This is a breakdown of a typical timetable. Exact timings may vary but it gives a good description of the learning and focus of each session. It also provides a view of how the programme develops over the four days.
Session 1: 9.00am - 11.00am
- The aim of this session is to establish the group, experience the core issues of the programme and to introduce the facilitator and the learning outcomes.
- Right from the start we will focus on the two key areas of process and content, understanding what they are and how they interact from personal experience during the session.
- Also the atmosphere of learning and exploration is established, we are looking for curiousity and openness.
- The style of the facilitator is to be open to question and to encourage the participants to question in their own minds what we are doing and what effect it is happening.
- We will highlight the relationships in the group and the way in which groups start to interact and how they start on their task. All the time we are looking at what is going on in this group and how we can relate that to the groups that participants work with.
- The course objectives will be made explicit and checked and the course manual will be handed out and introduced.
- The structure of the programme, how the learning works and what is expected of participants will be made clear.
- We will look at how participants have arrived and what their expectations of the facilitator are and how this may affect their participation.
- Other key areas we will look at include psychological safety and the issue of contracting whether it is implicit or explicit.
- Finally we will start the work with the learning diary structure which encourages participants to diary their learning during each session and we will review the starting process that we have gone through and relate it to the facilitation of groups.
- This first session establishes the culture and methods of the rest of the programme.
Session 2: 11.15am - 1.15pm
- This session is about the key models and theories of facilitation and establishes a shared language for the programme.
- Starting with very short and precise definitions of facilitation we will work in more and more depth to establish our shared understanding of facilitation.
- With a mix of both historic theories and also specific models from Elements the participants will build up a comprehensive understanding of the key processes and how they interact.
- Part of this will include detailing the key competencies and skills of the facilitator and going into more depth for some of the issues already raised such as process and content.
- We will also look at the key stages of facilitation including the client planning stage.
- By the end of the session participants will have a sound understanding of the key elements of facilitation covering the facilitator, the group, the task and the individual.
- Development of conscious awareness is the key aim for this session.
- Finally we will also use the pre-course work that participants have completed to cement their understanding.
Session 3: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
- In this session we will familiarise ourselves with the client centred approach as it relates to facilitation and understand why it is the fundamental underpinning of the facilitation approach. We will briefly contextualise this in the history of humanistic working and also management and organisational development.
- We will clarify the intentions of the facilitation, their values and how these impact on their behaviour and what this means for the members of the group and the expectations it puts on them.
- Finally we will set up a small exercise to demonstrate the fundamental importance and impact of listening between the facilitator and the group and we will analyse how the facilitator demonstrates this with the group and the reasons why it is so important.
- Again we will finish off with a learning diary session to focus on learning and thoughts and share these.
Session 4: 4.15pm - 6.15pm
- In this session we are going to get to grips with the reality of working from the client's position, ie the group members. This means that we are going to unpack 'empathy' and learn what it means in practice, how to do it and to explore the effect it has on individuals and the group when the facilitator works from a position of empathy. Part of this will also be to clarify what it means when we lose hold of our intention and how to pick this up.
- Using participants own experiences of relationships of all types we will go into some depth to understand empathic behaviours and interventions and also to bring out the effect it has on developing the group's ability to work at its full potential.
- We will look in micro detail at the facilitation skills of summarising and questioning and we will use practice exercises to fully understand what these apparently simple skills really mean in practice.
- In all the exercises from now on we will be looking at the facilitator's skills and behaviours with the group, using a variety of structures we will do some exercises in pairs and then build on these into small groups and finally into working with the whole group. One reason for doing this is to prepare participants for the facilitation practices which start in session 9 or 10 and from then on are a major part of the programme.
- At the end of the first day we will revisit the learning diaries and review the days learning.
- Some brief evening work will help participants to prepare for the next day.
Session 5: 9.00am - 11.00am
- At the start of the second day, after recapping on the learning and thoughts stimulated by yesterday, we will look at the fundamental intent of the facilitator, to work in an impartial and non judgmental way with each and every participant, to help participants make their full potential available to themselves and the group and to pay attention to the detail of what people are trying to contribute.
- To achieve this we will take part in exercises that take participants deeply into their own process and allow them to relate their own experiences to the situation they will be in as facilitators.
Session 6: 11.15am - 1.15pm
- Now we are going to look in depth at the role of the facilitator as observer, the one who has an exceptionally high level of awareness of what is happening in the group, with individuals and also for their own process as they interact with the group.
- We will do this with a wide variety of exercises that clarify the role and breadth of awareness and we will work up to an in depth exercise to practice this with a subject group, looking at what the facilitator observes, how they categorise it and the effects on the group of sharing their observations, looking at timing, focus and language.
- This is a time consuming and demanding exercise which usually significantly deepens participants understanding of the role and its potential to affect the group through professional interventions.
Session 7: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
- We have now looked at the three key principles of the client centred approach as it relates to facilitation and in this session we are going to pull all of this together and to review the overall learning.
- Firstly we will pick up any questions and clarifications that are needed and then participants will engage in exercises to help them clarify their own understanding and to look at how they can communicate this to both clients and groups in their future work situations.
- Throughout the programme participants have been working with their individual learning diaries and these will provide a lot of material for reflecting on the course and their thoughts about their own facilitation practice back at work.
Session 8: 4.15m - 6.15pm
- We are now going to look at John Heron's dimensions of facilitation model and start to integrate it with the client centred interpersonal skills that we have refined so far. Initially we will look at Heron's place in the development of facilitation as a professional practice and make sense of h is model by relating it to this programme and to participants experiences back at work.
- At this stage we will become familiar with the language and Heron's usage and we will learn the various aspects of the model.
- In this session we will also go into more detail about the forthcoming facilitation practices, their practicalities, their structure and any questions they raise for participants.
- If this is a modular programme then we will set up the interim work for participants to complete before returning to the second module, if it is an open course then this does not apply.
Session 9: 9.00am - 11.00am
- If this is the start of the second module we will spend enough time reconnecting with participants experiences of the first module and also relate this to the reality of reconvening a facilitated group.
- This session is to explore the three modes of Heron's model and to make sense of this in relation to participants experiences of facilitation.
- Through highly interactive and participative exercises we will bring the language of the model alive and bring out its essential relationship to the facilitation experience.
- We will also use exercises in this session to ease participants into the facilitation practices which will start in the next session.
Session 10: 11.15am - 1.15pm
- We are now looking at the planning dimension of facilitation and this includes the stage of working with the client whoever that may be to clarify the context for the piece of facilitated work. As the foundation on which all the rest of the facilitation stands this stage is exceptionally important and not always paid enough attention to.
- We will go into detail around this dimension and clarify the exact role of the facilitator in completing this successfully.
- Around half way through this session we will move into the first practices. From now on these are a major part of the programme and the practice itself along with the in-depth feedback that follows each practice allow each participant to try out what they have learnt and also to build up a picture of their own style.
- They will also need to provide detailed feedback to every other participant which means they will have to develop their ability to analyse the facilitator's behaviours and to verbalise the dynamics they experience. Understanding how the feedback works and developing skill and confidence in giving it is a significant part of the facilitator's skillset.
Session 11: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
- Whilst making it clear that this programme is not a tools and techniques programme, in this session we will look at the role and function of structures of all sorts and how they can help both the group and the facilitator. We will look at the overall mapping of structures onto a session, and we will clarify the stages of selecting and using structures.
- Identifying where facilitators can find more tools and techniques and helping participants understand how much they already have available to them is important. We will clarify the main categories of structures and identify which ones are familiar to the group.
- Then we will move onto the next set of practices and feedback.
Session 12: 4.15pm - 6.15pm
- The meaning dimension introduces us to the role of the facilitator in helping participants make sense and share the sense they make. This role is constantly in the facilitator's mind and they are always looking for ways of stimulating the participants to clarify their thoughts and to share them with the group. The facilitator needs a sound understanding of the conceptual process to facilitate this.
- We will then move on to the next set of practices and feedback. As we move through the practices we will find that they are developing in depth and that the subsequent feedback from the other participants and the course facilitator is also increasing in complexity.
- This is the end of day three and some short but focussed evening work will be given to the participants to help them prepare for tomorrow and to link their learning from today into the final day.
Session 13: 9.00am - 11.00am
- The start of day four brings us to the dimension of feelings, looking at the emotional reality of facilitating, understanding the repercussions of the fact that you are facilitating human beings with emotional responses not machines and whatever the content of the session may be it is people's emotions and feelings that affect what they say, how they hear others words and how open they are to integrating the two.
- This is not about working in a "touchy-feely" manner, it is about understanding the psychological processes that affect how individuals in a group communicate and what drives their behaviour. A facilitator who understands this dimension and feels competent to make interventions focussing on it is able to design more effective sessions and handle situations that arise.
- We will look at the responsibilities of the facilitator in the arena of feelings and also the boundaries, being clear about what this actually means in practice. This session will take us back to look at psychological safety which we touched on in the early part of the programme, this time we will go into it in much more depth.
- We will also look at the stages of group development and how these tie in with the emotional journey in a group and what issues commonly come up at the various stages.
- The second half of the session will be taken up the next set of practices and feedback and parallel process means that these are often picking up on the issues we have been looking at in the sessions.
Session 14: 11.15am - 1.15pm
- In this session we are going to explore in great depth the confronting dimension, understanding the role of the facilitator in confronting obstacles to group progress, clarifying the main categories of obstacles and the benefit of the facilitator acknowledging this part of their role.
- A group where the facilitator is skilled in observing the group progress and able to make interventions to help the group examine obstacles and unpack them is an effective group.
- We will identify participants ideas around effective group behaviours and also ineffective ones.
- In what is one of the major issues for a facilitator we will breakdown the process of identifying obstacles and then deciding what action to take. We will look at the three main options; of structuring a response, of managing the group around the obstacle and of processing the obstruction. We will look at the facilitator's decision making process and highlight the potentially unconscious traps that exist.
- Within the processing option we will look in detail at exactly what this means, how to do it, including the language choices and the likely consequences of choosing this path.
- Then we will move onto the next set of practices and feedback.
Session 15: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
- This session is about the underlying values of the facilitator that determine the behaviours and interventions. Being conscious of intent before starting means that the facilitator has much more likelihood of arrival at the desired outcome.
- The final set of practices and feedback take place next.
Session 16: 4.15pm - 6.15pm
- In the final session of the programme we will start off by reviewing the process that participants have been engaged in for a lot of the last two days, that of practice and feedback. Identifying which of these two activities link back to their work we will analyse the experiences an extract individual learning from the process as a whole, focussing on how the facilitator would use the processes back at work.
- Next we will return to the learning diary which participants have been filling in throughout the programme and they will review and collate their learning from this. They will begin this process individually and then collect together with others to share and explore their main points they have identified.
- We will pick up on the key issues of supervision and support for participants future work and identify the options and strategies available and outline the importance of continuing development of both skills and understanding.
- Participants will then move into an action planning phase to put their key learning into practical steps to bridge the move back into their professional careers.
- We will revisit the course objectives from session one and participants will evaluate how far they have been met for themselves and for the group.
- The course closure will pick up any unfinished issues and participants will be awarded their certificates as appropriate.
The FDP - Example Timetable
The FDP (a four day masterclass in groupwork) is recognised by ILM (The Institute of Leadership and Management). You'll receive a certificate from the ILM plus 12 months studying membership. Elements National Centre No: 004814.
The Facilitator's Development Programme was first run in Sept 1994 for NatWest Insurance Services.
It has been running continually since then and well over 1,000 facilitators have now completed the programme, it has been held all over the world.