Why do Facilitators need Certification?

Why do Facilitators need Certification?

Author:  Steven Five CMF
Certified Master Facilitator & CCF Assessor,
INIFAC (www.inifac.org)
Source: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/tZ1-m06qPwZ0lIl8DWefcw
Regarding the facilitator ’s certification, the most frequently asked questions include:

What are the authoritative, international certifications available?
Why go for certification? What will certification bring?
What are the conditions and requirements for application? What are the fees? What is the validity period?

I am sharing a little of my knowledge and views here, and I welcome your critique and correction.
Firstly, I would like to talk about my understanding of facilitation certification related information.
Currently, the common certifications for facilitation fall under two aspects :

1. Certificate for having learned a particular facilitation technique or method
An example is a certificate of completion awarded for having attended training for a specific technique. However, this generally represents that the person had participated in this training, and it does not necessarily mean that he has acquired the relevant competencies. At the same time, it is also questionable whether or not he has truly grasped the technique. I believe this point is not difficult to understand.

2. Certified facilitator’s competencies
This aspect and concept of certification is the focus of this article. Such certifications, are awarded by international organisations, by using a series of professional processes and steps to assess the facilitator’s qualifications, industry experiences and core competencies. Only when one had met the certification standards would he be given the title of a certified facilitator.

What are the authoritative, international certifications available?
Currently, there are three authoritative, international facilitation organizations, and there are four
different types of facilitator’s certifications:

  1. IAF (International Association of Facilitators), CPF (Certified Professional Facilitator) certification
  2. INIFAC (International Institute for Facilitation), CCF (Certified Competent Facilitator) certification and CMF (Certified Master Facilitator) certification
  3. ICA (The Institute of Cultural Affairs), CTF/CToPF (Certified ToP Facilitator / Certified ToP) certification

Why go for certification? What will certification bring ?

When I first started to learn facilitation systematically, I never thought of going for certification. Having the interest to learn and getting a lot of good practice is enough, why should I go for certification? Besides, I did not intend to specialize in this profession (my original thinking). Being a full-time trainer for more than 10 years, I have seen many different “certified” trainers of varying standards. As a result, my perception towards so-called “certification” is biased.

Subsequently, when I had a conversation with Ms Janice Lua (INIFAC CMF assessor, co-founder of Singapore Facilitators Network), she asked if I have ever thought of participating in facilitator certification. I shared my above direct views with her.

Janice expressed that she understood my views, and at the same time, she also raised a question: “If you just practise on your own behind closed doors, how will you know your level of competency in facilitation?”

This question jolted me, and led me to think over it for a long time. Indeed, when I facilitate and receive feedback from clients and participants, such feedback is not enough to answer this question. After all, only the industry experts will be able to give me more professional and specific comments and support.

Therefore, with the intent of receiving assessment critique, I applied for INIFAC’s CCF certification in 2014 and I was certified in the first half of 2015. Then, with the encouragement of many teachers and peers, I started to apply for INIFAC’s CMF at the end of 2015, and I was awarded CMF in 2016. Finally, I passed the CCF assessor assessment, and I was formally appointed as an INIFAC CCF assessor.

1. Assessment of competency: Understand one’s current level of facilitation competency through the certification assessment

Currently, there are three international facilitation organizations that provide certification: IAF, INIFAC and ICA, each with a set of criteria and processes to assess the core competency of the facilitator. It gives the applicant a full range of challenges and hands-on opportunities to review their facilitation standards.

2. Expert feedback: Obtain specific, professional feedback and recommendations for improvement

Using INIFAC certification as an example, after the submission of forms and video assessment, a detailed feedback report will be received, whether one had passed or not. In this report, the assessor will give a comprehensive range of professional feedback and recommendations for improvement to help the facilitator follow-up. In view of the professional standards of the assessors, this feedback is very valuable.

3. Industry recognition: Professional affirmation through certification

Because of the professionalism and authority of the certification body, being a certified facilitator implies that one’s professional competence and experience is being recognised. It represents industry standards and recognition.

4. Business opportunities: Access to more business development and collaboration opportunities

The current market varies greatly with different types of “facilitators”, and it is challenging for a client to select a qualified facilitator. When experienced clients look for a facilitator, whether the facilitator has an international certification is a very important criteria. In the United States, Canada and Singapore, facilitators being internationally certified has become one of the criteria for government procuring facilitation services. Even if I am in the project lead, I would first consider working with another certified facilitator should I need a partner.

For the client, facilitator certification is also valuable. Just as the INIFAC Director of Certification, Michael Wilkinson CPF, CMF says, facilitator certification gives the clients four benefits:

1. Skills
A certified facilitator has been proven to possess a certain level of facilitation skills and competencies. In IAF and INIFAC certification system, a facilitator is required to exhibit six core facilitation competencies. For example, in CCF certification and CMF certification, the applicant not only need to go through a written test on core competencies, he also has to undergo a simulated case video assessment.

2. Experience
In IAF CPF certification, INIFAC CCF certification and ICA CTF certification, it is required of the applicant to have at least seven successful facilitation cases over the last few years. For INIFAC CMF certification, it requires at least 30 successful facilitation cases within three years. These enable the client to have more understanding of the facilitator’s experience.

3. Client Feedback
In the IAF, INIFAC and ICA certification process, applicants are required to submit a certain number of client reference letters. The client feedback from these letters is often very objective and credible.

4. Peer Review
The assessors have a wealth of facilitation skills and practical experience, thus the quality of certified facilitators is guaranteed.

The above four points can be summed up as:
Skills are guaranteed
Expectations on experience
Verification from clients
Quality of assessment

Here is Michael Wilkinson’s “Benefits to Becoming a Certified Master Facilitator” video. In this video, Michael explains in detail the benefits and value that CMF will bring to the customer and to himself. (Permission to reference to this video has been given in writing by Michael Wilkinson).

What are the conditions and requirements for application? What are the fees? What is the validity period?

For more information on the three international facilitation organisations and related certifications, such as application conditions, requirements, fees, expiry dates, etc., please check the certification organisation’s official website to find out more and enquire.

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