Family Life Skills of Austin
Sunday, July 21, 2019


What is Family Life Skills?
Family Life Skills is a psycho-educational program that was originally targeted toward anger issues & domestic abuse, but we've found that the solution is for anyone who feels a need to grow personally.  It helps to identify, so one can understand, root issues from childhood that prevent one from living out of a healthy responsive & communicative attitude.  It is what we should have learned in a balanced functioned home from birth to 18-21 years of age.  Since there is no manual to raise children, every family leaves something out.  Things like: how to manage my emotions, my anger, my pain, healthy self-esteem, etc.  We teach how to communicate, how to resolve my anger, the “how to's” in relationships, & respecting ourselves.  Not always do we have the opportunity to watch functional parents as they resolve issues in communicating back & forth.  So throughout the program there are exercises & worksheets that help in teaching these skills -- & shows us what is healthy.  With this we are seeing tremendous change in individuals & families that have gone through this program.  No one else in Central Texas has this extensive (& successful) of a program (6-months in duration, 3-hours/week), nor one that offers gender-separate classes for both men & women (& eventually we will start teaching the module for teens).  *See the "What Is Life Skills?" Video in the About Us section of this website*
Tell me about the curriculum.
“Learning to Live, Learning to Love” is a faith-based curriculum developed by Dr. Paul Hegstrom to help individuals recognize the extent of their anger & abuse issues.  If they are/become teachable & apply what they learn, they will see great results by the end of the class.  Even if anger & abuse is not an issue, we can recognize that the source of our deepest pain & expectations is usually found in childhood.  Becoming aware of where we are “stuck” emotionally frees us to “grow up” as we change our thinking.  This is called “renewing of the mind”.  Finally, as we describe what healthy looks like, it gives individuals new hope & goals as they learn to make good choices & to use the tools received throughout the program.
Who benefits?
Mostly the person attending class benefits because we focus on the individual’s issues.  We can’t change anyone but ourselves.  When we become more aware of our part of the problems we are having, we can learn how to change our behavior.  In turn others feel more respected & responsive to our communication & they benefit too.  This curriculum has been proven to fine-tune & bring healing & enrichment to any individual or relationship, whether abuse is present or not. We have discovered that past hurts have common root issues; at some point in their life, a person had a personal experience with either abuse or rejection. The common issues can be one or a combination of physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, economic, silent abuse, stalking, rejection, & other forms of manipulation & control.
What is abuse anyway?
Physical Abuse: Any touch not given in love, respect, & dignity.
Emotional Abuse: Any communication, admonition, reprimand, or reproof that does not uplift, edify, or bring conflict resolution.
There are 21 forms of abuse, for more info:  Red Flags of Abuse
Anger is amoral (it is neither right nor wrong).  The emotion of anger is not the problem, but how we mishandle it.  Anger is an emotional reaction to certain kinds of stress-producing situations & is always the secondary emotion.  More basic emotions underlie it.  Basic emotion examples are: hurt, resentment, disappointment, frustration, helplessness, anxiety or fear.
But, I'm not angry & not in an abusive relationship, will I benefit?
Many people have benefited from Family Life Skills because they simply want to fine tune their relationship(s).  Because Life Skills deals with the "big picture", we give tools & teach principles often not taught in the family of origin or in school.  Many people finish the program stating that they wish they had this material at the beginning of their would have been so much easier.  Others say that every high schooler should have this material before graduating so they can have a better start on life.  There is always room for improvement on oneself & relationships.  Some people who finished raising their children want to learn how to refresh their relationship & re-connect with the love of their life.  Family Life Skills tends to be for nearly anyone who wants to grow.
How successful is this particular program?
The Family Life Skills program is 90% - 95% successful.  This is extraordinary!  Family Life Skills is different than most groups because it helps bring understanding & answers a lot of the “why?” questions people have about their behavior.  Also, because of the intensity, proven instruction, & group setting to provide the support & accountability.  This is 78-hours of intense study with dialog, encouragement & support -- that's one reason it is so highly effective.  If you think about it, that's the equivalent of 1.5 years of an hour once-a-week individual private therapy.  However, a study found that that 80% of those that included relational support & accountability along with the information to change, the "change" was successful.†
How much are the classes?
Most people cannot afford expensive therapy & counseling in today’s economy, but desperately need help none-the-less.  (However, we do definitely welcome those that are already involved in private therapy to enroll/attend the classes as well.)  The Family Life Skills "Learning to Live, Learning to Love" curriculum provides the information, instruction, & small group support that you need for as little as $10/hour!  Also, our Family Life Skills program is equivalent to enrolling in a semester college course (however, far more valuable, as you will gain priceless peace of mind & personal growth, as well as utilize what you've learned in daily interactions for the rest of your life).  Family Life Skills classes are offered on a sliding-scale fee, depending on individual (or if married, household) income.  There is a one-time $55 intake & materials fee to cover your intake process & materials for the course.  Class fees can be paid weekly or in full at the beginning of class.  If you choose to pay in full at the beginning of class, you pay for 26-weeks & will receive any classes beyond the 26th week free (classes never go beyond 30-weeks).
So what are some of the topics covered in class?
The curriculum will help any individual gain life-changing skills in a variety of topics including:
•Developing Trust
•Respecting Self & Others/Self-Esteem
•Awareness & Processing of Feelings
•Anger Management
•Childhood Wounds
•Understanding My Anger
•Defining Domestic Violence & Abuse
•Conflict Resolution
•Love & Family Bonding
•Male/Female Differences
•Guilt & Shame
•Reactive Lifestyles
•Healthy & Lasting Relationships
The curriculum was originally formulated to address the concerns of anger & people involved in abusive relationships, however, it has proven to bring enrichment to any relationship, whether anger & abuse are present or not.
What does healthy look like?
Our goal is to help individuals recognize healthy when they see it.  Most of us believe that what we learned as a child is what we should pass on to our families because that is how “love” was expressed to us.  Dysfunctional families pass on dysfunctions.  Healthy families continue to grow & encourage each other.
Proper bonding – Emotional support. Each person keeps their individuality while creating a new entity called “we”.
Economic cooperation – Open communication and consent on financial matters.
Respect of property – What’s yours is yours, what’s mine is mine and what’s ours is ours…children’s too.
Appropriate social behaviors – Respecting each other in public and checking first before commitments are made for both.
Appropriate individuality – The right to personal space, personal interests, activities, decisions, friends, growth, and to decline dislikes.
Respectful requests – To be able to identify and communicate needs and desires without fear of rejection.
Rearing healthy children – Mom loves Dad, Dad loves Mom and the children are safe and secure. The family communicates and feelings are allowed.
Appropriate communications – Freedom to express thoughts and feelings and know you have been heard.
Equitable responsibilities – Sharing tasks. Developing mutually enjoyable activities.  Helping when needed.  Commitment to specific share times.
Healthy sexual relationship – Communicating with each other about needs, preferences or desires. Respecting each other’s inhibitions and each having the right to initiate or decline without fear of rejection.
Spiritual development – Personal relationship with God.  Family activities and expressions of individual worship and spiritual training for children.
Appropriate touching – value each other through non-sexual touching and the ability to express when you need a hug.
What about childcare during classes?
We do understand the challenges of childcare.  We want to do all that we can to make this time you dedicate for classes to be as smooth as possible -- remember, you making time for this class will reap long-term rewards for you & your children's relationship & future.  Unfortunately, we have no on-premise childcare at this time.  If you cannot arrange for a friend, family member, or babysitter to care for your child(ren) during class times, there is a nearby "drop-in childcare" place called Ashley's Playhouse at the intersection of Anderson Mill Rd & 183.  If you get a membership, it turns out to be appx $8/hour.
Where did Family Life Skills come from & how long has it been around?
Dr. Paul Hegstrom began searching for deeper answers as to why he had such built-up rage.  He spent well over 20,000 hours in research & 36,000 hours facilitating groups while continuing to develop a curriculum that would offer hope & help to the abuser, the victim, & the families involved in domestic violence.  The program also helps others to understand some of the “why” questions for their reactive behaviors.  Out of Paul’s life & testimony, Life Skills International was founded in 1985.
Who is Dr. Paul Hegstrom?
Dr. Paul Hegstrom is the founder of Life Skills International.  The organization grew out of Paul’s personal battle with abusive behavior.  He spent the first 40-years of his life not understanding the driving force that caused him to self-destruct again & again.  He could not communicate or identify his feelings.  He knew something was wrong, but lived his life in denial.  Over $20,000 was spent on counseling where he was given “labels”, but never got to the root of his problems, & this only added to his anger & frustration.
Paul not only found peace with God & himself, but the wife he had divorced after nearly 17 years of marriage, became his bride again & they have now been successfully married the second time longer than the first & they are still growing together.
Dr. Glenn Wagner describes the “10-10-80 Principle” – If you take a pool of 100 people, 10 will change (with good pragmatic info to change); 10 of those will not change (no matter what the content of the info); 80 of them will change (only when they come in conjunction with accountability/relational support).