International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleIncreasing awareness about self and facilitation practice in preparation for transitioning to a new role – the critical reflective process of becoming a certified professional facilitator
Type of ArticleCritical Reflection on Practice Development
Author/sPauline Bergin
ReferenceVolume 5 , Issue 2, Article 8
Date of PublicationNovember 2015
Keywordsfacilitator accreditation, learning, mentorship, neutrality, outcomes, practice development

Background and context: I have been working as a practice developer in the Australian healthcare system for more than 10 years. For the last seven of those I was a lead facilitator for a practice development programme that is being implemented across a large statewide health service. The programme’s purpose is to create person-centred care environments that enable patient and staff empowerment. My role was in a small team that supported facilitators predominantly at local health district and state levels. The intent was to phase out the team over time as capacity increased and local teams gained the required skills and knowledge to continue implementing the programme. During the two-year final transition phase, a strategic plan was implemented to guide the development of systems and capacity that would support the programme once the team had exited. A decision was made to shorten the phasing-out period and during this transition period I found myself facing an unknown and unpredictable future, for the first time in my career promoting something other than my clinical nursing skills. As I transitioned into an independent facilitator role I wanted to consolidate my expertise as a facilitator, to gain further learning in specific areas and to achieve recognition of the facilitation skill set I had honed over time, and which has now become my way of working. Given that my experience was limited to the healthcare context, diverse though it is, I pondered which of my skills would stand me in good stead to enable groups and organisations as an independent professional facilitator and what additional skills I’d need. I was encouraged to become a certified professional facilitator by colleagues who were using process facilitation and person-centredness more broadly. This paper reflects my experience of the preparation, assessment and accreditation process, the feedback I received from my international assessors and how these are influencing my facilitation practice as I venture beyond the boundaries of the healthcare context, and more specifically nursing, with which I am so familiar.

Aims and objectives: To reflect on my experience of the facilitator accreditation process in the context of my practice development work with New South Wales Health, and the implications for my facilitation practice now and into the future.

Conclusions: This experience has enabled me to increase my awareness and understanding of my personal facilitation philosophy and practice, to gain insight into my strengths and areas for further development, to develop my skills during the rigorous process and to integrate the fundamental attributes and competencies that set skilled facilitators apart. It has also allowed me to reconsider facilitation in the context of my practice development experience and how I will incorporate practice development principles in my future practice, in healthcare and in other contexts such as community and social efforts.

Implications for practice:

  • Accreditation validates the facilitation skills of practice developers
  • Facilitative approaches enable sustainable transformation of individuals, and their practice, as they experience enlightenment, empowerment and emancipation
  • Neutrality about issues, decisions and outcomes enables the facilitator to guide individuals and groups towards increased engagement and ownership of outcomes
  • Development of expertise in facilitation is greatly enhanced through engagement in mentorship
  • The role of the facilitator is highly challenging, requiring skill, creativity, resilience and specific knowledge, especially in contexts where facilitation is not readily accepted or understood. Initial work requires preparation of the context and persistence to reap the rewards

This article by Pauline Bergin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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