Talking circles, or healing circles, though practiced in many cultures across the world, are deeply rooted in the traditional practices of indigenous cultures. Restorative Justice spaces have also used healing circles for community processing in multiple forms.

Tsuru for Solidarity’s “Healing Circles for Change” model was developed by Dr. Satsuki Ina, following direct actions at detention sites. Through listening to one another’s story without judgment, we found these gatherings created a sense of shared empowerment and a deeper understanding of ourselves and one another. It also lessened the isolation around the intersectional violence of our histories and strengthened our commitment to future joint actions. In addition, Tsuru for Solidarity members have reported a sense of healing from the deep fractures that have divided our own community as a result of the WWII U.S. concentration camps, and we have found that other groups have experienced parallel benefits related to their own experiences. Solidarity in sharing this kind of rare space also helps build relationships and trust so that we can better stand with one another in the face of injustice. 

Our trained facilitators are committed to creating safe and non-judgmental virtual spaces for participants to find shared connections, support, and an opportunity to process their experiences in the caring presence of others. During a healing circle, we come together in small reflective groups (between 6 – 15 participants) to explore a specific pre-determined topic. For two hours, our facilitators guide a structured process by first inviting each person to introduce themselves and share their stories for a set period of time without interruption. Participants are asked to listen and affirm each other with empathy and presence. We see empathy as the ability to listen to someone’s story through the speaker’s perspective, without making assumptions. We see presence as the ability to listen with full attention to the speaker. Listeners become a mirror for each speaker. After listening to each other, participants are invited to further reflect on the stories they hear from others. The act of gathering together in a healing circle can strengthen our commitment to each other and build a community united in both diversity and solidarity.  

Our Team

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Nora Yasumura, MSW

Healing Circle Coordinator

Nyasumura@tsuruforsolidarity.org

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Lisa Nakamura, Psy.D.

Healing Circle Committee Chair

Healingcircles@tsuruforsolidarity.org