Participant Driven Sessions

Members Drive Content

Below are two tools that can help ensure that group members drive the content of the session. The tools help group members initiate and maintain a discussion about their experiences vis a vis hearing loss. 

The tools help draw out people who might be reluctant to participate if left on their own. Many people have not had experience discussing personal issues in a group setting. Others may be reluctant to participate due to a history of abuse or neglect.  

Facilitator Role

As a facilitator, the leader’s main role lies in keeping the process moving by asking relevant questions, encouraging group participation and reinforcing contributions.

The leader/facilitator also offers functional responses to problems presented. Offering rational, unemotional, problem-solving suggestions is a great way to demonstrate effective ways of managing communication situations. This can also help when managing difficult (angry or controlling) participants.

15 Things Brainstorming Method


The 15-things Brainstorming Method is an excellent tool for expanding people’s awareness of possible options available to them should they decide to improve their situation.

It also helps group members develop solutions for the problems they raise rather than relying on professional advice or giving up.

Finally, the 15-things method teaches people to anticipate potential difficulties and plan strategies for preventing or reducing them, rather than getting blind-sided.


1. Have a group member identify a problem he or she has experienced or is anticipating.

2. Have the problem stated in objective, measurable terms, for example: "George does not go out in public since his hearing has worsened. I would like him to go out to a restaurant with me and another couple. When we go out, I want him to understand most of what is being said and enjoy himself.

3. Have participants identify at least 15 different things that could be done to facilitate doing this. Don't stop until at least 15 suggestions are offered. It is often the case that 25 or 30 suggestions are made.

4. Write down every suggestion. Do not allow any criticisms or fault finding of the suggestions. If someone's suggestion is criticized, other group members will be less likely to offer one.

5. Give the list to the person who offered the problem, and ask them to select the suggestion that seems best to them.

6. Ask the individual to try the suggestion in real life and to report the results in the next session.

In Practice

Sam Trychin uses the 15 Things Exercise to address a participant's communication challenge. Each offered strategy by the group is heard and acknowledged.

Wrong Way/Right Way Method


This exercise allows group participants to practice effective communication behavior and become more aware of dysfunctional emotional reactions. In this context, "wrong-way" refers to actions that are not helpful in dealing with communication difficulties. 


1. Provide a script and have group members act out an interaction where someone is doing something communicatively inappropriate or unhelpful.

2. Have the other participants identify what is 'wrong' and discuss why it is 'wrong'.

3. Other participants act out the scene the 'right way'.

4. Have participants bring up an scenarios from their own experience that have been a problem.

5. Have group members act out ways of preventing or reducing the problem.

Example 1

1. Someone role-plays a 'wrong' way for a person to inform others about his/her hearing loss.

2. Group members identify what was "wrong" about that way.

3. Someone role plays a 'right' way to inform others about one's hearing loss.

4. Group members identify why this way is better.

Example 2

1. Someone role-plays a 'wrong' way for a spouse to intervene when it is obvious that the person with hearing loss does not understand the other person.

2. Group members identify what was "wrong" about that way?

3. Someone role plays a "right" way to inform others about one's hearing loss.

4. Group members identify why this way is better.

Must Read

Trychin, Samuel, (2003) Communication Rules. Erie, PA.