Facilitator Training Feedback: Julia Ojeda

We recently asked Julia Ojeda, founder and CEO of RIO Recovery Inspired Opportunities, to assess GPS’s training program for support group facilitators. Ojeda shared feedback from her assessment in an informal interview with GPS CEO and Co-founder Liz Friedman, which we’ve summarized in this post.

To assess our facilitator training, Ojeda watched six modules of the training program. As she progressed through the curriculum, Ojeda, a public health expert and peer recovery specialist, experienced “the curriculum as a participant” in ways she didn’t expect.

“It was probably the most inspirational curriculum I’ve ever participated in,” said Ojeda.

Ojeda said she was impressed with how the training accounted for the ways in which trauma affects people, by emphasizing physical and emotional safety and empowering participants to reassert control over their lives. Ojeda noted that trauma-informed practices were infused throughout GPS training materials, from detailed facilitator guidelines, the sequencing of information, and the care given by the training facilitators to the check-in questions that precede each training module.

“Creating check-in questions takes skill. You don’t just wake up and go, ‘Oh, here’s our question for the day,’” she said. “It was so thoughtfully done. I loved that the facilitators met each morning to discuss what the check-in question would be and that they incorporated the words used by participants into the discussions.”

Ojeda did say that GPS facilitator trainings could benefit from a few tweaks to improve how the material is presented. Referencing a professional colleague’s critique that GPS trainings are long and lecture-like, Ojeda suggested that the trainings be made more interactive and broken down into smaller groups of participants.

But she said that the length of the training, while long compared with other facilitator trainings, is a result of its being so comprehensive.

“If you truly pay attention, and you really hang in there, and you do the homework and the practice, there is no way someone would not be transformed by this training,” Ojeda said. “I could feel myself being transformed, and that was not what I expected, in any way, shape, or form. Your facilitators are spectacular, and they’ve been trained well. The stories they tell, the sharing they do—I’ve been moved by everything and everybody in this training.”