Facilitation is integrally related to all of the other services we provide. Thus, we not only plan, train, and consult with groups, we facilitate the implementation of these efforts. In addition, we facilitate Chapters and assemblies, communal discernment processes, groups experiencing conflict and resistance to change, and we provide facilitator training for communities seeking to bolster their own internal facilitation capacity.
Our approach to facilitation is unique for several reasons. As clinical psychologists we understand group dynamics and how to work with challenging behaviors certain individuals might present. We have gained a reputation for successfully facilitating groups where other facilitators have failed to achieve breakthroughs. We appreciate the value of working through resistance (not around it). We seek to harness the power that conflicts and tension bring to a group, rather than plan processes that avoid this hard work of change. Our clinical and organizational background, along with over thirty years of experience, has given us many insights and tools to facilitate communities and organizations through the complex work of deep change and transformation.
Chapter and Facilitation Services
We provide the full range of facilitation services regarding the planning, implementation and evaluation of various change processes (e.g., reconfiguration and refounding), as well as visioning, communal discernment and decision-making as well as discernment and elections of leadership. We are particularly known for our work with Conflict Resolution and Working Through Resistance. For more information…
For a more complete discussion of communal discernment, please obtain a copy of Dr. Dunn’s articles in Review for Religious, in our Resource section under published articles:
Dunn, T. (2012). Interior Freedom: A reflective guide and exercise. Submitted to Human Development.
Dunn, T. (2005). Where two or more are gathered. Review for Religious, 64 (3), 230 – 241.
Dunn, T. (2004). Electing leadership through communal discernment: Goals, myths, and gifts. Review for Religious. 63 (3), 230-243.
Guidelines for Chapter
Guidelines for communal discernment
Chapter and Assembly Facilitation
Integrating Affairs and Elections
We have been facilitating Chapters and Assemblies for over 30 years. We work in partnership with the leadership teams or planning committees in order to create the goals and processes. This advanced planning ensures that group participants can come prepared and know what to expect. We also know that the spirit of group moving in real time may not sync up with even the best plans. This frequently requires a need to adapt in accordance with the spirit, rather than persisting with plans that no longer fit the needs of the group. Our years of experience have given us the confidence and flexibility needed to adapt on our feet so we can address both the planned and emergent agendas.
We facilitate communal discernment processes for the election of leadership as well as for deciding other major issues. Communal Discernment is especially suited for those “big” issues that deserve such a faith-filled and time-intensive approach. The gifts of discernment are among the most profound that any group can experience (e.g., grace-filled, reconciliation, deepened partnership and ownership).
Most religious have extensive exposure to personal discernment, but relatively less exposure, let alone training, in communal discernment. What many groups say they have done "communal discernment" when it was actually personal discernment done in a communal context. We help communities grow in their capacity to listen to and integrate “my will” and “our will” in order to strengthen their discernment of "God's will." With training and facilitation groups can grow substantially in their experience of communal discernment and discover “holy ground” in assemblies and Chapters.
Facilitating groups through conflict
The challenge of conflict and resistance
The greatest liability that communities have for doing the work of transformation and change is the limited capacity to deal with conflict. Yet dealing with conflict is essential as transformation inherently challenges the statues quo. The great the change that is sought, the greater its alter ego of resistance to change. In order to guide groups through the turbulence of transformation it is essential to orchestrate and facilitate the work of conflict resolution:
Interventions to assist local communities or members who are struggling.
Helping you become your own best resources
Communities use "outside" facilitators on a regular basis. This is especially important when the the issues they are facing are complex, when members are highly invested in the outcome, or when the issues are likely to evoke conflict and resistance. However, there are many occasions when members of a community can facilitate their own processes. For instance, they might provide table facilitation at Chapters or assemblies. They might members might facilitate their own in-house meetings. Or they might help facilitate a delicate conversations between other members.
We believe in helping communities become their own best resources and
Facilitating Transformation and Systemic Change
The work of deep change
Like most consultants we regularly assist organizations with strategic planning geared toward systemic change. What distinguishes us from most consultants and facilitators, however, is the guidance we provide groups in their efforts toward "transformation." What's the difference between strategic planning and the kinds of processes geared toward transformation? Read on...
Becoming your own best resources
We are committed to strengthening the resources available in communities and that includes helping them become better facilitators for their own gatherings. We believe in and wish to foster the strengthening of such resources, rather than perpetuating dependency by doing for others what they can do for themselves. That’s why we offer facilitator training, to help communities strengthen their capacity to facilitate their own business.
Relying on “outside” facilitators
Most communities do not wish to rely on “outsiders” to facilitate their gatherings. Indeed, not every Chapter or assembly warrants outside facilitation. However, even if you have skilled, professional facilitators in your own community, it can sometimes be unwise to use them for facilitating your own internal gatherings. For instance, when:
Passions are sure to be high and conflict is likely to erupt;
Facilitator neutrality is important;
There is a pattern of disruptive interactions among participants during such gatherings;
There is a high-stakes decision to be made
You have tried member/leader facilitation in the past and it hasn’t not worked well;
You do not want those members/leaders who would facilitate to be taken out of the discussion.