Back in 2016, we filmed an open town hall in Switzerland, where, with the help of psychologists, town citizens discussed their concerns about opening the city to migrants. We were impressed by the work of the facilitators and became witnesses to a beautiful process when the group came to unity through expressing different viewpoints and emotions. We realized that we wanted to learn more about this method.
In summer of 2022, we visited Reini Hauser at his home and interviewed him about this group therapy method called “an open forum”. Psychologists Reini Hauser and his spouse Ekaterina Skvortsova shared their knowledge, experience, feelings, and hopes.

Facilitators and speakers: Reini Hauser, Elke Schlehuber, and Ekaterina Skvortsova
Interview with Reini Hauser and Ekaterina Skvortsova about the “Open Forum” (group work format) Duration 46 min.
Zurich (Switzerland), 2022
Open Forum. Refugees. Possibilities and Limitations of Swiss Society Duration 21 min.
St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2016

An Open Forum where psychologists and facilitators Reini Hauser and Elke Schlehuber help town citizens and representatives of two political parties discuss their concerns regarding opening up the town to migrants.

Facilitation (from eng. facilitate - to assist, facilitate, promote). It can be used as psycological instrument for community building, conflict resolurion, decision making and other group tasks. Facilitator makes a process easier by helping group members become aware of the feelings they hold for one another, assisting a group in thinking deeply about its assumptions, beliefs, and values and about its systemic processes. He or she can also form a group of people into a collaborative team supporting consensus and uses a range of processes to enable the group to accomplish their tasks.

Worldwork is a group facilitation method developed by Dr. Arnold Mindell and colleagues. It helps to resolve problems and enrich community experience. Worldwork facilitators listen to the land, do inner work, practice communication skills involving role consciousness, signal and rank awareness. Worldwork has been successfully applied to the analysis of, and work with multicultural and multileveled groups, Aboriginal communities, universities, small and large international organizations, city hot spots, in corporations and world conflict zones.

Open forums are public gatherings, aimed at the development of social dialogue, an attempt to answer polarizing questions, an aim to unite different people and viewpoints. This space is meant for people to listen, agree or disagree, to support direct non-violent interaction. Open forums direct our attention to the necessity of establishing relationships between people, who belong to opposing sides of a problem; this can be done through understanding the experience of the other and thus – to decrease mutual hostilities. The methodology of open forums was developed in detail by the American PhD Arnold Mindell. The facilitator’s main focus is to help the world know itself better, not to seek change.

Open forums are some of the most potent and ancient forms of dialogue. It is a free platform between “truth” and “untruth”, the “right” and “wrong”, the “bad” and “the good”, “us” and “the enemy”, a platform where everyone involved can share his or her thoughts, emotions, pain, aggression, suppression, joy, anger, gratitude. All of this will naturally allow the group to express diverse opinions and voices, to find points of tension and polarization, go through the conflicts to become closer to one another and move on in life. Open forums allow the groups to undertake effective inner work. And of course, moderating an open forum requires special mastery from the facilitator.

To find out more about conducting open forums, we advise you read A. Mindell’s book THE DEEP DEMOCRACY OF OPEN FORUMS.

Shooting location:

August 2022

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