ASCA Meetings: Let's talk about cross talk
First, sharing is a two-way street. We share and disclose for the purpose of liberating
ourselves from our secrets, our shame, our humiliation, our painful story of childhood
abuse, the negative effects on our lives. We also share to relate our successes, our
strategies, our growth and unfolding as human beings who have been impacted by
Yet we share in the context of a community of ASCA members, people who have been
through similar experiences. Thus our shares are meant not only as a catharsis and an
opportunity to gain insight and support for ourselves, but also to connect with others t
hrough our sharing. We all know how various shares impact us - how we nod in
empathy, how we squirm with discomfort, how our agitation oozes out, how our sadness
releases tears, as we listen to others share.
The topic of cross-talk often comes up, especially for new comers to ASCA meetings.
During the shares no cross-talk is permitted. According to the instructions read by the
co-facilitator during every meeting prior to the tag shares, cross-talk is defined as
"referring to another person in anyway or commenting on another person's share." What
does this mean from a practical perspective and what is the reasoning underpinning this
First, the no cross-talk guideline exists to increase the level of safety for participants.
Participants need to be able to share without the concern or fear that someone will, in
any way whatsoever - criticize, demean, challenge, contradict, minimize, censure,
question, etc., what they are feeling, thinking and sharing. When someone is sharing, t
he role of others in the ASCA support group is to listen and take-in, to internally
resonate and empathize. The group becomes a respectful, receptive vessel receiving
whatever a member is sharing. There is no judgement, no evaluation, no opinion, no
Second, responding to the speaker happens only during the formal feedback period for
the meeting. Participants can also "respond directly to a speaker" in a respectful manner
following the closure of the meeting. Referring to the group (for example, by using the
word "you all" or "you guys") or an individual in the group during our feedback and
shares is also considered crosstalk. By following the guidelines on feedback and
comments during the shares of the meeting, we help foster a more trusting environment.
Third, the purpose of sharing is to focus on ourselves and what we are feeling and
working on. When we begin a share by referring to or referencing someone else in the
group, we are refocusing on that person rather than focusing on one's self. If permitted
to persist, this could have a negative influence on the ASCA meeting dynamic.
Fourth, perhaps the biggest slip for new comers concerning the no cross-talk guideline is
the spontaneous acknowledging of a previous speaker and how the speaker has stirred
them. From one perspective, this seemingly innocent gesture of acknowledgement
seems harmless. What is important for ASCA meetings is consistency. The ASCA
guidelines around no cross-talk are not meant to be impolite or unnatural. Rather the
guidelines are for consistency and safety.
Finally, these are not perfect guidelines, and people may have varying ideas about the
"no cross-talk" guideline. But for consistency, continuity, safety, and the common good,
by participating in an ASCA meeting we all agree to honor and abide by the stated
guidelines and procedures of ASCA, and any interventions made by the co-facilitators.