We believe is safety is the most important thing to establish when doing workshops around growth and healing. While it is impossible to create environments that are universally safe for everyone, there are always things we can do to improve our work.
All facilitators working within the Another Space Facilitator Partnership program are expected to have read our Safer Space Guidelines and prepared to deliver their workshops in accordance to them.
Please feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback or questions about these guidelines.
Our Philosophy of Safety
- Safety is relative. We cannot always predict what is safe or unsafe for someone. We do our best to predict and prepare as well as listen and respond in the moment. It is very important to hold yourself to a high standard but also to be gentle on yourself. It is impossible for you to control everything.
- Safety is collaborative. While it is true that the facilitator has a powerful role in the workshop that carries a lot of responsibility, it is important that every participant knows that they are responsible for their own safety and encouraged to be aware of the safety of others.
Grounding & Preparing Yourself for a Session
There are many aspects of facilitation that is fluid, individual and artistic. That said, one element that is universally important is to always ground yourself first before beginning a workshop, even if you will be grounding again later with the group.
Grounding is what allows us to do our best work even in the face of challenges that may come up.
Here is a quick 1-minute grounding you can do, if you do not have any established grounding rituals of your own already:
- Whether you are standing or sitting, take a moment to feel the ground underneath you.
- Put your hands on your chest and feel their warmth.
- Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Take a breath through your nose and let out a sigh.
- Shake yourself off lightly.
Physical and Emotional Safety
Our current best practice is for participants and facilitators to share the task of creating safety. Please let your participants know the following:
- That they are ultimately responsible for their own physical and emotional safety. They are free to do anything they need to in regards to their own safety, whether it is to modify an exercise, ask a question, sit out for a moment or excuse themselves from the workshop.
- That they are encouraged to be mindful of the safety of others while engaging in their own self-work.
You may also want to add your own guidelines depending on the workshop you are running. For example, you may want rules around touch if you are running a workshop that involves partner work.
Depending on the workshop, it can be very important to establish confidentiality. If you predict that your can bring up strong psychological material, whether it be verbal or non-verbal, please let your participants know the following:
- They are welcome to share their own experience of the workshop with people who did not participate.
- They are asked to not share the experience of other participants to people who were not there.
- Know that none of us are perfect so tune into how much you want to share, verbally or nonverbally with through.
The depth of some workshop activities can touch areas of deep pain. We see this as a strength of what we do and not a weakness. That said, there are a few good things to keep in mind.
Before inviting people to have a strong experience, consider your own comfort level with trauma. Check in to feel out whether you have the knowledge and ability to handle its release/triggering. Be honest with yourself and ask someone who is more experienced if you do not feel sure about something.
Try to consciously remove triggers (it is nearly impossible to knowingly remove them all).
We can start with common triggers. Here are some triggers along with some adjustments that can be made:
Trigger: Closing of the eyes
Possible Adjustment: Let people know they can use a soft gaze or closing of the eyes
Possible Adjustment: Use ways to let people opt-in to touch (consent cards, show of hands, group agreements etc.). Also, make sure if touch is core to your activity, let people know before they come to a class/workshop/session.
When someone is having a strong experience you should avoid actions that can make them feel guilty or ashamed. Sometimes we have automatic reactions to displays of emotion that we don’t even consider.
Here are some examples:
- Asking “Are you OK?”
- Stopping the class/workshop
There is no perfect science to these situations. If in doubt, try to have the courage to compassionately witness the person’s experience ask what they want rather than be led by how you want the situation to be.
Words that have oppressive histories are also a common trigger. Some might be as subtle as ‘Eastern’, ‘At-risk’ and so on. It is important to tune into the type of language you are using.
Gender and Sexual Orientation
As a platform for emotional and spiritual well being, we recognize that trans, queer, two-spirit and other folks who don’t neatly fit into/identify as male or female often experience higher rates of mental health issues. We also recognize that in a broad sense there is a power imbalance in the world between men and women. At Another Space we encourage our community to consider this in the delivery of their services.
On Working on the Traditional Lands of Indigenous People
We encourage our community to recognize that we are working on land that has been historically stewarded by the Coast Salish people. We may all have different ways to approach this subject but we would like to invite everyone to consider this history.