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How to debrief

As the movement grows, it is important that we learn from our achievements and our mistakes.

A debrief after an action gives us the opportunity to recognise our skills and weaknesses and to develop ourselves both as individuals and part of a team within the movement and our environment.

Although we are taking action for positive reasons, and often come away from these actions full of excitement, joy and energy, rebellion can be an emotionally heightened and stressful time. It is likely that many people will have been running on adrenaline throughout the action. During moments of stress, our unconscious memory is more active. Debriefing can help process these memories and experiences.

After periods of heightened adrenaline, people may also experience a physical or emotional dip, which may leave them feeling unable to communicate, exhausted or experiencing negative thoughts. This is a completely normal bodily response but can feel destabilising and unpleasant in the moment. Debrief can offer a space to share and to get support in dealing with these feelings.

Passing Feedback to the Movement

The Feedback and Learning Culture Working Group have designed a debrief survey so that a rebel from each XR group can feedback to the wider movement on what worked well, what didn’t, and what to do differently in future. This survey will be analysed and fed into future rebellion planning and strategy design, both regionally and nationally. It is extremely valuable for the movement as a whole to learn from our many mistakes and achievements.

Roles needed in debrief:

The facilitator doesn’t need to be a professional and shouldn’t be expected to magically fix anyone’s hurts. Rather, they should focus on moving the group through the different parts of the session, while taking part in the session themselves.

Note-taking during the debrief can further help the group to look back and see how much there is to celebrate or understand what can be learned for next time. The learnings gathered from the debrief may also be useful to share as part of the strategy processes or pass to the Feedback and Learning Culture team. Instructions on how and where to share this feedback will be included in this Handbook post Rebellion. Watch this space!

To debrief without a facilitator:

Find a safe space in a calm, easily accessible environment. It is also fine to meet online. Ideally sit in a circle, so that everyone can see the group. Ground yourselves by spending a few minutes sitting in mindfulness and silence. Share how you’re feeling by taking turns to speak and actively listen. It is a good idea to use a talking stick to ensure that no one speaks over each other.


Here are some resources to help you plan and structure debrief sessions. There are two main forms of debrief: our standard one and an emotional one. It is up to you which one fits best for your group and you may even want to do both.