To create a safe, courageous learning environment for interactive relationships, we ask you to commit to the following agreements when you join an authentic communication group.
I agree to honor the three boundaries of process groups:
- Task: I agree to develop deeper awareness of my impact and enhance interpersonal effectiveness by experimenting with new behaviors. I can increase sensitivity to group processes by identifying, naming and working through the unconscious power dynamics pertaining to race, gender, sexuality, caste, class, religion, nationality, age, etc. This work can evoke feelings of anger, shame, or guilt, but I will take responsibility for my feelings, and ask for what I am needing from the group. I intend to speak for my parts rather than from my parts. I recognize that sometimes my protectors may dominate my behaviors, but I will remain open to receiving help especially when I am triggered so that the group learning is not sabotaged.
- Territory: Since ACG groups are not therapy groups or support groups, we do our work in the territory of the here and now and within the boundaries of the room. Maintaining this boundary enables us to benefit from the learning methodology and helps us to process our feelings. I agree to explore what is happening in the here and now, rather than talking about the past or people who are not in the group. I understand that the purpose of exploring the here and now is to support authentic relationships and explore the impact we have on each other. The processes that emerge in the group belong to the group even if they are between two individual members. I will refrain from resolving issues privagtely one-on-one, so that I don’t deprive the other group members of rich learning. I intend to share my feelings and needs and help others discover theirs. Within the “here and now” framework, I can practice Nonviolent Communication, Internal Family Systems and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Time: I agree to participate in all group meetings each month unless I have an emergency, something very important to attend to, or am on vacation. I agree to start and end our meetings on time. If I cannot attend a session or am going to be delayed or need to leave early, I will inform the group in advance and listen to the recording before the next session. If I miss more than 2 sessions in a quarter, I will explore with the group possible unconscious processes, the impact on others and what can be done to honor the needs of the group. Consistency facilitates group development and promotes a sense of trust. If I am going to miss a session or be late, I agree to notify the group before the meeting starts. If unforeseen circumstances arise and I am late for a group, I agree to join the group whenever I can rather than missing the group. If I miss a session or part of a session, I agree to listen to the recording so I stay current.
Diverse, international groups honor many holidays, and sometimes it’s easier to meet on a holiday than to change the date. The facilitator will let the group know in advance about changing the date to honor a national, cultural or religious holiday. But the facilitator might not know about a holiday that is important to me, so I will make a request if I would like to move a meeting due to a holiday.
Facilitators are committed to attending all sessions, but occasionally a facilitator is unable to attend, and every effort is made to find a substitute facilitator so that the group has continuity. Or the group can jointly decide to reschedule the session.
I agree to keep confidential any personal information that anyone shares in the group, and I will be especially careful not to identify other group members by name or share details that would allow someone outside the group to identify people in my group. I agree to make sure that the group recordings are not accessible to anyone outside the group.
I intend to be vulnerable about how I feel toward others, even if I am concerned about the consequences. If a person asks for feedback, I intend to be honest with them rather than saying what I think they want to hear. If this is difficult for me, I will explore what needs I am meeting by not speaking up. If I don’t yet feel safe enough to be honest, I can take the time to develop more trust before doing so.
Creating Safe, Brave Space
Creating Safe, Brave Space: ACG can be an emotionally challenging practice and I are ultimately responsible for my own safety. My experience is not caused by someone else. I will notice the energetic subtlety of owning my experience and recognize that my feelings are created by my own unmet needs.
When triggered, I will take a pause, become aware of my parts and speak about those parts without becoming those parts. If any group member is taken over by an angry or defensive part, I will withhold my reactivity by engaging in self-empathy and recognizing that the other person is also in pain.
If I witness an interaction that seems unsafe, I will share my felt experience.If I find it in myself, I will approach the reactive parts of others with curiosity, help them slow down and enable them to engage in a dialogue whereby I can also be heard and my needs can also be attended to. I intend to practice basic safety guidelines:
- Practice self-care.
- State my needs.
- Do what I need to take care of myself.
- Enforce my own boundaries.
- Notice my impact on others.
- Express my truth while also considering the group field.
- Honor experimental behavior as people “try things out” rather than insist on “getting it right.”
- Support participation by choice. No group member is ever required to answer any question or reveal anything.
When other group members are sharing or doing interactive work, I intend to listen with an open heart. I will be curious about their inner experience. If I feel bored or distracted without an obvious reason, or if this happens repeatedly, I will bring this up in the group and explore it.
I intend to focus on my experience during the group rather than focusing on other people’s experience and issues. When I have a reaction to another person, I agree to empathize with the speaker and be honest about my internal reaction, without blaming or shaming them. I agree to speak directly to each person rather than talking about them.
Levels of Interaction
We make a clear distinction between chit chat (level 1), meaningful conversations about there and then (level 2) intrapersonal work in the here and now (level 3) and interactive work (level 4). Level 4 means talking to another group member about my feelings toward them or about my relationship with them, or talking to the group about how I feel in the group. The primary focus of the group is in the relational space of Level 4 work.
However, Level 3 work can also add value to the group. Level 3 means sharing what is happening inside which can include painful or traumatic memories from childhood, especially times in my life when I have experienced vulnerability or shame. I intend to focus on being emotionally open and vulnerable rather than just talking about my issues intellectually. In Level 3, the other group members tend to respond with support, understanding, and appreciation, which can be very healing.
Initiating Interactive Work
I intend to take responsibility for initiating interactive work in the group. This means bringing up how I feel toward another group member, toward the group as a whole, or toward the facilitator. If something happens in the group to trigger me, I will bring this up with that person (or the group) as soon as possible after I become aware of my reaction. If I am unable to do so at the time, I will bring it up when I am aware of it and can claim some group time to talk about it.
Before each group session, I intend to contemplate how I feel toward each group member and what relationship I have with each, so I can come to the group prepared to bring up some of these feelings in the group. I intend not to wait until that person does something to trigger me. I will simply bring it up.
Supporting People in Conflict
When two people are in a conflict, I intend to support both of them rather than taking sides. If I am triggered, I will wait until their work is complete and some time has passed before bringing up my feelings. If one member is receiving feedback from another member, I will be aware of the tendency to gang up or pile on. I will intervene to prevent overwhelm and support human dignity.
Talking about an Absent Member
I agree to avoid talking about a group member who is absent. If there is a powerful reason to talk about my feelings about an absent person, I intend to focus on my own feelings and not the other person’s issues, and when that person returns, I agree to tell them what I shared with the group about them.
Quarterly Private Consultation
I understand that I can schedule a consult with a facilitator individually for 30 minutes every three months to enhance my growth. This is especially helpful in learning how to initiate interactive work in the group. It is my responsibility to contact the facilitator every three months to arrange a consultation.
When I join a group, I commit to staying in the group for at least six months, and I understand that many people stay in the group for years. This helps create courageous space where folks can do deep interactive work.
Leaving the Group
If I need to leave the group, I agree to talk to the group about it before leaving. This way I can have help in exploring possible unconscious reasons for leaving, in case I am avoiding something that the group could help me understand.
I agree to give the group at least two weeks notice of my intention to leave the group and will use my last meeting to process any feelings and needs that arise from my leaving the group.
Most people develop close relationships in ACG, so when someone leaves, we create space for processing and saying goodbye. Valuable work often happens during the transition process. This is also a time to review what people have contributed to the group and what they have gained. This affirms the participation and growth within the group. When someone leaves without saying goodbye, the remaining group members may wonder if they have harmed the leaving member. During the transition process I will respect the decision of the person wishing to leave.
I understand that if I miss two consecutive sessions that I will no longer be part of the group, unless the group chooses to make an exception. When a member leaves our group, another person will be invited to join.
Before joining a group, I can have a free consultation with a facilitator to help me determine if an authentic communication group is a good fit for me. After I register, if I change my mind at least 3 days before my group starts, I can get a full refund, because this gives ACG enough time to fill my seat. Although I cannot get a refund for a missed session, but I have the freedom to cancel my subscription after the first six months.
There is no rule against people in the group developing relationships with each other outside of the group. In fact, sometimes this adds considerably to what people get from the group. However, if I develop an outside relationship with someone from the group, if anything happens within the group that needs to be processed, I agree to work on it in the group. My intention is not to collude or avoid dealing with issues that arise between me and another group member.
If the group has a problem seeing or hearing me clearly on Zoom, I agree to use a headset or earbuds. If my video freezes or my voice breaks up because of low band-width, I agree to turn off my video to enhance my sound, and figure out how to improve the bandwidth, either by turning off other applications and devices or by increasing the bandwidth of my internet server. I agree to get help before our session if I am having tech challenges.
I will use the ACG Google Group for communicating among the members of the group. I can use the Google Group entirely through email, or can use the Google Group website if I prefer.
I agree to pay $150 -$100 (sliding scale) at the beginning of each month. If I have financial problems, I will set up a payment agreement. I agree to pay the monthly fee, even if I miss a session, to support sustainability and group cohesiveness.