The True Midwifery Thinking Environment

Creating a space to listen and learn

"The most valuable thing we can offer each other is the framework in which to think for ourselves" - Nancy Kline

Within the True Midwifery Study Spirals, as well as the other True Midwifery learning spaces, we draw on Nancy Kline's Thinking Environment to create an optimal, safe and oxytocin rich space for listening, learning and thinking together.

I first came across the Thinking Environment (Time to Think) through my friend Trisha Lord (BraveHeart | Thinking Environment) when we were working together on the Compassionate Birth Project. I have been honoured to be trained by Trisha in this modality and have found it to be the best container for teaching, training and presenting to adults, as well as to offer support to the families in my care.

The Thinking Environment, designed by Nancy Kline, is a container we create together whether we are two people or more, that is similar to Montessori’s Prepared Environment, and allows for optimal thinking in that group. 

It is based on the premise that EVERYTHING we do as human beings will depend on the quality of the thinking we do first. And our best thinking is impacted by the environment we do our thinking in.

The philosophical belief underpinning the Thinking Environment, is essentially that all human beings are by nature good and loving and perfectly capable of being able to make good choices for themselves and others. It is only because of a lifetime of events and conditions that result in a deviation from this.

Within the thinking environment we work with 10 COMPONENTS, which are essentially, ten ways of being or behaving, which impact and bring out the best and most independent thinking in others. We have included the 10 Components with some elaboration on each one as a pdf and video for you to access easily. Please dont feel that you have to learn them off by heart! They are just a guideline to support you in supporting others and you will find that just by applying one of the ten, things will already shift for the other person’s thinking! We have also included a list of potential THINKING INHIBITORS, or behaviours or settings in the environment which can block a person’s optimal thinking.

In the world we live in, we are usually thinking in a competitive environment where we are either being interrupted or waiting for a gap to be heard. When do you ever just get an opportunity to sit back and truly listen to someone, hear their thoughts, without pre-empting where they are going with their thinking, or planning our response. In the Thinking Environment we listen to IGNITE as opposed to listening to RESPOND, which is our norm.

“He listened 

And such listening as his

Envelops us in such silence

That at last we can hear

What it is we are meant to be”

Lao Tzu

The Ten Components of the Thinking Environment are:


Listening with palpable respect and without interruption


Ensuring equal turns to think and speak


Offering freedom from internal urgency

Incisive Questions

Finding and removing untrue assumptions that distort thinking


Supplying the facts Dismantling denial


Encouraging divergent thinking and diverse group identities


Giving courage for cutting edge thinking by removing internal competition


Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking


Practising a 5:1 ratio of appreciation to criticism


Creating a physical environment that says to people, “You matter.”

(copyright Nancy Kline)

The Ten Components of the Thinking Environment-2.pdf
Complete and Continue