Carl Rogers established Encounter Workshops (Encounter Groups) in the early days of the Person-Centred approach, finding in them an opportunity to connect with others in a way that transcends everyday communication.
Jerold Bozarth (2005) described the person-centred group as “an event in which there is non-directive facilitation that fosters freedom and personal enhancement of the individual.” And it is in this spirit that we offer these community meetings. We have no designated facilitators. Rather, each participant shares responsibility for facilitating the group, following Person-Centred principles: empathic listening, unconditional positive regard, and personal congruence.
The meetings are unstructured, without a pre-defined agenda, and participants are free to “trade truths,” (Kramer, 1968) expressing themselves and responding to others’ expressions in any way they choose.
While many people taking part in Community Meetings might have taken part in any other groups previously, it will be an unfamiliar experience for others. If you are new to encounter, you might find it helpful to read of other people’s experience of such gatherings. There is also an excellent paper by Carl Rogers, describing his take on group facilitation.
Finally, here is a 1968 documentary recorded during a La Jolla group facilitated by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson. In it, eight everyday people, a cashier, a theology student, a teacher, a principal, a homemaker, and three business executives, allow us to observe their experience in an encounter workshop.