Silver Circle: A Support Network for the Later Stages of Life
Aged 50 and at the height of my former career, I was one day informed that I had become ‘surplus to requirements’ and without warning made redundant. I felt then that I had been stripped of my sense of identity, my sense of purpose and everything I thought I had known about the world. That shocking experience is the base metal from which Silver Circle has been formed.
Having re-trained as a counsellor and psychotherapist, my work has since been primarily with adults on a one-to-one basis; in the process I have found it particularly rewarding to work with people who, through age or circumstance, find themselves transitioning into what I am calling ‘the later stages of life’. For some, like me, that transition has been sudden and unexpected; for others the approach has been slow, even stealthy, but we have all had to face new challenges or confront old issues we thought we’d put to rest years ago – and all too often we have had to do so alone. I vividly recall how isolated I felt, adrift in an external world that seemed, all of a sudden, to have fallen silent while my internal world was filled with the clamour of voices demanding to know who I was and what I thought I was doing.
What is Silver Circle?
Silver Circle is a support group that forms a bridge between one’s personal world and the world out there. It is where one can re-establish human contact and regain a sense of identity – not only of who one is but also of who one can still become. Accustomed as we are to focusing on ‘highs’ and ‘lows’, life can at first glance appear as a series of random happenings, our path through it a series of blind leaps of faith from one stepping-stone to the next. However, on closer examination, while there is indeed a significant element of randomness to life, how we make our way is an on going process that unfolds with experience, each step informed by the ones before it.
What can Silver Circle provide?
Silver Circle provides a space where, for two hours a week, one need not feel lonely and isolated.
Silver Circle will not provide neatly packaged, general-purpose answers to life’s challenges that can simply be picked off the shelf ready for use. It is not ‘a quick fix’ for issues such as how to manage feelings of loss now that the children have left home or how to sort out your finances now that your partner can no longer take care of them. Instead Silver Circle offers the opportunity to learn how others have coped in similar circumstances and to draw on their experience to develop your own tailor-made strategies. And you will be surprised how often some of your own experiences, which you may not have thought twice about, can help to provide someone else with the elusive answer they have been seeking. It will not always be easy – re-visiting life events can at times be frustrating or upsetting – but with patience, perseverance and the support of myself and the group, it can be immensely rewarding.
What Happens in Silver Circle?
Mostly we talk; every group member is given an opportunity to speak but if simply listening is someone’s preferred option on any day, that’s OK too.
Often it is group members who shape the meeting by telling of their life experiences good and not so good, asking for suggestions on how to manage on current difficulties or sharing achievements, hopes, fears and joys. At other times, I will invite members’ responses to a poem or a quotation from literature, encourage writing or drawing as an alternative to talking or facilitate a guided visualisation to engage the imagination.
As in life, no-one’s response is ever exactly the same as anyone else’s but to have one’s eyes opened to different perspectives enriches everyone’s experience and often suggests hitherto un-thought of possibilities. As one group member put it: “To hear someone else say what I have been thinking has totally changed the way I feel” or, from another: “I came feeling the best part of my life was over but now I feel excited and full of adventure!”
How Might I Join Silver Circle?
Your first step would be to make contact by phone or email and arrange to meet with me. We will spend about an hour discussing what you are looking for and whether becoming a member of Silver Circle might benefit you. I will explain in more detail how the group works; for example, although there are no formal rules, we do adhere to principles concerning confidentiality, mutual respect and commitment.
The fee for this initial consultation is £10.00 and if you do decide to join, the fee is £20.00 per weekly 2-hour session with a small number of discounted places available. The maximum group size is ten and the Silver Circle currently running from 2:00pm-4:00pm on Tuesdays in Kentish Town, London has some vacancies.
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