AWAKE LOVE GROUP PARTICIPATION RULES
Awake Love offered for free – nothing is asked from participants – except that participants accept and follow the rules.
Leadership role and qualifications
The role of the leader is to attempt to create a safe place. The leader will protect group members by enforcing the rules. This is for the emotional and physical benefit of group members and to create a safe environment to share and grow.
The leader is not a therapist, but has participated in over 10 years of individual therapy with approximately 9 different therapists, and as of 2013 is regularly mentored by (and continues personal therapy with) a Washington state certified professional therapist educated at Harvard and practicing for over 10 years in Washington state (Pamela Sherbrooke). The leader also leads ACL meetings in Bellevue with guidance from Mavis Tsai, Ph.D., co-creator of Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP).
The leader is the ONLY group member with the right to interrupt another group member who is speaking. This is purely for the emotional protection or growth of each and every group member. The leader may interrupt for various reasons … all for the purpose of Love.
— Leadership interruption can be valuable by communicating to a person breaking a rule that what they are doing may be hurtful in a way they may not be aware.
— Leadership interruption can also be very valuable in keeping a person on track for the sake of expediency
— Or, Leadership interruption can be used to initiate thought provoking ideas to the speaker that may benefit their personal growth path.
The leader shall facilitate and organize the meetings.
The leader may from time to time request volunteer assistance.
The leader is absolutely forbidden from having sexual, physical or exclusive relationships with any participant.
The role of the group leader includes using training to facilitate beneficial therapeutic experiences in the group setting. This may include sharing observations, providing feedback and support, creating a safe atmosphere, discussing group dynamics, and finding a balance so all members have the time to participate. You are encouraged to share your reactions about the group leader’s role and interventions in group, or to request assistance during the group sessions.
The leader is required to provide the contact information of their therapist to participants upon request.
Anything said between any two or more group members at any time during a group meeting is part of the group and is confidential. Participants understand that everything said in group is confidential. Participants agree to keep confidential the names of other members of the group and what is said in the group. Participants agree to keep confidential anything which occurs between or among group members.*
Participants understand that there is an exception to this confidentiality which applies to the group leader. If the group leader believes that someone is in danger, the leader* has an obligation to take direct action in order to keep everyone safe.
This is the ONLY reason for group information to be shared. This follows the legal model of professional psychotherapy.
*Any member who feels unsafe or threatened should immediately call 911…there is nothing that should be kept private if one’s safety is threatened.
Participants understand that if they violate this confidentiality they could be removed from the group.
2. Right to Privacy (The Stop Rule)
No group member is ever required to answer any question/s — EVER, or to participate in any activity, or to talk about anything. If Participants are asked questions or asked to participate in an activity Participants have the right to remain silent or simply say no — or leave at any time. Participants agree that they will never pressure other group members to participate in any discussion or activity after the member has passed or refused. This is important as a group member.*
Participants understand that the group leader is obliged to protect this right. Participants also understand that they will benefit more from group the more they are able to take risks in sharing and participating.
*Many people have lived in controlling situations. Learning to say no is very important.
*Many people have been forced into silence. Learning to speak what one feels is very important as well.
It is the leader’s function to ask members if they would like feedback – either from the leader or from the group. Participants agree that they will ONLY offer feedback to other group members IF they specifically request feedback.
Feedback shall only ever be given in a loving way – never with anger, sarcasm, derision or other negative emotion.
Feedback shall only ever be intended as constructive.
4. Violence or intimidation
Violence or intimidation toward other group members is absolutely not tolerated — no exceptions whatsoever.
Weapons of ANY kind are absolutely forbidden at ANY Awake Love meeting. Violation of this rule shall result in the member being removed from the group — no exceptions whatsoever.
5. Alcohol and Other Drugs
Group members cannot participate in the group under the influence of alcohol or any other mind altering drugs. When under the influence of chemicals, persons do not have access to their emotions and have less control over their behavior. Participants understand that if the leader believes that they are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, they will be asked to leave the group for that day only.
This group shall use the 3 strike rule. 3 abuses of this rule and that member will be asked to leave the group for 6 months.
Members utilizing prescription drugs that may affect their mood shall discuss this with the leader privately.
6. Exclusive relationships
Dating and other exclusive relationships between or among group members are not a good idea and discouraged. This will defeat the purpose of the Awake Love group – which is to learn to Love oneself (not hook up with someone). Part of that process will involve building trusting relationships within the group that could be degraded by exclusivity and negatively affect the group as a whole.
Gossip and secret grudges can be very destructive in a group. Participants agree that if they have something to say to another group member, they will try to say it to the member during group rather than talk about him/ her behind his/her back.
No group member shall ever be humiliated, hazed, or abused in any way. Participants agree to avoid this destructive behavior.
9. Putting Feelings into Words Not Actions
Strong emotions often arise in group therapy. Members are encouraged to express themselves with their words rather than through physical actions (e.g. hug). All members react differently to physical touch, so expressing yourself with words is encouraged. If you feel a strong urge to communicate with hugs (for example), members shall ask for and receive permission before expressing physically.
In this group, we do hug each other at the end and we also hold hands. This is a voluntary activity.
By attending, Participants agree that they have read the procedures and guidelines for the group and agree to be bound by them while they are a member of the group.
Typical Group Schedule
- Rules review (for new members)
- Introduction / Check-in
- Today’s subject
- Individual group input – each member is allotted time (whether they use it or not