Healing Through the Power of Stories

Healing Through the Power of Stories

Storytelling has a strong impact in many areas of everyday life, and recovery is no exception. Sharing someone’s story in a safe environment can have a powerful effect — not only on the person who’s share but also on those who are listening.

At the Olalla Guest Lodge, a monthly Spiritual Circle provides individuals in the inpatient treatment program that safe space where they can share their story confidentially. Rooted in Native American traditions, the Spiritual Circle at Olalla is based on the belief that words can heal when they come from a place of compassion.

Spirit circles, also known as talking circles, healing circles and peacemaking circles, are widely used by Native American tribes for a variety of purposes, from education and community building to dispute resolution. Research has found them to be beneficial as part of the curriculum in recovery programs and other settings.

The talking circle not only provides an empathic and supportive atmosphere, but also models good listening skills and contributes to group cohesion. Everyone is equal in the circle, and everyone’s contribution is important. Many other cultures around the world share similar traditions.

A Native elder facilitates the Olalla Spiritual Circle. The program, however, is not only for Native American individuals. Rather, it is designed to help — and is quite popular with — everyone staying at the Olalla Guest Lodge. The monthly gathering is not only healing tool, but also helps raise multicultural awareness.

The rules of the circle are simple. Participants may only speak when the sacred object — typically a rock, stick, feather or similar item — is passed to them. Additionally, they only share their thoughts if they agree with the previous speakers, as the circle is not a place for advice or judgment. The idea is to encourage individuals to listen with an open heart and to respect others’ viewpoints.

As the sacred object is passed around the circle, the experience becomes powerfully emotional. Many of the participants tell our staff later that baring their soul has had tremendous positive impact on them. Their stories benefit everyone because they help individuals in recovery to understand their own struggles through the shared experiences.

At the end of the circle, participants gather around a medicine wheel to build a fire and burn “prayer ties,” another Native American tradition. The medicine wheel was constructed at Olalla’s grounds thanks to a generous donation by the Suquamish Tribe.

The Olalla Recovery Centers’ programs are focused on the whole individual, and we strongly believe that you need a healthy body, mind and soul. The Spiritual Circle is only one of the many tools that we offer for whole-self recovery.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs or cultural background, our goal is to provide a healing environment that creates a strong foundation for your recovery journey. Let us know how we can help.