Thursday, 18 July 2019

Our Defining Principles

To view, save or print as a PDF file, please click here.

These principles apply to all workshops, trainings, classes, groups and individual interactions that occur under the RLC umbrella or in RLC spaces.


Western Mass Recovery Learning Community

Defining Principles


Our Core Values:  Genuine Human Relationships, Self-Determination & Personal Strength, Mutuality, Optimism, Healing Environments and Respect.



  • The RLC is founded on our ‘humanness’ and the importance of forming genuine connections with other human beings. This means that individuals in our community will be encouraged to form connections with each other as they develop naturally, and to use these connections as an opportunity to build or strengthen their natural support systems.

  • We will respect each other's physical, sexual and personal boundaries. This means that everyone has the right to determine when he or she is going to be available to our community, when he or she does or does not want to be hugged or touched in any way, and what sorts of relationships he or she wishes to engage in with others in the community.
  • Imperfection in relationships is an expectation. The presence of these values does not mean that all interactions will be perfect, or fully embody all values at all times. Rather, imperfection will be expected and  - when bumps occur - we will work to see it as an opportunity for growth rather than a failure of the community.



  • The RLC will not preach any one way of healing and will make space for people to define their own paths to 'recovery'. This means that the RLC will offer education and information on a variety of perspectives, options and resources, but that people will always hold the power to determine their own goals, and to define for themselves the meaning of the word ‘recovery’ as it applies to their own lives.
  • Each individual will be treated as capable of setting guidelines for him or herself. Hence, the RLC will avoid setting too many ‘rules’ and micromanaging situations and relationships because we believe in each individual’s strength and wisdom to make his or her own choices, express his or her own likes and dislikes and identify his or her own needs without the overuse of rules and guidelines to dictate that process.



  • There are no ‘service providers’ and ‘service recipients’ in the RLC. It is assumed that all individuals who become a part of the RLC for support will also give support to another at some point, and that each individual will not only approach the RLC with the attitude of what he or she can get but also what he or she can give.
  • We are not, nor do we strive to be, ‘clinical’ workers. The RLC is a community of people supporting people who have been through similar struggles, all on equal ground. We will not attempt to act as therapists or clinicians. We will be ‘professionals’ in peer support, and above all else, in regards to the expertise that we have about ourselves.
  • We are all leaders in the RLC. This does not mean that each person must necessarily take turns at facilitating meetings, organizing campaigns or being the point person for a given activity. What it means is that as each of us empowers ourselves to move, question, change, act and be hopeful we thereby (intentionally or not) inspire others in our community to do the same – and then we are leaders.



  • The RLC believes that recovery is probable for all individuals. This means that all individuals will be welcomed to be a part of the RLC and treated with the belief that they have the power and ability to achieve their hopes and dreams.
  • The RLC will show compassion to those who are struggling. This means that our community recognizes that all individuals have ups and downs, and moments when they may ‘relapse’ or need to step away from the community, but that the community will reach out to them in times of need and always welcome them back with open arms and without judgment.



  • Individuals within the RLC will respect each other’s privacy. This includes holding confidentiality around information shared within RLC spaces and supporting one another to define how and when information can be shared in a respectful manner and in a way that builds community.
  • The RLC strives to make all spaces accessible to all. This includes (but is not limited to) avoiding the use of scented products as much as possible, using wheelchair accessible spaces, and scheduling interpreters and groups in other languages.
  • The RLC is trauma-sensitive and strives to create safe spaces and opportunities for connection. This means avoiding smelling of alcohol or drugs or being visibly intoxicated or high, or bringing alcohol, drugs or drug paraphernalia into RLC spaces or activities. This also may mean walking someone to their car when it’s dark out, being conscious of tone, body language and actions, and creating shared agreements and expectations to address community needs as they arise.
  • The RLC uses non-violent conflict resolution. It is anticipated that when conflict arises, people will address the conflict directly with one another whenever possible. It’s also anticipated that this will occur without the use of yelling, gossiping or physical aggression, and that individuals in general will be open to talking through conflicts with one another.



  • Above all else, the RLC expects each individual to treat others as he or she would wish to be treated. This means treating ourselves, each other and each other’s belongings with respect, compassion and kindness at all times.
  • The RLC aspires to use the most inclusive and respectful language at all times. Everyone will be encouraged to use open, person-first, strengths-based language and to avoid using one-word labels when referring to others in the recovery community.
  • The RLC encourages shows of gratitude and appreciation for all other members of the community. Individuals are encouraged to go out of their way whenever possible to thank others for their contributions, including those with whom they might not always get along.
  • The RLC will respect all differences of opinion, beliefs, culture, appearances and ways of life. This means treating everyone with dignity, respect and as a valued individual, as well as encouraging learning, openness and conversations about different beliefs and cultures. We will not ostracize or put down any individual based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, size or other aspect of appearance, religious beliefs and so on.

© Western Mass RLC, 2013            (413) 539-5941

To view, save or print as a PDF file, please click here.



Registration & Login for Website Users