The sea, with its dynamic and unpredictable nature, provides us with multiple educational, social, and therapeutic learning opportunities. Mifrasim: Sea, People, Togetherness, is an innovative venture utilizing one of Israel’s natural resources, the Mediterranean Sea, as a powerful and effective tool for leading social change and improving the quality of life for thousands of people each year. Our focus is on adolescents, the disabled, and underprivileged sections of society who otherwise might not have access to such an experience at sea.
Mifrasim’s flagship will bring the sea to everyone, introducing the maritime environment to those who have not yet experienced the magic and force of the sea. Group sailing voyages provide us with unlimited opportunities for personal growth, teach us to deal with challenges and limitations, enable communication with those who are different from us, and help us facilitate the development of abilities and leadership skills by encouraging teamwork. Mifrasim’s unique sailboat will take the program’s participants on group voyages throughout the Mediterranean. Those voyages will expose participants to different cultures and people while providing educational experiences. In addition to fostering individual skills and emotional development, the voyage experience will bring together people of diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, encouraging learning, broadening horizons, and promoting new friendships.
Mifrasim’s program is based on “Experiential” or “Adventure-based” therapy techniques that incorporate principles
of experiential learning theory and work to promote a person’s wellbeing. This is all done through the application
of structured activities involving hands-on experiences. The basic assumption is that a behavioral, emotional, and or cognitive group change will occur because of the experience inspiring a range of feelings from excitement to discomfort and leading the participants to find new ways to cope with these challenges and feelings.
Through guidance and support during the voyage at sea, the participants will acquire coping skills that can help them deal
with everyday issues. Researchers using experiential and adventure-based therapy have identified several significant benefits for the participants in these programs including: positive changes in self-esteem and self-perception, improved social skills, and a reduction in negative behavioral issues. These positive changes are typically a result of the specific activity’s components – for example, location and duration of the program and the method of instruction.
The greatest changes in individuals will manifest themselves in the following areas: self-expression, communication, teamwork, acceptance of authority, ability to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, risks assessment and decision making, motivation, assuming responsibility, developing leadership skills, learning to trust, improving weaknesses, building on strengths and more.
From a group dynamics perspective, there are a variety of social and coping skills that are positively influenced: collaboration, group decision-making processes, social acceptance and belonging, dealing with loneliness and separation, helping others, and interdependency.
The sailboat itself and the work done in the context of the boat are effective tools for diagnosing, building, and improving behavioral patterns of the participants – both individually and as a group. The skills acquired will become powerful tools for the participants to take back to dry land.
Therapeutic activities only provide mental and emotional benefits when the participants have had enough time, combined with the newly acquired skills to internalize the process. To facilitate this, the group instructors maintain a therapeutic framework while providing tools to help the participants understand, analyze, and improve themselves, as well as to improve dynamics within the group. Content processing occurs throughout the voyage as a result of the instructors creating situational circumstances (such as role-play scenarios) intended to simulate group dynamics or family interactions which can help the participants deal with real-life situations.
Important group dynamics also occur naturally during boat handling, food preparation, getting ready for bed, or other activities on board. It provides additional learning opportunities that can help participants internalize the skills acquired. During this process, participants come to realize that the sailboat can be a safe place and that their team is a network for support, compassion, encouragement, and sharing. These experiences will accompany participants long after they have completed the program and will positively influence their day-to-day life.