Diploma in Group Facilitation

20 days in London

Endorsed by The Forgiveness Project and Ealing Abbey
Accredited by National Council for Psychotherapy

This programme, like many of a similar nature in the UK, is currently on hold. We shall take a reading of the situation following the projected date for Brexit March 2019. In a favourable outcome the course is likely to be scheduled from February 2020 in a new format . Thank you for your interest.

We have run this course successfully since 2010 as a collaboration between The Forgiveness Project and the NAOS Institute. Since then the programme has constantly evolved, based on feed back from students and tutors and in its current form includes elements of our training in organisational development.

The training programme, unique in the UK, is offered over 10 weekends. It is based on an overarching theoretical framework, fundamental to any change agent, often overlooked in more established disciplines and professions, ranging from from counselling and psychotherapy, to conflict resolution, arts, working within faith cultures, community building, organizational development, social activism, politics, leadership…

We set out to train people who wish to facilitate and work with teams, organisations, groups and communities. In fulfilment of this we focus on increasing participant’s personal awareness as a means of supporting your own leadership and facilitating others. We challenge the traditional divide between the psychology of the person and of the larger systems, and between individual and community awareness.

Our basic premise is that the work of a change agent draws both on skills of doing (techniques and tools) and skills of being (presence); you are supported in exploring the overlap between your inner life, professional practice and collective change on a small scale and in the world at large.

More specifically we explore the facilitation of conflict resolution (both within yourself and externally), violence prevention and cohesion within a multi cultural and multi faith society. Conflict resolution therefore is redefined as a tool to create bridges between individuals and different communities in our multi-cultural and fragmented society.

We realise that individuals groups, teams and communities are impacted by political, cultural and collective dimensions. Healthy, constructive and inclusive teams or communities enable people to belong to a larger, meaningful group and set examples for other communities. The course provides a living experience of this and intends to increase your capacity to re-create it elsewhere.

Communities and groups also provide the settings for important life celebrations and transitions. We aim to include these in our work as powerful tools in transforming individuals and communities. When we talk about meaning making processes in life, we include art, nature, rituals, spiritualities and sexuality.

For whom is this training?
Participants of this course have tended to be either working or leading within NGOs, human rights and peace-building organisations, community groups, clergy, business, social activists, and/or artistic companies. We trained counsellors, therapists, social workers, actors, trainers, leaders, ministers and artists. The course is inspiring, pioneering and exceptional value for money. You may take this course for personal as well as professional development. We will focus on leadership qualities and facilitation skills to support you in your work, or in your training, whether you are working independently as a facilitator, or part of a team or organisation.
The course recognises the importance of an embodied, relational and intersubjective psychology and spirituality in all we do.

The training is endorsed by the The Forgiveness Project, whose own methodologies and contributions to the field of restorative justice are an integral part of this course. The course is accredited by the National Council for Psychotherapy.


10 weekends (Saturdays and Sundays, 10.00 – 18.00), total 20 days, 160 hours.

We will publish new dates for 2020 as soon as we can.

Faculty (tbc)

The faculty includes Jaap Westerbos, Bernd C. Leygraf, Ana Rhodes, Marina Cantacuzino, Ulrike Encke, Guy Gladstone.


In our premises surrounded by a garden, in Ealing London, W5 


£2,850 payable by one deposit of £250 (to reserve your place), plus 10 instalments of £260 a month.

Full Course Content

The course is divided into three different points of focus

Term 1 – The facilitator’s personal awareness
Term 2 – The relational bridge
Term 3 – From interpersonal to collective

Each training day includes time spent together to attend to the large picture, the larger knowing field; this is followed by exercises in pairs or triads and small group work.

Indicative Curriculum

  • The core principles and values underpinning successful facilitation work
  • Handling conflict and complex situations
  • Use of self, presence, authenticity, holding and containment
  • Psychological theory underpinning group facilitation
  • The principles of non-violent communication
  • Language of reconciliation
  • Working with cultural differences, including gender, race, sexuality
  • Hellinger’s hidden symmetry of love
  • Relational and participatory spirituality
  • Working with rituals
  • Psychology of leadership
  • Process Work

Course methodology

Our methodology includes Gestalt, Process Work (Mindell), conflict resolution methods to include forgiveness, personal and collective trauma. Lectures, tutorials and experiential teaching, skills training in small groups, observation of large group processes, case studies and guided reading.

Entry requirements

Ability to work academically at diploma in higher education. Capacity to/experience in working with people (no less than 2 years). Personal resilience: the course is demanding on a personal level. 


All course participants will be provided with an extensive course handbook containing code of ethics, assessment forms, essay title, reading list, handouts and more.

Course dates

10 weekends (Saturdays and Sundays, 10.00 – 18.00), total 20 days, 160 hours.

We will publish new dates for 2020 as soon as we can.


To qualify for the award course participants will have to attend a minimum of 85% (incl. meeting with a peer student and a study group), participate fully in the course and willing to work with their own material, pay all course fees and write: 1) a case study of 3.500 words and 2) three small reflective pieces of 750 words.  


A Diploma in Group Facilitation.


£2,850 payable by one deposit of £250 (to reserve your place), plus 10 instalments of £260 a month.

Application process

Applicants are required to complete the application form (click here). They will have to submit a reference and a paragraph stating experience in working with people for a minimum of 2 years.

This will be followed by a telephone interview. If offered a place, a course contract will have to be completed and an initial deposit of £250 to secure a place. The remainder may be paid in one lump sum (£2,600) or in 10 equal instalments of £260.

Student Testimonials

“This course demonstrates a solid foundation in the understanding of leadership, conflict resolution and community building skills.
I learnt more about why humans need connection to others and to question what kind of connections sustain or destroy building bridges between people. As a leader I learnt that no one leadership style fits all, that the ability to flexibly use a range of leadership styles is essential depending on the context. I also learnt the importance of being aware of oppression and of what I can do to heighten equality and mutuality. I learnt to look at my part in this in new ways.
Above all I was reminded of the value of hope and trust in the human potential for benevolence. I learnt new ways to build resilience and hope in the face of conflict.
I thoroughly enjoyed this course and would highly recommend this training to anyone seeking to gain insight into these complex subjects.” – Kate Llewellyn, student 2015/2016

“The conflict resolution course was life changing for me. I’m now planning life in my sixties, seventies and beyond where I can contribute to the world on my own terms,  backed by the weight of arguably the most empowering and inspiring course I’ve ever attended.”  – Sue McAlpine, student 2015/2016

“By taking part in the course my intention was never to be a therapist. I was hoping it would be an opportunity for self exploration and to learn about myself and my relationship with others and the world around me. How I could be more self reflective and learn to create spaces in my life to live a more fulfilled life and therefore connect better with others. Through some wonderful experiential learning and through the continuous sharing of the other participants I can honestly say that I have learnt more about myself on this course than ever before. Highly highly recommended.” – Shad Ali, student 2015/2016

“Life learning at NAOS is inspiring, abundant and creative. A place where teachers and students share their stories, make friends, learn together, find new ways of being and meeting each other in ‘the field’ of knowing.
NAOS courses are transformative, heart-expanding, loving, challenging and yes, often fun! :-).” – Vera Waters, student 2015/2016

 “I can whole heartedly recommend this diploma course. It has quite literally changed my view of life and has therefore changed me for the better. I am far more community minded. I feel a closer connection to our joint humanity. Through what I have learnt on the course I have achieved positive change for my community.” – Student 2014-2015

“The course challenged my ideas on forgiveness and justice. The course directors Bernd and Jaap hold space for the group with dedication and deep compassion. They are truly wonderful tutors who create a supportive and enjoyable learning environment. I am very grateful to them for this enlighten course. Long may it run!” – Susan Abimbola Aderin, student 2014/2015

 “This course not only adds much to your skills bank if your are or aspire to be a facilitator or work in conflict resolution. Anyone who works in a job requiring the ability to negotiate and develop solutions with complex and multi-cultural stakeholders will benefit enormously from participation. And, maybe more important than all that, you will leave this course as a more rounded person, understanding your own psyche a lot better and as a result interact more successfully on both the private and professional level.” – Christian Wisskirchen. Head of Policy, International Bar Council of England and Wales. Student 2014/2015

“I particularly wanted to thank you both for your levels of care and nurturing (symbolised by flowers, sweets and satsumas). Jaap, you were there throughout, and I really valued your gentle and calm approach; always allowing us to go at our own pace and ‘holding’ us while we did our individual and collective learning. Bernd, your energy and whacky, refreshing style was a perfect counter-balance! It was a fantastic group of people, and the experience has been hugely positive.” Yvonne Rose, student 2014/2015

“I got more than I signed up for! Knowledge, education, information, new skills – for starters. Then I got love, affection, care. I have never felt so much human warmth, human kindness and goodwill in all my life!!! This was all evoked by 2 Fantastic! facilitators Jaap and Bernd from my peers! all the course facilitators gave me something ” Terry Driscoll – student 2014/2015

Words for pub – ” A brilliant journey of self discovery through ragged oceans with skilled helmsmen & fully engaged crew.” Student 2014/2015

“I have really enjoyed the course in spite of it not being what I had initially hoped for. In fact it turned out to be much more than I had hoped for and has helped me significantly in my journey of self-discovery.” Chris, student 2014/2015

Testimonials earlier years

“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for what transpired to be an amazing opening to the diploma, Jaap & Bernd are 2 of the most incredible facilitators I have ever met and I can say my experience was one of an assortment of words including, openness, newness, differences and I could go on and on!” Tracey Ford, Founding Director JAGS Foundation

“One of the most rewarding experiences of my life. More challenging and fulfilling than you could imagine”. (Student 2011-12)

“The course offers a rare opportunity to learn about conflict resolution from a number of hand-picked, highly inspirational people. The support given throughout the course is excellent and the safe environment created at each session is truly exemplary.” (Student 2011-12)

“I am very impressed by the course so far and I can be very cynical and arrogant when it comes to training as my previous career was designing courses for years (for the legal profession which is different but I can tell a good course from a badly designed one). You definitely got the balance of practice versus theory right but also my God you all know so well what you are doing!!  You and Bernd are great, you really know how to communicate and push our boundaries but create a safe environment at the same time. Difficult balance to strike… If all your guest speakers are as good as you guys and him, we will have a great year.” Yeshim Harris, Director Engi

“I am absolutely loving the course!!”
Sue Dominey

“Overall, a potentially life-informing course.” London-2012

“Blew my socks off” The course tutors are utterly magical.” N.A. London-2012

“One of the most extraordinary years of my life.” R.H. London-2012

Our Patrons

The Diploma has attracted a number of patrons supporting our work and us in securing funding for the course; this is particularly with our low income students in mind.

  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama (India)
  • Andrew Harvey (US)
  • Arch-Abbot Jeremias Schroeder OSB (Germany)
  • Abbot Primate Notker OSB (Italy)
  • Lord Patten of Barnes (former governor of Hong Kong, UK)
  • Lisette Schuitemaker, Netherlands. (Chair of Trustees, Findhorn Foundation, Scotland)
  • Dr William Bloom, UK
  • Dame Andrea Savage OSB (Abbess of Stanbrook, UK)
  • Anselm Grün OSB, Germany
  • Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, UK
  • Rt Rev Vincent Nichols, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, UK

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby writes:
‘I would like to offer my prayerful support for this new venture at Ealing Abbey.  Given the richly diverse society in which we live, the skills that participants will learn on this course have never been more urgently needed.  I commend this programme to anyone who is looking to develop their skills in this challenging field of conflict resolution and am pleased to see a wider recognition of the immense value that religious communities and community living can bring.’

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, writes
“It is very good to hear of this exciting initiative at Ealing Abbey. Our world is much in need of learning how to live with difference and within that to navigate places of conflict in a way which values relationship and respects the identity of others . This innovative training programme will provide an amazing opportunity for individuals to grow in experience  and increase their skills in this area. It is my hope and prayer  that this will enable participants to be catalysts for change within their own contexts in the future.”



On completion of the training graduates may consider progressing onto a postgraduate diploma or Masters in Group Facilitation through a UK University. We are currently considering a collaboration with on of the London Universities and anticipate that this training, from 2018, will be a Masters Programme.
For further information contact Bernd: bernd@naos-institute.com

“When we are truly centred in who we are, both vulnerable and strong, we can have a great impact on our personal and professional relationships. This enables us in leading and facilitating each other to improve the world together.”