Restorative circles have been developed by Dominic Barter. In the 1990’s, he went to the violent slums of Rio de Janeiro. Fascinated by the lack of law and order, he entered into a conversation with fighting factions. He found that whenever he tried to suggest solutions for the conflicts, they would back away. However, whenever he only listened closely and gave back whatever he heard them say, he discovered that they became empowered to say what really was bothering them. By getting them to enter into a dialogue with each other in this manner, he found the conflict could truly be expressed, giving more space for a more normal way of dealing with each other. For over two decennia, Dominic Barter developed a method to facilitate such conversations: Restorative Circles.
The underlying thought is that conflicts are part of life just as eating and sleeping are. Conflicts point out when something changes in a relation, which needs attention. If that attention is not provided, reproaches and hostile feelings ensue, leading to estrangement and inner tension. If on the other hand the attention is given, if we can pay attention to the pain and learn what it has to say, we enhance conditions allowing us to go forwards together. Aspects which appeared to be totally blocked can now be solved.
This approach is being successfully applied in many countries, such as Brazil, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Senegal, the USA and Switzerland. Restorative Circles are used in different communities such as businesses, families, municipalities, prisons and schools.
Dominic regularly gives training events. You can see him at work in the videos provided on the website www.restorativecircles.org and find more information on current training events.