My First COSP Facilitation Experience in a Chinese Community

four COSP facilitators sitting at a table showing their certificates
My first-time facilitating Circle of Security Parenting started with tremendous doubts about this Western parent coaching model. Well, I did have great trust in the model itself, but I also believe that there are insurmountable gaps between different cultures. My biggest question was: how could I make a model, developed by “three white men”, culturally appropriate for a Chinese community with all female caregivers?

So not only was this my first time facilitating the program, but I was also unsure how to make cultural adaptations to make sure it was relevant and accessible for the caregivers in my group. As I was reflecting on these questions, a terrible accident brought my thinking and awareness together. Two days before our third COSP session, an airplane arriving in our city crashed in the middle of its journey, taking 132 lives. Such a terrible air crash shocked the whole country, and detailed descriptions and speculation about the cause of the accident filled every media outlet. This huge event impacted all of our lives and as I was preparing for the third session, I realized that I needed to give time and space for the caregivers and myself to talk about our emotions about this crash. During this session, to create a safe and supportive COSP group, I used the image of “Hands holding Hands” to invite each participant to listen deeply. The sharing started with one caregiver stating how the news reports left her feeling constantly sad. A second caregiver talked about how her friends from the airlines worried about being distrusted by the public. A third caregiver burst into tears as she told us that she was forcing herself to stay strong to support her husband who previously worked as a pilot who was now drowning in pain and grief after being exposed to more inside information. That was a “Being With” moment for all of us as we offered a Safe Haven to each other.

hands holding hands graphic

All caregivers expressed their gratitude to be offered a time and space to talk about our emotions. This was a unique experience and a precious one considering the culture we were brought up in, where publicly exchanging inner feelings was not encouraged. Having listened carefully to everyone’s sharing, I realized how my previous thinking on cultural adaptation wasn’t in vain. My reflections had prepared me to come up with this idea, to be able to employ my traits as a sensitive facilitator, and to take in the group wisdom to make our first COSP journey so abundant and nurturing.

So, my question of “how do I solve the cultural issue?” became, “do I need to solve the cultural issue?” Having conducted my first COSP facilitation in a Chinese community, my answer would be: there is no way to eliminate cultural differences as they exist in reality. Rather than hoping to carry out the model perfectly and the same as in another culture, the more realistic way is to hold curiosity to explore how the model goes in our own culture. Culture could be considered as a factor, but not a reason to give up trying a new model. Moreover, what interested me most of this COSP journey is how it landed with the internal experience of the caregivers as well as my own.

yi guo making a garland
a garland

I made a garland for our first COSP session and hung it in front of our COSP room with the Chinese characters saying “ Safe Garden”

I have two suggestions from my experience: trust the wisdom of the people you travel with during your COSP journey, including your tutors, your classmates, your caregiver groups, and other people you can talk with; but the most important thing is to trust the wisdom of yourself and believe that you will find out your way as you practice little step by little. These are the things I gradually thought through as I bravely worked out my first facilitation of COSP.

Written by: Yi Guo, Registered COSP Facilitator

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