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The Fourth Way

Principles, Policies amd Rules for Groups

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 Principles, Policies, and Rules for Groups   
"The Blue Sheet"   
These Principle Policies and Rules (PPR)were were collected and collated  by a group of indiviuals at the Toronto Institue of Self Healing over a number of years in the 1990s.
In the past at Fourth Way Circles, and in many typical groups elsewhere, the facilitators held the responsibility for policing for and maintaining the quality of a group / circle. At this time in Fourth way circles the facilitators are stepping back from this role to allow for the circle members to establish these circle standards for themselves and to be responsile for thier maintainence themselves. This is in accordance with the facilitators' aim to promote self healing and not therapist dependency.
Each Circle or gathering is invited to take what the want from these PPR and fashion for themselves standards for the conduct of that circle. The monitoring and sucessful maintanence of such standards are steps to forming a cohesive group.

The  Institute of Self-Healing                       



 During the work of healing and raising our consciousness, we have found there are a number principles, policies, and rules which are foundational to the process of self-healing and we hold them as necessary to create sacred space. Anyone in disagreement is urged and welcomed to come and dialogue about these with us. The following list is by no means exhaustive and perfect. However, attendance at the various gatherings, groups, and individual sessions is conditional upon adherence to these rules or successfully negotiating exceptions.


 We welcome dialogue about the following as well as suggestions for additions and changes


1.       We commit to maintain confidentiality.

“What you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here”.


To ensure a safe, and therefore sacred space in which everyone feels free to express their feelings and thoughts, we agree not to talk about what we have seen or heard in the group to anyone outside the group. This also includes other group members, since doing so dilutes the process.

Exceptions are with facilitators in private appointments and between facilitators as part of their peer supervision. We agree not to quote facilitators without their expressed agreement.


2.       We agree to honour each other’s boundaries.


If anyone is feeling unsafe, at anytime, they can ask for a “pause”. We all commit to honour this and everyone stops until the person calling “time out” is ready to continue.

When anyone feels the need to express powerful emotions, we ask for and create a “container”. This means we ensure that everyone contains their own process while receiving the other’s communication.

Except within a “container exercise”, where there is a commitment to uplift oneself and everyone else, making statements about what is going on inside someone else is called an attribution e.g. “You are...” We commit to speaking only about our experience and refrain from analysing anyone else’s process.


3.       We use the power of INTENTION and creating contractual  empowerment.


It has been our experience that having an intention is the first step in creating a difference in our lives. To that end, members are invited to formulate an overall intention for their work at the Institute and to make it known for others to support it. We suggest taking time prior to each group to check with ourselves as to what our intention is for that particular session or group. Empowering the group and facilitators to assist us in attaining our intentions is done by way of a "contract".


4.       We recognise that the use of any drug, alcohol, tobacco, or any compulsive tension relieving habit, generally reduces our level of consciousness and interferes with our work of gaining greater knowledge of ourselves and of our surroundings.


If we indulge in the use of drugs, alcohol, caffeine or tobacco, we commit to refrain from doing so for 24 hours prior to a group or session. If we have not been able to maintain this abstention we notify everyone at the outset.

While prescription drugs are an exception, it is important we make the appropriate disclosure of this use as well so others know what chemical influence we are under.


5.       We agree to work from the perspective that we are 100% responsible for how we experience and how we respond to our reality.


It is our purpose to provide a context for healing. During the course of our work we may experience strong feelings “about” the

facilitator or someone else in the group. This is because we perhaps find ourselves reacting to members in the group much in the way we used to react in our families of origin. Exploring how we fall into these old patterns in our present relationships (called transference) is an important part of group work. 

To ensure that we co-create a space where we can use the group effectively for our own and everyone else’s healing, we agree not to scapegoat or blame another for “hurting” us or ”making” us feel anything, but rather, use the opportunity to further our growth.


6.       We commit to not acting out our sexual feelings or  attractions with anyone involved with the Institute or network, either within or outside of group. When we do feel attracted to another member, it is expected that we will bring these feelings into circle and not act them out.


So many people come to us who have been sexually wounded that when close bonds develop between participants due to the sharing we do in circle, it becomes very important that we do not act out our sexual feelings.

When relationships do develop, we require that they be completely shared in the community so that what is legitimate and healthy can be supported and what is dysfunctional and unconscious can be enlightened and healed.

Adherence to this rule is a basic requirement for participation in this community.


7.       We commit to attend each session of the group unless we have a prior engagement and state this at the first group.


Each group has it’s own policies regarding attendance. Most ask for a 12 or 24-week commitment.

Sometimes the process of healing brings up physical symptoms of tiredness or apparent illness like “colds” or the “flu". Coming to the session and processing this, rather than staying home remaining isolated and contracted with these symptoms, can produce much value.

Sometimes, the most important time to come to group is when we least feel like it!


8.       We agree to empower the facilitator to give direction and to follow or test that direction.


Being uncomfortable is often part of the healing process. In fact, if it’s “easy”, it may not be what we need to be doing. We agree to empower our facilitators to challenge us and to give us direction that assists us in our healing journey. When given such direction we are expected to test it and report back the results, provided it is not against our integrity to do so. If we are unable to test it, we commit to dialoguing our issues about it rather than simply not doing it.


9.       We agree to pay the fees for the sessions or dialogue about them.  However, nobody is turned away for lack of funds.


Exploring our issues about money is an important part of our healing journey. Letting go of the shame and bringing it up for exploration helps, not only us, but also the other group members, including the facilitators.

Committed groups require payment of fees a month in advance. Generally, groups missed without prior agreement will be charged for.


10.    We agree to stay in the group until closure at each session.


It is not uncommon to feel like leaving while a group is in progress. We may not always know why we want to leave but powerful feelings that emerge may create uncomfortableness and the thought that leaving would make us more comfortable. Many of us grew up thinking that we don’t belong or can’t fit in. Feeling like wanting to leave and acknowledging the feeling creates the opportunity for growth; acting out the feeling merely re-enforces old ineffective behaviour.


11.    We agree to make a full and mutually satisfying closure when terminating our membership in a group or the community.


Many of us have had painful “closure” experiences with other groups and organisations, e.g., family, friends, lovers, workplace, etc. It is thus not unusual for us to want to avoid dealing with the feelings that are generated as we are choosing to separate ourselves, regardless of our reasons.

However, we have discovered that great healing takes place when we confront our uncomfortableness and create healthy closures. When deciding to terminate our attendance we agree to provide a written statement to the group as to our process in deciding to leave, and to enter into a dialogue with the group to create a mutually satisfying closure.


12.    Meeting Outside group


Interactions and contact between group members outside of group is encouraged to create community and a support network. However, we commit to bring any “issues” that may arise outside of circle back into group for focalization and upliftment. In a sense, the group continues outside. We commit to keeping the facilitators appraised of outside interactions so they can be focalized.


13.    No Gossiping


Speaking of a third party in a manner which is not uplifting and especially one which is unsubstantiated, is pernicious and destructive to creating true community. We commit to monitoring ourselves as to what we are letting ourselves receive as well as what we say. A third party should only participate in such dialogue when there is a specific commitment for it to be cleared with the other within an agreed period of time.



14.    We honour the time boundaries of the group or appointment.


Groups will begin and end at their specified times unless otherwise re-negotiated in a timely fashion. Each group will decide how to respond to infractions. Most groups begin with 15 minutes of deep, diaphragmatic breathing prior to the specified start time.


15.    It is understood that we are co-creating this group.


The more each person is willing to express of themselves, the deeper the transformation and healing for all of us, participants  and facilitators alike. All emotions and thoughts are welcome. Anything can be expressed, as long as you do not cause physical harm to yourself and others, and without blaming others for your experience. It is vital to speak up especially when it feels unspeakable.


16.    We start from the premise that we are all divine sovereign  beings with choice.


There is no place for blame of ourselves or of others in the healing process. Healing is about manifesting our true selves.


17.    Healing is learning to feel our feelings fully and to not   necessarily be governed by them.


Learning to be in touch with intense feelings while staying centred and thus learning to be ultrastable is a goal of self-healing.


18.    We agree to use the processes of deep, diaphragmatic  breathing, stroking, and truthing, which are fundamental to the healing process as taught here.


19.    Conscious Loving


We recognise that healing is often a re-parenting process and involves the presence of both unconditional and conditional love.  We are committed to making a priority the creation of a heart connection within group and extending to each other unconditional love at all times to the best of our ability.  We are also committed to the learning and extending of unconditional love here & elsewhere in our lives.


20.    Sometimes disagreements or conflicts occur. We agree to use the following procedure to search for a resolution, which uplifts and empowers everyone.


Step 1 - If a conflict arises in a group, the first step is to empower the facilitator to mediate and focalize the situation.  If unresolved, see step 3 or 4.

Step 2 - If a conflict arises between you and a facilitator, the first step is to give your responses directly to the facilitator at the time.

If this does not lead to a resolution, see step 3 or 4.

Step 3 - Bring the issue to the facilitator's peer supervision group or individual supervisor, preferably in writing. If this too proves unsatisfactory, see step 4 or 5.

Step 4 - Bring the issue to a special or general meeting of the community, with or without an outside mediator.

Step 5 - Bring the issue to a mutually agreed upon mediator.


The only resolution acceptable to us is a win-win outcome for everyone.

Please ensure that you have read the above and have brought any questions or disagreements that you might have into group for dialogue and negotiation of any possible exception.

We understand that healing is learning to keep one’s word to oneself and to others. When a member repeatedly fails to keep the above agreements, he or she will be asked to place a bond on keeping their word before again being extended the trust of the group or the facilitator.