Circle process joins people together around a common intention or topic. SCVRJP has developed a specialization in Circles, using the process to address a number of public health issues. SCVRJP has developed services based on community need, and in 2010, began Restorative Response Circles. This program evolved to SCVRJP offering Circles as a response to grief, loss and trauma. These Circles include all of the stages, format and concepts that other Restorative Justice Circles include. The difference is that instead of a variety of perspectives in the Circle, the group is common to the loss. These types of Circles might be called Healing Circles, Support Circles, Talking Circles. Critical Incident Stress Management/Debriefing is done in the shape of a Circle.
5 reasons why Circles are so helpful:
1) Talking – you don’t want something to be so unspeakable, it remains unspoken. Unspeakable, means that we keep it inside. Things kept inside fester, and get bigger. Talking about them, finding ways to share and speak is the beginning. Circles help create safe space for this.
2)Doing – helplessness, is a feeling that spirals us down. Helping others, makes us feel good about doing something. Listening to others is a healing action. By listening and sharing, you are doing something, to help yourself and help others.
3)Immediate – Early intervention is important to reduce PTSD, informal support is as important as formal (professional services) support. Informal support that is appropriate, healing, resourceful and supportive is key. Well intended supports will emerge in times of crisis. Informal support that is experienced with trauma, grief, loss and some wisdom is the area is a good source to draw upon.
4)Belonging – The experience of trauma, leaves us putting pieces back together. Basic human needs include making meaning, and belonging. Circles help us on both of these. Talking about the topic, sharing our perspectives helps make meaning of them. Belonging is enhanced when we feel connected to others. Circles teach us how other are, provide a context for our experience and increase our sense of belonging.
5)Support – Circles create space were we are allowed to speak and therefore are open to listening. Circle allows people to talk about the impact, but also the aspects that have helped. This allows people to see that helpful acts can be simple, that it is okay to feel the support and help. Circles also allow everyone to share their own wisdom, and with the non-judgemental environment, people can hear clearly and be more open to the wisdom of others.
Our brains are wired and we work in connection with others. The evidence that “cognitive-skills’ are best practices is a popular topic in the field of corrections. Restorative Justice works with these very dynamics, using how our brains respond to trust and open to new ideas. Surviving trauma is something we do have experience with, we can relate to loss. When Circles are held to process where people are, how they are doing, what they are finding helpful, a collective healing sense is felt. It is almost relief that we have done this difficult thing.
Circles are a strong container, they can hold a lot of emotion.
Circles are healing.
-if you would like to hold a Circle for your group, please contact Kris at SCVRJP 715-425-1100. Training is available at SCVRJP and we kindly request that skilled and experienced Circle keepers, lead the process when it involves very difficult and/or traumatic events.