Holding Space

Photograph by Leanne Riley

What is holding space? Holding space is when a person is fully present, being open to what becomes; allowing and protective of the space without judgement or agenda.

Imagine this…you share a feeling or idea and the person shuts you down, holds a narrow view or simply does not engage their full self. You feel at least a bit dismissed, at most entirely unsafe. If this happens often enough, your value and worth becomes smaller and smaller.

Now imagine you share the same feeling or idea and this person is fully engaged, open to what you’re saying. They are curious and respectful. The space is protected and you feel safe and not judged for what you’ve shared. You feel free to explore your own ideas and to speak up.


I know which I’d prefer!

It’s not always easy to engage in the second way of being as we all have opinions, prejudices and sometimes are simply triggered to respond without entirely knowing why! But we can start with the small things- just being a little bit more aware of how we are holding the space; am I allowing openness? Am I respecting and valuing this person? Am I fully present or have I got an agenda?

We are relational beings and when we hold space, something is created that is unique to that moment and relationship. It builds trust, connection and intimacy. This authenticity brings us alive to the present, increasing our awareness and engagement to ourselves and others. What a gift!

Original ink drawing by Leanne Riley

Published by Leanne Riley

I am a Contractual Trainee Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist. I like to write about emotional well-being, often including art and creativity in my work.

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