ON BECOMING A FACILITATOR -
WHAT ARE THE DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GROUP FACILITATOR IN A PERSON-CENTERED WAY OF BEING?
This is a subject which has evolved for me over a long period of time from my experience in workshops and intensive groups including Szeged, Ireland, the Soviet Union, and South Africa This statement is a summation of work Shirley Shochot, my South African colleague, and I did in 1987 with a group that had come together for further preparation as facilitators in both one to one and group relationships. Over a period of seven days we acknowledged our mistakes and shared our thinking and feelings with increasing openness. It was a difficult, painful, and rewarding experience. Our deepest and most important learning came from a misunderstanding that was not identified until the final session. Both ethnic and cultural diversity were factors It has become increasingly clear to me that there is a very real similarity, although some differences (e.g. I am more fully a participant when I am in a group), between being a facilitator of a group and being a helping person, therapist or a counselor in the one-to-one situation. One similarity holds for me and that is that when I am a facilitator of a group or when I am a therapist or a counselor working in a one-to-one relationship, I am clearly aware that I am present primarily to facilitate a climate in which the other or others will find it possible to grow toward a full realization of their potential. If I have issues of my own or deep concerns of my own, I will have found or will find ways in which to gain the support and the clarity which I need. I will not put it on the group and I will not put it on my client if I am aware.- - - - Of course, lack of awareness is where the real seat of the problem lies. If I am deeply involved in my own concerns, my own anxieties, my own pressures of which I am not aware, then it is probable that in some way I will be conveying all of these involvements unknown to me into the therapeutic or facilitative relationship. For that I cannot be responsible except to be constantly on the alert that I am congruent within myself as nearly as it is possible for me to be. In other words I will try to be as genuine with myself as I can be at this time. Beyond that I cannot be responsible. This is largely a matter of awareness and intent. And I believe that many therapists who are struggling to find the delicate role of a therapist in a person-centered relationship may become confused and involved in a spate of theoretical terminology and academic jargon. I hope I shall be able to stay straight as nearly as it is possible for me to define. I shall then be able to attend to the needs of the other unless my own concerns become distracting and block the way to deep, empathic listening and non-intrusive understanding. Only when my own needs become so strong as to prevent my being fully present for the other would I communicate my inability to be genuinely present until I had taken care of my own needs. This does not mean that I abdicate my part in a group or that I abdicate my personhood in a one-to-one situation. I will be as totally present there as it is possible for me to be. I will be as deeply empathic entering into the experience of the other as much as possible. I will not put myself aside and be uninvolved. Undoubtedly in my experience this kind of presence with another person or persons is the most demanding, active, gentle and powerful way of being. It is one which I want very much to be understood as I meet with and talk with more and more groups of persons who are committing themselves to becoming more effective. I probably will be repetitious here. It is important to remember we are here not to establish a training program but to facilitate the growth of facilitators and those who would become facilitators in a person-centered way of being. It also is very important to me that I call attention to the fact that so far as I have been able in his lifetime to listen to Carl I never heard him say these are the demands placed upon the facilitator. I have heard him say, "It has been my experience that when I can be genuine with myself, when I can be accepting of the other without condition, whether or not the other agree with me or do as I would like the other to do, when I can be deeply empathic so that I can enter into the world of the other person as if it were my own, knowing always the difference, then I can be open to the intuitive part of me in that relationship." I find many times that learners in this whole area are likely to be very demanding upon themselves and feel if they cannot live all these attitudes and characteristics all the time, then they have failed . It is very important that I have unconditional positive regard for myself as well as for the other, then I can allow myself leeway when I cannot be deeply empathic, congruent, or accepting all of the time. The moments in which I feel best about myself are those moments in which all three characteristics come together. These are so very important, important for just one of these attitudes or conditions. But it is these three in a kind of balance as if they are fitting together as a whole globe like one of those puzzles of solid material. I would like also to say four separate parts because the fourth one which Carl began to work on was the intuitive. And so to the other three I would add the fourth, which is the self, the power of trusting intuition. Coming back to the metaphor again, this globe, this ball of solid material has been cut in some way into four interlocking parts in a free flowing kind of form so that each complete piece fits together with the others to form the globe so that the divisions between the parts are not apparent.