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The Art of Holding Space


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Table of Contents

Part One: The Fundamentals of Holding Space
1 What Is "Holding Space"?
2 Liminal Space
3 The Essential Elements of Holding Space
4 What Guides and Supports You
5 Refining Your Container
6 Hijacking Space
7 When Close Is Too Close
8 Problematic Behaviours
9 Bypassing Liminal Space
Part Two: Strengthening the Container
10 Your Psychic Membrane
11 Psychic Membranes in Relationship
12 Circles of Trust
13 The Spiral of Authenticity
14 Recognizing Shock Absorbers
15 Holding Space and Your Unmet Needs
16 Practices that Strengthen the Container
17 Our Bodies and Holding Space
18 Allowing Others to Be Your Bowl
19 The Shadow
Part Three: Advanced Concepts
20 From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces
21 Understanding Power
22 Privilege, Oppression, and Intersectionality
23 Holding Space at the Intersection
24 When there Is Conflict
25 The Circle as Container
26 Seeking Sovereignty
27 Holding Space for Human Evolution

About the Author

Heather is an international speaker, facilitator, and writer who specializes in the art of holding space. Participants of her Holding Space Practitioner Program have come from six continents to join her online and at in-person workshops around the world. Her writing on the subject of holding space has appeared in publications such as Harvard Business Review and Grist magazine and has been quoted in multiple books as well as curriculum for nurses, hospice care workers, yoga teachers, facilitators, and military chaplains. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with her three daughters. Learn more at heatherplett.com


Heather Plett brings so much grace, care, and accountability to this book and her teachings. She leaves us with hard-earned lessons and skills intended to support people and help lead us toward repair.
-Desiree Adaway, trainer, facilitator, and principal of The Adaway Group

The Art of Holding Space provides the missing link for those of us who do any kind of transformational work. Heather Plett has done a great service by writing this book, which should be required reading for anyone who works with other humans.
- Pamela Slim, author of Body of Work

Reading this book will teach you to engage in the possibilities for transformational listening and speaking as they appear in daily life. Read it. Trust yourself. Show up. Repeat.
- Christina Baldwin, author of Life's Companion and Storycatcher

This beautifully written book will give you a reason to discover your authenticity, and hold space for yourself and those around you. As our world continues to change, The Art of Holding Space is a roadmap to negotiate the future.
- Tu Bears, author, poet, and artist

What I love about Heather Plett is that she brings so much compassion to her own mistakes and traumas, which she shares with deep honesty and courage. This book is a great gift to the world in this time of turmoil and crisis, and is exactly what we need.
- Dr. Robin Youngson, author of Time to Care: How to love your patients and your job

I recommend this book to anyone who is seeking to foster connections and conversations in a world that often feels fractured. It will help restore your faith in what is possible.
-David Drake, author of Narrative Coaching: The Definitive Guide to Bringing New Stories to Life

There is deep and timely wisdom in these pages. With uncommon tenderness and care, Heather Plett has managed to write a book that seems to be the very thing it is pointing us toward.
- Steve Bell, singer-songwriter and author

We cannot help but be left with the impression that as we were reading The Art of Holding Space, we were being artfully held.
Francesca Mason Boring, facilitator and author of Connecting to Our Ancestral Past

The Art of Holding Space will transform your relationships with friends, family, colleagues, strangers-and yourself. Here you will find insightful and practical guidance, elegantly illustrated through Heather Plett's personal experiences, research, and professional path, to bring more kindness, curiosity, and meaning to all your interactions. I can't think of an 'art' we need more right now.
-Christa Couture, author of How to Lose Everything

This wise and compassionate book has the potential to forever change the way we show up for each other as individuals and in community. Read it, absorb it, practice it. Repeat.
Alana Sheeren, documentary filmmaker, YouTube Listen Closely

If you desire to foster strength and resilience in yourself and the people around you, this book is an essential read. To make communities and cities that serve us well, we certainly need to learn to hold space for each other.
- Beth Sanders, author of Nest City: How Citizens Serve Cities and Cities Serve Citizens

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