Working in small groups appears in all kinds of organizations, throughout all industries, yet in healthcare fields such as psychiatry, psychology, social work and counselling, many practitioners and clinicians do not receive training in basic group facilitation skills. They are more often trained for a one-on-one setting. Although we have practitioners who desire to bring group work into their practice, they may lack the required skills to facilitate groups. The Veterans Transition Training Centre’s five-level program is for those clinicians who are competent and confident in an individual setting, want to learn how to work in a group setting, but may not have had the opportunity to learn these unique skills over the course of their education. It is for these individuals that this Veterans Transition Training Centre program exists.

Level I_ Group Facilitation Skills Train


Time Requirement: Two and a Half Days 

LEVEL II focuses on Life Review, a information sharing and group building technique that helps to ease group members into the group environment. Many of us have difficulty discussing personal or sensitive issues about our lives, let alone in a group setting with people we may not know. Rather than talk about these issues, the Life Review teaches group members to think about them, to write about them (in reply to questions provided) and to read them to the group and then listen to the impact their stories have on the group. As each group member reads his or her story, with each member being given equal time, with the group listening respectfully, group cohesion develops. The telling of these personal stories, sharing them with others, is important. The process is eloquently summarized by Dr. Westwood when he says, “In order to go forward, you have to know where you’ve been.” 

Time Requirement: Two and a Half Days 

LEVEL III focuses on the group therapeutic process and is the level at which the program becomes more clinician focused. As mentioned in our introduction, many clinicians are trained in individual counselling and psychotherapy but they are not trained in facilitating therapeutic groups. This client-centred level is the introduction to the group therapeutic process and how to facilitate and promote group member change and growth. Introductory reading is provided beforehand to provide background on the theories and models of the group therapeutic process, while additional learning is undertaken through watching videos as well as observing actual sessions, both of which present the opportunity to learn group leading skills from professional leaders. LEVEL 3 aims to develop core facilitator roles, competencies and responsibilities in order to stimulate change. Prominent theoretical frameworks integrated into this level include Yalom’s Interpersonal Model of Group Psychotherapy, Perls’ Gestalt Therapy, and Wallen’s Model of Communication.

Time Requirement: Five Days

LEVEL IV Incorporating the theoretical teachings of prominent trauma researchers Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk, LEVEL 4 focuses on learning about trauma theory and the foundations of a group-based intervention called Therapeutic Enactment (TE). TE is a group- and action-based technique for repairing pre-existing traumas or trauma-related injuries. Clinicians will learn how to screen members into a group; they will learn leader roles, and they will learn approaches to facilitate and co-facilitate TE in groups (co-facilitation is a highly effective approach that sees two leaders backing each other). Clinicians participating in this training will also have an opportunity to experience a “Mini Therapeutic Enactment” tailor-made for themselves. Clinicians will be encouraged to draw on their own life experiences in order to participate and to design a meaningful TE experience. This level, therefore, offers clinicians a therapeutic benefit because they will be able to integrate back into their own lives a somewhat less traumatic reaction to something that happened to them. “Clinicians cannot deliver this therapy to others,” says Dr. Westwood, “unless they understand the process as lived.” Most psychotherapeutic interventions are verbal; Therapeutic Enactment is behavior- and action-based. The desired outcome is for clinicians to experience a change process in an enactment format; and so, to experience the sensitivities and the cautions that result and the structures that are needed to make repairs; this will, in turn, make the clinician more effective in working with their clients. LEVEL 4 is highly experiential.


Time Requirement: Five Days

LEVEL V Having moved through the previous levels, with each level being more complex and requiring more practice, all the while increasing the skills and competencies of the facilitator, LEVEL 5 will focus on teaching clinicians how to prepare, plan and conduct. Therapeutic Enactments for their clients. Here, clinicians will learn foundational components such as how to identify client groups, how to contact and screen clients, and how to gauge the length and duration of exercises. All of these endeavours have the aim of qualifying the clinician to become a certified Therapeutic Enactment group-based facilitator, fully able to build group competencies toward working through a trauma-informed approach.


Contact Us



University of British Columbia 

2125 Main Mall 

Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4

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This project was developed in partnership with the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Poppy Fund.