Attitudinal Healing

Attitudinal Healing For Children & Youth

By Kathy Harris, Carolyn Smith, Marilyn Robinson, © Copyright 2008.

Attitudinal Healing Has Helped Kids With

  • Any kind of challenge
  • The Center for Attitudinal Healing holds specific groups for children with life threatening illnesses, bereavement groups and teen groups to help with anger management.
  • Groups are held in various children’s centers and schools to help children learn to express their feelings and cope with their problems.
  • Depending on the children’s ages, artwork is used and various games are played to help the children express themselves.
  • When fear is seen for what it is, only love remains.
  • Through group dialogue, or sometimes one-on-one, trained facilitators help children with long-term illnesses, disabilities, behavior problems, or the loss of a loved one.
  • Healing is not seen as the absence of illness, but the attainment of peace.

Attitudinal Healing Can Help In The Following Areas

Spirit: Attitudinal Healing (AH) gets children in touch with the knowledge that they are not just their bodies; that no matter how ill their bodies are on the outside, they are always whole inside.

Body: Attitudinal Healing helps children shift their thinking that contributes to suffering. Pain may still be there, but the child is relieved of the anxiety they felt about it.

Mind: Attitudinal Healing helps the child make a mental shift to focus on the whole of life, not just the fragments of the body or parts of their life that are falling apart.

Emotions: Attitudinal Healing emphasizes that there are no right or wrong emotions. Children can stop holding their emotions in, out of fear of expressing them. Instead they have a safe place in which to express and discuss their emotions and realize they’re not they only ones to have such feelings.

Social: Because Attitudinal Healing usually happens in groups, children learn about taking turns, listening, asking questions, and about compassion.

Brief Description Of Attitudinal Healing

  • Attitudinal Healing is based on the belief that it is possible to choose peace rather than conflict and love rather than fear. This belief is expressed in the “Twelve Principles”, a non-sectarian set of spiritual guidelines.

Success With Attitudinal Healing

  • Jane, a six year old in a bereavement group, really exercised her right to remain quiet. She passed in every session for four months. During the “weather report” (the term given to the process when every child and adult facilitator tells how they are feeling in terms of the weather) she would draw expressively but not discuss her drawings. One night a candle was lit in the group’s ritual for a new group member whose parent had just died, and Jane burrowed into the facilitator’s arms and started crying and talking. She shared her feelings in every session after that.
  • Ivan, an eight year old in Russia who had a life threatening cancer, had been told his diagnosis. (In Russia, doctors and parents rarely discuss a diagnosis with the child.) He was quiet, withdrawn, isolated from the other children in the hospital. He loved to draw, though, and began to draw pictures of his feelings. One day, during a bean bag toss, he began to laugh and express himself. He went back to his room a happy child.
  • Carlos, a 13 year old with a brain tumor, loved to tell jokes and tell how sharing his feelings was helping him. When his cancer went into remission, he often participated in group training sessions. Three years later, Carlos’s cancer returned and he died. Within a month, his mother came to group sessions and shared how Attitudinal Healing had pulled her family together and how grateful she was for that.
  • Janet, an 8 year old at the Children’s Center, was withdrawn and depressed when she started attending Attitudinal Healing sessions there. When another young girl shared that she was being molested by her father, Janet was able to open up and talk about her own molestation. Knowing that she was not alone released her from her shame and silence.

Attitudinal Healing Is Appropriate For Ages

  • 5 years old in one-on-one situations
  • 6-18 years old in group settings
  • There are teen and young adult groups in some schools.

Children & Youths’ Reactions To Attitudinal Healing

  • Most children really like it and look forward to the sessions.
  • Attitudinal Healing helps children learn to listen and participate in groups.
  • Attitudinal Healing can help children learn to sit still for an hour and that’s not always easy.
  • Children learn to extend love to others and experience how that feels.

Extra Care Is Needed

  • If a child is acting out too much and disrupting the group, it may be necessary for one of the facilitators to take that child to another room and have a one-on-one session with them.

Contraindications: When Attitudinal Healing Should Be Avoided

  • There is no time when Attitudinal Healing should be avoided. However, children under five may be too young to benefit fully.


  • Attitudinal Healing is based upon the teachings of A Course in Miracles, which can be described as a form of spiritual psychotherapy that is self-taught.
  • The Center for Attitudinal Healing began in 1975 under the guidance of Dr. Gerald Jampolsky and four volunteers. Its purpose was to create a safe environment of support and trust where children could express their deepest feelings, to begin a process of letting go of the many fears associated with their illness and experience peace of mind.
  • Within a short while, attention was also given to the needs of the parents and siblings of these children.
  • The program at the Center was designed to supplement traditional health care which places a heavy emphasis on the physical/physiological side of the illness. More specifically, the purpose of the Center’s programs is to enable individuals to let go of the emotional pain and fear that usually accompany an illness and then to begin to lead a more fulfilling and peaceful life.
  • Since the beginning, the Center has provided its services free of charge to all who wish to participate.
  • The Center operates under the premise that true healing has a spiritual and emotional component that must be addressed. The principles of Attitudinal Healing include universal, nonsectarian spiritual truths.

Basic Concepts And Components Of Attitudinal Healing

  • True healing has a spiritual and emotional component that must be addressed.
  • Through using the tools of Attitudinal Healing, children can let go of the emotional pain and fear that usually accompany an illness and begin to lead a more fulfilling and peaceful life.
  • In the groups, children recognize that love is listening and they agree to listen with an open heart, to give mutual support and to practice non-judgmental listening and sharing.
  • Children support each other’s inner guidance and assist one another in finding their own best answers.
  • The roles of student and teacher are interchangeable. They shift from one to the other, regardless of age or experience.
  • Children practice being present with others, seeing only the light and not the lampshade.
  • Children learn to keep in mind that they always have a choice between peace and conflict; between love and fear.

Description Of A Typical Session

  • The children arrive and break into small groups of no more than twelve. There are always at least two trained adult facilitators per group.
  • The children gather by holding hands in a circle. At this time the children’s energy is focused on one another and the group.
  • Introductions and check-ins occur.
  • A short game is played to break the ice and help any newcomers feel more comfortable.
  • The children are given a project – drawing, painting, clay work, etc. to do for about twenty minutes. The project focuses on a theme (such as remembering the deceased parent in a bereavement group or a visit to the doctor or hospital in a Living with Illness group), an emotion like anger, sadness, worry, hope, pride, etc.
  • After the project, the children are encouraged to share their drawings, etc. and to talk about what they mean to them. But no child is made to talk if they are not comfortable doing so.
  • The facilitator helps the children speak about their feelings by asking questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.” For example “What was the hardest part about being in the hospital?”
  • After the group discussion, there is a closing circle. During this time, the facilitator touches on the themes that were brought up during the session and relates them to the Attitudinal Healing Principles.
  • Sometimes the closing circle also becomes a healing circle with members putting someone in the center they want to send love to.
  • The circle closes with the passing of an energy squeeze.

Major Differences Of Opinion Between Practitioners

  • There really aren’t any. A major principle of Attitudinal Healing is not to give the children advice. If someone doesn’t follow that or any of the other principles of Attitudinal Healing, then they don’t participate in Attitudinal Healing at all.

Fees/Costs In 2007

  • All groups in the Sausalito Center are free and are run by trained volunteers. The center trains others who hold groups all over the country and they may charge fees but are encouraged not to do so.
  • The Center charges a reasonable fee for volunteer trainings.

Average Time Per Session

  • Sessios run an hour to an hour and a half. There’s usually a free meal first – the food being donated by local merchants.

Recommended Length Of Time Between Sessions

  • One week is best, but also bi-monthly is okay.

Estimated Length Of Time Before Improvements Can Be Expected

  • After 3-4 sessions usually, but sometimes on that first night driving home, the children begin sharing feelings.

Suggestions To Make Attitudinal Healing More Effective

  • Parents need to ensure their child gets to their group on time.
  • Parents need to demonstrate the importance of talking about feelings by doing it themselves.
  • When parent and child are having an Attitudinal Healing session one-on-one, it is a time for parents to listen and understand, not a time to correct or scold the child.
  • Parents can practice reflective listening, asking leading questions and not trying to give answers to help their child come up with their own strategy for changing problematic behaviors.
  • Parents can spend time with the principles of Attitudinal Healing themselves by going to adult support groups.
  • Underscore that giving is receiving.
  • Play games with their children that come from the Attitudinal Healing Handbook.

Other Methods That Are Similar To Attitudinal Healing

  • The Work, founded by Byron Katie, is similar.

Other Methods That Complement Attitudinal Healing

  • Any other healing method complements Attitudinal Healing. Attitudinal Healing complements any other modality the parent chooses.

Nature And Length Of Training To Be A Practitioner

  • The trainee joins a support group themselves and attends at least ten sessions.
  • The trainee attends an intensive three-day training workshop.
  • The trainee then attends a support group made up completely of volunteers for at least eight sessions.
  • The trainee is then invited to become an apprentice facilitator.

Special Training Needed To Work With Children & Youth

  • The Center has special three-day trainings that the facilitators attend after completing the initial training sessions.

Certification/Licenses Held By Practitioners

  • There are none. The trainees leave all their degrees at the door. Sometimes the people with licenses or degrees are the toughest to train because it is harder for them to learn how to express their own feelings.
  • The best facilitators are people who can express their own feelings, have a spiritual focus, and love kids.

Professional Associations To Contact For Names Of Local Practitioners

  • To obtain the names and addresses of centers all over the world, contact: The Center for Attitudinal Healing; 33 Buchanan Drive; Sausalito, CA 94965; 415-331-6161; Fax 415-331-4545; Website: www.attitudinalhealing.org; Email: info@attitudinalhealing.org.
  • The Center has trained hundreds of volunteers as facilitators and many of these facilitators have opened their own centers throughout the world. However, these centers are not affiliated with the International Center for Attitudinal Healing in Sausalito, and therefore, the Center can make no endorsements or recommendations involving them.

Number Of Certified Practitioners In U.S., Canada, And Mexico

  • There is no official certification but thousands of facilitators have been trained.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Practitioner

  • Because each group is unique, parents will have to attend a few sessions at the center nearest them to decide whether or not it’s right for their child.
  • Parent and child should feel uplifted, not further depressed by the experience.

Famous Practitioners/Famous Centers

  • The leading practitioner is still Gerald Jampolsky, the founder of both the practice and the Center.

Leading Clinics, Centers, Practitioners

  • The leading center is the original one in Sausalito (see above).

Resources, Research Papers, Books, DVD’s, Websites


  • Bearison, David. They Never Want to Tell You, Children Talking About Cancer. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1991.
  • Huber, Cheri and June Shiver. How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything: A Workbook. Keep It Simple Books, 1988.
  • Jampolsky, Gerald G. There is a Rainbow Behind Every Dark Cloud. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 1979.
  • Jampolsky, Gerald G. Love Is Letting Go of Fear. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 1979.
  • Foundation for Inner Peace. A Course In Miracles. Mill Valley: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975.

Helpful Tips For Parents

  • Share what was hard that day and what was easy.
  • Parent and child each choose one of the Principles of Attitudinal Healing each day and share why they picked it.

Biographies of Kathy Harris, Carolyn Smith and Marilyn Robinson, Co-Authors

  • Kathy Harris no longer works with children and youth. She presently facilitates adult groups. She also facilitates in a large prison.
  • Carolyn Smith has 18 years experience working with Attitudinal Healing with children & youth.
  • Marilyn Robinson has 20 years of experience with Attitudinal Healing.

To Contact Carolyn Smith or Marilyn Robinson, Who Contributed This Chapter

Carolyn Smith; 195 Aylor Rd.; Madison, VA 22727; Ph: 540-923-4170; or CA 415-388-9172; Email: catheal@mac.com

Marilyn Robinson; 1287 Mysty Woods; Victoria, BC V8Y 3G6 Canada; Ph: 250-881-1109; Email: home123@aol.com

Marie Mulligan’s Comment About Attitudinal Healing: I personally have people in my life who have benefited greatly from being involved in this program. Children and their families benefit from this non-denominational spiritual experience.

Rick Geggie’s Comment About Attitudinal Healing: Children and parents of children in the program have all spoken highly of it. Children feel safe to open up and relax.

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