Journal of American PsychologyAs an introduction to the kind of work that we do – and the value that we offer – here is a preamble section from a recent peer reviewed research thesis published in the American Journal of Community Psychology. The positive value of the work that the ManKind Project offers has been documented in multiple research studies and thesis presentations over the past 15 years. Currently there is also a long term study being conducted across the United States by the ManKind Project. Preliminary findings from this national study are being analyzed currently and will be offered as we have them.

We apologize for some of the dry language in this piece, it is a scholarly journal article, not necessarily written for wide publication. The authors use TAW (Training Adventure Weekend) as an acronym for the New Warrior Training Adventure (also called the NWTA).


Volume 45, Numbers 1-2, 186-200, DOI: 10.1007/s10464-009-9283-3

Healing Men and Community: Predictors of Outcome in a Men’s Initiatory and Support Organization

Christopher K. Burke, Kenneth I. Maton, Eric S. Mankowski and Clinton Anderson

I. GENERALLY, WHAT IS ManKind Project?

Based upon the mobilization of peer rather than professional resources, the MKPI considers itself to be a grassroots response to the needs of contemporary men by providing an environment that fosters and encourages increased emotional availability, pro-social behavior, community and social support, and a clear sense of life purpose in a way that is congruent with, and affirming of, the empowerment and equality of women.[1] Another fundamental aspect of the MKPI is its emphasis on multiculturalism, with a mission statement that defines itself as ‘‘… a progressive men’s organization striving to be increasingly inclusive and affirming of cultural differences, especially with respect to color, class, sexual orientation, faith, age, ability, ethnicity, and nationality.’’[2]

II. WHAT is the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA)?

As a general description, the NWTA can be said to have two main components. The first is a well-designed structure that encourages the participants to behave in ways that traditional male paradigms discourage—being honest about how one’s behavior impacts others, having the courage to face and overcome difficult emotional issues, and being openly affirmative of other men. This is accomplished through standard procedures employed in other experiential workshops, with a strong focus on Gestalt and psychodramatic methodologies (e.g., group discussions, games, rituals, guided visualizations, journaling, and individual process work). The effectiveness of this aspect of the NWTA appears not to be the result of any single, particularly unique method of intervention, but in its application of multiple established methods to confront and transform maladaptive male behaviors and beliefs.

The second component is the modeling, support and encouragement of the NWTA staff, all of whom have previously attended a NWTA. The weekend is staffed mostly by volunteer members of the MKPI, the majority of whom actually pay to staff the weekend (covering the cost of campsite rent and food, as well as scholarships for men with financial difficulties). An average NWTA has 25 attendees, and is staffed by 34 men who provide services for them.[3] These staffers not only provide support and encouragement to the NWTA enrollees, but also serve as examples of how to enact the nontraditional male roles and behaviors.

III. What are the credentials of the Leaders of the NWTA?

To ensure that every NWTA is run proficiently, the MKPI has established a ‘‘Leader’’ certification process. At least four certified leaders are on the staff of every NWTA. MKPI leaders are paid for their services and assume full legal and ethical responsibility for the NWTA. Leader certification does not constitute a professional license and is not regulated by any government agency. It is a qualification developed by the MKPI to ensure proficiency in managing and leading the logistics of a NWTA and to ensure compliance with the MKPI’s standards for education and training. Open to any MKPI member, leader certification requires men to go through a rigorous training process, involving (1) numerous workshops to refine skills necessary to lead a NWTA, (2) becoming an apprentice to a current leader, (3) staffing at least 20 NWTAs, (4) facing at least three MKPI certification committees, and (5) numerous community volunteer activities. MKPI leader certification is a very time consuming and expensive process, and not all men who undergo leader training are granted leader certification.

Though possessing varied traits, MKPI leaders are selected based on (1) their ability to develop, manage and coordinate a complex group training structure, including overseeing in-depth personal work by individual men within a group setting and (2) their ability to model healthy and adaptive masculine behavior, a characteristic that authors have stated make them particularly effective at leading a NWTA.[4] Given the importance of the MKPI leader to the overall process, and to prevent any negative outcomes or abuse that could come from that role, the organization closely monitors leader behaviors and their running of NWTAs. On every NWTA, at least 1 of the 4 leaders comes from a different center than the one running the weekend, helping to ensure a broad mixture of leader styles and personalities; a full report of the NWTA is made to the MKPI by the outside leader. In addition, MKPI leaders must be re-certified annually, and the organization carefully reviews and monitors individual performances.

IV. What is offered by MKP after the NWTA?

Following the NWTA, men have the opportunity to join a small, supportive, peer-led ‘‘Integration Group’’ (I-Group), formed from the weekend participants. I-Groups begin meeting 2–4 weeks after the NWTA. Group selection is based on either geographic location or availability on a given night of the week. Each I-Group goes through an 8-week facilitation period led by three or four I-Group facilitators, one of whom is a MKPI certified I-Group facilitator (similar to Leadership certification, but of a lesser intensity). The I-Group facilitation attempts to create an environment similar to the NWTA and to help the group operate independently after the facilitation period ends. Post the facilitation period, I-Groups usually meet between two and four times a month for two and a half hours. They operate autonomously and without cost, similar in structure and function to other peer-led, self-help/mutual aid groups. The I-Groups continue meeting until its members decide to disband or the group stops meeting due to member attrition.

V. What scientific research has been carried out on MKPI and its participants?

The MKPI has been the subject of five previous (unpublished) studies, all conducted by MKPI participants (due at least in part to the confidential nature of the NWTA). These studies all suggest there are positive changes on the various constructs that researchers felt were germane to the MKPI experience, including an improved understanding of gender roles and increased male intimacy,[5] similar or better outcomes when compared to traditional therapy,[6] improved ability to cope with transition, loss, and unresolved issues from the past,[7] gaining a greater sense of spirituality, purpose and life meaning,[8] and improved social support[9]. In addition, preliminary research on I-Groups in the Washington, DC area suggests that they are effective in retaining members. One research study revealed a median I-Group survival time of 4.5 years (with 70% lasting at least 2 years), and a median length of individual participation of 26.2 months[10]. However, few conclusions can be drawn from these studies due to limitations in the research designs (e.g., small sample sizes, short term follow-up, no comparison samples) and because predictors of outcomes and potential mechanisms of influence generally were not examined. As such, the present research was undertaken to examine MKPI more thoroughly and rigorously, with a much longer longitudinal assessment period, a greater number of variables, a much larger sample, and use of both qualitative and quantitative data.

Re: An original paper published in the American Journal of Community Psychology, January 22, 2010 (online), entitled: “Healing Men and Community: Predictors of Outcome in a Men’s Initiatory and Support Organization, by Christopher K. Burke • Kenneth I. Maton • Eric S. Mankowski • Clinton Anderson – of which the text (but not section titles) is excerpted

[1] ManKind Project International 2005; see also, Mankowski et al. 2000b
[2] ManKind Project International 2005
[3] Drury Heffernan, personal communication, March 17, 2008
[4] E.g. Segell 1999
[5] Hartman 1994; Levin 1997; Schulz 1997; Richard 1999
[6] Levin 1997; Richard 1999
[7] Schulz 1997; Richard 1999; Goll 2001
[8] Richard 1999; Goll 2001
[9] Barton 2003
[10] Mankowski et al. 2000a

Share This