Facilitating Empowerment: A Handbook for Facilitators, Trainers and Individuals

Alan Cattell (Staff Development Manager and Lecturer, University of Bradford School of Health Studies, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 1 September 2001




Cattell, A. (2001), "Facilitating Empowerment: A Handbook for Facilitators, Trainers and Individuals", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 178-186. https://doi.org/10.1108/ict.2001.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

In her introduction to the book, Hogan poses the question “Is it possible to empower someone else?” She surmises that: “Basically empowerment is the responsibility of each of us as individuals, however, the extent of our empowerment can be facilitated by ‘empowering people’ and ‘empowering structures’.” As such, as the title of the book suggests, the target audience for the text ranges from individuals to trainers and facilitators.

The book is divided into six chapters namely:

  1. 1.

    (1) The changing concepts of power and empowerment.

  2. 2.

    (2) The empowerment cycle.

  3. 3.

    (3) Explanations of each power base.

  4. 4.

    (4) Case studies.

  5. 5.

    (5) Other activities using power.

  6. 6.

    (6) Reflections on empowerment workshop processes.

Chapter 1 places empowerment in the context of a changing world and includes exploration of the notions of power, depowerment and empowerment at individual, organisational, community, national and worldwide levels. Hogan observes that empowerment is about identifying choices and that each of these choices can be influenced by a range of contextual factors.

Chapter 2 explains the empowerment cycle and contains suggestions for a number of experiential learning activities. These are twofold as they can either be undertaken as individual reflection and action, or, to give facilitators an overview of the necessary preparation prior to running empowerment workshops. A workshop framework and instructions for participants are contained in the appendices.

Chapter 3 focuses on a range of 60 power bases and includes definition of each power base, rationale as to why it has been included, stories and myths to illustrate uses of the power base and to aid recall, and exercises and activities which can be undertaken within a workshop or individually to enable practising of new skills. Within the appendices are 60 power sort cards which can be utilised to aid reflection and learning. Examples of some of the 60 power base areas are: active listening, body language, choices, crisis, cross‐cultural communication, influence, mediation, personal power, positive and constructive feedback, questioning, silence, stress, uncertainty management and women/femaleness. Four ways of using the power cards are suggested:

  1. 1.

    (1) increasing one’s own power bases;

  2. 2.

    (2) enacting power to make things happen through others;

  3. 3.

    (3) challenging the power bases of others;

  4. 4.

    (4) increasing the power bases of others.

Chapter 4 gives a background to six case studies most of which include the use of the power pack cards. The topics covered are: dealing with interpersonal work problems, working as a change agent, cross‐cultural relationships, taking charge of long‐term illness, curriculum development and working with the long‐term unemployed. Ten further creative activities are suggested in Chapter 5.

Chapter 6 reflects on different uses of the power cards and identifies how the exercises can be used to share, action plan and increase awareness in terms of contextual awareness on individuals and empowerment.

Christine Hogan’s text manages to blend both theory and practice in a format which is enjoyable to read and easy to follow. For those wanting to read or research further, there is an extensive bibliography with suggestions also for further reading. On the practical side, there are a variety of different tools and techniques, and suggestions as to how these might be applied. These are also complemented by the author’s personal experience and anecdotes. What is evident is Hogan’s enthusiasm and expertise in her subject area. The book represents a compendium of information and suggested action as regards empowerment and, at a price of £18.99, is definitely value for money.

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