This month’s training webinar topic, Facilitation in Action, is the finale of a four-month series on facilitating support groups. The previous months’ topics were How to Assess if Your Client is Group Ready, Ethical Responsibilities of Abortion Healing Providers, and Support Group Guidelines. Each of this month’s speakers has facilitated groups for years, trained facilitators, and participated in support groups.

What are the most common problems support group facilitators experience with group participants?

During last month’s webinar on group guidelines, providers shared via online survey that the most common problems they experience with support group participants are:

  • Monopolizing conversation
  • Not attending all sessions
  • Giving advice
  • Filling silence

This month’s training showcases how to effectively navigate each of these issues.

How can facilitators best respond to these challenges to create positive group dynamics?

Lisa Rowe, licensed mental health therapist and Support After Abortion CEO, led an engaging, educational, and rather entertaining four-part role play with Greg Mayo, Men’s Healing Strategist, and Heidi Inlow, Case Manager, to illustrate best practices for facilitators – and what not to do.

Lisa played the role of facilitator, something she is well-versed in having done so in real life for over 100 support groups. Greg and Heidi played group participants. Greg earned the collective amusement and irritation of attendees for his expert portrayal of a problematic participant. Perhaps his acting was honed by real life, as he said at the outset that he would be playing a past version of himself having been a source of each of these problems at some point over his many years of attending and facilitating support groups. Heidi and Lisa also perfectly showed how these problems creep in, often without any intentional thought. Lisa demonstrated how facilitators can miss the mark, as well as how they can navigate these challenges, redirect conversations, and successfully guide reflection and dialogue.

As the role plays unfolded, attendees observed which of the four behaviors was being depicted, what went well, and what didn’t go well in the role play group.

Recap – Watch the Video!

Normally our recaps provide the meat of our training webinars so that people who prefer to read a recap rather than watch the hour-long video replay will be able to receive all the important information in a text format. However this month, to receive the content, essence, and significance from the role playing, you really need to listen and watch to observe and absorb each person’s words, facial expressions, body language, non-verbal cues, etc. – just like in an actual support group. So, we’re just going to provide you with a short summary, a few highlights, and then encourage you to watch the replay! We think you’ll really enjoy it – and learn a thing or two or ten that you’ll want to incorporate into your next support group facilitation adventure.

Monopolizing the Conversation

Man, Greg did a “fabulous” (read “really irritating”) job monopolizing the conversation. Look for how Lisa missed the mark as a facilitator in setting the tone from the outset by oversharing and talking too long. Look for how Heidi responded after Lisa’s and Greg’s lengthy openings. Then watch for how Lisa shifted and shows how a facilitator can do a better job setting the structure and consistently following through on expectations.

Advice Giving

Look for how Lisa again illustrates missing the mark, this time by interjecting unsolicited advice. And watch how Heidi perfectly portrays a participant jumping in to offer unsolicited advice directed to another participant. See how in both cases the result truncates the conversation and the sharing person’s processing of their own thoughts and feelings, and how it boxes them into only the direction of the advice. Then observe how Lisa gently redirects the conversation to set a healthy boundary and explains to the group the reasons behind doing so.

Skipping – or Skipping Out During – Sessions

In the third role play scenario, look for how Greg’s mid-session disappearance – and how the less-than-ideal way in which Lisa deals with it – shuts down Heidi’s ability and willingness to speak and work through the emotions she was getting ready to dive deeper into before the interruption. Then reflect on Lisa’s pivot and her example of how to better deal with such a situation. Several ideas offered by attendees were discussed.

Filling Silence

Observe how Lisa effectively sets the expectation and skillfully redirects as needed to safeguard silence for reflection. Many attendees commented on how illuminating this filling silence role play was. One new facilitator said she realized during the role play that in her group they all – including herself – interject during others’ stories. She said it was helpful to see through the role play what holding space means and that she will bring that into her group. Another provider said, “It was great to see a real life example of what it looks like to intentionally invite silence into the conversation.”

Don’t Miss It!

Attendees shared how helpful the role plays were – both for seasoned and new facilitators. Many said it was a great way to teach/demonstrate what to do and what not to do when facilitating support groups. Click here to watch the video.


Men’s Keys to Hope & Healing Video Facilitator Training Series

Greg shared that after months of work by many Support After Abortion team members, we are launching our new Men’s Facilitator Training video series!

Greg noted that as he travels and speaks he sees more and more men coming forward and sharing their stories and their desire for healing. This resource fills a gap to train men to facilitate KHH support groups for men.

Both the Men’s Keys to Hope & Healing Client video series and Facilitator Training series will be added to Bright Course / Bright Training this fall.

Click here to email for more information about Support After Abortion’s coaching program for facilitators.

Click here to register for the next Abortion Healing Provider webinar.

Click here to access Support After Abortion’s Resource Library.

Click here to explore Support After Abortion’s services, resources, and training for Abortion Healing Providers.