Facilitation Training Info – Original

This two-day facilitation training is a balance between Groupwork Institute input and a focus on people’s particular facilitation learning needs and challenges.

For workplace training, the finer details of the content can be negotiated prior to, and at the beginning of the workshop.

Training outline


Short course times: 9.30am – 5.00pm

Workplace training start times can be between 9:00am and 9.30am and finish times can be between 4.30 and 5;00pm, or as negotiated.

Day One

  • Introductions
  • Outline of the two days and agreements for our time together
  • Participants’ facilitation experiences and learning needs
    • What is facilitation? Role of Facilitator.
  • Groupwork Institute Facilitation Model

Morning Tea

  • Facilitation principles
  • Facilitation micro-skills – input and practice using participants’ learning needs


  • Work on learning needs using skills learned

Afternoon Tea

  • Group dynamics
  • Managing ourselves in groups
  • Reflection on the day’s learnings
  • Evaluation of day one– focus for day two

Day Two

  • Reflection from day one
  • Checking agenda for the day
  • Work on participants’ facilitation challenges. Most likely focus:
    • conflict in groups
    • challenging behaviours
    • managing and pacing time
    • ‘flat spots and hot spots’
    • more work on managing ourselves in challenging encounters

Morning Tea

  • Other areas that could be focused on, depending on people’s needs:
    • designing outlines and agendas
    • negotiating facilitation work
    • dealing with deep distress
    • dealing with anger
    • collaborative decision making
    • facilitating effective meetings

This will be undertaken through input, discussion and practice.


  • There will be opportunities to do more in-depth practice using socio-drama. This method uses people’s real experiences. It focuses more on the challenging aspects of facilitation

Afternoon Tea

  • Reflection on learnings
  • What participants will do differently
  • Evaluation

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Training content – Facilitation Training

Understanding ourselves in groups

The more we understand our own inner ‘selves’ and their interplay, the better facilitators we will be. First facilitate thyself! Come prepared to know (and accept) yourself better! This will entail:

  • mapping our own Community of Selves
  • getting to know and working on the fears and other self-limiting messages that hold us back as group facilitators
  • develop the emotional resilience to manage our own reactions when faced with challenging group dynamics.

Group dynamics and the role of the unconscious in groups

So much of what goes on in groups has an emotional content. Much of it is to do with our unconscious. Gaining an understanding of these dynamics enables participants to better harness the full potential of the group. We will look at:

  • the difference between a ‘group’ and a collection of individuals
  • the creation of openness and trust in groups
  • a framework for understanding the unconscious, and its effect on people’s behaviour
  • understanding the unconscious dynamics at play in groups.

Building groupness

For groups to work at their best together, we need to build a  sense of groupness. Our experience is that we need to spend the first quarter of our time together ‘building the vehicle within which we will travel’. It is creating an environment where people feel they can work well together that will enable the group to maximise its effectiveness. This includes:

  • understanding the journey to groupness
  • activities that build groupness
  • process design to build groupness
  • the importance of the physical environment to build groupness
  • the role of risk-taking in creating groupness
  • the importance of the facilitator’s role in creating groupness.

Essential principles of facilitation

Facilitation practice needs to have a strong, collaborative value base.  As facilitators we need to be clear about our approach. We will look at:

  • the central values and principles of facilitation
  • the role of the facilitator
  • using our principles to plan with flexibility.

Micro-skills for facilitation

There are a range of micro-skills essential to facilitation. We say that effective facilitation is 20% good process, and 80% good facilitation skills. It is these micro-skills that bring facilitation to life. Some of these skills will be familiar to you, some will be new. In this training, we will introduce a number of micro-skills. For example:

  • naming and normalising
  • validating
  • helping people hear each other
  • facilitatory leadership
  • hearing and validating people’s contribution
  • synthesising group wisdom
  • welcoming difference – facilitating strongly held differing views
  • dealing with un-named dynamics.

Gathering and pooling the wisdom of the group

Often as facilitators, we are so focused on getting through our agenda, we miss opportunities to incorporate the wisdom of the group.  We know that people learn best from their own insights and validation of what they already know.  However, this is easier said than done.  Particularly in the experiential aspect of this training, we will look at:

  • starting with wisdom from the group and building from this
  • hearing and synthesising peoples’ ideas
  • gathering wisdom from all in the group
  • relating workshop content to people’s experiences
  • getting ownership of content
  • facilitating vibrant discussion
  • encouraging and working with difference
  • understanding how our own rank affects our facilitation
  • working with significant differences in rank with the group.

 Dealing with conflict in groups and other ‘hot’ situations

Most of us have fears and avoidance behaviour around all sorts of challenging encounters. As facilitators, such behaviour will reduce the effectiveness of our work. We need strategies to deal with our own, and other’s feelings and reactive behaviour.

We could look at:

  • understanding our responses to conflict or the expression of strong feeling
  • working with ‘hot spots’ and ‘flat spots’
  • facilitating strongly held differences
  • facilitating conflict between participants
  • bringing out what might be going on beneath the surface, when this is getting in the way of people’s learning
  • helpful processes for surfacing and working through conflict
  • challenging behaviour – domination, aggressive or needy behaviour, etc.
  • challenges to your facilitation
  • challenges to your presentation content
  • skills to intervene in dynamics you find particularly challenging.

 Other topics that could be covered:

  • Role theory as it applies to group dynamics
  • Collaborative decision making
  • Strategic Planning
  • Self-care
  • Facilitating in organisations
  • Evaluation – quality assurance

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Our capacity to do this work

We have been providing independent facilitation services since 1984, and have been training facilitators since 1998. In 2001 we first offered the yearlong Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation, the first of its kind in the world.

This two-day training draws from:

  • Our own Model of Facilitation which has evolved from our experience of offering facilitation services since 1984.
  • We first offered facilitation training in 1998 when we ran a nine day intensive. Since then was have offered various forms of facilitation training to a wide variety of participants.
  • Our experience of offering this particular facilitation training format publically and within workplaces since 2003. We continually refine this work in response to participants’ feedback and integrating new material from the broad realm of facilitation.
  • Our involvement in the broad realm of facilitation. We are active members of the International Association of Facilitation, foundation members of the Australasian Facilitation Network, and we initiated the Victorian Facilitation Network monthly peer support meetings.
  • The units we have developed in the Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation. This Advanced Diploma is approved by the Australian Skills Quality Authority – Course Code 10386NAT – as the world’s first nationally accredited facilitation qualification.

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