A Group Meeting Over Eight Years: Jack Hatfield, Naperville, IL
A Group Meeting Over Ten Years: Bala Jaison, Toronto, Canada
A Group Meeting for Over Fifteen Years: Interviewed and written up by Kathy McGuire-Bouwman
From Leader-led to Changes Group: Nina Lawrence, Corvallis, OR
Original Changes Member Starts Some Others: Kristin Glaser, Montpelier, VT
In the beginning of my focusing career, I went to Bebe's group.
I started our Focusing Group over eight years ago. I started it because I wanted a group nearby by to do face to face focusing with a variety of partners. We meet every two weeks at someone's home. Our format is to talk informally as a group and then break up into two's and/or three's depending on the number attending. We ask if anyone has a preference for a partner. Usually nobody does. Then, we play odds and evens to decide who partners with whom. Each focusing turn lasts about 1/2 hour. Then, we gather back together and talk informally as a group at the end.
We have tried a marathon focusing event that everybody enjoyed. We started off after breaking into two's with a one hour focusing session by each person. Then, we had tea, coffee and cookies. We followed with another focusing session of 45 minutes by each person with another partner.
I do phone focusing with two partners twice a week. The group focusing adds other dimensions to this phone work. One dimension is the face to face aspect. The other is having different partners with different styles.
We have never had any conflicts or group decisions.
- We've been meeting for some 10 or 11 years
- We meet once a month (used to be twice a month but time became a problem)
- It's the highlight of my month and I love it - in part because we know each other so well, and are very attuned to each other's way of working - so after a short attunement, we get right down to it. Sometimes, like after 9/11 we'll work interactionally and all together, if everyone is 'carrying' the same thing. Further on that point, sometimes, if we're only three, we'll do a triad, and it's happened several times that in some (weird, synchronistic way)we're all working on the same thing...let's say..."all about our kids" - so after the personal processing time, we'll do a round of interacting with each other - it's really wonderful and safe.
- We're really not looking for new members. We'd be open to new people, but not open to 'teaching’ someone Focusing. They'd already have to know it.
In response to Kathy’s specific questions:
"How was it for me being in a Changes group?”
Again, it's so safe and wonderful. It's like free therapy. It's a place to do a type of processing that I can't quite do myself - it's the presence of another listener that's so great.
“What led me to start a Changes group?”
I wanted to have a place to process.
“What are the pros and cons, if any?”
No cons at all...
“Do we (did we) use listening/focusing skills to resolve any interpersonal conflicts?”
No conflicts in the group - ever!
“…or to help the group make decisions?”
No group decisions, but as I said earlier, we sometimes are all working on something that's so similar that after our round, we'll have another round together - with even some helpful 'suggestions' - again, we know each other VERY WELL.
“Good to include General Location, Day, Time for start and finish”
We generally meet on Mondays, either from 6-7:30pm or from 6:30pm-8pm (no food or drink offered) We meet in my office.
“Any requirements for membership?”
They have to know Focusing well enough to carry their weight.
“... getting in touch with your whole sense about "Changes Groups...?."
One of the major highlights (on a personal level) of my month
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Basic answer to the question, “How has your group lasted so long?”: “I haven’t
tried to do too much.” The group meets every Tuesday evening at Bebe’s home,
including over the holidays. Bebe has committed herself to always be there, and
she only provides water, no food or tea!!!! The group started with two people.
In all the years, Bebe has always had at least one person show up to share
Listening/Focusing turns with her. But, if noone came, that would be all right,
too, since she is at home anyway! Recently, closer to 12 people came – old
friends in town , new people. Bebe always tells everyone that whoever shows up
“is always the right number.”
New people can come twice without any Listening/Focusing training, either to participate or to observe. But, if they want to come back after that, they have to enroll in a Listening/Focusing course somewhere else to get training. Bebe doesn’t teach, and she doesn’t charge any money.
Also, Bebe says that the Focuser’s turn doesn’t have to be “great,” by her standards. These are just people who want Focusing in their life in some way, and, as long as they have had some training, they can do their turn at whatever level they choose.
The group starts with a “check-in” of “News and Goods” or “Recent and Meaningful.” It’s a way of saying “Hello” to each other. Then people split into dyads or triads for about one hour of Listening/Focusing turns. People pick their own Focuser. Bebe always takes the “new person” in a triad with herself.
At the end, the group meets for closure, again with time for sharing “New and Goods for the Evening” or “Very Recent and Very Meaningful.”
If there were a conflict or need to make decisions, Bebe would use Kathy McGuire-Bouwman’s “shared leadership” model (from the Building Supportive Community manual) –but it didn’t sound like there had been many conflicts!
Oak Park, IL
Our group is not really an official Changes group yet. It has been a practice
group hosted by me, mostly made up of people who have taken a Focusing workshop
At first we met 1 time a month. Then we tried to meet 2 times per month. That's what we are doing now.
We are about to go to a Changes group now, as I'm feeling ready to encourage the group that direction. Before when we tried to cut the group loose from being a teacher-led practice group, the group kind of floundered and nothing happened. It quit meeting when I wasn't in the country. We are trying again this time I leave.
I send out an email reminder to people on my list, mainly people who have taken my workshop. There are maybe 15 people the notices go out to in the Corvallis/ Salem area. Our attendance is from 2 - 4 people usually, a changing group. It feels like we haven't got critical mass of focusers in this area yet to have it really go.
Our format is to check in and then take focusing turns, followed by any business like where we meet or questions about focusing. We have not used focusing for any conflict resolution yet, but it is a good idea.
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My immediate thoughts about Changes are that I had three distinct
experiences. The first Chicago Changes was exciting and had multiple leaders.
When I went to Vermont, in 1972, I stepped into a group of women who were trying to pull together free mental health service for women. When professionals did not offer services, I simply offered the Changes model. Few of the original group stayed, but others came and we functioned quite successfully at Goddard College under my leadership and then for a while under an adult student's guidance. No further leaders evolved and the group disbanded.
When I moved into Montpelier, I started another Changes group. This group was a community group, with folks coming from posters and word of mouth. The population was diverse, but without the students or strong psychologically minded folks. I was the sole leader/trainer despite my efforts to empower people about leadership. People learned listening/focusing skills but did not feel interested/competent to become leaders.
When I became pregnant, needing to step down, a young man did seem interested in taking charge. However, it seemed as if he wanted to become the guru and take the group in another direction. I did not feel comfortable leaving the group, with many vulnerable people, in his hands, so I pulled the plug.
It would be great to have a group, but I haven't had the interest in developing one again.
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