Why We Use the Circle of Trust Approach

Circles of Trust offer a profound way for us to access and claim our deepest truth

Many of us face a dilemma when trying to deal with a personal problem, question, or decision. On the one hand, we know that the issue is ours alone to resolve and that we have the inner resources to resolve it, but access to our own resources is often blocked by layers of inner “stuff”—confusion, habitual thinking, fear, despair. On the other hand, we know that friends might help us uncover our inner resources and find our way, but by exposing our problem to others, we run the risk of being invaded and overwhelmed by their assumptions, judgments, and advice—a common and alienating experience. As a result, we often privatize these vital questions in our lives: at the very moment when we need all the help we can get, we find ourselves cut off from both our inner resources and the support of a community.
— excerpt from Parker J. Palmer

What is The Circle of Trust® approach?

The Circle of Trust® approach, is a facilitation methodology that has the power to transform individuals, families, workplaces and communities. It is distinguished by specific principles and practices that enable shared exploration in a safe space. It creates spaces where people can nurture personal and professional integrity and find the courage to act on it.

The capstone of this type of retreat is a Clearness Committee, a two-hour discernment process dating from the 1660’s that protects individual identity and integrity while drawing on the wisdom of other people to help. The basic underlying premise of the Clearness Committee is simple but crucial: each of us has an inner teacher, a voice of truth, that offers the guidance and power we need to deal with our problems. But that inner voice is often garbled by various kinds of inward and outward interference, leaving us struggling to move forwards.

The function of a Clearness Committee is not to give advice or “fix” people from the outside in but rather to help people remove the interference so that they can discover their own wisdom from the inside out. Instead, in the hands of knowledgeable and skilled facilitators, Clearness Committees teach us to abandon the pretense that we know what is best for another person and instead to ask those honest and open questions that can help that person find his or her own answers. They free us up from the arrogant assumption that we are obliged to “save” each other and learn, through simple listening, to create the conditions that allow a person to find his or her wholeness within.

By practicing the discipline underlying Circles of Trust, Clearness Committees become a way to free people from their sense of isolation and renew a sense of true community.

Results of Circles of Trust

Principles and practices from the Circle of Trust approach can be applied to your daily life and work.

Participants in a Circle of Trust return to their homes, workplaces and communities, taking important resources with them. People gain greater access to their inner teacher and a new depth of self-knowledge, often resulting in a clearer sense of guidance for their personal and professional lives and a resolve to live closer to their core commitments.

As a result of participating in circles of trust, people report:

  • a stronger sense of purpose and integrity

  • expanded capacity to be fully present to others in ways that affirm and heal

  • increased skill in asking the honest, open questions that help others uncover their own inner wisdom

  • greater confidence to seek or create communities of support

  • increased understanding, appreciation and respect for human differences, based in deeper awareness of the identity and  integrity of ourselves and others

  • greater capacity to build the relational trust that helps institutions pursue their missions

  • more courage to live and lead authentically

  • renewed passion for their work or vocation

  • a deeper commitment to leadership and service to others

Meaning Mapping

How we make meaning is central to our experience of life. Meaning system mapping is a methodology that helps us understand and visualize our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours more clearly so we can exercise choice about the impacts our patterns have on ourselves and others.