My work with ‘quality circles’ began in the 1980s in companies where I worked in Human Resource Development. I was introduced to ‘circle talk’ and Restorative Practice or RP in 2008 through associates with the Reg.Net Unit at the Australian National University and the International Institute of Restorative Practice (IIRP) in Canada. My work with circle talk focuses on education and persuasion about problems and strengths. We work on the foundation level using ‘strengths based coaching’ to heal relationships for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.
Restorative Practice Guide
Doing ‘with’ not ‘to’ (punitive) or ‘for’ (paternalistic). Inclusiveness and participation. Promoting understanding of ‘other’ perspective. Balancing listening and talking. Informality. Focus on responsibility and making amends rather than labeling, punishing and stigmatizing wrongdoers. Equality. Respect. Resistance of domination by any of the stakeholders. Emphasis on strengthening relationships.
In summary…RP and Circle Talk is about respect, relationship, and taking responsibility.
Circle Talk is not about mediation or conflict resolution. We use questions developed by IIRP for Circle Talk:
- When someone has been harmed: What did you think when you realized what had happened? What impact has this incident had on you and others? What has been the hardest thing for you? What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
- When things go wrong: What happened? What were you thinking of at the time? What have you thought about since? Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way? What do you think you need to do to make things right?
A circle is a versatile restorative practice that can be used proactively, to develop relationships and build community or reactively, to respond to wrongdoing, conflicts and problems. Circles give people an opportunity to speak and listen to one another in an atmosphere of safety, decorum and equality. The circle process allows people to tell their stories and offer their own perspectives (Pranis, 2005). The circle has a wide variety of purposes: conflict resolution, healing, support, decision-making, information exchange, and relationship development. One person speaks at a time, and the opportunity to speak moves in one direction around the circle. Each person must wait to speak until his or her turn, and no one may interrupt. A talking piece—a small object that is easily held and passed from person to person—may be used to facilitate this process. Only the person who is holding the talking piece has the right to speak (Costello, Wachtel, & Wachtel, 2010). Both the circle and the talking piece have roots in ancient and indigenous practices (Mirsky, 2004; Roca, Inc.). Although most circle traditions rely on a facilitator or circle keeper who guides but does not control (Pranis, Stuart & Wedge, 2003), a circle does not always need a leader. All of the participants take responsibility for maintaining the integrity and the focus of the circle.
The following two examples are from my work using ‘circle talk’ to heal relationships:
A university campus where a serious suicide attempt by an international student caused harm for the student, the others who found her, the PhD supervisor, support staff who felt guilt at failing to prevent the incident, and medical teams at Canberra & Calvary Hospital who worked for months to repair the harm.
A university campus where three staff had a serious relationship breakdown. These three staff were critical to the functioning of the Faculty. The breakdown was harming the staff concerned, their colleagues, and the students.
Circle Talk & The Client’s Voice
Every time we create a healing circle and use Circle Talk, the feedback is similar:
- I felt safe in the circle so I could express my feelings, not just the facts.
- It felt like we were allowed to speak from our hearts, and use words like healing.
- There was a sense of sacredness; we felt compassion for self and others.
- I didn’t realize the impact of my behavior on others until…we can make it better
- I don't forgive her but I now understand why she did it so it doesn’t happen again.
COACHING CHANGE & COUNSELLING
Counselling and coaching supports people through change, growth, and healing:
- Work Related Issues (Career, Performance, Staff Management)
- Study Issues (Adjustment, Motivation, Resilience) Relationships (Couple, Family, Social, Work)
- Behavioural Concerns (Distress, Grief, Anxiety, Depression)
- Life Choices (Identity, Career, Spiritual)
- Stressful Circumstances (Health, Bereavement, Break-ups, Relocations)
- Leadership Development (Based on Leading With Passion)
The initial session is two hours followed by one-hour sessions as requested. All sessions include coaching notes. Fees set by the Australian Association of Social Work. Special rate for PhD students and their supervisors.
- “As a coach, Sherene excels at creating a setting of trust in which the self-reflection, awareness and courage required for personal and professional development can flourish. Sherene’s coaching style is compassionate, intuitive and generous in sharing practical wisdom. It is also firmly grounded in extensive research into individual and organisational change management, and long experience in teaching, counselling and coaching.
All good guides can point out a road; Sherene belongs to that rare class of mentors who help us to understand more profoundly how and why we travel. I certainly feel that Sherene’s coaching has equipped me with greater insight and resilience, and has augmented the set of skills I continue to draw on daily as a leader and manager. I would recommend Sherene’s coaching without hesitation to anyone negotiating complex change or looking to step beyond habit and to thrive confidently in their personal or professional life.”
Director, a Community Arts Organisation, Canberra
- Sherene generously shares her knowledge, experience and wisdom during our coaching sessions. I find her coaching is energizing, challenging and restorative. Absolutely essential to my performance in my role and wellbeing.
Counselor, a Legal Organisation, Canberra
- COTA ACT is extremely grateful for the work Dr. Suchy put into Age Doesn’t Matter: Guidebook for the (55+) Working Journey. We’re using it as an integral part of a pilot program providing support to mature-aged job seekers and we think it will be a really practical and useful tool for older people who’ve maybe been out of the workforce for a while. The personal stories of older people who’ve managed to achieve employment success is a feature we think will really appeal.
Policy Manager, COTA ACT, Canberra
This practical workshop defines resilience based on grounded research and introduces the Resilience Triangle described by Dr. Sherene Suchy in her book In Balance. Participants gain an insight into:
- The stuff of life that knocks people out of balance.
- Navigating to and negotiating for resources to regain balance.
- Life style medicine to return the body to its natural state of balance and vitality.
The workshop uses In Balance: Workbook on Resilience & Wellbeing by Dr. Suchy. Available as a two-hour introductory seminar (self-help) or one-day workshop with 21-day follow-up (change management program).
“I just want to say again how much I enjoyed and valued the workshop, and I am sure others did too. I found the presentation to be the “PERFECT BALANCE” between a highly organised and efficiently run workshop and a holistic, creative and dynamically delivered series of materials and ideas. Really refreshing!”
A. Sharma – Canberra Institute of Technology
Family Memory Making: Matching Stories to Heirlooms
This one day workshop was designed as a service for families managing changes such as down-sizing for retirement, estate planning, and preserving family memories for the next generation. Participants learn how to:
- Use reminiscence and oral history to capture stories about special heirlooms.
- Establish provenance with stories and support documents for the family / museums.
- Consider the possibility of a museum donation if an heirloom has cultural significance.
Return to Top