The Heart of Facilitation

Language can, at times, be confusing until there is a shared understanding of what certain words or terms mean. One specific instance of this, can be the common misunderstanding or use of the concept of therapeutic or wilderness therapy. The wilderness, community, and connection can be powerful forces for positive change, collectively and individually. Time in nature and creating the space for authentic human connections can have beneficial outcomes for all people; and in particular, those who feel isolated in their circumstances or need an opportunity to have some distance from a specific challenge or story.

As a facilitator, I am not a counselor, nor do I attempt to provide counseling or advising beyond my scope of expertise or training. My hope is to hold each individual capable and able, to trust that you know best for yourself, and to create opportunities for you to both hear and listen to yourself; as well as make connections with your peers in the circle, whose stories also have wisdom to share. My facilitation style is to ask questions that help you find your way to your own voice, to uncover needs and pieces of your identity that may have gotten buried underneath the weight of illness, injury, trauma, chaos, or disappointment. I don’t give advice or tell you what you should be doing – but rather, aim to provide experiences and reflective activities that help you find your own answers.

Beyond those opportunities for personal reflection, there is also the invitation to share those discoveries or questions out loud with the group – to be witnessed, acknowledged, and celebrated. At times, these discoveries of something you would like to reclaim, accept, celebrate, or change can be both powerful and challenging. It’s important as the facilitator, that I am not taking us into territory that we can’t find our way through – that to ensure the safety and health of the group, that we only venture to the places we can find our way back. Working with practical ideas about how to carry these important discoveries back home is an essential part of our conversations as we near the end of each program.

There is also the important element of what discoveries or reflections come after the program has ended. Often, it can take awhile to digest an experience, and to feel or realize what has been gained. For some, to actualize a step or change one might like to take, can be instantaneous – for most of us though, it can take a lot of effort, strategies, and support. It is the hope and intention that the Eddy Out reunion activities can provide some of that support and inspiration, as well as continued engagement in relationships that are formed during our days together on the river.

The discoveries we make in the wilderness can be both powerful and subtle. Sometimes, just being out, away from routines, habits, or circumstances is the reprieve and perspective needed. Other times, the reflections and experience of being witnessed by a supportive group of peers or mentors is the catalyst for positive change. And in other moments, it’s just floating on the river, feeling the current as a partner in your journey, the rapids offering self-reflection on your own capacities, the night sky a mysterious and encouraging friend. Every element of a LEAP program can provide impact depending on what speaks to each participant in that moment of life. The wilderness elements are thoughtfully navigated and enjoyed, and the many human elements are given equal, if not greater, consideration and care.  

-- Valerie