Global Lifeworks hosted Lifeworks Seminars in Bakersfield, California for transgender individuals and their partners. The focus was on how their internal conversations impacted their lives and their community. Participation in various exercises was designed to open up possibilities for a broader perspective on how they view themselves and their relationships. These groups have been very lively while learning tools for engaging in authentic dialogue and relationships.
Discovery South Africa
The Discovery Seminar was conducted in South Africa for the first
time in September 2005. The purpose of this seminar was to
bring together individuals from all walks of life to explore the
belief systems and "filters" they have used to frame their
world. Globally, belief systems and filters have created barriers
to the development of partnerships between diverse communities in
the fight against HIV/AIDS. It is in pursuit of finding common
ground by revealing filters and exploring assumptions that turn
barriers into bridges and open up possibilities for collaboration
in finding solutions for those individuals infected and affected
The Discovery Seminar was held in Stellenbosch and included 80 individuals from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. Over a three day period, participants shared with one another, learned from each other, and collaborated in an unprecedented manner. The individual and community transformation was clearly a result of the courage and humility of all participants involved.
For further information or if you would like to have a Discovery Seminar conducted in your country, please contact us.
Clinical Trial Information
Multiple factors affect the quality of life in patients with HIV infection, including the disease, medication treatments, and psychosocial factors. The impact of advanced HIV infection on quality of life and depression has been shown to be even more significant than that of other chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. Treatment for HIV with HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) often actually decreases the quality of life during the initial adjustment to both the side effects and complex scheduling of medications. Anxiety and depression are common symptoms during this period. In order to realize the benefits of HAART, such as improved survival and delayed disease progression, sustained or improved perception of quality of life is crucial.
Non-adherence to HAART therapy has been shown to be the primary reason individuals eventually fail to suppress the HIV virus. Interventions that positively impact depression and quality of life may have a considerable impact on adherence to HAART. While ample evidence is available to document the strong interconnections between depression, decreased quality of life, poor adherence to HAART, and HIV progression, there is great need to develop and evaluate therapeutic interventions which can positively impact depression and quality of life in HIV infected individuals.
Factors associated with poor adherence to HIV therapy have also been shown to correlate with those associated with a lesser quality of life. Many of these factors have been associated with high-risk transmission of HIV, such as unsafe sex and sharing needles for drug use. Interventions that directly affect the factors impacting quality of life may have secondary benefits regarding adherence to therapy; therefore, even decreasing transmission of HIV.
Social support for patients with HIV/AIDS has a strong potential to influence depression and quality of life. Living with HIV for decades produces new problems.
Older HIV-infected patients have been less satisfied with their social support resources and more likely to use maladaptive coping strategies. Coping by denial has been associated with a significantly lower quality of life and denial itself can be an expression of low self-esteem, helplessness, and anger. Education and behaviorally oriented interventions that enhance problem-solving and active decision-making are more beneficial than interventions that encourage passive acceptance. The negative impact of psychiatric co-morbidities, specifically depression, on the quality of life of patients with HIV disease is well documented.
Finally, spirituality, an under-appreciated factor, was perceived as a bridge between hopelessness and meaningfulness in life among HIV-infected individuals.
In 2003 the Discovery Seminar was modified to allow it to be evaluated under the strict criteria of a clinical trial. This seminar was designed to support individuals with HIV/AIDS in discovering what they don't know about the way they believe, what governs their choices, and the actions that impact their lives. The process of discovering limiting beliefs and breaking through them to new levels of effective living begins first with recognizing what is hidden or unrealized. Once observed, a limiting belief can be changed, altered, or reconfigured, thus opening new possibilities for action not previously recognized. The purpose of the trial was to study the impact of this transformational seminar on depression and quality of life of those living with HIV/AIDS. By experimental standards it was found that the Discovery Seminar had a statistically significant positive impact on depression which, in many cases, leads to an improved quality of life and adherence to antiretroviral medications.
The Discovery Seminar (called Life-Skills Building for clinical trial purposes), consisted of sessions which focused on discovering the belief systems that govern choices. Each session was designed to provide an opportunity for participants to discover and realign belief systems that govern their subsequent choices and actions.
Defining a purpose for living, improving goal-oriented behavior, and developing a social support system may be essential to improve depression and increase the quality of life in those individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Though the Discovery clinical trial was small, it did show a positive impact of life skills-building on these three areas. Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of Discovery on a larger scale to show that these nonpharmacologic methods may be utilized to improve depression, enhance the quality of life, and improve adherence to antiretroviral medications in HIV-infected individuals.
The timeline for the clinical trial (Discovery) sessions was as follows:
- Week 1-4 Screening/Baseline
- Week 5-16 Patient selection MOS-HIV and Seminar Preparation Discovery Arm A
- Week 25 Follow-up interviews Arm A and Arm B
- Weeks 25-36 Follow-up and Interviews Arm B MOS-HIV
- Week 48 Program review and Report issued
The time in each session was allotted approximately as follows:
20% was composed of concise lectures (15 to 30 minutes) about principles that influence all human life, such as:
- Responsibility and Accountability in relationship with others
- Commitment, Promise, and Request as expressions of love and a hopeful future
- Trust, Honesty, and Self-disclosure as related to developing intimacy
- Forgiveness as an act of will and expression of freedom from past betrayal
60% consisted of exercises and structured situations, such as:
- Situational problem-solving with the whole group: creating agreement, taking a stand, and conflict resolution
- Small group interaction, giving and receiving feedback
- Meditations and self-reflection about fears and hopes, prices and rewards
- Dyads: one-on-one opportunities for self-disclosure and development of listening skills
- Journaling: debriefing experiences for clarifying emotions, beliefs, and consequences of behaviors through writing
20% was debriefing, i.e., a time when participants shared their personal experiences:
- How it reflected their belief systems
- The impact on those they love and live with outside the program
- Self-disclosure to receive feedback and discover other possibilities
The follow-up process consisted of interviews, questionnaires, and discussions about the program and support options in order to continue the advances made in the sessions.
Read the "Impact of Life Skills Building on Depression and
Quality of Life in HIV Patients" View
Report on the Infectious Diseases Society of America Conference in Boston, September 30 - October 30, 2004:
The Infectious Diseases Society of America is a prestigious organization of medical personnel dedicated to the advancement of both research and evaluation/treatment in the areas of infectious diseases, which includes HIV/AIDS. Global Lifeworks and Living Hope Foundation partnered together to submit an abstract regarding their study of the effects of life-skills seminars (Discovery) on those living with HIV/AIDS. Out of thousands of abstracts (a synopsis of the study and its results), GLW and LHF were honored to have their abstract accepted and presented alongside hundreds of other studies.