The need for talking circles and discussion groups
By Duane Hewitt
More than ever, there may be a need for discussion groups and talking circles. Call it a resurgence of an old tradition. But the fact of the matter is we do need to connect with one another, and this pandemic might be the very thing to inspire such managed, formatted, connections with one another.
Talking circles have a history. The idea is to create an environment that is safe and non-judgmental, where participants will not feel threatened and will not fear sharp-tongued reprisals for sharing their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Talking circles serve solid social benefits while offering an opportunity for a problem-solving platform. In the ideal, such forums are insightful, fun, and rewarding. Overall, a talking circle is typically led by a facilitator. Tradition has it that an article, like a talisman or something representative of the group and its theme, is passed around the circle. When a participant is handed the article, it becomes their turn to talk while all others are silent and listen. Some practice in the protocol may be required, and this is something that the facilitator (leader) is responsible for.
And it may be that now, with social distancing and isolation being practiced on account of the pandemic, that we could all benefit from talking circles.
The reason for this is because so many of us are emotionally spent. There has been too much going on and too much of a disruption in our lives because of the pandemic and its domino effect. We’ve got too much distancing and not enough human contact, something that we all need. Cell phones and texting is not enough. We need real involvement, real participation with other people on an emotional and intellectual level.
This article does not address the need to embrace safety protocols against Covid. Plexiglas shields, face masks, physical distancing during the discussions, and sanitization protocols would all be required. But the benefit of having positive, structured opportunities to talk and share with others could be the very thing we all need.
Benefits could be substantial. On one hand, simply having the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings could be beneficial on so many levels. And people might actually find a source for help – a place where resources are readily available to help those with problems.
We need methods to help one another with improved opportunities for mental health. Talking circles and discussion groups might just be the solution we all need in a grassroots forum that respects the individual while offering unlimited opportunities to speak and be involved.
Copyright 2020 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.