The Facilitator's Development Programme

The FDP is an intensive four day training for facilitators. First held in 1994 in the UK, it has been run all over the world (Austria, Denmark, Germany, India, Russia, Spain and Thailand, client list). Well over 2,500 facilitators have now attended this masterclass in facilitation and groupwork (feedback from previous participants).

It is a highly practical training, using the group of participants and the facilitator as a working model, bringing in participants’ previous experience and setting up an environment which is safe, supportive and conducive to real learning. This will inevitably cover both professional and personal issues (how the course runs).

A significant part (nearly half) of the programme is devoted to practice, where each participant facilitates the rest of the group and then this experience is used for applied learning. Feedback is provided by both the other participants and by myself (Nick Eve) as an observer. Feedback will cover both skills performance and applied theory, making sense of the thinking about facilitation and groupwork by providing examples from the practice session (an example timetable of the four day programme).

The training builds up participants confidence to run the group by starting with pair exercises, moving through small group work towards working with the whole group. Everything that happens during the course is part of the learning material. Not everything will work as intended but everything will provide learning.

The course teaches the skills used by the facilitator in interventions. Looking at building trust and rapport within the group and with the individual group members. The group facilitator needs to understand how to use these interpersonal skills and also why to use them (what the course covers). Importantly it also provides practice in observation skills and framing interventions based on these observation. We will analyse the whole process of intervening, from the standpoint of the facilitator, the individual participant and the group.

The course also provides a theoretical perspective on facilitation, this is done so that you understand where the thinking comes from that lies behind the practice of facilitation and so that you know why you do what you do. I believe that this is a significant factor in building up confidence and it also gives you support when things are difficult so that you can stay with what is important, with a clear understanding of why it is important to do so. This theoretical perspective covers the background to humanistic psychology, providing a context alongside analytic and behavioural psychologies. It distills the essential thinking that goes to make up the history and development of a psychological understanding of management development since the 1950s.

Facilitators run groups where the quality of communication and interaction must be of an exceptionally high quality. The purpose of the group is to share knowledge, experience and learning so that problems can be solved and decisions can be made that are based on the fullest understanding available that has been fully interrogated and looked at from as many angles as possible. Getting this to happen in reality within a group is not as simple as saying it! A facilitator learns to facilitate the processes to help this happen, to introduce the most effective process and to monitor it, intervening in the process when necessary.

The facilitator is a 'facilitator of process' and getting to grips with the complexity of this statement is the key to successful professional facilitation. The content is the business of the participants whilst the focus for the facilitator is the processes that are influencing, shaping and directing the participants' relationship to and understanding of the content. Understanding the various layers of process and how to intervene both explicitly and implicitly is the magic of facilitation. Process covers everything from the structures that hold the group, such as the room and time management, through the tools and techniques that help the group with its work to the very personal processes that affect each individual’s interactions, both historic and present, to the group dynamics that subtly influence each person’s presence, behaviours and role within the group.

This programme is run with a very gentle approach, it is all about the participants not the facilitator. This itself underlies facilitation and some of the challenges it can present. It is not for the facilitator to perform but for the group to. The facilitator’s role is to enable and allow that to happen. I intend and hope that this is how I facilitate the programme (information about Nick Eve).

the business of human relationships
a four day masterclass in

I have retired. I am leaving the website up as a resource until the end of 2022.