The Facilitator as Consultant

When working with a new client the facilitator will usually start out in the role of repair person. The client comes in because there is something wrong, something she has a need of changing or fixing. It's like when you would call a plumber. You wouldn't just call a plumber for nothing, just to see what he has to suggest. You would call if your drains are plugged, or you would call if you need some new pipes laid while you are remodeling.

But after a while the obvious complaints have been fixed. The drain is no longer plugged, the faucet is no longer leaking. That might have taken a couple of visits or it might have taken months. Then what?

You could just let the client go home, happy that her problem has been fixed. There is nothing particularly wrong with that. We do processing so that people can put more of their attention on enjoying what they are doing in life.

However, there is much more we can do for people. But the game changes once the client has handled her most obvious issues. For one thing, we can no longer appeal to the person's need for being fixed, if she feels perfectly fine.

What we need to start appealing to is the person's more long term desires and aspirations. And if she doesn't have any we will show her what is possible and help her accomplish it.

Typically there is a shift from a negative to a positive direction. Or we could say that the client changes her focus from moving away from stuff she doesn't want to moving towards stuff she does want. Some people come in and ask for positive things right away, and that is great. But most people will first have their attention on stuff they want to fix or get rid of, and then, when that has been alleviated they start thinking about what they would really like to do.

It is valuable if the facilitator knows how to handle the client's transition from needing to be fixed, to wanting new and better experiences in life. If the facilitator doesn't do anything about it she will probably mostly have clients for a short time. Nothing wrong with that, if that is what you prefer. But if you plan on keeping clients longer you need to change your role.

The facilitator's role changes to being much more of a consultant. She will show people what their options are, what kinds of things one can do, and she will help them and guide them to get to where they would like to go. The facilitator will be the travel guide.

The facilitator needs to have an overview of areas in life one could work on and how one would go about improving them. She must be able to suggest subjects to the client, and to help her choose what she wants to deal with first. And then the facilitator must be prepared to lay out a program for how to get there.

She doesn't have to have all of that in her head. She might use notes and charts and lists or index cards, or whatever. She must be aware, however, that her job isn't to get the client through a rote program. She needs to be flexible enough to help the client evaluate her choices and choose a direction, and to help her traveling in the direction she chooses.

The facilitator is a consultant working for the client. As soon as possible we want the client to be on a path of personal improvement in life. She needs to be taking responsibility for that path herself. But the facilitator will assist her as much as possible by suggesting choices, handling obstacles, establishing a continuity, providing supporting principles and techniques, etc.

The facilitator needs to be a person that others will feel comfortable coming to for help, advice, and guidance. She needs to appear as somebody who knows things, and who inspires confidence in what she does or says.

To do that the facilitator of course needs to have studied some things. But really, the issue is not learnedness. It is more an attitude than anything else. The facilitator needs to start BEING a professional consultant right away. What specifically she knows or can do is secondary to that. She needs to feel like somebody who can help people, she needs to feel that she has something to give. Even if she doesn't know exactly what it is yet.

Previous / Next / Contents