The Heart-Centered Empowerment of Sitting in Circles with Lauren J. Oliver, Ph.D.

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Could you benefit from meeting on a regular basis with a small group of individuals to learn and grow together? Circles of friends and co-workers are meeting faithfully in living rooms, office cafeterias, and other venues. One might ask the question: “What makes these circles so fruitful in the lives of those who participate? And, how does a personal investment of time and attention on a regular basis build well-being for all members?” In this deep dialogue you’ll learn how to start a circle of your own and how to maintain its integrity and mutual support. You’ll hear examples of how to have honest and safe conversations as well as learn about cooperation in a divisive world. Oliver says “You don’t need to go somewhere or pay someone to start your circle. You can do it yourself.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Lauren J Oliver, Ph.D. received her baccalaureate degree from Harvard University and her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from UCLA. She currently provides coaching and organization development consultations for leaders, businesses, organizations, families, and individuals. She was co-founder with Dr. Robert Harrison Simmons of the California nonprofit Support Group Network. 

Lauren J. Oliver is the author of: 

  • Circle Culture: Tools for Cooperative Work (Bonnie Burstein) (Circle Culture 2023) 

To learn more about the work of Lauren J Oliver go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What was the Peer Counseling Program Oliver participated at Harvard
  • How does time-keeping work when in circle
  • How circles encourage even shy people to speak
  • What are some ideas about subjects to talk about in circles
  • Why is shared leadership important in circles
  • What is the difference between a closed circle and an open circle
  • What is the Millionth Circle Initiative
  • What is Oliver’s experience in team circles within a business environment
  • How is safety and confidentiality established in a circle and why is it important
  • How do agreements shift over time in a circle
  • How is conflict and “clearing the air” successfully addressed in circles
  • What is meant by creating circle stamina
  • How to establish cooperative structures in our communities for a mutually agreed upon project
  • Why closing our circles with appreciation is important 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 9/21/2023   Program Number: 3798

Music Playlist

From Album: Origins
Artist: Radhika Miller, David Darling, W.A. Mathieu
1989 Radhika Miller Music #RMM 1108

Opening Essay: Track 03 Net of Gems
Music Break 1: Track 04 Children of the Sun
Music Break 2: Track 02 Shepherd’s Joy
Music Break 3: Track 06 The Waltzing Tear