GruposVida – Emotional Recovery for Hurting People


Due to the poverty and violence affecting slum populations on a daily basis, many slum dwellers live within a socio-emotional climate that contributes to low self-esteem, apathy, lack of hope and resignation, with many of them suffering from psychological and emotional wounds they have not yet processed. It is very difficult to build a healthier society, when many people are hurting as a result of cumulative trauma and non-processed personal and communal histories. In fact, these situations of trauma and pain contribute to the vicious cycle of poverty and keep people stuck. For example, many residents of urban slums have lost the ability to dream and have accepted that things are as they are and that they cannot be changed. They have allowed themselves to be defeated by the false belief that only politicians and businesspeople have the power and ability to make changes and even though they know it should not be that way, they conform themselves with the socio-emotional and political reality in which they live.

GruposVida, Project Description

GruposVida is an initiative to help hurting people get in touch with the emotional and psycho-spiritual dimensions of their lives, all within the safe environment of small emotional recovery and support groups. Our self-help groups are guided by trained facilitators and allow people to healthily deal with trauma and pain in their lives. Indeed, creating spaces to allow people to talk about their painful experiences is crucial to overcome apathy and isolation. Helping people interested in improving the state of their personal health, share their personal history is a critical step towards emotional recovery. The correct way to deal with trauma and pain is through three simple steps: acknowledge what happened, express what happened and reflect on what happened. Arts processes (that include aspects of art therapy) and emotional recovery and support groups can be great assets to deepen this journey of self-discovery and healing. This is particularly the case when they encourage people not only to share and reflect on their personal history, but lead them to understand how their personal lives have been marked by their country’s history and culture, including dysfunctional cultural coping strategies. This allows them to find meaning and significance in what they have lived through and re-engage life

We believe that GruposVIDA is vital for some slum dwellers to have more hope, grow in their self-esteem and self-knowledge, to recover emotionally and have the ability to face and overcome times of grief and trauma and learn from them. Therefore, the focus of GruposVIDA is:

  1. Development of emotional and psycho-spiritual reconstruction processes through mutual support groups for men, women and youth, including personal support in their recovery process.
  2. Promote psycho-social education and create times and spaces for reflection that can lead to emotional healing; including retreats, workshops, and access to experts
  3. Conduct community art workshops that promote the processing of past hurt and pain
  4. Referral of interested people struggling with addiction to selected 12-step groups and/or other organizations equipped to coach them in their quest for emotional healing


GruposVida has not being implemented for a long time. Nonetheless, we implemented two community art workshops, three emotional recovery retreats and two support groups, impacting a total of 50 people. We hope to continue in this path and impact the lives of many more in the coming years trough GruposVida.


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