I, Elisabeth, have a lot of passion for facilitation and I have recently decided that I would like to offer support to people who facilitate Peer Support groups for people who hear voices and have other sensory experiences. See more here
So I wanted to share some reflections on my relationship with facilitation.
To facilitate means to make something possible or easier. I think we can facilitate stuff all day long if we want to and the list of things we can facilitate is probably endless.
We can facilitate love, communication, curiosity, openness, laughter, emotional expression and anything else we believe is a meaningful part of daily life.
Facilitating something doesn’t mean that it necessarily happens or happens in the way or at the pace I might hope or expect – I see it as opening or clearing a space, collecting ingredients I think could make something happen or nurturing the soil in which I have planted seeds.
It is about sitting in the space where I set my intention and dedicate myself while also staying open to the uncertainty of any process.
For me the most important thing in facilitation is that it happens from within and that I bring myself to the situation. I try not to be a teacher, an expert or an authority. I am not there to educate or lead. I am there to make something possible, to try and be part of making whatever is going to happen, happen with more ease. Even painful stuff…
Ironically, this is not easy. Not for me anyway – but it is worthwhile.
For me it is an ongoing practice and very much learning by doing. Which is quite scary at times.
Nowadays facilitation has become something we associate with running groups or meetings. And there are a lot of books, tools and models that look at the best way to facilitate a meeting and which skills can be useful to develop.
I am not a naturally sociable person and in some ways it seems paradoxical that I have developed a passion for communication and facilitation.
But I think the passion comes from the struggle. All the hard work I have had to put in to understand and navigate communication between myself and others. I have memories from childhood spending a lot of time going over conversations and interactions I had either been part of or witnessed and trying to understand what was going on – both on a mental level but just as much on an emotional and energetic level as these would often feel more real to me that words that were spoken.
Later when I was in my 20’ies I did a lot of work learning to be part of a group – a Hearing Voices group as it happens. I was terrified of groups and it took a long time for me to figure out how to make it work for me. To feel safe, to feel able to express myself and to feel able to listen. To witness what happened in the group without blaming myself for everything. And also to not get overwhelmed by group dynamics or things that people brought to the group and just quit.
Doing that work had amazing rewards I couldn’t have imagined. I ended up spending 8 years attending this Hearing Voices group and in that space I learned so much. I witnessed the magical journeys of my fellow group members and I made friends that hold a very special place in my heart and in my life story. It also helped me develop the confidence to organise and deliver training. Being able to be part of a group made a lot of other things possible for me.
I still find that communication, groups and social activities are a lot of hard – and very conscious – work for me. I have to do a lot of processing and debriefing after engaging with other people. Even writing texts or emails can feel a bit daunting and there are days where I have to avoid it because I don’t have the headspace to navigate communication.
And yet trying to make something possible together with other people is deeply satisfying for me.
To end this blog I thought I would share some of the things that I find helpful to explore, nurture and keep alive within me in this work
- connection to my breath and my heart beat
- holding things lightly
- honouring diversity
- being with pain
- not knowing