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Efficient facilitation

An Efficient Facilitation

Perhaps, you might have heard the word `facilitation or facilitator’ more than once; especially if you are involved in Erasmus + projects, the European Solidarity Corps volunteer, alternative pedagogies, counseling, etc.

However, the comprehension of this terminology is likely to confuse. In the end, we might ask the same question to ourselves, ´´What is facilitation, and who is a facilitator? ´´

In these 6 articles, we will explore the meaning of facilitation and learn about its competencies and skills and collect some tricks and tools. Let's rumble!

The start points of facilitation:

Facilitation is a term that is utilized in many fields and disciplines including health care, management, business, education, physiology, and counseling/psychotherapy.

The word ´facilitate’ comes from the Latin ´facile´ which means to make it easy or convenient. In some languages, there are no direct translations. Facilitation usually refers to group facilitation which is used to ensure equal, participative, and cooperative decision making in a group/organization/community.

Back in time, many indigenous people used forms of a general agreement in their tribal councils. Likewise, cooperative organizations and movements, peace movements, group psychotherapy, conflict resolution, and much more benefit from facilitation.

On the other hand, the term facilitation was used in physiology which was recorded in the literature in 1895. Later, the concept of facilitation has emerged in Carl Roger's works, a humanistic psychologist in 20 centuries. Rogers developed a therapeutic counseling approach: client-centered therapy, where clients are encouraged to develop a deeper understanding through a non-judged atmosphere and a role of therapists as a mirror reflecting of his statements to assist him in developing self-awareness.

Rogers didn't stop at counseling; he also applied this approach to education which is called student-centered. Humans can switch on the learning mode and fully benefit from it, but only if it´s meaningful for them, he claimed. As a result, he provides guidelines for teachers as a facilitator that teachers should initiate the learning climate of the group or class experience, finding general purposes of the group as well as clarify individuals' purposes and aim to fulfill them. Moreover, the teacher should define him or herself as a flexible resource to be utilized by the group, respond to expressions from the class group, accept intellectual content and emotionalize personal feelings, remain alert to the expression of deep or strong feelings, and endeavor to recognize and accept his or her limitations.

After Rogers, the term facilitation has dramatically entered the educational area and spread to other disciplines. In the late 80s through 90s, facilitation also became part of the business sector and was introduced at all levels of government and business. Altogether, facilitator became a new profession, and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) was founded in the USA in 1994. The IAF developed a set of professional facilitator competencies, a professional certificate for facilitators, and several journal issues on the facilitation topic.

As mentioned above, the term ´facilitation´ has been used in many fields thus we can find various definitions of facilitation that might have slightly different meanings as follow:

The Concise Macquarie Dictionary (1982) defines ‘facilitate’ as to make easier or less difficult help forward (an action, a process, etc.)’. It's quite similar to the definition of Corey and Corey (1992): most facilitation aims to help individuals reach their own goals.

Ingrid Bens (2002) defines a facilitator as a consultant and trainer filed as one who contributes structure and process to interactions, so groups can function effectively and make high-quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they pursue their objectives.

Sam Kaner and colleagues (2007) claim that the facilitator's job is to support everyone to do their best thinking and practice. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding, and cultivates shared responsibility.

Kitson et al (1998) describe facilitation as a ‘technique by which one person makes things easier for others. On the other hand, Harvey et al (2002) suggest that facilitation is achieved by a person carrying out a specific role (a facilitator) that aims to help others, and in doing so implies that facilitators have a proposed role, skills, and knowledge to help individuals, teams and organizations. He also added that for facilitation to exist as a single concept certain elements need to be clarified to enable a clear understanding of the facilitation process, the role of the facilitator, and the skills required to achieve effective facilitation.

After summarizing those definitions, in the youth work area, facilitation is a process provided by a person who is called a facilitator equipped with specific attitudes, skills, and competencies to make things easier or more convenient for a group and a member of a group, to accomplish their individual and group purposes by their own agreed way while maintaining a neutral position.

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