Council & Facilitation
In 2012 I began offering facilitation services. This has been a natural outgrowth of my work as a psychotherapist, group therapist, mindfulness practitioner, and wilderness guide leading "circle" or "council" processes. My main avenue of facilitation is to host meetings in which participants are supported in speaking authentically and in allowing creative solutions to arise out of an open dialogue process. I also coach all participants in playing different roles in the meetings (including the host), aiming in this way to pass on the facilitation skills to the group itself.
This style of facilitation is part of an emerging movement to foster a culture of dialogue within organizations and communities to help them move beyond the stuckness and bad feelings that so commonly haunt them. The circle of dialogue creates a “container” for having the difficult conversations that stand in the way of more collaborative and creative working relationships. As a structure of equal, horizontal relationships, the circle also creates a space to draw on the strengths and intelligence of the whole group. New ways forward are discovered that would not otherwise emerge.
To me, participating in this kind of group process not only makes for a better meeting but for better people. In other words, I see it as a practice of human development. It teaches deep listening and empathy, tolerance for diversity, interpersonal creativity, ownership of our “shadow” selves, and an ability to respect the individual while yielding to the will of the whole. It also teaches a certain faith in human nature—for when the conditions are right, our cooperative nature and inborn compassion shine. At this difficult moment in human history, we need such faith more than ever.
My main experience to date as a facilitator has been with a yoga cooperative in Perth, Ontario, the Yoga Connection (YC). This was a very successful year-long process in which we met on a roughly monthly basis, and finished up the year with a weekend retreat. The YC now operates using the principles and skills introduced over the course of this year. My involvement need not be this extensive for all situations, however, as my approach is to tailor a process that fits the needs and capacities of each group. For those who are interested, my services as a facilitator and wilderness guide may be combined in the form of a wilderness retreat.