Why Newly-Established Healing Circles Sometimes Fail

Healing Circles Houston

To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas.

Leo Burnett

Healing Circles Houston launched early in 2016 and since then, we’ve hosted more than 500 healing circles [and many, many more since this was posted early in 2018] on nearly 20 topics. Our original goal was to address the most serious and specific healing needs of our community. However, with a city as large and diverse as Houston, we also envisioned hosting circles in as many diverse locations as possible to make it easier for potential attendees to explore the benefits of our process.

For that reason, we continue to initiate new relationships with collaborating organizations so we can assist in meeting their communities’ greatest needs. Some of these organizations include temples, churches of different faiths, health care organizations, community centers, and other established healing centers.

In a nutshell, we haven’t always been successful in establishing and maintaining these relationships. Following are mistakes we’ve made and lessons we learned as we continue to grow.

  • “Who are these people, anyway?” Failure to establish credibility can result in a lack of desire or commitment in other organizations to explore a collaboration. Our standard approach to that now is to invite at least two of the decision makers in the new organization to attend at least one previously established healing circle. This gives us the chance to show them how it works, why it works, and that it works.
  • Topic burnout, plain and simple. After the monstrous damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, we explored several options to host healing circles for Harvey victims, and attendance was initially abysmal. We quickly discovered that those who needed the most help in healing either had the least amount of time to attend (because they were still working on getting the physical aspects of their lives together), they were tired of “exploring” storm issues any further, or both. We’ve since retooled, joined the Greater Houston Healing Collaborative, and completely changed our approach to trauma.
  • Failure of a new initiative can easily result from a dearth of publicity within the new location’s communications network, no matter how excited the internal cheerleaders are about the program. In at least one location, “front and center” publicity was expressed as a priority by the hosting facility, which didn’t follow up in almost any of its four different types of communications activities aimed at their own constituents.
  • Lack of investment by thought leaders. One person’s belief in the healing circles process is not enough. Two, and hopefully three or more people who are committed to their own organization’s spiritual and emotional growth must be involved and committed to carrying the message forward with passion.
  • Misinterpretation by decision-makers at the new/potential collaborating organization may lead them to mistakenly think that Healing Circles core members and training guides will abandon the group to run future circles by themselves without further support. The perception that we were just going to dump the responsibility on them to go forward on their own was one of the main contributing factors in the loss of a significant collaborative relationship.
  • Another deal-breaker is the perception that adequate training and apprenticeship will not be provided. We go out of our way to make training opportunities numerous and of high value for all new and current hosts and guardians. We take special care that the training circles are a valuable use of the attendees’ time for the duration of each gathering.

Certainly, this list will continue to grow, and I’ll add new lessons as they come to pass. As with everything else in life, each new experience brings more lessons and more ways to initiate and maintain the process more efficiently. We like mistakes – although not too many – because we grow through them.

And we even do a little extra healing in the meantime.

Originally posted on the Healing Circles Houston website on March 7, 2018