As community and creative engagement facilitators, we find the most important aspect of our work is co-creating and holding safe space that fosters healing. A facilitator can have the greatest supplies, the ultimate agenda, the best intentions, amazing credentials- but none of that creates successful experiences for the participants if the space they walk into does not feel welcoming, inclusive and safe.
The term crucible is used in family therapy as a metaphor for a relationship container- the concept of a holding environment. A crucible is a vessel made of material that does not melt easily, used for high temperature chemical reactions. Therapists, then, are not merely providing a container but also fostering the development of a container that already exists so that it can withstand the powerful effects of growth.
As facilitators that hold safe space allowing for co-creation of the culture of care within an organization, it is our belief that individuals develop in environments that:
Relationships are the catalysts for individuals to develop. We recognize that this is an ideal and that organizations need help along the way to contain the heat ignited by growth and change. The crucible gets stronger as it takes more heat.
When we work with an organization experiencing difficulties- our mandate is to ensure that the participants are safely guided within this crucible- that they feel cared for, heard, and empowered to find their voice. The space is a refuge in which participants are heard, and in which they hear. Ideally they collaborate with us to create this refuge. From the workshop outcomes, we then can develop next steps, and the process repeats:
Over time, the organization itself transforms into a safe space- a self-sustaining culture of care.
Creating refuge is the process of organizing the environment so that participants are able to be more honest with each other in a way that facilitates intimacy, healthy boundaries and nurtures that process. Creating the safe space is an act of collaboration- between the facilitators, the hosts, and the participants.
We co-create the space by how it is set up, how well the facilitators read the room dynamics, what is offered and setting intentions. And most importantly- through FLEXIBILITY. An agenda acts as a framework, but an agenda must also be allowed to breathe. We discover together.
Collaboration is important not just because it's a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy. – Don Tapscott