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Say It Straight Experiential Communication-Behavior Learning and Materials for students,
adults, people in treatment, organizations and corporations

Because of the pandemic, we have decided to do Say It Straight Training of Trainers Workshops via the internet, using Zoom. We will be doing workshops with 6-12 participants and a Say It Straight Master Trainer. Each Training will go from 8:00 AM to 10:15 AM, with a break from 10:15 AM to 11:30 AM and then from 11:30 to 1:30 PM. Each person will use a device or devices to be able to see and hear the whole group. The time in the workshop will be a total of 21.25 hrs. We will do workshops when with 6-12. There will be an extra charge for zoom workshops of $12 for the book, “BEING Within-Between-Among-Beyond,” by Paula Englander Golden and David E Golden. There may be extra materials shipping charges in some cases.

Say It Straighttm (SIS) is a research-based education and training program that results in empowering communication skills and behaviors, increased self-awareness, self-efficacy, personal and social responsibility, positive relationships and quality of life; and decreased alienation, risky or destructive behaviors, such as alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, eating disorders, bullying, violence, precocious sexual behavior and behaviors leading to HIV/AIDS.

SIS is based in social learning and positive psychology, emphasizing values such as resiliency, courage, compassion, integrity and recognition of the strength within ourselves and in our roots. The change process begins with the recognition of one's own strength and wisdom that leads to the transformation of disempowering behaviors (people pleasing, placating; bullying, blaming; being two faced, passive-aggressive, vindictive; playing smart, being super-reasonable; being irrelevant, being disruptive, changing the subject) into empowering behaviors and awareness of one's own deepest wishes to honor ourselves, honor others and honor our issues.

Participants create teams within which they explore sameness, diversity, uniqueness a sameness with someone they are in conflict with. Participants explore empowering and disempowering communication/behavior by placing their bodies in postures (called “body sculptures”) that intensify and make overt their internal experiences that arise from empowering and disempowering behaviors.

Participants create "movies" portraying difficult interpersonal situations that are important in their lives, such as saying “yes” even when their deepest wish is to say “no,” inability to give a friend support for positive change, alcohol or drug abuse, drinking or speeding and driving, bullying, cheating, stealing, vandalism, or sexual behavior. The participants are asked to be in touch with their own feelings as the play a part in a movie. Every movie is first played using disempowering communication-behavior and is then replayed using empowering communication-behavior. By creating movies they are co-creating their training and they discover the effects their different communication-behaviors have on themselves and others. The movies can be videotaped to give participants the opportunity to observe themselves. The participants discover they can be strong without blaming, bullying or putting others down and they can be kind without being weak.

A multigenerational sculpture allows participants to discover the strength in their roots and helps them transform shame and blame into personal and social responsibility. With older students and adults a multigenerational sculpture also is used to explore rules that were passed down the generations that can lead to disempowering behavior and need to be transformed. Participants learn how to transform disempowering rules into gentle guidelines and empowering behavior. 
The experiential training is complemented with a cognitive component using a workbook/journal where participants write their discoveries in the training and share in the group. Using feedback, journaling, and small- and large-group sharing, helps participants reflect on their experiences, learn to listen to their own inner voice and deepest wishes for wellness and positive relationships and implement what they have learned in real-life situations.

SIS creates opportunities for students and adults to experience their strengths, their courage, their wisdom and other empowering qualities. In this experiential training they discover their own nuggets of gold and how to develop them into behaviors that empower them and others.

Since 1982, it has been successfully implemented with young people and adults in many settings:

●  In schools with 2nd-12th graders with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds in urban and rural settings, including the gifted and talented, learning disabled and students with other special needs; with students in detention, on probation or in chemical dependency treatment; with college students.

●  With families, organizations, communities, including high-risk communities and shelters for the homeless.

●  With adults in treatment for addictions and concomitant psychiatric diagnoses, in aftercare and in prison.

SIS addresses universal human concerns- How we treat ourselves, others and life issues.

The training is co-created by participants who choose situations important in their lives within which they practice their learnings. In this way, SIS transcends cultural and ethnic background, age, gender, organizational settings and roots motivation for  positive change in the participants.

The training is strength-based, experiential, interactive and integrates cognitive, affective and psychomotor modalities to maximize learning.

A recent article, "Say It Straight: From Breakdowns to Breakthroughs.(2014). David E. Golden and Paula Englander-Golden, Satir International Journal, Vol 2 (1) 9-27, describes the basic philosophy and components of the Say It Straight program and cites research that demonstrates the program's efficacy. You can download a copy of this paper by clicking here.


Say It Straight Training has been designated as an Evidence Based Program for promotion of Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools, good communication skills, positive relationships, self-awareness, personal and social responsibility; and for prevention of violence, substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors by:


● SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, 2010                                 

● Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2005 

● Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (National Institutes of Health), 2003

 ● U.S. Department of Education, 2001 

Oregon Mental Health Services used information from NREPP and other sources to write descriptions of prevention programs with the greatest evidence of success. They described the Say It Straight program and You can download a copy of this by clicking here.


Empowering Communication and Behavior: Within, Between, Among

SIS is designed to respond to difficulties students and adults identify as their greatest challenges in difficult interpersonal situations - at home, at school, at work. They say it is difficult to say what is on their minds and in their hearts in a straightforward way because of fears such as being rejected or not liked, of hurting someone’s feelings, of being embarrassed, of not looking cool, or being held responsible. These fears make it difficult for people to hear their own inner voice of wisdom. Instead, they do their best to take care of themselves by people-pleasing, blaming, bullying, becoming sarcastic, lecturing, splitting away from feelings, spacing out, becoming passive-aggressive, irrelevant, disruptive, etc.

How do I say no to a friend?
How do I say I have quit, to my friends?
How do I say to a friend, I care about you andI'm scared when I see what you are doing?
How do I say to my parents, I love you andI'm scared when I see what you are doing?

In SIS, students develop skills they report lacking after information-based prevention programs

How do I say no to a friend?
How do I say I have quit, to my friends?
How do I say to a friend, I care about you andI'm scared when I see what you are doing?
How do I say to my parents, I love you andI'm scared when I see what you are doing?

Adults report similar difficulties with family friends workmates

   With family, friends, school, community and beyond, SIS empowers people to:

Develop & implement empowering behaviors.

Root diversity in sameness

Develop & implement empowering communications

Develop resiliency and wellness.

Connect to inner resources & express deepest yearnings.

Improve quality of life.

Prevent high-risk or destructive behaviors

Develop self-worth, self-esteem.

Express caring, concern and support to a friend.

Listen to their inner voice of wisdom.

Implement constructive decisions.

Honor themselves, others and life.

Discover whom they can trust to talk things over.

Develop positive relationships and teamwork.

Move from shame and blame to personal and social responsibility and appreciations.

Move from relationships of submission and dominance to relationships of equal value

Say It Straight Foundation has trained over 4,000 trainers in the US and abroad to work in many settings. Over 60,000 students and adults have participated in the training. Trainers come from all walks of life and include teachers, counselors, administrators, prevention and treatment providers, nurses, community volunteers, therapists, physicians, police and probation officers and faith community. The number of sessions depends on setting, age, number of participants in the group and duration of sessions. Say It Straight Foundation has Master Say It Straight Trainers who can deliver the training in the US and abroad. See  Research results are available for 3rd - 12th grades, parents and community and young people and adults in treatment.

Click below for:


Sample Lesson Plan






Experience Share ● Reflect Practice ● Get Feedback ● Learn Assimilate Implement in Life

Letting participants co-create their training gives them an opportunity "to participate in activities meaningful to their lives for which they assume responsibility and over which they have some control" (Benard, 1988, p. 9). It also gives them the clear message that they have the resources needed for change and that they are trusted to connect to and use their wisdom.

The experiential and interactive nature of SIS allows participants to learn from their experiences as they interact with others. They interact in both empowering and disempowering ways and experience their own feelings and physical reactions. They receive feedback from others on the effects of their communications and behaviors. They also experience their feelings as others behave in empowering and disempowering ways toward them. Discovering that one’s empowering behavior also empowers others, enhances motivation for positive change, self-efficacy, cognitive-behavioral coping skills and social support. Discovering that disempowering behaviors have seeds of strength, lessens shame, facilitates ownership of feelings, behaviors and the process of change (Englander-Golden, Gitchel, Henderson, Golden & Hardy, 2002; Wood, Englander-Golden, Golden & Pillai, 2007). The opportunity to experience, practice and reflect in the training allows participants to learn and assimilate their learnings and implement them in their lives.

Say It Straight workbooks/journals for different age groups are used to reinforce experiential learning and making it a part of oneself.

The activities in SIS (such as sculpting empowering and disempowering communications, movies, rule transformations, moving from submission-dominance to relationships of equal value, etc.) facilitate a process of change that is described by the following steps:

1. Recognition of past behavior: "I have done this before."
2. Awareness of present behavior: "I am doing it now."
3. Awareness of anticipated behavior: "I am about to do it."
4. Awareness of deepest wishes (longings) for positive behaviors.
5. Choosing behaviors congruent with one’s deepest wish, one’s voice of wisdom.
6. Implementing the new choices.

This developmental line helps people move from feelings of guilt, fear, shame, anger, low self-esteem, as they become aware that they have betrayed their deepest self, to feelings of hopefulness, courage, competence, empathy, peace and high self-esteem as they recognize that they can honor their wisdom, that they can be powerful without being destructive and kind without being weak. 

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Listen to SIS Song

Virginia Satir

SIS training is a well thought out program for improving the psychological health of people of all ages.

Virginia Satir, Pioneer Family Therapist and Author

Listen to the SIS Song

Listen to SIS Song

What Others Say

Many of our students have been helped by SIS. Parents indicate there is a long-lasting change in attitude toward peer pressure to use drugs.

Jean Cate
Drug Education Director, Oklahoma

What Others Say