The Fences and Wells Analogy
Group size: Any
Purpose: To increase awareness of choices in the real world, and placing importance on recovery and wellness.
- The Fences and Wells Analogy – can either be copied as a handout or projected on a screen.
- Prep time needed: 5 minutes
- The activity can be accomplished in any setting; individual or group setting.
- Directions: Facilitator will read the Fences and Wells Analogy, or have a group member read the story.
- Activity: 10 minutes, with discussion.
- Debrief: 10 minutes; may be more with larger group size.
- The activity can be accomplished in any setting: individual or group setting.
- Participants may be seated in a classroom style set-up or gathered around in a circle
- Have participants find a seat – they may be seated in theater style or round circle group.
- If you are projecting the story on to a screen, have participants face the projected image or story.
- Explain the purpose of the activity
- Read Facilitators Script and The Fences and Wells Analogy
Facilitator script: “Hey everyone gather round so we can get started with today’s group. Let’s take time to listen to the Fences and Wells Analogy. “
The Fences and Wells Analogy:
Most farmers in the US build fences around the land where their animals roam as a way of keeping their livestock in and the livestock of neighboring farmers out. But in many rural communities around the world fencing is not an option, either because of the cost or the expansiveness of the region. In many of these places, such as several ranches across Australia, farmers use wells instead. They sink a bore and create a well in order to provide a precious water supply in the middle of the outback. It is assumed that livestock, although they will stray, will never roam too far from the well...lest they die. As long as there is a supply of clean water, the livestock will remain close by. If you think about this in terms of wellness and recovery, these fences and wells mean different things to each individual. For some, meeting regularly with people who support you is like a well of water to which we are drawn to quench our thirsts, rather than viewing it as a boundary that keeps me in. For others, they need strict boundaries, like fences, in order to stay clean. The reality is that we need both. For an addict to survive in the outside world is to both commit to building a fence or a boundary around their actions: they follow the recommendations of the professionals in their lives, follow the law, and work a program of recovery. These are like fences or boundaries that they choose to live in. However, they must also learn to understand the center of it all, and see that Wellness is like a well of water, more attractive and refreshing, than the addiction they are entangled in. In this way we must tap into our own passions and see what fills our wells. What nourishes us? What ignites our passions?
In recovery it is critical to have a combination of both fences and wells. We need to place obstacles to relapse while also creating a life worth living. The fences are obstacles to relapse while the well allows us to life a life we can get excited about.
Take a moment to think about what would represent your fences, and what would be your wells. (either have group process personal examples of this lesson or debrief the story)
- What did you notice as you listened to the story?
- What thoughts were you aware of as you listened to the story?
- What is an obvious fence in your life?
- What might represent a well for you?
- What is difficult about this analogy? (that it’s different for each person.)
Recovery/Wellness Metaphor: In recovery it is critical to have a combination of both fences and wells. We need to place obstacles to relapse while also creating a life worth living. The fences are obstacles to relapse while the well allows us to life a life we can get excited about.
Role of Facilitator: Take time to debrief the story with participants, helping them explore what would represent a fence (hard boundary) or a well (something that supports them) in their life. Through the metaphor of the story, encourage participants to explore and to identify their internal response, and outward expression toward others. Assist participants to explore the consequences and benefits of each.
Variations: this can be accomplished in individual sessions.