Meeting 1-3
Focus: Initial Guidelines

The basic structure of this meeting is the same as Meeting 1.1 - refer back for more information.

Some issues may have come up during check-in that the group may wish to spend more time on rather than moving straight into the 'focus'; or perhaps some issue is still to be dealt with from the previous week. When it is appropriate the leader moves the group into the main focus for this meeting.

When a group first gets started, it hasn't yet had time to define itself, or how it wants things to run, but it does need to spend a little time considering a set of initial guidelines. This helps the men present to know what the 'boundaries' are, what's expected, and it also helps to define a safe space.

Please consider the following items - these help to establish group process and may be decided on now or in the fifth meeting.

  1. What is our stand on violence within the group?
  2. Are these meetings confidential?
  3. Is alcohol (or other drugs) allowed before/during group? Or only coffee/tea? Smoking?
  4. Is each man ultimately responsible for himself?
    Is group process helped by each man 'speaking his truth'?
    - ie being open and honest?
    - and telling his own story?

    Is group process helped by a man interrupting/advising/using put-downs/diverting/judging/telling others what they should or shouldn't feel?
  5. Do we start our meetings on time, or wait for people who are late?
    Should men call beforehand if they can't make a meeting or are going to be late?
    Should meetings always end on time? - Under what circumstances will we agree to extend a meeting?
  6. If someone decides to leave the group, do we want to be informed? How?
  7. Should a man acknowledge and accept the groups authority when it makes a decision?
    What if a man disagrees and refuses to go along with it what should the group do?
  8. How many men do we want in our group?
    1. Is the group open to new men until we've reached number we want?
    2. Is the group closed and new men or guests may only come by invitation of whole group?
  9. ? - Any other items that any man wishes to propose as a group guideline.

The group may come into immediate agreement on some of the above items; others it may need a longer time to consider and should be deferred until the fifth meeting. Whatever is agreed to should be written down, perhaps on back of page, and ultimately in the 'Statement of Group Agreements'. This helps to formalise what the group stands for, is useful for future reference, if an agreement is changed or refined, or to inform any new man that may join the group at a later date.

Note 1:

Meeting 3-1 Working Rules explores group process guidelines in greater detail. At this level the group will have had some experience and be ready to debate the issues in greater depth.

Note 2:

The group may wish to consider changing/refining any guideline as it sees necessary, and this can be done at the initiation or suggestion of any member of the group.