The Circling Institute

Original Circling® Approach

The Circling® Institute calls their version of  training and facilitation  “The Original Circling® Approach” because Guy Sengstock, one of TCI’s co-owners, founded Circling over 20 years ago and the separate lineages all arose out of his original distinctions. 

What makes their version unique is the 7 Stages of Circling model, and how each stage of this model combines with their underlying Agreements to progressively take you deeper into your experience and inner world, past what you already know about yourself, into the uncharted territory of what has been too difficult to face and be with alone. 

When delving into those wounds or shadows, with love and acceptance, you can discover and recover hidden or lost parts of your own wisdom…and reconnect with your essence, creativity and power. This is where the work can not only create intimacy and bonding, but can be truly healing and transformational.

Here is a quick outline of The Circling Institute’s teaching model:


  1. Honoring each others dignity/confidentiality
  2. Communication – owning your experience and relating or speaking with the intention of relating as opposed to controlling, managing, giving advice, fixing, etc
  3. Listening – practicing deep listening such that you are willing to be changed by the experience, listening for each other’s humanity & the positive intent to fulfill needs underlying every way of being

In addition to valuing the relational meditation aspect of Circling, The Original Circling Method  also invites into the conversation any aspect, story or context of the person’s life that seems important and has made this moment significant. They don’t strictly stay in the moment, but prefer to meet someone where they are and get the whole context of their inner world and what it’s like to be them. In the Original Circling Method, it all matters…your history, your life, and how that informs this moment together.

Our focus is on how to create deeper, more fulfilling relationships in our lives. If what we practice together doesn’t map over to our real lives, then something is missing. But if our relationships are mostly surface and content oriented and devoid of depth, healing and transformation, then something is missing there. We use the 7 Stages as the bridge to creating rapport, intimacy and deep authentic relationships.

The 7 Stages of Circling

1) Sovereign – Presence: This is the space from which Circling emerges… vulnerability and transparently sharing how we are being impacted by the connection while owning our experience (versus our evaluations). By prioritizing & speaking to the nature of the connection beyond the content and learning to “welcome what is” we get into harmony with others and the current reality.

2) Explorer – Art of getting someone’s world: Here we practice our capacities for deep listening, empathy, understanding, reflection and wonderment. We develop skills of attunement, to get underneath the surface conversation to what someone is actually feeling or needing, and who they are at the core.

3) Warrior – Seeing what hasn’t been seen: We align with someone and find the courage to name what seems incongruent, missing or difficult to be with. We lean in with care and curiosity vs. pulling away – which can help them face fears, wounds or suppressed parts of themselves that they have been avoiding.

4) Deep Sea Diver – Feeling what hasn’t been felt: With this stage, we deepen our ability to sense and experience emotions that may be hidden, disowned or difficult and to welcome them as they arise. We learn how to facilitate creative exercises that “invite the experience that is trying to happen or unfold”.

5) Midwife – Birth of something new: Here we support the emergence of a new insight or way of being through silence, describing what’s arising and exquisite “space holding” – individually or with the whole group.

6) Integrator – Bringing it into Your Life: We articulate any new possibility, outlook or way of being that arises and develop the skills to help someone integrate that experience on cognitive, emotional and behavioral levels. This is the stage where one can begin seamlessly transitioning into more of a coaching or therapeutic context, and The Original Circling Method explicitly addresses ways to do this in our advanced trainings.

7) The Art of Completion: how to elegantly complete conversations or relationships in ways that honor the truth or sacredness of what happened, share appreciation and speak your desires and invitations for the future.