Working with and Facilitating Groups
17 November 2021
Blending theory, practice and experiential learning, this one-of-a-kind course offers participants the opportunity to explore the processes and skills involved in planning, leading and reviewing a group – building understanding and confidence.
Working with and Facilitating Groups
This course aims to provide participants with an understanding of the processes and dynamics involved in working with groups – drawing on a range of key psychodynamic and therapeutic concepts to examine what’s going on above and below the surface of group life.
Crucially, it also addresses the practical logistics of establishing and running a group – “taking on board the context, the setting, whether it’s on Zoom or whether it’s in person, how long the group is for, what’s the task of the group, who’s coming to it”, says Peter.
The course typically attracts participants from a wide range of sectors and settings: “We’ve had people from every single background you can think”, says Stephanie, “Arts, Science, Technology, as well as the more practical psychologists, nurses, mental health workers”. And this variety enriches the learning experience, as participants are encouraged to learn from one another, as well as from the course facilitators.
“There is absolutely no similar course anywhere”, she adds, “and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re getting applicants from all over the place, including internationally”.
What does it involve?
The course is structured over 10 weeks, with each half-day session made up of three elements, within a “rich matrix of learning”:
- Theory: Every week, participants are invited to engage with different ways of thinking about groups – drawing on a range of online readings and videos, as well as a rich bibliography of resources, and personalised recommendations. In this way, all participants acquire a firm level of theoretical knowledge – “but from a very practical point of view”. Stephanie and Peter also let participants know about other relevant events and organisations, and further opportunities for training and supervision.
- Work Discussion: Time is also set aside each week for participants to share their own experiences of working with groups, through discussion with their peers. This is an opportunity to explore what does and doesn’t work in practice, to embrace the “messiness” of group work, and “to learn collectively from that”, explains Peter. “It’s a real practicum, a fulcrum for the course, in a way, that makes it real”. Participants are divided into two smaller groups, then encouraged to share their ideas to help make sense of the scenarios and dynamics described – drawing on their own experiences as well as the key concepts outlined in the course. The idea isn’t to come up with solutions to problems, necessarily, but to make space for reflection, and to explore the real life, practical application of the theories covered.
- Experiential Group: Facilitated by a Psychotherapist, the experiential group component adds an important extra dimension to the learning. “As much as we discuss the theory and practice, there’s nothing as practical as being in an experiential group”, says Peter. This gives participants the opportunity to “really explore some of those interpersonal issues that anyone has to attend to when they’re in a group” – further informing their understanding of the group experience, both as member and group facilitator.
While there’s always been a need for support in this area, the course feels particularly timely at the moment. Peter describes “a sort of economy of scale” in health, education and social care settings, where professionals are being asked to run groups without training or supervision, and with “little understanding of some of the issues and dynamics that occur”.
For those professionals, the course can offer “a template” for thinking about and approaching the process: “We hope that the course will enrich their knowledge and also give people the confidence to run groups on their own, if they haven’t done so before”, adds Stephanie.
Both Stephanie and Peter highlight the far-reaching impact of the training. There are immediate benefits to the individual participants: “We know from the feedback that we’ve had [...] how much use they make, even within this short space of time, of the learning that they do”, says Peter. But organisations also feel the benefit. By bringing the learning back to their places of work, participants are able to actively strengthen the baseline of knowledge and skills in their organisation, and make a positive difference to its culture.
“Ten weeks is quite tight to fit everything in that we need to do”, admits Stephanie, “but we manage it, we think we manage it well”.
Looking to deepen your knowledge of group processes?
The course is open to professionals from across all disciplines and sectors – including healthcare, social work and social care, education settings, the voluntary sector and beyond.