Facilitation - A reciprocal process.....not a replication

Just recently I have had a lot of researchers, academics, artists and students watching what I do and or asking about what I do and why...

It is always interesting to take stock and to reflect even though being observed by the nicest of people can make you feel a bit prickly! Here are some thoughts that emerged...

I work best when working collaboratively and creatively and with some mutually agreed principles. Simple ground rules which everyone agrees upon are something I like to aim for when beginning work with new groups/partners. Alongside this, getting to know who people are is really important: the journey they have been on thus far...having a sense of what motivates them and also sharing my motivation and journey.

Wisdom from ourselves rather than being told, noticing what our own experiences are and how then to hear and feel the experiences of others...no one has to be right or wrong.. This is why much of my work within community, health and cultural settings centres around rituals...the art of doing together...of being in relationship of learning and teaching each other in a reciprocal exchange.

In understanding your self you can begin to be able to hear and be open to the experiences of others. You don't have to do things in just one way, there are many right ways to approach projects, questions, problems and challenges. In working with people I seek to encourage experiential inquiry and exchange so that change happens through them and through the process of attending not assuming or imposing. 

In this way teaching and learning become more broadly owned and understood and can spill through and spread. We can all teach since we all have things to share and we can all learn since we all have the capacity to attend and absorb.

Being open to change and being able to adapt are essential life skills, adaptation and response allows us to be in relationship so that the much measured, much talked about quality of  " resilience" can become a reality. I embrace adaptable agendas and encourage others to see that unexpected outcomes can be revelatory, celebratory, inspiring and equally as valuable as the expected outcomes.

 I have created and facilitated effective, inclusive creative programmes for with people living with dementia, have developed highly successful community engagement programmes and  parental engagement programmes. I have worked fluidly within social services, education, health and arts agencies often being asked to be the facilitator who "softens the edges" around perceived fears of change. In doing this work I utilise a range of dance and theatre skills, creative/responsive writing and storytelling but mostly I trust my intuition  my experience and my observational skills.

For people looking for a model to replicate that will address  'health and social issues' through the arts then none of this will make convincing reading.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in making connections, are interested in communities and being part of changing things via consultation, curiosity and adaptation then maybe this is helpful. You have to be in the process yourself, you have to value the changes you seek to make for yourself. You can't replicate a practice if essentially you remain outside looking in...measuring...analysing distancing yourself from the very thing you want others to do.

It is interesting to watch how those that observe and analyse and shuffle statistics can shift their thinking by being, doing and feeling, however reluctantly and lightly they paddle at the edge of that experience.

As one researcher recently commented

"Oh I feel  so great...so relaxed. I had no idea I was so tense. Everything has slowed down...not sure how that happened"  

Well now that is exactly where I can help - let's talk together!!

LeverhulmePaula Turner