Most young adults who are feeling stuck, lost or in need for a change are in such situations not because they lack potential, but because they lack perspective. They tend to find themselves seeing the world and themselves through unhelpful, often rigid and negative, worldviews. These patterns have been created through experiences in their home environment and reinforced by their perceived societal and familial expectations. This is why making the necessary changes can feel (and probably is) insurmountable, unless the young man goes away to shift perspectives, add new skills, and come back a new man in many ways.
The Bridge is an invitation to bring a paradigm shift to young men’s lives, to open up to other ways of being and integrate them into an expanded world and self concept. Delving into such an adventure of personal transformation can be scary and disorienting, but we make it very safe and exciting.
"You have given parents and kids an alternative to a traditional gap year program - that offers too little support- and other programs that are more extreme, designed to fix things that for many of these kids aren't broken."
"What helped me the most was taking me out of my comfort zone and throwing me into new experiences with people that were going through something similar, and with people who wanted and could help."
While we stand in the shoulders of many giants who came before us to create paradigms and practices that inform our own, there are three main theoretical approaches that constitute the pillar of our philosophy:
- Supportive Immersion: Supportive Immersion is an approach to experiential transformative learning. This approach carefully guides its participants toward becoming more open, resilient, proactive, creative and self-governing, through the application of strategies such as empathic connecting, collaborative empowerment, and process-based scaffolding. For more information on Supportive Immersion, visit the Supportive Immersion Institute website: https://www.supportiveimmersion.com
- 8 Dimensions of Young Adult Success & the Healthy Lifestyle Plan: The Gates Foundation supported a compilation of dozens of studies on young adults, in order to find the most important dimensions that lead to young adult success. The Bridge used these 8 dimensions to create our own "domains" for a Healthy Lifestyle Plan template for each student to complete based on their "ideal functioning" (green) and their "do not want to be here again functioning" (red) as well as a "middle zone" where we learn to use strategies and interventions before things go south (the "yellow zone"). Each student completes the plan along with strategies and support systems needed in order to stay in their green zone and allow our mentors to help them with strategies and interventions when needed. In this way, each Bridge participant has a principal ownersihp role in their own goal planning and support systems advocacy so they can learn what works for them as well as how to be in the "driver's seat" of their own lives.
- Cross-Cultural Coming of Age: More and more young adults are choosing to go abroad as a way to facilitate their transition to adulthood. There are numerous studies that explain why these experiences may be so helpful for such an important life transition. In short, these experiences appear to serve as a rite of passage, helping to let go of the mindset and attitudes of youth, and instilling a mindset of adulthood. For more on this topic, you may read: Recio, D. (2018). Coming of age in foreign lands: Overcoming the double hurdle to adulthood using the developmental benefits of cross-cultural immersions. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. 10(1), 169-185.