Facilitation Styles (John Heron)

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Ways of facilitating and helping people. Explanation of Facilitation Styles of John Heron. (1975)


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Facilitation StylesWhat is the Facilitation Styles model? Description

The Facilitation Styles framework by John Heron distinguishes between 6 possible means of analyzing a range of possible therapeutic interactions between a client and a helper. Heron defines an intervention as an identifiable piece of verbal and/or non-verbal behavior that is part of the practitioner's service to the client (2001).

Origin of the Facilitation Styles Framework. History

John Heron (b. 1928) is a pioneer in the creation of a participatory research method in the social sciences. Heron is known for his work on intervention styles.

An early model (1975) by Heron was called the Six Category Intervention Analysis or Six Facilitative Interventions and had six facilitation styles in two main categories:

  1. Authoritative Interventions. The practitioner takes a more dominant or assertive role, taking responsibility for and on behalf of the client.
    1. Prescriptive Intervention. Directs client by giving advice and direction.
    2. Informative Intervention. Seeks to give knowledge, information and meaning to the client, by giving instruction.
    3. Confronting Intervention. Challenges behavior or attitude of the client by direct feedback.
  2. Facilitative Interventions. The practitioner seeks to enable clients to become more autonomous and take more responsibility for themselves.
    1. Cathartic Intervention. Helps client to express and overcome powerful thoughts or emotions. Empathizes.
    2. Catalytic Intervention. Helps client to reflect, discover and learn. Asks questions.
    3. Supportive Intervention. Builds up client confidence. Praises, values and supports the client.

Later Heron refines his model to 6 dimensions and 3 decision-modes, and calls it: the Facilitation Styles Model. (Figure).

Usage of Facilitation Styles. Applications

Strengths of the Facilitation Styles Model. Benefits

  • Creates awareness of current and possible helping styles.
  • Framework to communicate and discuss teaching or consulting styles.
  • Can be used at both individual and group level.

Limitations of the Facilitation Styles Framework. Disadvantages

  • To be able to change in facilitation style towards autonomous modes requires shifts in behavior, values and skills.
  • From lecturer to facilitator, from expert to mentor, from control to risk, from structure to ambiguity.
  • Not all people will be ready for advanced ways of help. "I just need you to tell me what to do now".

Book: John Heron - Six category intervention analysis. Human Potential Research Project. University of Surrey (1975) -

Book: John Heron - The Facilitator's Handbook (1999) -

Book: John Heron - Helping the Client: A Creative, Practical Guide (2001) -

Facilitation Styles Forum
  Corrupt Interventions after Heron
Heron was keen to ensure that the ethical aspect of caring was maintained throughout the client journey and so included the category of corrupt interventions ie interventions that suited the needs of the clinician or therapist over and above those of...
  How to Become an Authority as a Consultant?
I am currently researching the development of a model which maps the process of becoming an authority in some chosen field of expertise (focused on business management).
The model is focused on business/management consultants who wish to further...
  Four Sets of Activities of Donaghue
John Heron's work focused on the relationship between the helper and the client.
In 1992 Charles Donaghue incorporates a responsibility for the relations between the learners (members, learning teams, those that are facilitated) and their organ...

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Best Practices - Facilitation Styles Premium
  Facilitation Styles of van Maurik
J. van Maurik argues good facilitators are those who are able to give accurate and flexible responses to their teams. He develops four styles that can be used in the facilitation process, each of which is useful in different group characteristics. A...

Expert Tips - Facilitation Styles Premium

Resources - Facilitation Styles Premium

NLP: The 6 Neurological Levels

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is used increasingly by businesses and individuals in HR, marketing, sales and organizational development
Usage (application): 6 layers to view at the reality of a person or issue

Building the Helping Relationship

Superb article by MIT Professor and OD consultant Edgar H. Schein in which he concludes that:
"... The decisive factor as to whether or not help ...
Usage (application): 10 Principles for Facilitative Consultancy

Increasing Group Participation: The 3 I's of Participation

Steve Davis explains his model to increase Group Participation.

There are three types of participation:
1. Physical participation (act...
Usage (application): Increase Participation in Groups (Workshops, Trainings, Project Teams)

Facilitation Styles Diagram

Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in intranets, websites, books, ma...
Usage (application): Facilitation, Consultancy


Facilitation Styles Heron


Intervention Model Heron


Facilitation Styles Heron


Intervention Model Heron


Facilitation Styles Heron


Intervention Model Heron


Facilitation Styles Heron


Intervention Model Heron

Compare with Facilitation Styles: Coaching  |  Mentoring  |  Managerial Grid  |  4 Dimensions of Relational Work

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