Navigating the Edges



Between Emotional Safety and Personal Growth

A thesis for the Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice

The MIECAT Institute

Melbourne, Australia



This research explores the role that a process of creating emotional safety plays in supporting ones personal growth and development. Undertaken in the context of professional arts practice, this inquiry is autoethnographic, influenced by heuristic inquiry and assumes the arts as a way of knowing. It holds the values of safety, emergence, curiosity, and companioning and uses the MIECAT procedures to provide structure, safety and flexibility.

The evidence of knowing is shown through the transparency by which I reflexively demonstrate my emergent process, multi-modally representing my experiencing as it unfolds. The inquiry begins through exploring a significant moment in my professional practice. While facilitating a leadership workshop for young people, I considered the ways I create safety for them to explore their edges.

Throughout the inquiry, consecutive stages of navigating the edges were identified: Invitation > Relational safety > Edge > Taking the Leap > Trust/Release > Meaning. I found that safety is cultivated in relationship to others, through familiarity and comfort. These personal findings can be applied to a wider professional context, particularly when facilitating individuals or groups. Providing emotional safety when facilitating spaces for growth is essential to ethical practice.

When one can provide a safe space, participants have the opportunity to make empowered choices and develop the essential skills of reflexivity and emotional regulation.