A Typology of Critical Incidents in Intergroup Dialogue: Perspectives of Facilitators-in-Training

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Abstract

There is a growing body of research on the positive outcomes associated with participation in intergroup dialogue (IGD), a group intervention providing opportunities for sustained communication across social groups (Gurin, Nagda, & Zúñiga, 2013). Less research has examined the experiences of IGD facilitators. To better understand these experiences, we examined perceptions of critical incidents (CIs) in 7 consecutive IGD sessions among 13 IGD facilitators-in-training. We used latent semantic analysis (Landauer & Dumais, 1997) on 77 CI reports to derive pairwise similarity ratings. We then conducted a cluster analysis on these ratings and identified 6 clusters of CIs: (a) managing anxiety and promoting safety, (b) development of the group and the cofacilitator relationship, (c) learning from and with others, (d) vulnerable/meaningful disclosures, (e) difference and conflict, and (f) emotional openness. These clusters of CIs are discussed in terms of their relationships to the IGD literature, the literature on group counseling leadership, and the types of CIs identified by group members in previous research (Kivlighan & Arseneau, 2009).

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