IAF Methods

Be useful

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30 - 45 4 - 6
This process is used to discuss questions or issues that puzzle or bother someone in the group.
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The facilitator can use this process to either introduce a new method that would be helpful for the participants and their work or when he/she thinks that someone could use the other's input without taking too much of their time.


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    Setting: No material is needed, recommended: however, is a chart board in order to write down the different steps and time frames, and post-its/pencils to write down the advice.

    Number of participants: Group to be divided into subgroups of 4 - 6 persons.

    Time needed: The method itself requires about 15-30 minutes; however, including the introduction and reflection, a time of about 30-45 should be scheduled.

    Ideal conditions: For this method social skills e.g. respect for others are required.

    Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: There needs to be a certain level of trust between the facilitator and the participants as a problem has to be shared.


    1. Form subgroups of 4 - 6 persons.
    2. Ask which participant(X) has a problem/issue with which he would like to get some advice from others.
    3. Appoint someone to keep track of the time and procedure.
    4. Make sure everybody understands the different steps for advising participant X, and which are the following:
    5. Participant X has 5 minutes to explain his/her problem and to articulate his/her expectations about the outcome. The others only listen.
    6. The listeners now have 5 minutes to ask participant X informative/probing questions only!
    7. The next 10 minutes are used to think about the issue and to give participant X suggestions. Participant X will only listen to the advice and information that is given to him/her by the other participants. The tips can be noted on post-its and handed to participant X as a "gift".
    8. What follows is a dialogue of about 10 minutes between participant X and the other participants to elaborate on the suggestions. Here socratic questions can be helpful (What, Why, When, How, Where.)
    the last step, the facilitator encourages reflective questions like: How did you experience the procedure? Have you been successful in supportive thinking? Have the expectations of X been fulfilled? What useful things did the others pick out for themselves?


    Follow-Up Required: There is no follow-up required; however, participant X could inform the others about the outcome of their inputs.

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: One or more solution(s) to participant X's problem. "Gifts" of advice. 

    Potential pitfalls: If participant X is not open to new solutions, it can be very frustrating for the others to occupy themselves with his/her problem.

    How success is evaluated: The process is successful when participant X is satisfied with one or more solution(s).


    Source: Patrick Boel - June, 2006

    Alternative names: Supportive thinking instead of negative criticism

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