The Essence of Being Real


New, second edition. This manual offers trauma survivors a way to explore their experiences, receive support, and work through the stigma often associated with needing help to heal.



by Sidran Press
Second Edition 2017

The first edition of The Essence of Being Real was a different kind of support group process for people wrestling with trauma-based issues. The focus was on collaboration, with a real awareness of where “power over” might exist and how it might affect relationships.

Mutual support became a shared process, and groups offered what might be called a “real-life” academy, an opportunity to practice health. The Essence of Being Real is based on and created coherence with Sidran Institute’s keystone Risking Connection® program.

From the preface to the first edition:
“…To provide mutual support it is vital that you learn to recognize and understand the different ways in which traumatic experiences can impact a person’s life. Education is the key to helping you help one another…”

“…Today is a library filled with volumes of thoughts, wishes, feelings, and possibilities. We choose what kinds of things we fill…”

“There is no secret formula for making a peer support group successful, just as there is no perfect equation for a friendship or a partnership. I believe the one variable that makes the difference in all relationships is simply this: you must be willing to risk being real. Your ability to be honest about who you are, where you are, and what you need are all part of being real. Connecting to others helps you get there. That is the Essence of Being Real.”

While it is impossible to “undo” traumatic events, it is possible to learn ways to live with their after effects more comfortably, to dilute their impacts and replace our problematic reactions to them with something healthier.

And, it’s all a cyclical process of learning, practicing, benefitting, and recognizing what to tend to next.

In the years since publishing the first edition of Essence of Being Real we’ve come a long way at Sidran. Risking Connection® has been delivered to clinicians, skilled helpers, and faith leaders around the country and even overseas. It’s been the subject of four federal grants, which are building a strong base of evidence in various treatment and recovery settings.

We also recognize the need to make this material as understandable as possible to as many people as possible and there are several ways in which this new edition of the Essence of Being Real does just that.

First, the content is more directly and strongly connected to the core of Risking Connection®, in effect helping service recipients become practitioners of the Risking Connection® model in their own milieu.

Second, there is a clear structure for helping you learn how to do three things:

  1. Observe, follow, and lead (the role requirements of a participant in a group).
  2. Address challenging moments in a group as a leader and a follower.
  3. Plan and deliver an effective meeting when it is your turn to lead.

Finally, we present a structure that allows organizations to create Being Real groups in a more structured way.

Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 86