Frequently asked questions

What is Life skills?

We teach skills that a person would have learned in a balanced, healthy home between birth and 18. These skills help participants learn to rebuild their lives and improve their self image. our goal is to help each individual to increase their capacity to function in relationships, and where possible, to offer hope of reconciliation.

How longs is the course commitment and can I miss a class?

Phase 1 is 32 weeks long. Each class meets once a week for 3 hours. Each location has their own individual night of the week. You can miss up to 3 classes BUT need to do a makeup class in order to complete the course. Makeups are double your regular class fee.

What’s the difference between phase 1 and phase 2?

You have to complete the 32 week phase 1 course in order to enroll in phase 2.  Phase 2 has 13 separate 8-12 week  “modules”. Each module  focuses on a specific subject (ie: boundaries, co-dependency). Each module digs deeper into that one subject. Phase 1 gives you the base foundation on a variety of subjects. You only commit to the phase 2 modules you are interested in so the time commitment is much less.

What Phase 2 modules are offered?

The Phase II Modules always go in order. You can determine which the next module will be in a specific location using this list.

  1. Setting Boundaries
    How to take a stand, establish and respect your boundaries, why we don’t set boundaries
  2. Denial and Defense Mechanisms
    Identifying our defense mechanisms, recognizing the symptoms of denial and how to come out of it. Seeing how our denial feeds into the Shame Cycle
  3. Rejection
    What rejection looks and feels like. Learning how to survive rejection, choosing not to accept feelings of rejection
  4. Thinking, Feeling, Behaving
    How our irrational beliefs can lead to obsessive thinking and addictive behaviors
  5. Pleasers and Controllers
    Subtle forms of control, discovering if you are a pleaser, breaking free from control
  6. Codependency
    Understanding symptoms and how codependency comes about, understanding the addiction/codependency connection, how to get permission to get our needs met in a healthy way
  7. Codependency in Family Roles
    Why we take on a family role, defining enmeshment, understanding what roles we may have taken on in the family
  8. Addictive love
    Understanding the different types of “Love Addiction”, understanding the difference between addictive love and mature love, understanding the importance of detachment
  9. Sexual Abuse
    Learning to identify the reactions to and symptoms of sexual abuse, learning what it looks like to heal from sexual abuse, learning how to respond to others who have been sexually abused
  10. Memories and Trauma
    Healing tools for each stage of arrested development. Laying the foundation for dealing with memories and trauma
  11. Again, We Look at Shame
    Identifying behaviors that could keep us stuck in shame. Identifying where we are in the shame cycle and using the tools to break out.
  12. Grieving
    Understanding the grieving process, how grieving moves us along in the healing journey
  13. Reactive Lifestyles
    Recognizing what is still driving your behavior, how far have I moved from shame-based to guilt-based?
  14. Anger Review
    When to trace triggers, recognizing unrealistic expectations
  15. Communication and Resolving My Conflicts
    How communication leads to intimacy. Conflict is unavoidable but can be good and valuable, resolving conflict with effective communication skills
  16. Mature Love
    Understanding what prevents us from being intimate, understanding mature love

Could you explain more about the teen class?


If the parent of the teen enrolling has not completed or is currently enrolled in a Phase 1 class they will need to complete the mandatory parent training before their teen begins along with 2-3 other meetings during the course.


The teen class is  22 weeks long. It is a 2 hour class, once a week. Age requirements are 13-17 years old. Teens 18 years or older will be asked to attend the adult course. Please call our office at 858-722-1881 for pricing.

The location I want already started, can I still join?

You can still join up until the second week after the start date of any phase 1 course ONLY if the class is not full.

Do I need Life Skills?

See the questions below……………….

It’s not all about anger.  It is about the expectations we learned as a child that we carry into adulthood.  When it comes to domestic abuse, did you know that it involves not only physical abuse, but sexual, emotional, verbal, silence, religious, and even rejection? There are more than 20 forms of abuse.  Some forms of abuse are so subtle that people accept them as OK and normal.  All forms of this issue are devastating and destroy the individual and their relationships.

Can you say “Yes” to one or more of the following statements?

  • There is blaming, cursing, hostile humor or name calling in the heat of an argument.
  • I see a dual personality in my friend/partner/myself– nice and cruel.
  • I make excuses for my friend/partner or my own negative behavior.
  • There was abuse and/or rejection in my family while growing up.
  • If the other person would just change, I would be better.
  • I can’t express my own opinion. It is not safe. I  have trouble communicating.
  • I have unrealistic expectations for myself and others. I tend to be perfectionistic.
  • My life choices just don’t seem to be working out for me.
  • Either I or my partner needs to be in control of everything all the time.
  • I feel angry, on edge, anxious, depressed, trapped, fearful and/or suicidal.
  • I find myself yelling at others, especially those I love.
  • I have been a victim of verbal, sexual, and/or physical abuse.
  • I struggle with feeling rejected and lonely.
  • I continue to pick the same kind of partner and it fails every time
  • My partner/friend seems to tune me out and never really communicates with me.
  • I have gone to a lot of counseling in the past and still struggle with understanding the root issues of my behavior.

 If you answered “Yes” to one or more of the above statements, then LIFE SKILLS IS FOR YOU!

How much does the course cost?

The sign-up fee for the class is $65.

You will be charged a weekly amount for the program for the 32 weeks.The course fee is based on a sliding scale according to your annual household income. Your weekly fee is approx. 1% of your yearly income. Sliding scale fee minimum is $35 a week and maximum is $90 a week.

Additional note: If you miss a class (3 max to stay enrolled in the program) you will be charged double the weeks you miss.

What is an intake/sign-up appointment?

An Intake (or sign-up) appointment is approximately 45 minutes long and is the official meeting needed to start a class. There is a non refundable $65 processing and material fee.. The purpose is to meet with a Life Skills facilitator. We will explain in further detail class details, pay structure, commitment level and most of all to to help you feel comfortable with the choice you are making. Please note: You can not complete your intake appointment over the phone- it’s a mandatory in person appointment! Call 858-722-1881 to schedule a time to come in and sign up.

Do men and women meet together?

No, men and women meet separately in a group atmosphere. Life Skills focuses on the individual, in order to assist with their issues and needs.

How does Life Skills work?

Life Skills works by restarting the maturing process.

In closed, gender separate classes, each person has the ability to express him or herself in a safe, supportive environment where they learn to apply the skills that are taught in the “Learning to Live…Learning to Love” curriculum.

The group dynamic allows each person to safely share personal experiences with others who have similar backgrounds.  For many, these classes are the first time they have been able to receive encouragement, instead of condemnation for certain areas of their lives.

What do I do when my husband/wife does XX?

Many people call us with questions about what to do in specific situations: usually at a crisis point in their lives.  If the crisis is domestic abuse, our first and foremost concern is that the individual and children are safe.  Life Skills works by teaching individuals how to see options (at least 3 options for every situation) and to make decisions for themselves and for their own lives.  In Life Skills, we call it moving from the age of directives to the age of decision.

Will Life Skills help my situation?

How long have you been trying your solutions to resolve whatever is going on in your life and how is the progress?  In many cases, a lack of progress is not because of a lack of effort – the effort has usually been extreme.  The lack of progress is because of inadequate tools or skills – because most of us were never taught the skills or tools to deal with life’s every day relationship issues.

How do I sign up for classes?

Before beginning classes you must have an intake appointment with your facilitator.  The intake appointment takes approximately 45 minutes where you will fill out an information packet and go over financial information with our office staff.  On the second Saturday of each month we have an open sign-up event at 10:00am for ALL locations and ALL classes. If you can not make the next sign-up or if your class location has already started call the office at 858-722-1881 to arrange sign-up.

Tell me about the curriculum.

“Learning to Live, Learning to Love” is a  curriculum developed by Dr. Paul Hegstrom to help individuals recognize the extent of their dysfunctional issues.  If they are/become teachable and apply what they learn, they will see great results by the end of the class.  If anger is not an issue for us, we can still recognize that the source of our deepest pain and expectations is usually found in childhood.  Becoming aware of where we are “stuck” emotionally frees us to “grow up” as we change our thinking.  This is called “renewing of the mind”.  Finally, as we describe what healthy looks like, it gives individuals new hope and goals as they learn to make good choices and to use the tools received throughout the program.

Who benefits?

Mostly the person attending class benefits because we focus on the individual’s issues.  We can’t change anyone but ourselves.  When we become more aware of our part of the problems we are having, we can learn how to change our behavior.  In turn others feel more respected and responsive to our communication and they benefit too.

But, I’m not an angry person, will I benefit?

Many people have benefited from Life Skills because they simply want to fine tune their relationship(s).  Because Life Skills deals with the “big picture”, we give tools and teach principles often not taught in the family of origin or in school.  Many people finish the program stating that they wish they had this material at the beginning of their relationship…it would have been so much easier.  Others say that every high school student should have this material before graduating so they can have a better start on life.  There is always room for improvement on oneself and relationships.  Some people who finished raising their children want to learn how to refresh their relationship and re-connect with the love of their life.  Life Skills tends to be for nearly anyone who wants to grow.

Let’s talk about abuse?

This may not be your issue, but what if it is…..

Physical Abuse: Any touch not given in love, respect, and dignity.

Emotional Abuse: Any communication, admonition, reprimand, or reproof that does not uplift, edify, or bring conflict resolution.

Domestic abuse can range from a look to a gunshot.


Anger is amoral.  It is neither right nor wrong.  The emotion of anger is not the problem, but how we mishandle it.  Anger is an emotional reaction to certain kinds of stress-producing situations and is always the secondary emotion.  More basic emotions underlie it.  Basic emotion examples are:  hurt, resentment, disappointment, frustration, helplessness, anxiety or fear.

How successful is this particular program?

The Life Skills program is successful when the tools applied. “If you’re teachable, it’s fixable”. Life Skills is different because it is more than anger management.  It helps bring understanding and answers a lot of the “why” questions people have about their behavior. Whatever your issues, if you apply yourself and work hard you can see dramatic changes in your life over time. Please visit out testimonial page by clicking here to see a few videos of those who have greatly benefited.

Where did Life Skills come from and how long has it been around?

Dr. Paul Hegstrom began searching for deeper answers as to why he had such built-up issues.  He spent well over 20,000 hours in research and 36,000 hours facilitating groups while continuing to develop a curriculum that would offer hope and help to individuals, including  families involved in domestic violence.  The program also helps others to understand some of the “why” questions for their reactive behaviors.  Out of Paul’s life and testimony, Life Skills International was founded in 1985.

So what are some of the topics covered in class?

The curriculum will help any individual gain life-changing skills in a variety of topics including:

  • Developing Trust
  • Anger Management
  • Childhood Wounds



Understanding and help with depression and anxiety

  • Defining Domestic Violence and Abuse
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Love and Family Bonding
  • Male/Female Differences
  • Guilt and Shame
  • Communications

Identify and break cycles of abuse, negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Understanding the effects of the past

The curriculum was originally formulated to address the concerns of anger and people involved in difficult relationships, however, it has proven to bring enrichment to any relationship, whether anger and dysfunction are present or not.

What does healthy look like?

Our goal is to help individuals recognize healthy when they see it.  Most of us believe that what we learned as a child is what we should pass on to our families because that is how “love” was expressed to us.  Dysfunctional families pass on dysfunctions.  Healthy families continue to grow and encourage each other.

Who is Dr. Paul Hegstrom?

Dr. Paul Hegstrom is the founder of Life Skills International.  The organization grew out of Paul’s personal battle with dysfunctional behavior.  He spent the first forty years of his life not understanding the driving force that caused him to self-destruct again and again.  He could not communicate or identify his feelings.  He knew something was wrong, but lived his life in denial.  Over $20,000 was spent on counseling where he was given “labels”, but never got to the root of his problems, and this only added to his anger and frustration.


Paul not only found peace with God and himself, but the wife he had divorced after nearly 17 years of marriage, became his bride again and they have now been successfully married the second time longer than the first and they are still growing together. There are countless other testimonies just like this throughout country from past and current students and their families.

I am ready to sign up! What is my next step?

In order to officially sign up for a class you will call 858-722-1881 to schedule a time to come to our Poway office to fill out paperwork. Your appointment will take 45-60 minutes.

12709 Poway Road
Poway CA 92064
 What to bring:
Proof of yearly income (tax return, pay stub or bank statement on phone or printed)
 A credit or debit card to place on file for your weekly auto debits
$65 sign up fee (you can use same cc or debit card)

Change the way you see yourself