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Reflections on The Experience – A Workshop for Alum

A conversation with Onsite Alum, Jane S.

In March of 2023, we hosted a group of Onsite Group Alum on the Tennessee campus for a brand-new offering called The Experience.

Spending four days together, diving deep into the group therapeutic process. This program is authentically Onsite and uniquely crafted for our alums.  

Earlier this week, Mickenzie Vought, Editorial and Community Director, had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with a two-time alum, Jane S. In this heartfelt conversation, Jane shared about her profound experience at ‘The Experience.’ 

Throughout this conversation, Jane and Mickenzie explored the transformative power of community and the importance of returning to a safe environment where we can dive deep. She shared how The Experience workshop was invaluable to her healing journey and how she would recommend it to any Onsite alum looking to continue their journey of health and wholeness. 

MV: Hi Jane! Thanks for sitting down with me. Can you give us a glimpse into your history with Onsite?  

JS: I attended Onsite’s Living Centered Program a year ago. It was such an amazing, transformational experience. Like all of us, after my experience, I was still a work in progress. When you advertised The Experience, I was interested in attending and continuing my healing. What was amazing was that everyone there already knew and “trusted” the group therapy process.

MV: As you reflect on the two programs you’ve attended, can you share how the two differed for you?     

JS: They were two very distinct experiences. So much of the Living Centered experience was working through our family of origin stories, which is super impactful. It’s important to go back to the beginning to really understand your personal story in its entirety. Because the Living Centered Program is often someone’s first experience with Onsite and Psychodrama, it’s important to get to know each other and understand the group processes before you can jump into the deep family of origin story. The bond that happens with a group of strangers when you hear people’s family of origin stories is profound.   

I can remember being overwhelmed with emotions when I heard other people’s stories. It was healing for parts of my wound to see them uncover healing.   

When I returned to Onsite for The Experience, I was already familiar with the kind of work you do, so I did not have the initial hesitation many people have when going to a Living Centered Program. I was able to jump right in and feel trusting of the work that I was doing.    

MV: You jumped right in, two programs in less than a year! How did you decide it was the right time for you to return?

JS: Our group attended the first-ever Experience. Some of us had done more recent Onsite experiences, and others hadn’t been for years. Each person had their own story of what brought them back and why they knew it was the right time. However, the time between programs wasn’t relevant once we were in the room doing the work together.   

But for me, personally, I came back from my Living Centered and went through what I’ve called an unraveling process. It was a bit of an overwhelming feeling. I’ve recently discovered that unraveling also means getting to the truth. After hearing this recently on a podcast, I realized this reframe was a beautiful way to look at the process I’d been in. I went through this profound experience with deep reflection, growth, and processing at Onsite. And then there was a process afterward.  

Going into the Experience, I was eager to move to the next level of healing. I wanted to figure out what moving forward with all this new knowledge about myself meant. I had done the initial work and was ready to focus on something particular. For me, it was quite powerful to have that experience all within one year.   

MV: What a gift to yourself. Was there anything about The Experience that surprised you?  

JS: Well, I don’t want to give too much away. There’s magic in some of the surprises awaiting the Alum who attend. As you guys say, “Trust the process.” Go where the work leads you. I had breakthroughs that I could not have predicted would come my way inside and outside the therapy room.  I was surprised by the profound impact of some of the physical activities. They provided me with a sort of bookmark in my mind of my resilience to return to. When I face hard things back home, I can remind myself, “If you could do that thing at Onsite, you can do this.”     

MV: What a testament to the resilience you can draw on for yourself. During my first experience at Onsite, I was surprised by the amount of fun I had. A significant reason for that is the community. What was the community like for you during The Experience?   

JS: I’ve joked that Onsite is like therapy summer camp. You get to go and let your inner child out, do some fun things, and laugh with the group. That was certainly true of the Experience, just as true as it was for my Living Centered Program. When I think back to the first day of The Experience, we all seemed unsure about what we were walking into. But then I have another visual of us all sitting together laughing throughout the week. It’s incredible that these different people came together and truly accepted each other for who we are and exactly where we are.   

The environment at Onsite is not always something you find in the “real world.” To have this special space where you can go and be in a community that uplifts you and provides space to heal, listen to, support, and provide positivity. It’s so healing. I didn’t fully understand how much healing happens because of the community until I was at Onsite. Like many of us, I can often isolate myself when I’m going through hard times. I think retreating was how I felt that I could protect my emotions, heal, and feel better. But one of the biggest lessons I’ll take away from both of my Onsite experiences is healing in community.  

MV: I’m so glad to hear that the community was such a vital piece of your experiences at Onsite. I make up that many of us Alum feel hesitant to return for fear that we wouldn’t have the same experience with the community as we did the first time we attended a program. Thank you for the encouragement to lean in and “trust the process” around community. What other encouragement might you have for someone considering attending The Experience?    

JS: I would say go. The Experience is a chance to check in, do a little tune-up, revisit some unresolved issues, or address new issues with more intentionality.   

I am so happy that I decided to go back. I had my own hesitancy. It’s a significant investment, a big commitment. It’s also vulnerable to jump back into really feeling these feelings and facing things that can be hard to face. What I learned at The Experience was invaluable. I will take the lessons with me for the rest of my life. They have impacted my perspective on life. And now, I am moving forward in my life.  

There’s only positive that can come from returning to onsite as an alum, and I highly recommend this program.  

MV: Thank you, Jane. That was so beautiful. I am so excited about all of the healing work you’ve done in the last year. I’m just really grateful for you and how you’re showing up in the world. Thanks for sitting down with us.  

JS: I feel immense gratitude for Onsite. I couldn’t have known a year ago how much I would grow. 

I think this year will be a really positive year for me, largely because of the work that I did at The Experience.   

Our “work” is never done.

More healing, more insight, and more growth is waiting for you. That’s why we created “The Experience” —an opportunity designed exclusively for you, an Onsite workshop alum, to return to campus and discover your next layer of healing.    

If you’re not an Onsite Alum, but are interested in discovering the transformational power of our group experiential workshops, we’d love to invite you to join us for an upcoming experience on one of our beautiful campuses! We host programs on both our Tennessee and California campuses.  

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