Meditation & Encounter Group for Activists (October 2016, 12 weeks)

July 25th, 2016

by Kip Williams

This 12-week group supports activists to renew our commitment to creating a better world and take an honest look at the personal dynamics that get in the way.

Why Now?

We’ve been assailed this year by violence and political turmoil at home and around the globe. With new stories each day about hate crimes and acts of terrorism, hostility toward refugees and immigrants, political gridlock and dysfunction, explicit bigotry in the presidential campaign, the rapid pace of climate change, and Black lives lost to an unaccountable criminal justice system, sometimes it’s too much to take in. We believe this is an all-hands-on-deck time because so much is at stake. This group begins a month before the November elections and will continue for a month after. We hope to offer support to people who are working hard to make a difference during a difficult time.

This Isn’t Your Typical “Retreat”

Gatherings in the nonprofit and social change field often focus on critical analysis, strategic planning, technical training, or superficial conversations about self-care. This group is an opportunity to focus inward and explore the personal work that sustains us and makes social transformation possible.


Each meeting will begin with a 20-minute guided meditation and reflection, followed by an hour and a half of conversation. Experienced facilitators will establish a safe and supportive environment and prompt challenging discussions about the personal issues that undermine our effective participation in social change. As conflicts and misunderstandings arise, we will work to provide opportunities for authenticity and personal growth.

The group will be limited to 10 participants who will commit to attend all meetings. We will begin with a daylong “urban retreat” on Saturday, October1. Then we will meet on Wednesday afternoons from 4-6 beginning October 5 and ending December 14. We will not meet during the week of Thanksgiving.

Ideal participants are dedicated activists and nonprofit program staff working toward progressive social change. This group does not focus on any specific issue, but we value a diversity of core focus areas, including (but not limited to):

  • racial justice and reconciliation
  • labor and economic justice
  • climate change and ecological justice
  • LGBTQ equality
  • women’s rights and gender equality
  • immigration reform
  • criminal justice reform
  • common sense gun control
  • international peace and disarmament

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. If you can see yourself sharing these values with others, you belong.

We especially invite and welcome activists from the Movement for Black Lives.


$150 for the daylong retreat; $60 for subsequent sessions.

Fees should not prohibit anyone from participating. Please contact us directly to discuss a reduced fee.

Join Us

For more information or to discuss participation, please email and include:

  • Your first name
  • Your phone number
  • A few good times to call
  • Confirmation that you are available for the proposed dates

Note that we cannot guarantee the privacy and confidentiality of email correspondence.

About the Facilitators

Emily Sachs, Ph.D. began her psychology career after 5 formative years of human rights research and advocacy at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture in NYC. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Fordham University, and completed fellowships at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Her specialties include trauma, cross-cultural care, and adjustment to chronic illness. During her graduate training Emily was recruited to the Board of Directors of Students for a Free Tibet, where she served for 3 years and provided support to the 2008 Olympics protesters. In addition to her private practice in San Francisco, Emily supervises psychiatry residents at UC San Francisco, and is working to build affordable mental health services for freelance journalists.

Kip Williams, MFT began his therapeutic training at CIIS in 2011 following a decade of community and national organizing for a wide range of progressive organizations, including the League of Young Voters and DemocracyInAction. He helped lead a wave of civil disobedience following the passage of Prop 8, and he went on to co-direct the 2009 LGBTQ National Equality March on Washington and co-found GetEQUAL. He experienced – and recovered from – severe burnout, and he brings a unique perspective to helping progressive movers and shakers tend to their psychological and spiritual needs. He currently provides mindfulness-based individual and group therapy while working toward his Ph.D. in Existential-Humanistic Psychology at Saybrook University.

Emily Sachs and Kip Williams

Emily Sachs, Ph.D. (PSY #25721) and Kip Williams (MFT #93170)

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