Facilitation: Processing 

Processing is about understanding what happened in the session and how it relates to the overarching treatment goals. Everything is a process and, at each moment, we are in a cyclical exchange of contributing and receiving something to the process (Itin, 2003). Processing is about understanding this idea and using it. Processing is also the techniques that we use to keep the process going, to engage in ongoing assessment, to match our interventions to client needs, and to support clients in maintaining progress toward their desired change (Gilbert, Gilsdorf & Ringer, 2004; Luckner & Nadler, 1997; Nadler, 1993).

Processing includes actions of the practitioner aimed at enhancing client self awareness and changes in client's behavior - both in the context of treatment and outside of the treatment session. Processing encourages observation and reflection on the here and now experience and development of metaphoric connection to other life situations. Processing can be guided by practitioners and by clients. The choice of processing strategy is closely related to the facilitation strategy used in matching the intervention (Gass, 1993a; Hammel, 1993; Knapp, 1993; Gass, 1993b; Bacon, 1993; Smith, 1993; Ringer, 2003).

Facilitators enhance processing by:

  • Sharing observations of client behavior throughout the activity at the point of performance (Estes, 2008).
  • Establishing and affirming metaphors that clients bring to the treatment experience as well as analogies that arise from the content of the material that is expressed (Gass, 1993; Estes, 2008; Priest & Gass, 1993).
  • Connecting the client's typical way of responding to life experiences to functioning in the session (Gass, 1997).
  • Identifying thoughts, behaviors, and emotional responses that enhance or interfere with the client's strengths and movement toward achieving his or her treatment goals.
  • Encouraging experimentation with new or healthier responses to experiential stimuli.
  • Sharing information from the practitioner's personal experience of the activity that may enhance the client's learning (Lung, Stauffer & Alvarez, 2008, Itin, 2008; Estes, 2008).
  • Choosing the most effective way to begin reflection, including discussion, art, journaling, or other adventure-based interventions (Knapp, 1993).
  • Framing the experience in terms that are relevant to other components of the client's life to enhance the transfer of learning (Priest & Gass, 1997, Gass, 1993b).
  • Encouraging the client to apply learning during the activity to other life circumstances and practice transferring awareness and skills into his or her life (Gass, 2008).
  • Encouraging others in the process to provide feedback and observations for the client.
  • Letting go of preconceived ideas about what the activity was intended to teach and process what the client presented during the activity.
  • Celebrating successes and highlighting strengths manifested during the activity (Estes, 2008).
  • Using a variety of facilitation strategies in an intentional manner to support client progress. The processing of an activity should be linked to the facilitation approach chosen (Priest & Gass, 1997; Estes, 2008).