"Circlework doesn’t tell us what to do. It isn’t a place we go to receive advice. Instead, it invites us to listen deeply to ourselves."

This book describes a practice called Circlework, which the author promotes as a methodology for helping women assess, communicate, and improve their emotional health and well-being. For a layperson, Circlework might be described as a form of facilitated group talk and movement therapy for women, often administered at dedicated times and places, such as on wellness retreats held away from everyday life. For proponents and participants of Circlework, the practice is something decidedly more political and mystical, using descriptors like “magical” and “empowering” to communicate its function as a transformational activity of mental and sensory exploration in pursuit of female healing goals.

The material here is presented beautifully in clear, spacious chapters that describe and endorse the work Bonheim loves and teaches. She immerses readers in descriptions and tools of the practice, sharing applications such as finding the confidence to speak and resolving conflict. Throughout, she shares persuasive testimonials from women who have participated in Circlework and value its outcomes. Eminently positive and promotional, the narrative touts the successes and potential of a methodology that garners many enthusiastic practitioners within its niche of consciousness-raising and spiritual exploration.

Bonheim asserts certain presumptions about women: that they want intimacy and self-expression, that inside a circle of like-minded women is their best place for such exploration, and that “safety” means being honest and participatory without fear of reprisal or backlash. Does the average American woman know what Circlework is or that she may want or benefit from it? As she works hard, raises a family, and participates in domestic and civic pursuits, perhaps treating a headache with an aspirin and a hot bath, does she know that “healing” holds different meanings in different communities? Perhaps not—or not yet—but Bonheim suggests that Circlework, whether in concept or specific practice, holds exponential benefits for all.

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