Facilitation is any activity that makes tasks for others easy, or tasks that are assisted. For example:
- Facilitation is used in business and organizational settings to ensure the designing and running of successful meetings and workshops.
- Neural facilitation in neuroscience, is the increase in postsynaptic potential evoked by a 2nd impulse.
- Ecological facilitation describes how an organism profits from the presence of another. Examples are nurse plants, which provide shade for new seedlings or saplings (e.g. using an orange tree to provide shade for a newly planted coffee plant), or plants providing shelter from wind chill in arctic environments.
A person who takes on such a role is called a facilitator. Kaner defines facilitator as follows: "A facilitator is an individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. She or he is a “content-neutral” party who by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group’s work. A facilitator can also be learning or a dialogue guide to assist a group in thinking deeply about its assumptions, beliefs, and values and about its systemic processes and context"(Kaner: 2007: xv)
A neutral leader who makes a process easier, e.g., a Session Leader. The term Facilitator is derived partially from the Old French "faculte" via Latin "facultas", or parallel form of "facilitas". Both were derived from Latin "facilis" or easy, an adjective formed from the verb "facere", or to do. Retains a connotation of easiness whereas derivation meant closer to capability or power—combines the dimensions of both enable and empower that align well with Tuckman and similar models of group behavior.
Gary Rush, IAF CPF defines Facilitator as follows: "A Facilitator is a content-neutral task leader who forms a group of people into a collaborative team supporting consensus and uses a range of processes to enable the group to accomplish their task. The Facilitator is responsible for the context." (G Rush: 2013)
- The term facilitator is used in psychotherapy where the role is more to help group members become aware of the feelings they hold for one another (see Group psychotherapy)
- The term facilitator is used in education to refer to a specifically trained adult who sits in class with a disabled, or otherwise needy, student to help them follow the lesson that the teacher is giving (see Disability)
- The term facilitator is used to describe people engaged in the illegal trafficking of human beings across international borders (see Human trafficking)
- The term facilitator is used to describe those individuals who arrange adoptions by attempting to match available children with prospective adopters
- The term facilitator is used to describe someone who assists people with communication disorders to use communication aids with their hands. See Facilitated communication
- "Facilitator's Glossary - MG Rush Facilitation Training". MG Rush Facilitation Training & Coaching. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
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- Articles on FoCuSeD™ Group Facilitation Training by Gary Rush, IAF CPF now MGRconsulting