Using a facilitator, or two co-facilitators, is essential for a restorative dialogue that involves a group of people. Co-facilitators helps in a group situation where one facilitator can observe and respond to what is happening in the group and the other can record what has been said a summarise periodically.

A facilitator can also be useful in a conflict between two people, particularly when there is little trust between the individuals, or it has significantly broken down, or they are unaware of the restorative dialogue process.

There are some important points about the role of a facilitator in a restorative dialogue and in working in a circle, where the facilitator might be referred to a circle keeper. A facilitator;

  • is neutral and does not take sides
  • focuses on the process and helps it run smoothly
  • is not responsible for fixing the problem or the outcomes
  • can be a participant as well as a facilitator
  • guides the topics for the dialogue, but does not control the issues raised
  • creates a space that is respectful and safe
  • draws attention to any problems with the working of the process and safe space
  • cares about the welfare of the individuals

A facilitator does a number of things before and during a dialogue;

  • meets with the individuals prior to the group dialogue
  • explains the restorative dialogue process
  • invites the appropriate people to the dialogue
  • makes the arrangements for when and where the dialogue will takes place
  • makes people welcome to the dialogue
  • if appropriate, plans the dialogue in terms of;
    • opening and closing ceremonies
    • creating the guidelines
    • creating the centrepiece
    • making talking pieces available
    • choosing suitable themes and prompts for the dialogue
    • designing effective questions
  • managing time