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The following Prospectus, written in 1985, was based on my experience of facilitating the second course of the Institute for the Development of Human Potential (IDHP) and of monitoring a total of 17 IDHP courses. It was designed to give practical expression to a model of radical education integrating confluence, hierarchy and parity.

TO: IDHP Committee Members    FROM: John Heron


Since I sent you the outline of a chapter for Dave Boud's book on adult learning, I ran an holistic education workshop for two days at the University of Surrey.

The second day of the workshop was an autonomy lab, and I took time in it to work out what sort of an IDHP course I would want to facilitate, taking into account the sort of issues raised in the chapter outline, and in our recent IDHP committee week-end at Bath.

I have reflected further on all this and have written the attached Prospectus.

I have no definite plans at the moment to launch an IDHP course using this Prospectus. But I would like to discuss the Prospectus with the committee at our next meeting, or, if time does not allow, at the meeting after that, in time set aside for ideology.

There is no copyright on this Prospectus and I am very happy for anyone to take from it anything they want to make their own.

20 April 1985


This is a prospectus for a two-year part-time course entitled "Facilitator Styles" which leads to an award of the Diploma in Holistic Psychology of the Institute for the Development of Human Potential. Holistic psychology embraces both humanistic and transpersonal psychology. The course offers a model of confluent education, and one which seeks to balance the political principles of hierarchy and parity. This is explained more fully below.

The Contract

1. The prospectus constitutes a contract to which all those who enrol on the course are asked to give their written assent.

  • Please read it very carefully and see whether it represents the kind of educational ideology and method to which you are, or feel you can become, internally committed. If it does not speak to you and your value-system, you would be well advised to apply elsewhere.
  • The contract itself is non-negotiable with course members: it provides the framework within which negotiation and participative decision-making can occur.
  • In its current form, it represents over 7 years experience of monitoring IDHP courses in the UK.

Confluent Education

2. The course offers a model of confluent education. By "confluence" we mean interweaving and running concurrently several different strands of learning and change, so that we have a holistic education of the person in their social, political and cultural context. This course identifies six strands of learning, each of which is elaborated in more detail as the prospectus unfolds:

  • Personal development, including also interpersonal and transpersonal development.
  • Theoretical understanding.
  • Writing skills, including existential, theoretical, project and poetic writing.
  • Facilitator skills, in relation both to individuals and to groups.
  • Social change development.
  • Political skills internal to the course.

3. The course focuses mainly on the personal development strand in the first two terms in order to establish a sure foundation in the soul for everything else. However, there are five important exceptions to this, and these exceptions launch the underlying model of confluent education, of running several strands of learning concurrently:

  • There will be theory presentations and seminars on the personal growth approaches used in the first two terms. This will launch the theory strand.
  • Personal growth work done in the first two terms will include work done on past conditioning about and past experience of writing. This will prepare to launch the writing strand.
  • In so far as co-counselling is used as one approach to personal growth in the first two terms, then everyone will get regular experience of the role of counsellor. The training for this role will launch the facilitator skills strand of the course.
  • One important aspect of personal growth is integration: that is, integrating internal re-alignment of the soul with current attitudes to and behaviour in the outer world; and this means practical changes in life-style and work-style. Integration work done in the first two terms will launch the social change dimension of the course.
  • Decisions about how to do the personal growth work in the first two terms, where it is not covered by this contract, will be reached by peer planning - in which members of the course make corporate decisions. This will launch the political strand of the course.

Personal Development

4. The term "Psychology" in the Diploma in Holistic Psychology which is awarded to-those who successfully complete the course, is construed first in terms of depth and second in terms of breadth. Personal development, construed as deepening of soul growth, is primary, and breadth of grasp of the basic modalities of humanistic and transpersonal psychology is secondary to it. To this end:

Participants contract to do 100 hours of personal work, deepening soul growth, in the first year of the course, at least 50 hours during course time, and the remainder between weekly meetings and in the vacations; and to keep a diary of this work. This work has five dimensions:

  • Regression and insight into the effects of past experience.

  • Expressive style, verbal and non-verbal.
  • Interpersonal awareness, openness and skill.
  • Transpersonal opening.
  • Integration, which means both integration of the previous four dimensions with each other, and above all, integration of what is developed within them with current actions (internal and external) in relation to the outer world.

Participants contract to balance these five dimensions, but what constitutes a balance is for each person to determine. They also contract to cover these five dimensions in the diary of personal work. The 50 hours personal work done during course sessions will be done partly during the weekly meetings and partly during the weekend workshops.

The following modalities are built into the first two terms of the course, in order to provide a secondary and supporting breadth of method to the personal work contract:

  • The first five weekly meetings are devoted entirely to co-counselling training and individual work in the group. Thereafter, co-counselling is used every weekly meeting for the first two terms, with a one hour each-way session per meeting, and with a one day three-hour-per-client marathon per term.
  • There are six weekend workshops, at monthly intervals, in the first two terms, run by visiting facilitators (who will be fully briefed about the personal work contract and to design their workshops accordingly), and they are in this order: Bioenergetics; Rebirthing; Encounter/Group Dynamics; Gestalt; Psychosynthesis; Expressive Style.
  • One hour of every weekly meeting for the first two terms will be devoted to transpersonal and altered states development: through ritual, meditation training, and altered states exercises.

Theoretical Understanding

5. The theory strand of the course seeks to provide non-alienating theory brought into relation with experience and action:

  • Appropriate theory will be integrated with the co-counselling training with which the course opens.
  • Appropriate theory will be integrated, with the growth modality weekends run by visiting facilitators during the first year.
  • Appropriate theory will be integrated with the facilitator skills workshops in the third term of the first year (see below).
  • There will be a significant theory component to the pre-planned time allocated to social change in the first year (see below).
  • There will be theory about the methodology of the course, and about the role of reflection in experiential learning.

Writing Skills

6. There is an important commitment to written work on this course. However, we seek to provide conditions such that the writing can become non-alienating and consonant with the rest of the course.

  • Hence you contract to delay doing any writing for the first two terms and to include in your personal growth sessions during these two terms work on your past conditioning about and experience of writing.
  • Thereafter you contract to write two or more personal/existential pieces before writing two or more theoretic/conceptual pieces, the minimum of all these pieces combined being 20,000 words for the whole course.
  • There is an additional piece of writing on a social change project in the second year (see below).
  • And alongside these sorts of writing we encourage occasional poetic/dramatic pieces.

Facilitator Skills

7. The facilitator skills training strand of the course starts with the training of counsellors in the co-counselling training with which the course commences. This strand is developed more fully from the start of the third term of the first year onwards. To this end:

  • The one hour each way co-counselling session at each weekly meeting continues throughout the third term of the first year; but with each counsellor now using at every session an intensive counselling contract (subject always to the client's right to change this contract because of special needs). This contract requires more facilitative skill on the part of the counsellor, so the term will start with two weekly meetings devoted to training in intensive counselling skills for co-counsellors.
  • There will be two weekend workshops during the third term of the first year on facilitator skills: Six Category Intervention Analysis; Dimensions of Facilitator Style. These deal, respectively, with facilitating individuals and facilitating groups. They will be buttressed by ten hours of facilitator skills training during the weekly meetings of the third term. How this time will be used for this purpose will be determined by peer planning.
  • Participants contract to devote up to five hours in the third term for the planning of the second year and contract to include in the second year plan not less than one quarter of the time devoted to facilitator skills training. Hence this strand will receive sustained attention throughout the second year.

Social Change Competence

8. The course as a whole is itself a piece of social change activity within the educational culture of our society. Specifically, the course focuses on social change in the following ways:

  • Participants contract to integrate personal growth work done on the course with the outer world through appropriate change in their life-style and work-style, and at their interface with organizational structures.
  • Facilitative skills are presented in the course in their social and political context and are seen as part of change-agent skills.
  • One weekend workshop in the third term of the first year, and ten hours spread over weekly meetings in the first year, are devoted to raising consciousness about social change theory and method. The content of this allocated time is non-negotiable.
  • Participants contract in the second year to engage singly or in groups in a social change project in the wider world, and to make this project the subject of one piece of written work.

Political Skills Internal to the Course

9. Political skills internal to the course refer to skills in peer planning and in balancing self-direction and cooperation in meeting a mixture of individual and corporate needs and interests. This is one aspect of the course itself seen as a social change activity, but merits special attention because it is so central to the destiny of the course.

  • There will be a peer decision-making training session at the outset of the course.
  • All subsequent peer decision-making will be time-limited on an agreed basis, both with respect to duration and frequency.
  • The peer decision-making process will be facilitated throughout the first year by the primary facilitator, who may, however, negotiate to delegate the role to a course member.
  • When facilitating peer decision-making the facilitator never imposes any decision outcomes.
  • Peer decision-making has a powerful role in planning and managing the second year.

Self and Peer Assessment

10. The course is committed to the use of self and peer assessment of learning and change on each of the six strands of the course - personal/ interpersonal/transpersonal development, theory, written work, facilitator skills, social change, political skills internal to the course, .

  • Self and peer assessment will be used, after appropriate preparation, before the end of the first year on all the strands; and again before the end of the course.
  • The Diploma will be awarded on the basis of such assessment, and also on the basis of an additional self and peer accreditation which authorizes the candidate to do particular kinds of facilitative work. The Diploma will have appended to it a folder' giving details of the final assessment and accreditation.
  • In the assessment and accreditation procedures the primary facilitator has no more and no less than one voice among the peers. Nevertheless the facilitator holds an hierarchical final power of veto since her/his signature is necessary for the award of the Diploma.
  • The Diploma is only held to be valid by the IDHP committee if the signatures of each of the following persons are on it: the candidate, a representative of their peers, the course primary facilitator, a representative of the IDHP committee.

Hierarchy and Parity

11. Participants contract to help create a learning community which seeks to find an aware balance and fruitful interaction between the principle of hierarchy and the principle of parity. These principles refer to who decides what is done on the course and how it is done.

The principle of hierarchy is represented by several factors, some but not all of which have been mentioned in the contract so far. They bear witness to the values and ideology of the IDHP. They are:

  • This non-negotiable contract as designed by the primary facilitator and the IDHP committee.
  • The role of the primary facilitator in facilitating personal growth work, facilitator skills training, social change work, theory sessions, peer planning, self and peer assessment in the first year.
  • The role of the primary facilitator throughout the two years as the guardian and upholder of this contract.
  • The regular supervision of the primary facilitator by one or more peers on the IDHP committee.
  • The ongoing role of the IDHP committee in receiving and monitoring regular reports on the course from the primary facilitator.
  • The Diploma carries the signatures of the primary facilitator of the course, and of a representative of the IDHP committee.

The principle of parity is represented by the self-determination and cooperation of participants on the course, within the hierarchical limits set by this contract. The parity factors are:

  • Peer planning of how to fulfil that proportion of the personal growth contract of the first year that is not already structured by this document.
  • Peer planning of how to use the 10 hours allocated by this contract to facilitator skills training during the weekly meetings in the third term of the first year.
  • Peer planning of how to use, in the light of overall course objectives, all the remaining unstructured time in the first year, including the whole of both five day workshops, and a considerable part of each weekly meeting.
  • Peer planning of the whole of the second year, including that quarter of it which is allocated by this contract to facilitator skills training. Such planning includes negotiating with the primary facilitator about how they will fulfil their role during the second year as guardian and upholder of this contract.
  • Individual and peer planning of the social change projects in the second year.
  • The use of combined self and peer assessment with respect to learning on the several strands of the course, such use occurring during the course, and at the end, together with self and peer accreditation, in relation to the award of the Diploma.
  • The right of course participants to attend, through one or more representatives, IDHP committee meetings in order to comment on its deliberations and to present their own concerns and interests. Course representatives do not, however, have voting rights at IDHP committee meetings.
  • The Diploma carries the signatures of the candidate and of a representative of their peers on the course.

Summary of Pre-planned Structure

Year One

To include 100 hours personal growth work: 50 hours in course time, 50 hours outside course time, with diary, on five dimensions. The 50 hours in course time is covered by the time allocated to co-counselling and transpersonal/ASC work during weekly meetings, in the schedule below.

Term One

10 weekly meetings of 6 hours each: first 5 meetings devoted to co-counselling training, with 1 hour per day on transpersonal/ASC; next 5 meetings include 2 hours co-counselling per day, and 1 hour transpersonal/ASC per day. Unplanned: 3 hours per day of the last 5 meetings.

3 week-end workshops: Bio-energetics; Re-birthing; Encounter/Group Dynamics.

Term Two

10 weekly meetings of 6 hours each: 2 hours co-counselling per day, 1 hour transpersonal/ASC per day. Unplanned: 3 hours per day for all 10 meetings.

3 week-end workshops: Gestalt; Psychosynthesis; Expressive Style.

Term Three

10 weekly meetings of 6 hours each: 2 hours co-counselling per day; 10 hours facilitator skills training over the term; 5 hours peer planning of second year over the term. Unplanned: average of 2.5 hours per day for all 10 meetings.

3 week-end workshops: Six Category Intervention Analysis; Dimensions of Facilitator Style; Social Change.

Unplanned: 2 5-day workshops during the year.

NB: To be fitted in to the unplanned parts of the course are: 10 hours of social change theory and method; self and peer assessment in the third term.

Year Two

One quarter of the total course time to be devoted to facilitator skills training; one social change project to be planned and implemented; self and peer assessment, self and peer accreditation, towards the end of the year; two pieces of existential writing, two pieces of theoretical writing, one piece of writing on the social change project. With the exception of these guidelines, the whole of year two is unplanned.