Heart of Hope

A Guide for Using Peacemaking Circles to Develop Emotional Literacy, Promote Healing & Build Healthy Relationships

by Carolyn Boyes-Watson and Kay Pranis

Living Justice PressSoftcover, spiral-bound, 352 pp., ISBN 978-0-9721886-8-5, publication 2010



Heart of Hope provides specific formats for conducting effective Circles around developing emotional literacy and building healthy relationships. The book is being used extensively in schools by teachers and administrators as well as in health care facilities and elder abuse programs.

In the authors’ own words:

“This resource guide is designed for practitioners who work with youth, young adults, and their families within social services, violence/pregnancy prevention, education, and positive youth development programs. It offers a flexible set of tools that can be applied to a range of settings and for a variety of purposes. We believe that any caring and responsible individual can learn to use these practices safely, creatively, and effectively:
* the peacemaking circle;
* the practice of mindfulness/meditation; and
* exercises and concepts derived from Power Source, an emotional awareness/emotional literacy program for at-risk youth and young adults.

“The peacemaking circle is the core practice of the guide. In the Heart of Hope (HOH), the peacemaking circle provides the environment where participants develop emotional awareness and emotional literacy and learn to practice mindfulness. Users learn how to plan, create, and facilitate the peacemaking circle as a safe place for shared dialogue. The resource guide provides 50 step-by-step model circles. Each model circle offers activities for building and deepening relationships as well as for developing emotional awareness and emotional literacy. It also includes easy-to-use exercises in breathing, simple yoga, and meditation.

“As a foundational approach, the HOH has broad applications within adolescent services, child welfare, education and schools, and all kinds of prevention programs.”

Reviews and Comments

“Heart of Hope is a foundational guide for developing, transforming, and nurturing healthy relationships in families, classrooms, and communities.  With the peacemaking circle process at its core, this resource provides a step-by-step guide to enhance and deepen emotional literacy, healing, and mindfulness. Through these practices, each of us deepens our relationship with our self and others. In doing so, we learn how to put our best self forward, particularly when life gets challenging. Heart of Hope will be a central guide for parents, teachers, and community leaders wanting to be the change they want to see in the world. They will be leading the way for the next generation, as heart and hope are the greatest gifts we can give our children.”

Brenda Morrison, Director, Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University and author of Restoring Safe School Communities







“As a Peacemaking Circle Keeper & Trainer, The Heart of Hope has been THE best resource imaginable. Not only does it guide you through the Peacemaking Circle Process in a very simple way, but it also provides so many variations of concrete, succinct, thoughtful, genuine, and intentional Circles that can be practiced in a wide variety of contexts and situations.”

Mandy Halabi, Program Manager, YOUCAN Youth Services

“The Heart of Hope is much more than a ‘direct practice approach to connecting with adolescents.’ It is readily adapted for broader use. As co-facilitator for the Empowering Seniors Support Group, I found Heart of Hope to be a practical guide for working with older adults affected by elder abuse. It helped us find a way to create a safe place, for participants to connect on a deep emotional level. Despite the trauma of abuse, they tapped into their “good, wise, and powerful core” and felt empowered to “be leaders in their own lives.” They shared stories of healing and change. Many thanks to Carolyn and Kay for this amazing resource!”

Arlene Groh, Consultant, Healing Approaches to Elder Abuse

“The Heart of Hope approach described in this guidebook is a wonderful resource for social workers striving to build relationships with adolescents. As a collection of tools for engagement, dialogue, and inquiry, the Heart of Hope Resource Guide is a direct practice approach to connecting with adolescents in ways that increase their emotional awareness, their understanding of healthy relationships, and empowers them to be leaders in their own lives.”

—John M. Vogel, MSW, LCSW, Associate Director, Massachusetts Child Welfare Institute, Department of Children and Families

“People who come to my Circle facilitators training always ask me for the best book that will guide them as they start out leading Circles. Without hesitation, I say The Heart of Hope. I go on to tell them that even after facilitating hundreds of Circle, I still reference it. From the wonderful introduction and explanation of Circle to the perfectly crafted and themed Circle outlines to the suggested openings and closings, it’s a “one stop” for learning, planning, and implementing your Circles. The Heart of Hope is the quintessential guide to Circle facilitation for anyone who is just starting out or who has been facilitating Circles for years. It truly is one of the best purchases I have ever made.”

Tracy Roberts, MSW, Chief Executive Officer, Circle Center Consulting, LLC





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