To help to create a safe environment, it can be a good idea to define terms of engagement. This may include the following elements:
- Contract of confidentiality at all times among all group members / facilitator and individual.
- Physical or virtual environment should be secure, calm and free of distractions. Ask participants to turn off phones and email, and to try to limit interruptions if they are joining via remote technology.
- Participants commit to treating all group members with mutual respect.
- Requiring that participants should be free of drugs or alcohol.
- Reassuring participants that they only need to share as much as they feel able to – it is fine to “pass” on questions.
- Responsibilities for personal/family decisions are left to participants; they will not be given advice or criticism.
The most important contributor to a safe environment is the welcoming and caring approach of the facilitator, showing empathy, genuineness and acceptance.