Guide To Facilitating

Ideally the facilitator is a health care worker who has direct experience providing or managing clinical care for survivors of sexual violence and intimate partner violence in humanitarian settings, and has experiencing in facilitating interactive, participatory training.

A good facilitator should:

1. Set Ground Rules

It can be helpful to set ground rules at the beginning of the training together with all participants to start to set a safe, trusting, and participatory learning environment and review these regularly.

2. Manage Time

Pay careful attention to time and manage time well. Provide clear instructions about the agenda, length of the sessions and activities. Before the end of each group activity, tell the participants how much time remains. It can be helpful to “park” or write questions on a flip chart on the wall to be answered later when time allows.

3. Encourage Group Discussions

While facilitating, ask the participants questions to facilitate discussions. During activities, circulate among the groups to check understanding. Offer suggestions to prompt further discussions, and provide feedback. Encourage participants to take turns presenting. Provide positive and constructive feedback.

4. Emphasize That Sharing Is A Choice

Emphasize to participants that they do not have to share personal beliefs, opinions, values or experiences with the group. While group participation is both strongly encouraged and required, sharing personal beliefs or stories is not required.

5. Promote Confidentiality

Emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Explain that participants should not share any identifying information of patients, survivors, family or friends. They may share difficult cases at work, but information must be anonymous. Do not ask participants directly about any of their experiences of violence. If personal stories are shared, they should remain confidential and not shared with others. If someone does share a personal story of violence, connect with them privately and to offer support.

6. Acknowledge Difficulty of The Topic

Acknowledge that some training topics can be distressing and difficult, especially for participants who have experienced or witnessed violence. Discuss how participants can take care of themselves during the training. Offer the option for participants to leave the room if needed, speak to the facilitator for support or access support. Share available supports or hotline numbers.

7. Encourage Self-reflection and Explore Personal Beliefs and Attitudes

Emphasize that everyone has their own experience, values, attitudes, and beliefs. Facilitators should create space for participants to openly and respectfully explore and reflect on their beliefs and values, and how this impacts a safe, supportive environment for survivors.

8. Addressing Harmful Points of View and Managing Difficult Discussions

This training can stimulate many questions and debates. Facilitators must challenge beliefs that justify, support, or condone violence and encourage participants to critically engage with their own values, beliefs, attitudes, and actions.
If a participant does express a harmful statement:

Stop and kindly explore the statement (“Let’s talk about that statement for a minute”) or if you cannot do so immediately, return to it later.

Involve others: Ask the other participants what they think about the view, if they agree or disagree, have alternative views, and why

Learn why they hold the opinion: Ask the participant why they feel the way they do, probe and prompt further

Offer another opinion: If no one else has a different opinion, offer an alternative opinion in a respectful, non-threatening way and ask participants what they think.

Avoid lecturing, telling people they are wrong, being confrontational or disrespectful

Acknowledge the limits of 1 facilitator and 1 training to change long-standing harmful beliefs and attitude

Re-enforce that the role of health care providers to provide survivor-centred, empathetic, non-judgmental, safe and supportive first line support and clinical care to survivors of sexual violence and intimate partner violence, and to follow professional medical ethics