Posts Tagged ‘unconditional positive regard’

Person Centred Facilitation

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

When I trained to be a trainer – over 25 years ago – I was  very lucky that the course I went on was ahead of its time. It had a far  greater focus on the intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills and  facilitative skills of the trainer than other courses around at that time. It was  in many respects also a coaching course – before coaching was really spoken  about. Yes, I was very lucky.

And one of the foundation stones for the programme was the  work of Carl Rogers (1902 – 1987), whose work I have briefly referred to once  before (‘Problem person’ paragraph). Rogers (above) was an American psychologist who developed what  was known as the “person centred approach” and was one of the founder  of the “humanistic  approach” to psychology. His approach is underpinned by three pillars.

The first is the Realness in the facilitator of learning. This is all about the facilitator being real, being genuine. It is the most fundamental of the three pillars. Where the facilitator is genuine and open, they will enter into a far more meaningful relationship with the learner. The lack of a front or façade will help the learner gain more from the relationship. Practical benefits of this are that the learner is more likely to be open with the facilitator and co-learners, more likely to be honest about their weaknesses and more likely to accept feedback. All of which will bring about greater growth.

The second is Prizing, acceptance and trust. This is a set of attitudes that stand out in those who are successful in facilitating learning – it is unconditional positive regard for the learner. Rogers said, “I think of it as prizing the learner, prizing her feelings, her opinions, her person. It is a caring for the learner, but a non-possessive caring.” I think this last sentence fits very well with the Kahlil Gibran passage I focussed on in my last post. The ‘acceptance’ aspect relates to the learner being a separate person, having their own rights, values, desires and goals. And if the facilitator has a belief that the other person is trustworthy, there will be the required level of ‘trust’.

The third and final pillar is Empathic understanding. This has been developed further since Rogers’ work into a fundamental aspect of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Where a facilitator can listen effectively and comprehend the other person’s reactions from the inside, they will be far more sensitive to the person’s individual needs. This significantly increases the potential for a greater depth and breadth of learning –due to learners feeling valued and appreciated, not judged or evaluated.

I continue to use these three pillars to underpin my approach when I train, coach or facilitate. They are non-negotiable.

Furthermore, it is not possible to tell whether they exist within someone from a CV, qualification or tender. And so this is why whenever an organisation is hiring such a person to touch its staff, it should at the very least meet the person – even better is to witness them operate.

Rogers sadly died whilst I was undertaking my 11-week residential training course, however, the brilliance of his work lives on and I and many others attempt to bring it to life on a daily basis.

Paul