Social and Healthcare

The 16 Guidelines put a strong emphasis on the importance of each person taking personal responsibility for their thoughts and actions, and on our innate capacity as human beings to change and grow. Various professionals and volunteers working in the health and social care sector have found this approach particularly helpful and effective for their work in prisons (see below), in hospices and in other health and social care settings.


David Machles and his wife Karen Mastroianni are organizational consultants who have designed a 16G inspired by programme for prisoners called Building Inner Strength. Since 2010, David has been taking this programme into the Dillon Youth Development Center in North Carolina, USA with the aim of helping the young people gain a new perspective on everyday life. His experience is that the young people have found the 16 Guidelines much easier to relate to than his previous classes in Anger Management. In collaboration with Helen Schwartz, Karen takes the same programme into the women’s facility of the Southern Correctional Institute, a medium security prison in Troy, North Carolina.

In New Zealand, another 16 Guidelines practitioner runs an adapted version of the Building Inner Strength programme in a range of prisons. Its aim is to help participants learn more about their behavior, and to begin to feel they have more choice about their thinking, speech, actions and the part they play in the diverse relationships in their lives.


The methodologies used in presenting Building Inner Strength are limited by restrictions on the materials that can be brought into a prison environment. The proposed structure for each class is:

  • Welcome & thank everyone for investing their time and energy into developing their minds and hearts through their participation
  • Mindfulness meditation (5 – 10 minutes) to prepare our minds and set an intention for the class
  • Ask if anyone has a success story to share. Did anyone take advantage of an opportunity to practice any of the guidelines over the past week? How did it go? Was there any learning? How did they feel? Did it help??
  • Introduce an activity that employs or demonstrates the specific guideline for that class
  • Reading from 16 Guidelines: The Basics?
  • Meditation specific to that guideline
  • Wrap-up and dedication

Discussion is encouraged through questions such as:

  • What does this guideline mean to you? How would you define it? What does it look like in action?
  • Think of a person you know that exemplifies this guideline. What is there about this person that makes them a role model of this guideline for you? How would this person act to demonstrate their wisdom and understanding of this guideline?
  • How can you apply this guideline to the context of being incarcerated?

Sample Activity

Choose Delight

This activity was given out as homework for Dillon students after an introduction to the guideline of Delight. The following week, there was a discussion about how it went for everyone. Were they able to activate that state of mind? Did it make a difference?

1. Try to think of an opportunity to practice delight in the coming week. Is one of the students getting out? Has someone passed their school exams? If you know something is coming up then you can prepare for it.

2. When the situation actually occurs, watch your mind. Is envy or jealousy in the picture? These attributes will not change anything that has happened. They will make you feel bad. This is a choice.

3. Try instead to think how you would feel if you were getting out, or had passed your exams. Think how good it would feel and how you would want to share that joy with others.

4. By delighting in someone else getting something good, you accomplish two very powerful things. Firstly, you can switch from a negative mind to a positive mind. Secondly, sharing in someone else’s good fortune is an act of generosity. You would like it if someone felt good for you. So turn it around and give someone else that gift.

5. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is the practice.

For more information on the work that David and Karen have done with the 16 Guidelines you can watch a short interview with them here.

What next if you want to use the 16G in your social or healthcare practice?

Participate in a 16 Guidelines workshop Level 1, BoB and Level 2 yourself. After building confidence and familiarity, you are welcome to share or adapt what you have learned into your own activities in the area of health and social care.

Request a 16G workshop that is specifically tailored to the needs of institution/setting by contacting the 16G Programme Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Youth work