I was working with a group recently, and as I often do when we’re getting started, I put a lot of cards down on the floor, face up. Some of the cards were images of animals which I’d collected, because animals offer a wonderful way for people to associate with aspects of themselves. It’s easy for them to talk about how they’re snarling, or feeling heavy, or if they’re feeling as light as a bird. It helps people to open up as the group gets comfortable together.
I was working with two sets of cards, one of which was completely new to me – Barefoot Cards. When it was my turn to share which card I had chosen, I mentioned that the cards were new to me, as well as to the group, and that I was excited to be trying them out for the first time.
Two things happened as a result of that. First, working with the new cards was a fresh and stimulating experience for me, which can’t help but enrich the feel of the session. And secondly, one of the participants told me afterwards that it was really encouraging and positive to hear that I was trying something new, and that I was learning alongside everyone else. There was an equalising element to it, and an encouragement that everyone in the room, including me, was learning. There wasn’t one expert and a lot of learners.
I think at the heart of group work is curiosity. Alongside the multiple layers of containment and facilitation of the relationships in the work, being curious and modelling it provides an invitation to park any possible (albeit often inevitable) judgments that may arise within the group. This recent experience of group work was a small reminder of the impact of modelling my own vulnerability to enable others to show up too.