PRISONERS FAMILY & OTHERS
”Thank you for what you've done for my son. He is a changed person now.” - Mother of released ex prisoner – 2009. He had participated in the X-PAIN-T program in 2007, total of 12 sessions (three sessions @ 4 h per week) during one month
”It must be God who works through you.” – social worker – South Africa
A non-custodial client’s testimonial – Riitta, social worker, Finland – (translation)
A Day with Tina – (a double session)
“After having watched the program about Tina Borg on national TV earlier this summer (2008) where she spoke about the experience with the X-PAIN Art Program among prisoners in South Africa, I got this urge to find out personally what this X-PAIN really is all about.
I spent five hours writing and painting at Tina’s place.
When looking at the fourth painting out of the five I made, I was indeed amazed. In that particular painting I felt there was so much that I could gain strength from /strengthen/empover myself with. It felt like my soul had got nurtured and my heart got happy as well as the colour combinations surprised me.
Something essential and valuable began “to happen and move within me” during those few hours of X-PAIN session. With the help of Tina “reading and translating” the images that appeared, I felt I got a new angle from where to look at my current problems in my day-to-day life, there was definitely a new perspective from where to look at the problem regarding myself in relation to it. Simultaneously the origin of the problem became evident, the history of my behavioural patterns also became apparent.
It felt extremely liberating and nurturing to first paint the disturbing feeling and then to look for the positive things within that negative feeling. And thereafter to “change the situation” by going in another direction, all this through painting it.
From Tina I received clear guidelines “for homework” based on the paintings in order to continue the journey I just had started. It had indeed been a very useful trip of exploration to make.” ”Traveller” Riitta - Finland
”There on the paper I killed the man who abused me, and now I feel great.” - 15 yo victim of paedophilia – the Philippines
”X-PAIN-T made me remember old issues that I had forgotten. I then was dealing with the old issues (in the painting) which made me feel lighter, better.” - S (19) - Finland
”Clarity to my thoughts, release of emotions, self-awareness, identification of my feelings, strength.” - V (17) – Finland
”A positive experience. Interesting. It made me relaxed, calm. Got an outlet for certain emotions (anger)” - C (19) - Finland
”...Tina's open personality definitely contributed to making the inmates feel at ease and they accepted her right from the beginning. Even rapists, murderers and other high profile inmates participated freely in this program and they could not wait for her return each time she had to go back to Finland. Inmates and this Department could definitely benefit if this project can be a long term one and Tina has my full support. It is our obligation to better the lives of those entrusted to us, but we need the support and expertise of people like Tina Borg if we want to achieve this goal. Her approach to rehabilitation set an example to me and other members. It is therefore my submission that she should get all the necessary assistance she can in order to get this project going.” - Skills Developer, Correctional Services – South Africa
”There have been major changes among the inmates. For instance inmate D who didn't talk at all before, now just can't stop.” - correctional officer – South Africa
”I was a bit sceptical at first or just didn't understand how it could work. Having seen so many inmates change in a positive way, I wanted to try it myself and I was quite shocked what a powerful tool it was. During the first painting with the non-dominant hand (left for me as a right-handed) I had to hold back the tears, because I didn't want to cry in front of my colleagues. Some time later (not when the group was present) Tina asked me if I have some problems with my stomach, I was completely amazed.” – correctional officer – participated in one X-PAIN-T® session for correctional employees – South Africa
”Now I've bought paints so also my son can paint when he is angry.” - correctional officer – South Africa – participated in one X-PAIN-T® session for correctional employees
”To some extent it is possible for others to learn the method of X-PAIN-T but there is this special thing about it which is impossible to learn because only you can do it. ” - correctional officer – participated in one X-PAIN-T® session for correctional employees - South Africa
”The girls miss you already. I see a change in all of them.” - correctional officer, Female Correctional Center, South Africa - three workshop sessions (@ 3 h) during one week
PRISONERS – the USA
”I have seen psychiatrists and psychologists most of my life. Some of my earliest memories as a child are of myself in some sort of therapy. It is unbelievable "all-most" inconceivable that Ms Borg has done what all of them combined through the years were unable to do and she did it in only 4 weeks!
I am in prison for second degree murder. That horrible day back in 1995 has haunted me every day since and especially every night in “that quiet time” after your prayers before falling off to sleep, a sleep by the way, I could only attain through medications. Through her and her unconventional techniques I have freed myself from the nightmares! I'm also epileptic and my seizure activity has abated. I've not had a single "epileptic episode" in the 4 whole weeks! I used to have 2-3/week.
I quickly discovered she wasn’t the “kook” I had thought her to be and that this was no ordinary painting class but a true form of therapy! A true (and healthy) way of relieving oneself of pain, anger, frustration and depression. During the month I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster learning things about myself and being shown innovative ways to deal with the “negatives” instead of hiding them...”
“What I really liked most about the class, was the way I was able to put my anger on paper by painting without causing anyone else harm. Also the relaxing of the music, which help me focus and meditate more on my inner self just as well as outer” - J (46)
“I got a lot off my chest. Now I feel like a feather when before I felt like a two ton case. What I consider the most important thing that I have learned is that you don’t always have to write or talk to express how you feel“- J (23)
“I really thought it was crazy at first, to just smudge, smear, splat and spread paint on paper while listening to music. But after actually doing it hands on and after thinking while painting on the topic at hand I realized that I did bring up old “issues” and put my feelings on that paper. Quite exhausting in fact and a little frustrating when trying to face the issues. But when the second painting was done on a positive issue, it seemed to balance things out and give me a sense of having solved a lot of the regret. The class was something I certainly suggest to those with past issues. I endorse this type of therapy in areas where others don’t reach people with words. The connection is quite fascinating. I am a witness to the results. I knew the others before the program and I see the difference. It really does work.’ – C (40)
“X-PAIN is so much more than what it seems from the outside. Things that are impossible to express in any other form are able to come up and out of you in a very safe and positive way.
Let what happens happen don’t try to control the painting. This class is an awesome + exciting way for anyone to find out things about themselves and, or rediscover them. I found it most therapeutic in so many ways. You don’t need any talent in the traditional forms of art you just need to be open to the class. It was such a great outlet for troubled feelings. I will pray D.O.C. seriously takes the program to heart and decides to start it in the system. It will help so many inmates with the root of most of their unacceptable/criminal behaviour. It would help anyone to just live a more peaceful and productive life.” - J (35)
“First let me start by saying that what I say or how much I praise the X-PAIN class, you truly cannot get the full meaning of how it has changed my life. You would have to experience it to fully grasp the over-all impact it has had upon me. Ms. Borg is a veritable fount of wisdom, a true Sage under the guise of an artist. I quickly discovered she wasn’t the “kook” I had thought her to be and that this was no ordinary painting class but a true form of therapy! A true (and healthy) way of relieving oneself of pain, anger, frustration and depression. During the month I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster learning things about myself and being shown innovative ways to deal with the “negatives” instead of hiding them...”
From the outside looking in would not do justice. You would have to be on the “inside” to see the changes she coaxes out of us, or try your hand at it yourself, otherwise you would imagine it to be overly simplistic, just a group of guys slapping paint on poster board but it’s much more than that, “much, much, much more!” I know this because “I too am guilty of underestimating Ms Borg and her techniques.” I realize now how foolishly impetuous I was by debasing her as a person and her “methods”.
In the beginning I would have class a welter of confusion. Quite frankly I was scared. I was scared of the emotions that were surfacing. Emotions that I suppressed a long time ago and that were quite literally festering within me. I was also frightened of Ms Borg and her seeming to have power over me to be able to bring these things to the surface, to expose me. You see, I opened myself up freely – totally to the process and what I experienced was truly nothing short of cathartic!
I am wanting to get out now, whereas prior to her class I was not looking forward to my release from prison. I was afraid. She has freed me of the noose of my past and given me a future! I no longer dread or fear my release into society but look forward to it’
“Thanks to Miss Borg I have learned a lot about being human again. She has become a big star in my eyes or shall I say ‘she has been the sun that has shined upon my thunder storm’. She has not only opened my eyes but also my heart as well because she has given us her full gratitude and her devoted time in teaching us how to deal with our inner selves. She has taught me personally to open up my mind and look deeper into my soul for that lost spiritual belief that I never knew I had. I am a better man now instead of a prisoner inside my own world. I am not fighting my own demons anymore and I am looking and planning my future better so when I get out, I am going to have my life planned ahead of time. Before X-PAIN I was a time bomb waiting to explode. I in-prisoned myself inside my cell and I hated everyone around me. My heart had turned into steel and my mind was negative 24/7. I give all my thanks and gratitude to Miss Borg for X-PAIN because it is just like an X. My pain is in the past. I have a positive future ahead of me.” – S (37)
COMMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS BY PRISONERS – SOUTH AFRICA
6-12 group sessions during 2-4 weeks of X-PAIN-T sessions @ 4h/each
All inmates would like to carry on attending further X-PAIN-T sessions and using the X-PAIN-T workbook.
How do you feel now after X-PAIN-T?
”For seven years I have not wanted any contact with my sister because our mother got stabbed to death in a dispute between my sister and her boyfriend. Now since I have changed through the X-PAIN-T, the relation with my sister has been fixed. She comes visit me regularly and she has offered me to stay with her once I am released.”
“The program was the best medicine for my sleeping problem. It was better than the pills that the doctor had prescribed for me.”
“Now I sleep through all the night without nightmares, screaming or sweating. The X-PAIN-T was the best medicine for my sleeping problem, no more need of pills.”
”No more wakening up or sweating in the night.”
”No more needing prescription sleeping pills, X-PAIN-T is the best sleeping pill.”
”‘I’ve stopped smoking for 11 years and started exercising doing push-ups.”
”I smoke a lot less now after the X-PAIN cause I feel less stress.”
“First I did not know what therapy there was in the program. Things you were holding back in your heart, things you don’t want to talk about, the painting program help it to come forward and it help to think in the first place.”
“‘I feel much lighter and like a new person.”
“I feel clean. I have made peace with the dark side and the people of my past. It feels as if a burden has got lifted off my shoulders.”
“I the above-mentioned is happy and feel satisfied with the X-PAIN-T. The program has taught me a lot how to handle conflict, stress, aggression and anger. I have also learned new skills. I am happy for a woman like Tina Borg, who has got the courage and who has come from such a far-away place to convince a prisoner that out of the bad something good can come. I have found myself through the program and have found that I had suppressed a lot. I hope that the prison can offer more this type of programs. I feel more in control of myself since I attended the X-PAIN. May there be much more of X-PAIN rehabilitation. I hope to be given another opportunity to attend rehabilitation courses and learn more. I am proud of the X-PAIN-T.
Every day after the sessions when I go back to the cell, the other four guys always ask me to talk about what I had learned. So I always continue with them telling them and then they also do some drawings now as they got some colour pencils.” - prisoner W (33)
How do you deal with feelings such as anger, stress and frustration now after X-PAIN-T?
“To stay calm but if I am not able to do that then I go into the cell and write about my anger, stress and frustration or I paint something that comes to me in that very moment and then I feel better.”
“Through first looking for the reason and then in a good manner communicate or to write down what hurts.”
Has the use of the X-PAIN workbook through writing, drawing and painting helped you in any way?
“I regularly write in my workbook and release emotions – especially when I’m alone.”
Have your relationships with other inmates changed?
“We talk a lot with each other especially with those who didn’t talk with me before.”
Have you experienced change in the relationship with members of staff?
“We talk a lot together now and they can see that I have changed.”
“Before nobody liked me. But now all like me. They laugh and talk with me because they can see I am a new person.”
“We talk a lot with each other and there are no longer angry feelings. I am a happy person now.”
What is the most important what you learned through the X-PAIN-T?
“To learn about myself and to release all the aggression.”
“I was given the opportunity to bring forward feelings I have suppressed.”
”X-PAIN-T made me aware of how much I have suppressed.”
Is there anything you want to bring to my attention?
“The fact is that it should be compulsory to all prisoners to attend the X-PAIN because it helps you mentally and emotionally.”
Did it make you angry as a child to get spankings/beatings?
“I knew long ago already at the age of 20, that the severe abuse and spankings I got as a child and teenager made me angry and got me onto the criminal path.” - prisoner J (45) – released in May 2007 and successfully re-integrated
“All the beatings I got at home made me run away and become a gangster. I also was a bad bully at school. ..The X-PAIN-T was the program that changed me. Now when I am released from prison I want to do motivational talks with children and young gangsters to tell them what prison life is like.”- prisoner E (26), released on parole in January 2009