The art of holding space

April 02, 2019 | Béatrice Bretton | Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences |


Rating: 4.6 out of 5


On 19th February 2019, I led a Lunch n’ Learn at SDC on what it means to ‘hold space’. 17 people joined, intrigued by the title, simply curious or deeply interested in improving their inter-personal communication skills at work and in their personal lives.




Aurélie de Lalande  – Process facilitator

Holding space is about opening a broad space for another person, where he/she can be completely himself/herself and experience the benefit of feeling fully welcome for a moment.

As the space holder, my sole intention is to be fully present to the other person’s experience, and to sit with his/her discomfort, pain, irritation or whatever it is he or she is experiencing at that moment.

As the space holder, I do NOT: have a project over him/her, bring up unasked for solutions, give advice, try and fix anything nor control the outcome. In other words, I will not try to bring the other person where he or she is not. I am simply offering fresh curiosity and presence to a fellow human being sharing his/her experience with me. It is like walking next to someone and holding their hand while quietly listening.


In order to practice holding space for others, just remember to:

1. Check if you are up for it 

We do not always have the capacity, space, availability or willingness to hold space for someone at a particular moment. It is important to recognize it and not try offer what we do not have. Let’s be realistic, and then genuine about it.

2. Create space within yourself

You can for example take 3 conscious deep breaths, visualizing a big warm sun in your belly. Afterwards, gently bring your attention to the person who is coming to you and remind yourself ‘I am going to let her/him be exactly the way she/he is’.

3. Hold space for the other person – and for yourself simultaneously! 

I am mentioning holding space for yourself because sitting with someone’s pain, irritation or any other intense feeling can be very uncomfortable – which is one of the reasons why we usually try to get them out of it!

4. Be gentle towards yourself

Holding space is a practice. We are not used to do this, and it does take courage to show up and sit in the fire and the rawness.

Enjoy practicing offering space to yourself and others!


Ayant vécu les limites des structures de management et de gouvernance ‘à l’ancienne’,  Aurélie se passionne pour l’écologie relationnelle, la collaboration et l’émergence de nouveaux leaderships. Formée à la Communication NonViolente (CNV) et aux outils de la gouvernance partagée, Aurélie facilite des processus de transformation, individuels et collectifs.


To explore further, you may want to check out Heather Plett’s website :


Comments to“The art of holding space”

  1. Dear Aurélie, love your reflection. Your thoughts make me think of the 4 fold practice of art of hosting.
    Hosting others & hosting ourselves
    Holding the space for others & for ourselves
    Yes, as facilitators it is both. Always.
    Thanks, Nadia


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