Safety can never be guaranteed. Life is risky. If people don't take risks, they die. A balance between risk taking and a sense of safety helps people to navigate through life, to explore and to develop. This is what the Balance of Attention is about. Having said all this, how can we facilitate a sense of safety at a CCI event.
1. Providing clear information to the participants about the safety philosophy of the workshop.
In a welcome pack we have a section about workshop safety, containing the following documents:
- a mind-map about "Safety and risk at CCI workshops" ,
It describes our thoughts about 'feeling safe' and clarifies what the workshop organisers are responsible for around safety and what the participants are responsible for.
- a mind-map with "Guidelines for protecting your personal boundaries"
- a mind-map with guidelines for "Assessing how safe or risky a workshop is for you"
This is designed to support workshop participants to assess whether the safety-risk balance of the workshop on offer is appropriate for them.
- the "Aware Negotiation of Sexual Attraction" (ANSA contract) This article by John Heron supports workshop participants to have a closer look at the nature of their sexual attraction.
Also Confidentiality needs sometimes to be stressed. Even when there is no mention of names, sharing what is going on in a workshop with non-Co-Counsellors can provoke sensation and distrust. For instance people outside and even inside Co-Counselling don't understand always why some people suddenly walk undressed under the sun.
In a more inexperienced group it can be worthwhile to remind people that when they feel unsafe, they can always ask somebody how to overcome it.
2. Promoting clarity about safety and risk factors in the workshop announcements
Some workshops carry potentially more emotional risks than other workshops.
- On the one hand this is subjective. What might be risky for one co-counsellor is not risky at all, but only awareness-raising for someone else.
- On the other hand, there are some conditions that make some workshops carrying more potential risks for its participants.
Promoting clarity can be done by encouraging workshop facilitators to be clear about the safety and risk factors of the workshop they are offering.
For this we developed a 'Workshop Announcement' form.
3. Empower people to deal constructively with conflicts, irritations and attractions
Make sure that the workshop information booklet and/or Information table have the following information
- conflict procedures
- attraction procedures
4. By organising a Safety Support Team
In some countries the members of this team are called 'Trust Persons' or 'Ghostbusters'. To make this Safety Support Team successful we suggest that
- potential team members are asked to agree with the above outlined safety approach. This provides a good basis for co-operation and mutual understanding
- safety team members meet daily to check in with each other
- the existence of the Safety Support team and its members are well publicised.