Creating a safe space is vital to the success of any group effort and it is our number one priority when working with groups. But what is a “safe-space” and how is it created?
Firstly, we are talking about building an environment where trust is felt by all participants, judments are erradicated and a person can feel emotionally safe amongst his or her peers in the session. We, do of course strive for physical safety as well (that’s a given). However, in order for the process to be effective on any level, everyone in the group must feel bonded in care, concern and understanding of each other.
Once the stage has been set and absolutely everyone’s is confident, comfortable, and assured, we then proceed with our program. We don’t just announce, “OK everybody, this is a safe space right?”, get a few nodding heads and move on into, what may be for some, difficult and emotional areas of work.
We focus a great deal of our preparation time toward creating a good environment for everyone, where everyone can feel free to open up and express themselves. Creating this kind of environment is already a feet of accomplishment in and of itself and gives a big impression on the participants who may have never, in their lives, felt so unabashed and free from scorn, judgement, embarrasment, and ridicule. It is a huge step. But is only the first one.