In his Teacher Profile, Gerry said that, “People in the study groups are feeling more and more comfortable to raise personal issues to be resolved in the context of ACIM.” Martha asked him how that came about and if it was directly related to his training in Spiritual Direction, and he responded with:
A lot seems to be tied up with my personality and demeanour and how I run the meetings. I am calm, empathetic and listen, without ready answers. This seems to produces a sense of safety in the group for sharing and exploring personal issues.
Even though I had extensive training in spiritual direction, people used to come to me to unburden themselves before I had any training. The training helps but much seems to depend on how one relates to people. I don’t get upset or anxious regardless of what people share and I have heard most everything over the years.
The question of how to provide a safe space for people is an important topic in teaching any group, and I thought it would be interesting and helpful for us to share how we see ourselves doing this in the context of the Course groups we teach. It may also be helpful for newer teachers who are still finding their way with this.
- How at ease do your students seem to feel about sharing personal issues?
- What has contributed to your providing a safe space for your students?
- When you have been a participant in groups, what has made the place safe for you to share?
- Even if you do provide a safe space, some or your students may still hold back because of their own fears and concerns around exposing their personal issues or even sharing in a group. What do you do to encourage them to share, yet not pressure them?