Virtual Retreat Creates Community
10 Couples from across the USA attended October 2022 online event over two weekends.
"Reflection as a listener vs a back-and-forth changed the nature of dialogue. It was refreshing not to problem-solve but to share, knowing I would really be heard."
-- feedback from a participant in the October 2022 online workshop
By Tom Baring, November 2022
FCE continues to gain experience and confidence providing fully online workshops. The latest such workshop occurred in late October 2022. It proved, once again, that virtual retreats can be a rich experience for all involved.
The ten participant couples, three leader couples, and five tech support people zoomed in from thirteen different states as far apart as Pennsylvania and Washington, Alaska and Texas. And no one had to travel. For some of the couples, an in-person workshop would simply not have been possible. One couple was even physically separated from each other for over half of the workshop, the partners zooming in from cities 350 miles apart. (The tech support people studiously positioned those two zoom screens side-by-side!)
The leader couples planning this workshop used a variety of strategies to counter the issues with video conferencing such as "zoom fatigue," sitting too long, and the diminution of body language and other physical expression. We structured it with short sessions and long breaks (six 2-hour sessions spread over two weekends), movement and games, and a cap of twelve couples which provided a one to four ratio of leader to participant couples and supported small breakout rooms for dialogue practice.
We're finding that traditional and on-line workshops are both valid formats for building the trust and connection which makes FCE events successful. There are advantages and challenges to each but looking to the future, we expect to serve more people by continuing to offer workshops in both formats.