Advanced SPT Training Cohort 5: Deepening and Broadening

In March twenty-seven SPT practitioners completed the year-long SPT Advanced Training in Berlin. Kate Johnson, Manish Srivastava, and Ricardo Dutra taught and facilitated with Arawana with invaluable support from Angela Baldini and Sabrina Ruiter-Bouwhuis. The wonderful work that this cohort did adds to the collective knowledge about SPT and its contribution to the area of awareness based social change.

Two themes emerged over the year — deepening and broadening. To explore “deepening,” we focused on two capacities of the SPT practitioner: 1) deepening our ability to directly perceive subtle shifts in experience, and 2) deepening our skills at facilitating the practices for others. The theme of “broadening” manifested in the prototypes shared by practitioners for peer feedback.

Deepening Perception of Social Field Shifts

The SPT method invites us to start where we are — to become more familiar with our current moment of experience. One practice is to start by embodying an aspect of a current situation, often a “stuck” place in work life or society where system patterns prevent forward, creative movement. A small group of people sets up a social sculpture embodying the feeling of that situation. Then they suspend planning or manipulating and let the feeling of the embodied sculpture, the collective embodied knowing, lead them to a new sculpture.

Over the past decade hundreds, maybe thousands, of people have experiences this process and say that it has revealed insights, shifts in understanding and inspiration for action that they had not been able to access by thinking or talking it through. The question is, why? What actually happens between the first sculpture and the second? In the Advanced SPT program, the invitation was to deepen our observation of the shift that takes place when we are engaged in this practice. We used a variety of methods to reflect on and articulate that shift.

Deepening Facilitation Skills

Practitioners deepened their skills as facilitators using a “reflection window” of self-evaluation and peer-evaluation. Clarity in expressing the view and instructions for the practice revealed the depth of conceptual understanding. The embodied presence of each person transmitted the essence of the practice. The ability to create a warm learning container for others enabled good connection to context. Clarity, presence and container were the essential qualities of a SPT facilitator.

Broadening: Accessibility of SPT in Diverse Contexts

The program provided an opportunity for learning how to create team prototypes. Participants prototyped ways to bring SPT into specific contexts. Prototypes were experiments that inquired into a specific question or intention. The important aspect of prototypes was that they were designed to bring SPT into the world and designed for learning.

12 prototypes were presented. Among them were Peter Hofmann and Marian Ibetsberger exploring how to bring a sense of “inner compass,” using the body resource in occupational orientation. Matthias Muller-Lindenberg tried out a TED-like talk about the uses of SPT, directed by Angela Halvorsen. Rita Venturini, Paulo Carvalho, and Anne-Sophie Dubanton prototyped what it would take to create a SPT dojo. We heard from Anastasia Totok about efforts to bring SPT into the business sector in Russia. Participants gave each prototype group feedback on how to go further with their work.

This excellent group of practitioners graduated from the program with colleagues committed to change efforts that will include the use of Theory U and Social Presencing Theater. They join the graduates of the four previous cohorts of advanced SPT programs as experienced practitioners with heart felt desire to be of benefit in this world.

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How can we build our collective capacities for transformation in the face of accelerating social and environmental breakdowns?

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