The Restorative Circle, no matter what its type or subject, contributes to the growing and development of the sense of ‘belonging’ and the ‘community’. The Circle can do this by creating a relationship. In the safe environment of a Circle each participant may speak freely, from his heart, without anyone interrupting him. Thus, active listening and empathy are promoted in an environment of peace, patience and respect for the personality of the co-human being.
Yes. Because of its circular shape (the participants sit next to each other in a circle), there is a center (Circle Center) in which it is customary to place a circular mat or some other similar object on the ground. There is also the "talking piece" that is perhaps one of the most important elements of the Circle: only he/she who holds the talking piece in his/her hands is allowed to speak.
Participation is always voluntary: both in terms of physical presence and active participation in the ongoing dialogue. This means that you can choose not to talk (to be silent) when it’s your turn to hold the talking piece. The respect of silence is just as important as the right to talk and the freedom to express your point of view.
Yes, there is a facilitator (keeper) who, however, is not considered as a leader. The keeper is participating in the Circle as equal to the other participants and cannot interrupt anyone or impose his/her opinion or the way the process itself will evolve. The coordinator simply helps the participants regarding the general steps of the process, he/she familiarizes them with the context of the process. The keeper is responsible for only a few issues (eg: to have food or coffee there, to help everybody feel comfortable, to decide with each other about any confidentiality or delinquency issues, etc).
Yes, of course. Depending of what’s at stake, there are several different types and forms of Circles which acquire specific character and direction. For example, there are Healing Circles, Dialogue Circles, Community Circles, School Circles, etc.
Restorative Circles can be applied to many ‘closed’ systems, such as workplaces, simple groups, a family, education classes or schools, detention centers (prisons) and wherever there is a difficult issue, disagreement, conflict, etc.