By: Anna Fautz
When facilitating online groups, there are various qualities that allow a person to succeed and enjoy their work. Exploring these qualities will help us see how we can relate with our strengths, and where we can expand ourselves to incorporate more skills. Here are a few qualities that you will probably relate to in some ways. Which qualities help make your work most enjoyable?
We all know that being self-disciplined brings benefits in almost every situation. There are a few ways that this quality can help with group facilitation, like being able to push through our struggles, and keeping up to date on best practices. Most days facilitating a group is a pure delight. At the same time, we all have days where we are tired, busy, or otherwise distracted. Self-discipline helps us to show up with an empathetic approach and be fully present for our members, even on our worst days. Additionally, a self-disciplined approach to our self-care and continuous education, will help us model self-care for our group members and pursue ongoing education that will allow us to deliver effective facilitation for our groups.
In school we learn that we must understand ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, in order to best serve our clients. This could not be truer than during group facilitation. To operate successfully as a group leader, we must understand where we fit into groups and how we relate to others. Having this knowledge and insight, doing our own inner work will allow us to relate in a very human way to the struggle and triumphs of others. Also, every time we facilitate a group, we have an opportunity to expand our self-knowledge and insight.
When keeping in contact with group members, it’s important to remember that we are not operating as an individual therapist, we are facilitating each member’s potential of improving their functioning through relating to and interacting with a group of their peers. With that said, the facilitator must be the cheerleader of the group encouraging members to show up, and responding timely to their questions or concerns. This means contacting members by phone, text, email, whatever way will engage them so that they have an opportunity to connect and group with their peers. Sometimes members will have extenuating circumstances that may require extra contact with the facilitator, such as a death in the family or other loss/emergency. These situations may require a few extra minutes of individual contact with the facilitator, the goal of the facilitator in these situations would be to encourage the member to share the news with the group and to continue with the group process amidst their struggle.
Whether it is technical difficulties, or fewer group members than expected, facilitating an online group always manages to throw a curveball of some sort. Sometimes these difficulties may force us to improvise on the spot with adjusting meeting content and managing our own feelings of frustration. These struggles can be seen as a chance to manage flexibility and emotional regulation. When fewer group members show up than expected, it is a good chance to spend more time on certain comments and ask more follow up questions. Whatever comes up, there is always a way to facilitate and complete the group in a meaningful way.
If you are interested in learning more about online support groups, please apply to join our 7Chairs’ amazing Group Facilitator Team, and join us in helping people find a sense of relief!