More about Atlanta Life Skills

Where did Life Skills come from?

Atlanta Life Skills (located inside Daystar Church) is a ministry center that is an affiliate of Life Skills International based in Aurora, CO www.lifeskillsintl.org. The Life Skills program was founded by Paul Hegstrom, a man who sought answers personally for why his life was so out of control. Through hours of intense research, prayer, and revelation, Paul was able to develop the "Learning to Live, Learning to Love" curriculum that is used in the Life Skills classes. Here is some of Paul's testimony and how Life Skills was created:

"Paul Hegstrom lived the first forty years of his life not understanding the driving force that caused him to self-destruct again and again. He could not understand why his anger would never subside. He could not communicate or identify his feelings. His anger harmed his family, and nothing was ever resolved. He knew something was wrong, but lived his life in denial. Over $20,000 was spent on counseling where he was given "labels," however, it never got to the root of his problem. This only added to his anger and frustration. His 16-year marriage ended because he could not get the help he needed. The violence continued in subsequent relationships and finally, after being involved in a life-threatening situation that could have meant 15-20 years in prison, he asked for help. It was the hardest thing he ever had to do.

As a result of asking for and receiving help from a pilot program, Paul found some answers for his behavior, but it still wasn't enough. He began searching for deeper answers. He has spent well over 18,000 hours in research with the goal of developing a curriculum that would offer hope and help to the abuser, the victim, and the families involved in domestic violence. "Learning to Live, Learning to Love" is the result of his research, together with over 36,000 hours spent facilitating groups for the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

In 1983, Paul and Judy were remarried. They brought healing to their own family as they worked to set up Life Skills International (formerly DVP, Domestic Violence Project), a non-profit domestic violence organization based out of Aurora, Colorado.

As a testimony to the program's effectiveness, their second marriage has been free of emotional and physical abuse since its beginning. All three children and their families live violence free lives. They are a part of the healing that is offered to tens of thousands around the world through the Life Skills program. Life Skills has expanded into an international program with over 100 centers across the United States and around the world." (taken from www.lifeskillsintl.org)

What is a Life Skills class like?

The Life Skills program is a psycho-educational program entitled "Learning to Live, Learning to Love" that is developed for a same gender group setting that meets for weekly 3 hour sessions for 26-30 weeks. The curriculum was originally created to support and aid people involved in abusive relationships. However, the curriculum is powerful to help enrich and develop any type of relationship, whether abuse is specifically present or not.

Past hurts, rejection, abandonment, and abusive or traumatic childhood experiences can have roots in our lives that cause our behaviors to be reactive, instead of pro-active. The common issues can be one or a combination of physical, verbal, psychological, emotional, economic, and even silent abuse, along with stalking, rejection, and other forms of manipulation and control. The curriculum helps to surface and identify areas in our lives that need "rewiring" and intervention for change. Many people gain significant freedom in their personal lives because of the insightful material. Oftentimes, the catalyst for change is confrontation and through this course, many are able to "confront" the issues of pain from the past in order to gain hope for the future.

The goal of Life Skills, through 3 hour group sessions that meet weekly, is to teach skills that a person would have otherwise learned in a balanced, healthy, home between birth and age 18. Implementing these new skills will enable each individual to rebuild their life, strengthen relationships, and improve their self-image. Our goal is to help each individual increase their capacity to function in relationships and, where possible, to offer hope of reconciliation.

The class material is presented by trained facilitators and it utilizes group discussion, oral presentation, workbook study, homework, videos, overheads, and other visual presentation. Because of the length of the class, many people develop strong relationships with fellow class members as well as support to face some difficult issues.

Here are some of the areas that will be addressed in the 26-30 week program.

  • Anger Management
  • The 15 Types of Emotional Abuse
  • Breaking the Cycle of Abuse
  • Love and Family Bonding
  • Managing Stress
  • Breaking the Bonds of Shame
  • Developing Trust
  • Establishing Roots for a Healthy Family
  • Profile of the "Silent Knight" and His Victim
  • Mother/Son Relationship
  • Respecting Self and Others
  • Defining Domestic Violence
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Communications
  • Male/Female Differences
  • Awareness and Processing of Feelings
  • Learning to Forgive
  • Accepting Responsibility
  • Building Lasting Relationships
  • Lack of Parenting
  • Father/Daughter Relationship

Does the Life Skills Class cost anything? How do I join a class?

The class requires a one time materials fee of $50 (to be paid at orientation) and a weekly fee (to be paid before each class) that is based on a sliding scale according to gross annual income of the individual. The minimum class fee is $20, but your individual fee will be determined at the orientation for the class. The orientation class will be held 1-2 weeks prior to the first class to turn in applications, pay the materials fee, and discuss details of the upcoming class.

It is required for everyone taking the class to complete an intense application which addresses areas of childhood experience and personal functioning. The application was originally developed specifically for abusers to identify some of their own behaviors, so it can seem a little "intense." However, we like to encourage everyone to not be "intimidated" by the application.....if certain issues don't apply, then you can fill out the areas that do. The Life Skills program has met the requirements of every state in the United States in order to be considered a viable program for schools, prisons, and therapy centers; therefore, the approach has to meet such requirements.

What do I do to join the Life Skills course??

If you are interested in attending a Life Skills class or have questions, please call 770-493-4819 and leave your name and phone number so you can be contacted by a facilitator. Once we receive your call, you will be contacted by the Life Skills team. There is a waiting list for class enrollment, so once there is an opening in an upcoming class, you will be contacted about the details.