is very private, and we are highly protective of our participants’ privacy and confidentiality.
We are also protective of the actual experiential processes we employ because — by their very nature — experiential learning is most beneficial when it is experienced, not explained, described or analyzed in advance.
Still, through our online descriptions (including this Q&A), our videos, testimonials, and even the processes that we modeled for ABC Nightline in 2010, we give a clear indication of our approach, principles, and style without disclosing much about the specific processes we use at Journey Into Manhood. Anyone who reads and views these things, or who talks to a past participant, has a pretty good idea what to expect, generally.
We also regularly invite counselors, therapists and ministry leaders to participate as volunteers so they can experience our program firsthand.
Over the years, we’ve had at least 37 licensed counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists — from the U.S., United Kingdom and Israel — serve as volunteers to help run the event. We’ve also had many medical doctors serve on staff, along with pastors and Catholic priests. Many licensed counselors, therapists, and medical doctors have attended as participants. Nearly all have been thoroughly supportive and enthusiastic about our program. (Only one has ever expressed concerns: that is, that our program may be too emotionally intense for men who are active sex addicts, or who are relatively new to the “journey.”)
How do I sign up?
Please register online by paying the US$650 fee (for U.S. weekends) OR by making an initial deposit of at least US$250 AND filling out a short online registration and payment questionnaire. After you submit this, you will receive an automated email message confirming its receipt.
Regular Online Registration (Full Fee or Early Registration Fee)
To register, go to http://www.brothersroad.org/jim/registration and click on the weekend you want to sign up for. This will take you to a secure site for registration and payment of your deposit using a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card.
Registering & Applying for Financial Assistance
If you need to apply for financial assistance — either a partial sponsorship (minimum of US$200, maximum of US$400) or a pre-approved payment plan — follow the same instructions as above but click on the link for financial assistance for the particular JiM weekend for which you wish to register. Visit the Financial Aid page for further information.
How do I apply for a partial sponsorship or a payment plan?
Brothers on a Road Less Traveled raises donations to pay for financial assistance for men who are highly committed to their personal-growth work but who are unable to afford the full fee. Two types of financial assistance are available:
Sponsorships (or grants). These are at least US$200 and at most US$400. (You’ll have to raise the remainder of the fee yourself.)
Payment plans. Typically, these allow you to pay $50 to $100 a month after you have paid the full deposit (US$250 in the United States). However, you must apply and be pre-approved well in advance for a payment plan.
To learn more:
Click here to go to a separate Q&A about our sponsorships and payment plans.
To apply, click here and then click on “Register & Apply for Financial Assistance” for the event you’re hoping to attend.
After paying the initial US$250 deposit, how do I pay the rest of the fee, and when is it due?
The deadline for full payment of the US$650 fee (or the reduced amount, if you have been pre-approved for financial assistance) is 7 days before the start of the Journey Into Manhood weekend for which you have registered. We must have your full payment 7 days in advance. No money will be accepted “at the door” (except for post-dated checks or credit card information from men who have been pre-approved for a payment plan). You can pay the rest of the balance due the same way you paid the initial deposit.
To receive the $155 early registration discount, we must receive your full payment of US$495 at least 6 weeks before the start of the Journey Into Manhood weekend you want to attend.
You can pay the rest of the balance due the same way you paid the initial deposit: Go to http://brothersroad.org/jim/registration and click on the weekend you have previously signed up for. Follow the same steps as before, paying the remaining balance due this time. It’s okay to pay in several installments, as long as we have your full payment by 7 days before the weekend that you’ll be attending.
What does the registration fee cover?
- The full program (total of about 20-25 hours of facilitated “processes” and deep personal-growth work over 3 days)
- Use of the rented camp or retreat center for all our activities
- Two nights stay at the camp or retreat center
- Six meals (dinner Friday through lunch Sunday)
- Pre-printed journal and take-home booklet containing key teachings and reminders
- Three follow-up group coaching sessions by teleconference to help you integrate what you experienced.
- For married men, a private group teleconference session for wives, to help them understand and appreciate their husbands’ experiences
- Optional participation in a private follow-up Facebook group to stay in touch with your new “JiM brothers” to get and receive ongoing support and encourgement
- In some locations, the opportunity to join a regular, in-person JiM follow-up group or “M.A.N.S. group” to do ongoing personal work and build camaraderie.
Fee does not include transportation to or from the camp or retreat center.
What is your refund policy?
If you cancel 30 days or more before the Journey Into Manhood weekend: Your deposit and all registration fees are fully refundable. If we have already sent you a letter of instructions identifying the location of the event, etc., then we will issue the refund AFTER the conclusion of the event (usually by reversing the charge on your credit or debit card).
If you cancel MORE THAN 7 days but FEWER THAN 30 days before Journey Into Manhood: Your $250 deposit is NOT refundable; however, we will refund you any amount you have paid above $250, and we will apply your $250 deposit toward a future Journey Into Manhood weekend of your choice.
If you cancel 7 days OR FEWER before the Journey Into Manhood weekend: Your deposit and registration fees are NOT refundable, but we will roll over the full amount you have paid to a future Journey Into Manhood weekend of your choice.
No other refunds apply, except on an exception basis approved by the executive director, Rich Wyler.
What if the weekend I want to attend is already full? Is there a waiting list?
Most JiM weekends have between 12 and 32 attendees. We cap attendance at 32 so that participants get the individual time and attention that they need during the event.
Once 32 men are registered for a particular “JiM” weekend, we try to indicate “Weekend Full” on our Web site (although we can’t always have up-to-the-minute information on the Web site).
If the weekend you want to attend is full, we will notify you promptly by email and ask you if you prefer to:
- be placed on the waiting list in case someone cancels and space becomes available,
- transfer your deposit to another weekend that still has openings, or
- receive a prompt and full refund.
When will I get detailed information on where the program will be held, travel instructions, and other details?
After you have registered, and about 4 weeks before the Journey Into Manhood event you’ve registered for, you will receive, by email, detailed information about the specific location of the event, making travel arrangements, what to bring, etc.
If you have questions in the meantime, or if you do not receive this information by 4 weeks in advance, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Tim at 1-434-299-8696.
Where exactly will the program be held?
Each Journey Into Manhood event is held at a rented camp, conference center or retreat center usually within a 1 to 2-hour drive or train ride from a major airport. This type of facility gives us sufficient privacy and provides a “retreat” environment set apart from normal day-to-day life.
Accommodations are not luxurious. Rooms are in a dorm setting typically with bunk beds, and often times you will need to bring your own sleeping bag or other bedding.
There are no private or two-person rooms.
After you have paid your deposit (US$250 for US events), and about 4 weeks before the event for which you have registered, you will receive, by email, a letter with detailed information that will include the exact location of the program and directions on how to get there. We do not give out this specific information to anyone who has not paid the full deposit.
We will, however, tell you which airport to fly into if you need to know before then. Send an email to Tim at email@example.com or call 1-434-299-8696.
What time does it start? What time does it end?
Normally, we start at 2:00pm on Friday. Please do not arrive on site BEFORE 1:30pm. Please do not arrive on site AFTER 2:00pm. We normally end between 4:30 and 5:00pm on Sunday.
Please make your travel arrangements to accommodate this schedule. If you are flying, please be sure to allow enough travel time between the airport and the “JiM” location.
If the letter you receive from us after you register gives a different start or end time from what is written here, please defer to that letter.
Do you provide transportation assistance?
We help to coordinate carpools among participants who may be flying into the same airport or driving from the same direction, but ultimately you are responsible to get yourself to the camp/retreat center and back.
After you register, and about 4 weeks before the JiM weekend that you’ve signed up for, you’ll receive, along with the instruction letter, a link to an online travel questionnaire. If you are looking to ride share to the site, or if you live locally and are willing to offer anyone a ride from the airport, we’ll ask you to tell us that on the questionnaire. Our volunteer staff will help arrange carpools from there. Some participants may choose to rent a car together and split the cost of the rental.
Which airport should I fly into?
That information will be in the detailed instruction letter that you will receive by email after you register and about 4 weeks before the JiM weekend that you’ve signed up for. If you need an answer before you receive the letter, write to our administrator, Tim, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tim at 1-434-299-8696.
Is there anything else I need to do to prepare?
YES. After you register, and about 4 weeks before your JiM weekend, we will email you an instruction letter with links to the following:
- An online travel questionnaire to complete (to help us coordinate carpools, as needed).
- An online health and life experience questionnaire. (This includes questions on any special dietary needs.)
- Three short online questionnaires about your current emotional state.
- The Liability Release, Confidentiality & Other Agreements to read in advance so you’ll be ready to sign it when you arrive on site.
IMPORTANT! It is very important that you fill out these questionnaires, answering as honestly as possible, and submit them to us NO LATER THAN 2 WEEKS BEFORE the JiM weekend you will be attending.
What about confidentiality?
Confidentiality is extremely important to create a safe place to do deep emotional healing work. All participants must sign a strict confidentiality agreement.
This commitment to confidentiality is also reiterated verbally, in person, at the start and again at the end of the weekend.
What will I need to bring with me?
- Legal identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. This is to help ensure that all participants are at least 21 years old and that no one is attending under false pretenses or signing release forms under a false identity.
- A sleeping bag and/or blankets and a pillow. (This is not always required. Some sites provide bedding, but not usually.)
- Your personal effects and appropriate indoor/outdoor clothing. Rain gear is often recommended.
- Necessary prescribed or over-the-counter medications. If you have a history of asthma, please be sure to bring an inhaler.
- A towel, soap, sunscreen, bug repellent, and any other personal-care items you may require.
- A refillable water bottle with your name on it.
- Earplugs (highly recommended, in case of snoring)
- A flashlight is recommended but not required.
What NOT to bring:
- Please leave all electronic devices at home or in your car when you arrive, including watches, mobile phones and wireless handheld devices. We ask you not to use them at all during the program. (Exception: electronic devices required for your health, such as a CPAP nighttime breathing machine.)
- Usually, the sites do not allow food in the residential rooms. If you bring food, it normally needs to be kept in the kitchen. If you bring food of your own (such as kosher food), it must be kept in the site’s kitchen.
- No alcoholic beverages, street drugs or illicit mood-altering substances of any kind.
- Anything that may distract you or others from our healing purpose.
Can I call home or work during the weekend?
We ask you to agree not to make or receive phone calls during the weekend and in fact to leave your smart phone in car throughout the entire workshop. This is to help everyone stay in the experience and focus on their personal work in the present, rather than to be distracted by what might be going on at home or work.
Typically the sites we rent do not have reliable wireless service, and you cannot depend on getting a signal.
Please tell family members or anyone else who may expect to reach you by phone during the weekend that you will NOT have access to a phone from 2 pm Friday through 5:00pm Sunday, local time.
You may wish to tell family members that you can call them when you arrive to let them know you have arrived safely, but that you will not have access to your phone after that until 5:00pm Sunday.
Before the weekend, we will provide you with an emergency number at that site that you can give to family members who may need to contact you in case of emergency only.
Exceptions to this telephone policy can be discussed with the weekend leader once you arrive.
What if I don’t want to participate in one of the processes?
We ask you to participate in every process, but no one will force you to do anything against your will. Anyone may choose to “pass” and not participate in a particular process. The staff may challenge you to consider the reasons behind your choice, but they will never force you or manipulate you into participating.
What if I want to leave early, or want to leave for part of the time?
We will ask you to stay on site for the full program, from arrival on Friday afternoon to departure on Sunday late afternoon. We don’t allow any participants to leave the site temporarily and return back to the program.
However, anyone is allowed to leave the program altogether, at any time, for any reason. Certainly, no one is required to stay who does not wish to continue with the program.
What if I have some physical limitations?
Journey Into Manhood is not generally a very physically rigorous weekend for most participants. Most of our “work” is indoors. We have always been able to accommodate the physical limitations of participants, whether due to age, weight, physical fitness or some type of disability. Of course, each man is responsible to take care of himself physically and to communicate his physical limitations to the staff, as necessary.
What if I have special dietary needs, or if I only eat kosher food?
One of the questionnaires we send you in advance will ask about any special dietary requirements. Our cooks are typically able to accommodate most common dietary restrictions. In unusual cases, you may need to bring and prepare your own food and keep it in the kitchen.
If you eat kosher food only, you will usually need to bring and prepare your own kosher food and keep it in the kitchen. However, if we have 4 or more men registered for the same event who eat kosher food only, and we know that far enough in advance, we sometimes are able to arrange separate kosher food preparation by an experienced, qualified staff volunteer.
Will my religious values be respected? Will my religious practices be accommodated?
Yes. Although Journey Into Manhood is not a prayer- or worship-based retreat — nor is it a so-called “pray away the gay” program — we are a faith-affirming organization. We welcome Christians of all denominations, Jews (orthodox, conservative, reform and non-observant), Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others. We are also respectful and welcoming of people who are agnostic or of no particular faith.
We strive to create a spiritual framework for deep personal-growth work where the participant’s individual religious beliefs (or non-belief) are welcomed and may be incorporated into the individual work they may do, if the participant wishes.
We teach the spiritual principal of teach the principle of “surrender” to God and his divine will, as part of a broader program of healing and growth. W never intentionally challenge anyone’s religious beliefs, or lack of belief, their morals or values. We will do our best to work within a participant’s existing framework of spiritual beliefs and values.
We also make sincere efforts to accommodate requirements of Jewish Sabbath observance. We often have at least one conservative or orthodox Jew on staff, and the senior non-Jewish staff men are also quite familiar with Jewish Sabbath requirements.
What is the minimum age to attend?
You must be at least 21 years old on the day you arrive. Sometimes, exceptions may be made for especially mature 18- to 20-year-olds. Minors are not accepted.
Why is there so much online criticism of your organization and of Journey Into Manhood?
First, notice who is doing the criticizing. Almost no one who has ever actually been through the Journey Into Manhood program has ever publicly criticized it or publicly criticized our community. We are aware of maybe six or eight exceptions, out of more than 2,800 men from 47 nations and 49 U.S. states who have experienced our Journey Into Manhood weekend since 2002. Otherwise, the response largely has been overwhelmingly positive.
So if it isn’t actual Journey Into Manhood participants or other members of our Brothers Road community who are complaining, who is it then?
From what we can tell, it is primarily gay lobbyists, activists and aggressively pro-gay media and bloggers who unfortunately are angry or offended or just baffled by who we are and what we represent.
Some of them want to shut down anyone who doesn’t fall in line with the accepted “talking points” of the modern gay movement: born that way, can never change, et cetera.
Some may feel threatened or personally challenged by our experience and our message — or just the fact that we exist.
Others may sincerely misunderstand who we are and what we stand for.
If, on the other hand, you want to know what those who have actually been through our Journey Into Manhood have to say, visit:
At Brothers on a Road Less Traveled, we make a sincere effort to speak about our experience in ways that reflect our true, lived experience while never intentionally offending or alienating those who have a very different experience-particularly men who embrace a gay identity and live as gay men. They are as deserving of respect as we are. What we won’t do, though, is turn our backs on our brothers who need the kind of help, understanding and community that we offer, just to appease critics who don’t want their own message challenged.
Read more: We Respect Gays and Equal Rights.
How do you respond to critics who say that you use questionable techniques that have not been scientifically proven to be effective?
Why should we have to? We are a voluntary, peer-led, self-help program for adults to participate in if they so choose. Brothers on a Road Less Traveled is not a mental-health clinic. We are not a therapy group or an academic body or a research organization. We are a peer-support community that is more representative of clients than clinicians. We have freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of religion — and the right of self-determination on how to live our lives as we see fit.
In our experience, our program is highly effective in powerful ways to a large number of attendees. In short, it works for us. We don’t need a scientific body to tell us what works for us. We know it because we’ve lived it. For our purposes, and to our community, that is all the evidence we need.
What’s this I saw online about beating a parent “in effigy” (beating a punching bag that represents the parent)?
No, we never beat anyone “in effigy.” That is a deliberate misrepresentation that some people have made up to try to mock or discredit us.
What we DO offer participants in Journey Into Manhood are opportunities to feel, express and release long-buried emotions in a safe, structured environment, rather than to suppress or deny those feelings. We teach: “Any emotion fully felt will shift to another emotion, until it arrives at a state of peace or acceptance.”
Here’s a simple example: Almost everyone has had the experience sometime in their life of having a good, hard cry – and then feeling much more peaceful or resigned afterwards. You may not have been happy, exactly, but your emotions probably shifted from deep grief to a place of acceptance and surrender.
The same is true with anger, fear and other emotions. When they are expressed fully, the released emotion shifts to something else, and ultimately arrives at a place of peace and acceptance, or even joy.
It’s not uncommon for some men to come to Journey Into Manhood with some powerful, pent-up anger that they’ve never been able to fully express or even access before. We create a safe place where they can do that, if they need to — perhaps by yelling, or by punching a punching bag, beating a pillow or wringing a towel. The anger is usually directed at a specific memory — perhaps a bullying, shaming, or abusive experience or series of experiences from the past that may have stayed with them for years.
By accessing and releasing their anger in a safe, structured environment where no one can get hurt, men can reclaim a sense of personal power and experience a real-life victory over an old wound that had long left them feeling like a victim.
“Growing up, there were always jokes and other degrading comments about gays made around the house. I used the bat to beat down those false message that came from my family that contributed to me living in years of shame for having same-sex attractions. It helped me release the negative messages and shame.” — Aaron, age 36, California
“Physical expression of my anger helped me to release negative energy and emotions in a structured and supportive environment. I felt a release and a peace afterward that I didn’t experience prior.” — “Raul,” age 42, Maryland, USA
“This was an important part of my working through my sexual abuse. Beating the punching bag was an outward expression of my internal work. So much rose to the surface. It helped me experience the bottled-up sadness that had I avoided before. Then it moved to anger, and then to joy because I felt resolved. I was even able to forgive my uncle.” — “Karl,” age 39, California, USA
“This was one of the most affirming experiences in my healing. I always was afraid to express my anger. I had just tried to turn it off. This process helped me to finally realize that there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy anger. I didn’t beat the bag because I wanted to harm someone. I beat the bag because I wanted to get my emotions out. Being able to express my authentic anger in a safe, healthy setting helped me to step into my joy fully.” — Stephan, age 33, Germany
I heard there is nudity at Journey Into Manhood. Is that true?
No. There is no nudity and there are no naked processes at Journey Into Manhood, and there haven’t been for years.
If you’ve heard differently online, here’s why:
Before 2009, a few facilitators on rare occasions used nudity in small-group breakout sessions at Journey Into Manhood (perhaps five or 10 times out of 180 or so break-out sessions over six years). Of course, it had to be highly relevant to the individual man’s work (related to overcoming body shame, for instance), and used with permission of everyone present. Anyone who preferred not to be present was supported in stepping out of the group with one of the staff-volunteers.
Other than that, you may have heard of some processes involving nudity at our much more advanced program, Journey Beyond. There, we have several processes such as a clothing-optional swim and a campfire celebration. These processes are designed to help participants break free of body shame; increase self-acceptance, especially as men; celebrate their masculinity; and generally desexualize their experience of the male body by engaging in affirming, brotherly activity in a totally nonsexual environment.
Of course, we NEVER mix holding, hugging or similar touch with any processes involving nudity.
I heard you use “therapeutic holding” at Journey Into Manhood. What is that, and why?
The Journey Into Manhood program does offer inner-child healing work in the form of therapeutic holding, with clear boundaries to keep it safe and non-sexual.
Touch, including same-sex touch, is a basic human need, and people who have experienced touch deprivation are often at risk for sexualizing what, at its core, is a nonsexual need. At Journey Into Manhood, participants have the option, if they wish, to participate in a therapeutic holding exercise that is completely non-sexual, done fully clothed, in small groups, with great respect and deference for all participants’ personal physical and emotional boundaries. Each holding process lasts about 3 to 7 minutes per man. Many have reported that it has helped de-eroticize or de-sexualize their same-sex attractions over time.
“My experience in the holding process was one of unconditional acceptance and healthy affirmation. I did not feel any homosexual attraction. On the contrary, I felt authentically seen and accepted, and therefore did not feel any homosexual attraction-only peaceful acceptance and powerful affirmation.” — Israel, age 22, Illinois
“This was an incredible experience, likely the most powerful exercise. I felt a great connection to the divine. It actually assisted decreasing SSA by having healthy touch and not sexualizing it with another man. Not all touch has to be sexual.” — L.P., age 52, Utah
“I knew about healthy holding before going to the JiM weekend, and it seemed to me such a wonderful idea from the very beginning. In modern Western societies, two men cannot hug, put their arms around each other or even hold hands, something so natural and fraternal in other cultures and countries like in India. When I have my needs met for healthy holding, my attraction is reduced dramatically. When I don’t have it, I am attracted to almost every man on the streets. It’s incredible. For me it was a great discovery to understand that all those times I went out looking for sex, I was merely seeking connection, platonic love and affection from another man. Having healthy holding in my life has made all the difference.” — Julio, age 28, Ontario, Canada
I read online that you verbally assault the participants and call them names. Is that really true?
Of course not. This is a deliberate distortion that some critics have made up in order to try to mock or discredit us.
In one process, a few staff-volunteers may enact a basketball trash-talking scenario among themselves (not directed at the participants) and participants are given the opportunity to react and process through some of the feelings that the scenario might bring up. The focus is to feel and heal possible pain of old memories from school. And based on feedback from hundreds of participants over the years, it is effective, healing and de-shaming — as intended.
Or, during a psychodrama process, a participant may externalize some of the negative self-talk in his head in order to shut it down and overwrite it with new, positive self-talk. Again, based on feedback from hundreds of participants over the years, it is effective, healing and de-shaming — as intended.
How does it make sense to put together a bunch of guys who all experience homosexual temptations? Shouldn’t they stay away from each other to avoid being triggered?
Much of the work necessary to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions is counter-intuitive, and this is one significant example.
One of the things we hear almost universally about the impact of Journey Into Manhood is how normalizing and de-shaming it feels to be in a roomful of men who are dealing with or have dealt with the same issue, and who share a common desire for healthy change.
We hear comments like:
“I walked in the room and immediately had 30 brothers who knew more about me in an instant than most people I’d known my whole life knew about me. I didn’t have to explain myself; they just got it. What a relief to not have that secret blocking me from really being seen and feeling accepted.”
“It was such a relief to see that everyone here is so normal. Just everyday guys who didn’t fit any stereotypes. I felt the shame and embarrassment just fall away.”
I left the weekend with 30 brothers who share my journey, and can walk with me and support me in doing my work and reaching my goals. You can’t find that at church. You can’t find that in the gay world either.”
This kind of support and camaraderie may be one of the biggest factors contributing to the participants’ long-term success.
What if I have another question that wasn’t addressed here?
Contact the administrator of Brothers on a Road Less Traveled, Tim, at email@example.com or 1-434-299-8696.