Circle Group Guidelines and Principles
Provide a safe and respectful setting where participants and volunteers share their experiences, knowledge of resources and explore options to help participants succeed in their transition from incarceration to the community.
- Introductions: First name and when released. New members could share where they are living and other info of their choice.
- Announcements: Relevant info which might be helpful to group (Upcoming events, new programs, job listings, etc.)
- Check-in: A brief update (5 minutes) by each participant on what has transpired since the last meeting. Focus on the positives and any “growth” opportunities.
- Discussion: Topic identified in check-in as urgent or several participants are experiencing the same thing. If nothing specific, volunteer OR participant could also identify a topic. Group leader should have topic ideas ready to discuss if time allows.
- Wrap up: Have each participant mention upcoming week. Set goals or briefly discuss approach for possible issues. (This is not a counseling session)
III Things to keep in mind
- Focus on participants interacting with each other rather than information reporting or one-to-one counseling.
- Encourage input from everyone. Keep it non-judgmental. Do not preach.
- Respect individual’s choice not to contribute.
- Ask open-ended questions (Motivational Interviewing) Examples:
“Have you had experiences you can share that might be helpful?”
“Can you think of other ways to look at this?”
“What are the possible choices?”
“What are some of the consequences?”
“What are consequences of some of the options?”
- Use examples to get participants to problem solve rather than just giving the answer
- Know when to move on.
- Redirect and include others when member is monopolizing the discussion.
- Stay focused on topic at hand. Summarize points that have been made.
- All group members should feel comfortable in helping get the discussion back on track.
- Encourage volunteer contributions.
- Avoid “you should” statements-focus on exploring options.
- Realize all issues cannot be discusses in one meeting. Better to choose one topic and discuss in depth.