A Safe Container

Lesley Glenner

Providing a Safe Container for Holistic Practitioners

In psychotherapy, the term “safe container” refers to an environment where individuals or group members can feel safe to be themselves and speak freely. Safety itself is essential for growth like a seed tucked safely in the soil protected from the harsher elements. Conversely, if our energy is continually diverted to meeting our basic needs or protecting ourselves from threat there is little energy leftover and growth can stagnate. Psychological safety is a dynamic thing; its not black or white, it varies from person-to-person and from situation-to-situation. On one hand too much safety or comfort doesn’t allow us to push our edges and too little safety can cause our growth to be hampered as individuals, couples and in groups.


Safety in practice

A key tenant of our fellowship groups is growth and subsequently we privilege dynamic safety, we thread the needle to achieve an appropriate functional safety conducive to growth and self-actualization. We create space for growth to occur by establishing clear expectations inside of a solid container of consistency, respect and skillful honesty (vs. brutal honesty). Through these commitments members rest in the space of respecting themselves, each other, and the process and in doing so they take risks, tell truths and work through roadblocks, blindspots and heal ancient relational wounding of belonging. They learn to express and receive concern for other members without advice-giving, care-taking or overstepping boundaries, they become more robust, the group becomes more robust. And wellness grows.  


Think of helping a toddler walk, for example.

A toddler who is learning to walk needs to be given enough space to move forward, even in their own awkward and unsure way. So long as the impact is not too great, a stumble is okay. This is inherently risky — the toddler may fall and get hurt a bit. A scratch or a bump is likely inevitable. A fall may even help them learn. Yet we are obligated to protect the child from falling down stairs — not doing so would be neglectful.


Yet groups are unavoidably unsafe.

Groups can never be 100% safe, nor should they be! Even with the best intentions and most skillful members unintentional hurts happen. Members may or may not track one another’s feelings well. They might not be attuned and reflecting each other’s emotional state with accuracy or skill. People miss each other – a lot. But these micro injuries are what allows us to heal and grow in relationship. If we only felt positive sensations in relationship over time we would become fragile as its in the dance of attunement and rupture and repair that we achieve robustness.

The need to belong is a central issue in our individual and collective psychology and so it inevitably comes up in groups. We are all subtly searching for cues in relationship to either confirm or deny our fears about belonging. So many of us have personal histories of rejections, misunderstandings, abandonments, relational traumas, etc. and our unhealed egos can’t help but create an us vs. them drama. Group members always face the tension between feeling a part of a group, and seeing differences that make them feel like an outsider, its in the speaking to these feelings and sensations that allows members to check out their unconscious stories and make a meaningful shift.  


What we strive to create.

In practice, then, our safe container is comfortable, but not a padded room full of flowers. It’s a space where we learn and grow. Where we create strength and resilience in each other through attunement and taking care, without crossing the line into codependent “caretaking.” 

We provide this safe and secure place where practitioners can simply be, as they are, in the moment. We witness, we attune, but our feedback is minimal.  These conditions — akin to life-giving light, air, and rich soil — allow for the most authentic form of personal and professional growth. Because like heliotropic flowers following the sun we naturally move toward wholeness. 

HoloBeing’s Fellowship Circle supports holistic businesses owners of all kinds – especially healer-types – to find their business strengths and the business growth strategies that resonate deeply with their being.  We support you through exploring your business and money light and shadow so that you can move past deep-seated blocks and grow the business and life that you are capable of.  Read more about the one-of-a-kind Fellowship Circle here, the benefits of our group and how you can join.

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