Six Dimensions of Facilitator Style: the educational model

© 1977 John Heron

three uses

I use the analysis as a training tool both for initial and in-service training of group facilitators.  In a training setting it has at least three uses:

(a) To raise consciousness generally about the range of options and strategies available to the facilitator, and about the educational implications and effects of different facilitator profiles across the six dimensions.

(b) As a tool for self-assessment and peer assessment, so that a facilitator can gain some sense of her personal strengths and weaknesses in the facilitator role.

(c) To devise a series of training exercises in which trainee facilitators can practice different types of trainer style, each exercise calling for a different profile across the six dimensions.

For further discussion of training, see the section on Training techniques towards the end of this paper.

the facilitator as educationalist

I assume throughout an educational model for experiential learning groups of all kinds, including so-called psychotherapy groups.  I see the facilitator as an educationalist, not as a therapist - whatever the setting.  The concept of education is thus extended to include such notions as personal development, interpersonal skills, working with feelings both expressively here and now and cathartically through regression work, transpersonal development, social action skills.

a mutually supportive education for living

The concept of therapy maintains an arbitrary excessive and unreal distinction between the mental state of the helpee and that of the helper.  I see human beings, by virtue of certain general features of the human condition, as vulnerable beings who are differentially distressed: some have manageable amounts of distress that coincide with prevailing behavioural norms in the culture, others have relatively unmanageable distress given the prevailing norms - but all require a mutually supportive education for living which shares skills in relating to feelings and other features of intrapsychic life, in relating to persons and social structures and situations, as well as skills in relating to data and information of all kinds, in relating to objects, things and the natural order.  The heavily distressed and disoriented may require specialist remedial education, but to call this education rather than therapy provides a more honest, authentic and promising climate for change.

© 1977 John Heron

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