Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops – Trauma-Informed Practices for Facilitating Groups on Zoom
Prior to 2020, I was reluctant to teach live workshops online. Although I loved the idea of reaching people in different cities and time zones, and had successfully used Zoom to meet with clients and students one-on-one, facilitating a group experience online felt daunting. When I had had the personal experience of being a student in an online course, or joining an online process group, I often didn’t feel like I could connect with the group or what was happening. When the facilitator inevitably asked for reflections or questions, I would go blank, like I had nothing to share or ask. I am highly verbal (LOL) – so I knew if this was a problem for me, this was a problem generally. I didn’t feel confident that I could initiate a container properly online.
Then 2020 happened, and the forced adapting and experimenting began – there was really only one way to have live group learning and gathering experiences in a safe way. I went from seeing a handful of clients on Zoom or Google Meet to seeing them all that way, plus teaching classes online and running process groups online. I was also completing my doctoral dissertation researching the impact of trauma on the voice, and the role voice plays in trauma healing and integration. The Zoom workshop space – during a time of danger and upheaval and overwhelm – became one of my first opportunities to experiment with integrating the expertise of trauma therapists into arts education and group facilitation practices. And the results were golden – I ran six weekly workshops over the course of 9 months, 4 weeks to 20 weeks in length, with groups of 5 to 35 in size. In each case, the groups bonded, incredible transformations and creativity took place, and – perhaps most importantly – we connected and co-regulated and mitigated the harmful impacts of experiencing traumatizing events while in enforced physical isolation.
I would love to pass on some of the best practices I have learned and used with others who are facilitating groups online or are considering starting to. I would also love to hear from others who have similarly learned a lot in a short amount of time about trauma-informed group facilitation. This is particularly relevant for teaching artists and facilitators working in the equity and social justice space. Please join me for this free, 90-minute gathering on Friday, February 26th at 9am PST – on Zoom of course. It will be about half presentation and half Q&A and sharing time. The workshop will be recorded and made available for post-live-gathering viewing – so don’t hesitate to sign up even if you can’t make the date and time.
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