UNDERSTANDING STYLES OF FACILITATORS
There are many different facilitation styles. Prior to the start of any group, it’s very important to
clarify your role as facilitator to yourself and to the group members. This way, expectations are
clear and less anxiety is created. It is also crucial you not switch roles partway through any
Below are brief descriptions of four different types of facilitators: Directors, Educators, Guides
and Mentors. As you read them, think of circumstances in which you have used each of these
styles, and question whether it was the right style for the appropriate group. Keep in mind that
the role of the facilitator depends upon the needs of the group at the time and the group
EDUCATOR: The primary role of the Educator as facilitator is to provide information. It
should be assumed by the group that the Educator brings expert information about a topic that
the “audience” doesn’t have. The information can be relayed in a variety of ways: lecture,
experiential learning, question and answer period, or a combination of all three. It can be formal
or informal, based on the person’s comfort and style. The challenge with the Educator
facilitation style is that it can be difficult to also manage the group process at the same time as
delivering the information throughout the entire meeting. It can be difficult to balance both.
DIRECTOR: Facilitating by Directing has its appropriate role, although it’s not usually a good
style to use when one is trying to create group cohesion or trying to empower its participants.
However, a Director as facilitator may be necessary if there’s a conflict between two people or
strong dissention among the group. In that case, the Director serves much like a mediator. Your
style is strong and unbiased with lots of interjection. In other words, conversation goes through
you in this case, rather than back and forth by the group members. Decision-making, direction,
and managing of the meeting is accomplished by the facilitator.
GUIDE: (THIS IS THE FACILITATION ROLE MOST EFFECTIVE AND IDEAL)
In the role as Guide, the objective is for you to promote an environment where group members
are able to see the value in one another and build relationships directly with one another. The
Guide offers open-ended questions, nurtures the conversation and helps the group use one
another as valuable resources. Eventually, if the group is healthy and productive, the Guide
could eventually leave the room and the group could continue on its own. This style is
particularly good when facilitating on-going groups and/or support groups. The goal for the
Guide is to gradually turn the power over to the group and allow the group members to make
decisions for the group.
MENTOR: Often times we think of a mentor as a one-on-one adult to youth relationship.
However, a mentor can be any age, mentoring peers, youth, individuals or groups. As a Mentor
as facilitator within a group setting, your role is a little of Educator and a little of Guide. It may
be appropriate for you to provide information and answers, but there is also room for participants
to explore their own answers and use one another as resources. The challenge with this type of
facilitation style is to know when to offer information and know when to stop talking in order to
allow the group members to process with one another.