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Can I cry?

Dec 17, 2012

by Lynette Parker

I have a confession to make. I cry at the drop of a hat. Movies, television shows, commercials, stories – it doesn't matter. I can be in tears in 0.2 seconds. 

So, it may be a surprise to folks that know me to learn that I don’t cry when I’m facilitating. I’m tempted at times, but I haven’t actually shed tears during a conference. I've been thinking about this recently after a training event in Panama where several Prison Fellowship leaders were talking about facilitating the Sycamore Tree Project®. The training had been intense with personal stories and a lot of tears. In the middle of all the sharing, one of the leaders asked if it was okay for the facilitator to cry. 

I stepped back to think about that one. I considered my own experience and realised that that I didn't cry. I can’t explain it except for the fact that the facilitator has to maintain control to guide the restorative encounter and make sure it continues to be a safe place for sharing. 

Yet, facilitators receive a lot of emotion from the participants. I've written before about the need to process such emotion. I tend to think about this as something done after the restorative encounter. So, what would an emotional display by the facilitator mean for the conference or other restorative process? What impact would it have for the participants?

I don’t know the answer to my questions or the one that the Prison Fellowship leader asked me. In the end, I responded that it all depended on the situation and facilitator. If the tears don’t hinder the facilitator’s ability to watch the group dynamics and be present for the participants, then tears should be okay. But, if the tears get in the way then no it’s not.

It all comes down to how we are present for the participants in the process. I’m still trying to figure out how the facilitator’s own emotions fit into the process. 

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Arielle Zurzolo
Arielle Zurzolo says:
Dec 19, 2012 08:18 PM

I also am curious about how the facilitator processes the emotion that they experience. I become invested in a solution and the participants should not have to deal with my emotions as they work to resolution- but how do I? Especially since we leave after our work is done.

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