Beginning Experience is…..
- A peer support group run by people who have suffered the personal loss of a partner through death divorce or separation. BE is a ‘like-to-like’ ministry of persons who, although wounded through the loss of their spouse, have experienced healing and now reach out as “wounded healers” to others who still suffer. All work undertaken by BE WA is done on a non-profit, voluntary basis;
- Grounded in and is faithful to sound Catholic teachings and the traditions of the Church. The program was started in the USA by Sister Josephine Stewart and Ms Jo Lamia 1973/74. BE has always been open to persons of all faiths and our WA team is keen to ensure that we are welcoming to all. If your personal views do not allow you to fully participate in the short prayers and other celebrations which form part of the program, we invite you to participate in a manner in which you feel comfortable. It is expected that all participants will respect the Christian, Catholic traditions expressed in the program;
- Very concerned about privacy and confidentiality. Please refer to the ‘Privacy’ document for a more detailed outline of our policies and procedures in regard to these issues;
- A highly structured and formal program. In WA BE activities are conducted by a local Team and overseen by a Local Board. This Board is, in turn, overseen by a Regional and International Board. Local activities are conducted according to established and published programs, and articulated policies, guidelines and Vision/Mission Statements;
- A copyrighted program which cannot be initiated without the approval of the International Ministry Centre (USA)
Our Mission: Those who have experienced divorce, separation or death of a spouse or parent will work through their grief, be healed, transformed and free to love themselves, others and God.
Our Vision: People Free to Love
Beginning Experience is NOT….
- A social organisation. While some members may form close personal friendships and share social activities these are quite secondary to the focus of Beginning Experience’s peer ministry;
- A ‘singles club’. Dating between participants is discouraged – we all need time and space to work through the grief caused by the loss of a life partner. Dating or forming a new relationship too soon after such a loss can often help ‘cover’ the immediate pain of grief. The focus of Beginning Experience’s ministry is to face our pain and work through it with the support of those who are facing the same hurts and fears by undertaking a proven and structured program. Strict guidelines are also given to members of team in regard to their personal relationships. For example they may not form ‘romantic’ relationships with participants within 3 months of a participants first Beginning Experience program:
- A professional counselling service. While Team members undertake training in the Beginning Experience program, they have no formal counselling training or experience. It is inappropriate for a participant to seek specific advice in regard to their current situation (e.g. In regard to Family Court issues, housing or access problems). It is equally inappropriate for Team to give such advice. It is also inappropriate for a participant to raise such issues as their abuse (sexual, physical, emotional or psychological) of an ex-spouse (if the abuse is continuing) or of a child (at any time) within the context of a Beginning Experience program. Such issues are ‘outside’ the ministry of Beginning Experience and may cause moral and ethical dilemmas for Team and participants torn between their desire to help the abuser, the confidentiality of the Beginning Experience Program, and their need to protect the person/people being abused. Some members of Team and some participants (professionals such as health and child-care workers and teachers) may also be under legal obligations to report child abuse. Participants who have suffered as the victims of abuse and who wish to discuss this within the context of their feelings concerning the loss of their partner are encouraged to do so on the understanding that Team cannot re-act in a counselling role.
Those who feel that they require professional guidance or ‘one to one’ counselling should seek help from agencies such as: Relationships Australia (1300 364 277), Centre Care (9325 6644), Anglicare/ Kinway (9263 2050), or Lifeline (13 11 14)