Social Boundaries


Getting Started

Welcome to Social Boundaries!

Introduction to the Circles Program

The Circles program teaches social distance and levels of intimacy through the use of seven color-coded concentric circles. Starting from the center circle, which represents the self, each new circle represents behaviors, feelings and actions that are appropriate based on the distance from the center.

To understand Circles generally, imagine that each color represents a different formal social role with rules of Talk, Trust and Touch (the three "Ts"):

Talk = conversation level

Trust = degree of trust

Touch = appropriate body contact

The three "Ts" vary directly with the degree of intensity and intimacy of the relationship. The closer the "circle" relationship, the more intimate the overall emotional tone. (Circles Guide pp. 5-14)

There are six questions that help determine where a person belongs in your learner's world of circles, These questions are called the "Six Deciding Factors."

The Six Deciding Factors are:

    1. HOW LONG have I known the person?
    2. HOW OFTEN do I see the person?
    3. HOW MANY common bonds do I have with the person?
    4. HOW WELL do I know the person?
    5. HOW DEEP are my feelings for the person?
    6. HOW SAFE am I with the person?

As we introduce the program to learners, we rigidly define placement based on the Six Deciding Factors. But practically, we recognize there is flexibility and fluidity: a person's placement might change as their role in your learner's world of circles grows or shrinks. Thus, it is important to reassess relationships periodically to confirm proper placement and proper application of the 3 Ts.

By the end of the program, you will have a framework for placing people in your learner's world of circles and discussing the appropriate talk, trust and touch within each circle.

Program Notes:

  • In this online class, we will be using Circles Intimacy & Relationships Level 1 (4th Edition).
  • We will cover some circles in a single sessions (i.e., the Purple Private Circle). Other circles will take 2 or 3 sessions because they are more complex or involve more than one group of people (i.e, the Green Far Away Hug Circle).
  • The Circles paradigm was originally created by Marklyn P. Champagne and Leslie Walker-Hirsch. James Stanfield worked with these educators to develop the Circles Curriculum. Circles was first introduced on a wide-scale basis in 1983. It is now used in over 10,000 institutions nationwide.
  • All downloadable presentations, handouts, and activities were created by DSF to support instruction and learning of Circles.

Zoom Links
Session Content

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