Many people ask about training and certification for independent facilitators. Certification or training programs are often an easy and clear way to prove someone’s skill, experience, and/or expertise. However, facilitators come from diverse backgrounds with rich experiences and skills that are not achieved through one specific pathway. Independent Facilitation is a non-regulated practice, which means that there is no universally recognized local, regional, or federal authority, regulatory or accrediting body that holds the liability or provides monitoring for independent facilitators.
As a self-regulated profession it is expected that when independent facilitators initially meet with a person; his family and/or significant others; they will review with them the Guide for Ethical Conduct as well as their relevant experience.
Independent Facilitation involves a complex set of skills and capacities that are gained and proven over time. It is critical that persons new to the practice take the time to understand this complexity by observing and learning from more experienced and skilled facilitators at work. This involves careful job shadowing and mentoring so that new facilitators can learn the craft little by little through hands on participation, reflective practice (reflecting on experience) and co- facilitation. There are a variety of different approaches across the province that work within the same values and operate out of the basic tenets of facilitation and planning. Each of these approaches offer complementary perspectives and add overall to a facilitator’s body of knowledge.
Mentoring is a highly valuable safeguard for facilitation practice. Working alongside and entering into dedicated dialogues with experienced mentors helps less experienced facilitators to integrate the values and principles of practice. It also assists facilitators to gain insight into the capacities they need to cultivate in order to work meaningfully within families and with groups of people. Experienced mentors guide mentees to set and achieve personal goals and enter more fully into reflective practice. It is important to note that mentoring is a practice that is regular and ongoing. Even experienced mentors regularly seek out other mentors from whom they can learn. This is part of their commitment to lifelong learning.
Guide for Ethical Conduct
Those who engage in Independent Facilitation shall demonstrate ethical conduct in the following ways:
- Act in an ethical manner with integrity, competence, diligence and respect with those they serve*, community members and other colleagues within the social service field.
- Act in accordance with the values, philosophy and principles of person- directed planning.
- Respect the right to privacy and confidentiality of those they serve in all they do including all professionally acquired information, and disclose such information only when properly authorized or when legally obligated to do so.
- Place the integrity and the interests of those they serve above their own personal interests and not exploit the relationship with the person for personal benefit, gain or gratification;
- Use reasonable care and judgment to achieve and maintain independence and objectivity in engaging in all aspects of practice. Report any abuse or neglect or suspicion thereof.
- Participate in self development and commitment to reflective practice: Maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current best practices in their field of activity, and undertake ongoing efforts to maintain competence through active participation in a community of practice, formal and informal learning and mentoring. Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong, collaborative learning.
- Develop and maintain appropriate documentation relating to their practice that is clear and understandable for the purpose of accountability.
- Disclose conflicts and make full and fair disclosure of all matters that could reasonably be expected to impair their independence and objectivity or interfere with their respective duties to those they serve.
- Review costs: ensure that any costs associated with any fee for service or other fee structures are discussed prior to entering into the work.
- Review the values and principles of independent facilitation and planning with those they serve prior to being formally engaged in the role.
- Measure one’s own achievement by the progress made by those served and carry out ongoing evaluation of efforts to date.
- Practise and encourage others to practise in a professional and ethical manner that will reflect credit on themselves and the profession.
Furthermore, practitioners engaging in Independent Facilitation are required to approach their work with an ethic of “doing no harm” in order to ensure that those they serve are not made more vulnerable through entering into the relationship. They need to acknowledge that the attitude, dedication, self-discipline, ideals, training and conduct they demonstrate determines the level of trust invested in them by those they serve.
* Note: “Those they serve” includes: people with developmental disabilities their families and/or significant others of their choosing.
This Guide will be adapted and modified by the community of practice regularly over time.
Adapted and modified to suit Ontario context from the following sources: Coaches Association of Ontario Code of Ethics; Insurance and Financial Communications Association; Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers Code of Ethics.