We have found that personal characteristics are more important than any specific training, credentials or degrees. In terms of the former, the crucial dimension is being open to learning.
This has several aspects, but central is self-awareness:
- How much are you aware of your own issues and needs? (We don’t expect anybody to be without them but it is important to know when and how one gets “hooked.”)
- How much are you in touch with your feelings and emotions? Since feelings are such an important part of the T-group learning process, it is important to be aware of your range of emotions. And are you aware of those emotions that might be difficult for you to directly express?
- How able are you to take risks? This includes being able to self-disclose, to try new behaviors and push yourself into new (and perhaps difficult) areas. Tied in with this is an acceptance of making mistakes.
- How do you trap yourself; what are your learning edges? (It turns out that being open about your learning goals is one of the best ways to “facilitate.”)
- Your willingness to look at yourself including potential strengths as well as underdeveloped aspects of one’s self.
We do not expect perfection in the above categories. We do expect a willingness to learn. In fact, a trainer’s openness to learning is just what we want to model to participants. Are you willing to seek and accept feedback? To move into new areas that may be a “flat” or undeveloped part? And to accept not being perfect and accept making mistakes?
Neither the IDFTP nor the course itself is intended to be “therapy.” Although clinical skills can be helpful to the facilitator, the (typical) therapeutic detachment is not useful. We expect the facilitators to use their own feelings and reactions in their interactions in the group. It is not a requirement to be proficient in skills and techniques of conducting T-groups (that is what you will learn in the IDFTP), but it is a requirement to have participated in a T-group that is based on the model of T-groups taught in our Interpersonal Dynamics course. While other approaches to T-group are quite valuable, the style typical of facilitation (neutral, objective facilitator) is different enough from our approach (personal, engaged, authentic facilitator) that such an experience will not give you a good sense of what will be expected of you as a facilitator in our program.
It can be helpful (though not necessary) to have one or more of the following:
- Experience facilitating small group interactions (team building, process consultation)
- Clinical training (including one’s own therapy)
- Prior academic or continuing studies course work in interpersonal and group behavior
We are committed to building a community of facilitators that is as rich as the diversity of our student population. While we have no quotas or targets, demographics do play a role in the selection process. In particular, we encourage internationals, men, and people of color to apply.
You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be selected for this program. Failure to satisfy the requirements will exclude you from the program.
Because the training program constitutes a major time commitment, trainees are advised to make sure that their other (work/family) pressures are such that they can take this time without feeling pulled in too many ways. It is fair to assume that the commitment of energy and emotion involved in this program will lead you to spend somewhat more time on this experience than we have already outlined. If work/family or other obligations are likely to pull you away, we ask that you apply another year.
It is imperative that everybody, including facilitators, commit to all the formal meeting times. Absence not only interferes with your learning but the learning of the other facilitators and the Interpersonal Dynamics students. Attendance is especially crucial for the student T-group meetings, and since we make it a course requirement that the students attend all of those sessions, we have to do the same for you.
The initial two quarters of the program are rich in learning but also demanding and, at times, even stressful. Even though we will strive to build a supportive climate with conditions that support each individual’s personal rate of learning, you will experience the program as pushing you in many ways. Basic to the learning process is that people are willing to be open about their reactions to what is going on; and that self-disclosure applies to the facilitators (and staff) as much as it does to the students. The feedback you give is built around your reaction to another’s behavior (not your cognitive interpretation of their motives). You will be urged to fully get in touch with those reactions. Central to that are your feelings and emotions (of warmth, hurt, anger, closeness, competitiveness, and the like.)
Since we believe you will only be as good a facilitator as you are fully a human, we link the professional and personal. You will be spending much of the time in touch with and expressing your feelings and reactions. Some of these feelings and reactions are ones that you will feel good about and others will be ones you might not. But “everything is grist for the mill.”
People will find this experience more stressful if they have difficulties in self-disclosing, getting in touch with and expressing emotions, and being vulnerable, or if they have a strong need to “look professional and show how much they know.” These difficult areas are ones you will be urged to enter. We don’t expect you will do this correctly all the time; after all, this is a learning experience for everybody. What we do expect is a willingness to work on these areas (because modeling working on these issues is the best way to “facilitate” the group.)
Again, we need to stress that even though there will be times of high emotionality and self-exploration, this is not therapy. (For those presently in therapy, we ask that you discuss this with your therapist to make sure this would be an appropriate time for you to participate in the program.)