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  • Where does the Listening Hour idea come from?
    The Listening Hour is the product of over 40 years of study of how stories work in an emergent context, as practiced by a socially conscious interactive theatre called Playback Theatre. It is based on experience in a wide variety of settings--from community groups to schools to organizations to communities in crisis. Over this long period, we have developed skill at a deep form of embodied listening that in itself is transformative. In Playback Theatre, performers play back audience members' stories on the spot. We are finding with the Listening Hour that even without performers' enactments, the stories work their power to bring groups together and elucidate new awareness.
  • Why does the Listening Hour work?
    Human beings seems to be hard wired to convey information through stories, and they communicate narratively in complex ways. For instance, when a group shares stories that emerge spontaneously, the level of interconnections is often intracate, like the veins of a leaf. We call this flow of meaning narrative reticulation. Within it are keys to individual and group identity. Furthermore, the experience of sharing stories often brings a strong feeling of connection.
  • Is LH healing?
    While the LH experience builds resilience and connection, it is decidedly not therapy or a course in coping skills. LH participants simply share personal stories.
  • LH sounds a little like group therapy. What's the difference?
    Group Therapy typically manifests many of the attributes of LH. The atmosphere, especially in private settings, is homey and comfortable. There is a permissive attitude to revelation: whatever you want to tell is acceptable. A climate of respect and nonjudgment is fostered. Two aspects of group therapy do not conform to the LH model, however. One is the emphasis on cure that derives from the medical model. There is a focus on individuals finding solutions to personal problems (rather than sharing life wisdom that entails joys as well as sorrows). The other concerns the role of the therapist, who takes on the responsibility to promote “healing.” This stance often leads to interventions that moves the discourse away from narrative reticulation.
  • Is LH similar to Organizational Storytelling?
    In contrast to "hard" knowledge that can be classified, categorized, calculated, and analyzed, storytelling employs ancient means of passing wisdom and culture through informal stories and anecdotes. Still, the emphasize in organizational storytelling is often on creating a new vision for the organization or using the mataphor of story to gain insight about the company. LH is more open-ended in its outcomes, trusting that connection, a sense of renewal, and a climate of creativity will lead to their own positive results.
  • Is LH like AA and other self-help groups?
    Alcoholics Anonymous, and by extension the many kinds of self-help groups it engendered, evidences many qualities of a Listening Hour. First there is a strong emphasis on personal narrative. Secondly, it is inclusive, and there is an atmosphere of respect for persons. Thirdly, safety is sustained through a consistent ritual of procedure. In fact, there is not infrequently a red thread of connection between the various stories shared. On the other hand, the primary reason for attendance at 12-step meetings is to establish and maintain abstinence from behaviors that are emotionally devastating and/or potentially fatal. There is a sense of shared urgency that focuses the stories, which tend to adhere to an ideology of redemption that runs against the variability of true emergence. Although each chapter sets its own format, individuals are often invited to tell their “whole story,” so to speak. This renders difficult the sequence of spontaneous narratives upon which narrative reticulation depends.
  • How big are the sessions?
    The Listeing Hour is a small group concept—five or six persons for a one-hour session. Live sessions can be somewhat larger.
  • How do I become an certified LH Guide?
    Apply, participate in a Listening Hour, take the Practitioner training course, and sign an agreement.
  • What is the first step?
    Whether you wish just to participate in a Listening Hour or are interested in becoming a guide, the first step is to experience the Listening Hour. After that, the next step is to take the Practitioner course, which is mostly online and you can do on your own time.
  • Are LH sessions one-off or ongoing?
    It is be up to each certified guide to organize the sessions according to his/her own cultural and economic context. Note: often individuals who have done LH once want to participate again!
  • Is English necessary?
    The LH sessions themselves will naturally be conducted in the local language. Intermediate English may necessary for the guide training, depending on the trainer. However, a growing number of certified trainers will enable LH training in languages other than English.
  • I have been involved in playback theatre for more than two years, and I want to becoming an LH guide."
    We ask all interested persons to experience the Listening Hour and take the Practitioner training. We expect that your playback theatre background will enable you to move quickly through our four levels of training from Practitioner to Trainer.
  • Will I have to pay money?
    In many places participating in the Listening Hour does not cost money, while institutional engagement is fee-based. The entry Practitioner course to become a guide costs $195. There is a sliding scale based on country.
  • Will LH earn me money?
    Once you become an certified guide, it will be up to you if you wish to charge money for your LH sessions. It is understood, however, that in the short term, while we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, many guides will choose to offer LH sessions at no cost as a way to help people cope. The LH idea does have business potential, and guides are already earning fees from offering the Listening Hour in organizational contexts.
  • Who will own my LH sessions?
    Participating guides will own their own sessions, within ethical constraints, but Jonathan Fox and the LH organization will retain ownership of the LH concept. They will ask for a 10% royalty on any LH income.
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