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The Reciprocal Maieutic Approach

PeerThink Standard Sheet: Input/Method/Exercise

Based on RealGeM & GemTrEx, with adaptations referring to Blickhäuser & Bargen1

See also: www.danilodolci.it

Name of the Input/ Method/Exercise
The Reciprocal Maieutic Approach (RMA)
Definition: RMA is a process of collective exploration of possible problem solution and alternative paths that departs from the experience and the intuition of individuals.
Maximum 2 hours (3 in some cases with a break )
Maximum 20 persons to allow time for all to intervene
Target Group/Criteria for Access
Disadvantaged Youth
Youth in general
Adolescents and children
Women and young girls
Staff members
All other kinds of “conflict groups”
Preparation might be needed. It's not always necessary and depends on the aim and theme. For example, Danilo Dolci used to organise encounters to discuss about the work of the organisation and in this case he asked the participants (volunteers and employees) to prepare themselves by reading documents and letters, etc.
If you want a deeper reflection, asking for preparation (reading documents, research, bring an article or picture, etc.), it might be a good idea.
Characteristcs, attitudes and qualities of the facilitator
The facilitator should be someone with the following characteristics:
- empathic
- good in conflict solving/transformation of conflicts
- capable of listening, summarising and giving feedback (in the form of clarifications that helps the others and the speaker themselves to understand the intervention)
- good time keeping, but giving all the time needed to express ideas
- capable of doing a closing summary that gives a general idea about the discussion
- not imposing his personality and own ideas, being open to every intervention
- knowledge about the issue proposed
Learning Outcomes
  • To fight against every kind of discrimination;
  • Ways to withstand blackmail and corruption anywhere
  • To develop the concept of active citizenship and strengthen the role of youngsters in the role of changing the society;
  • To educate towards peace and peaceful relationships
  • To educate to work in groups for cultural, social and civil promotion;
  • The Maieutic process activates and develops important competences and values as:
  • learning to understand group processes
  • respect for the other
  • learn to be active and involved in society
  • develop more self-esteem and  more awareness
  • to be creative.
  • To increase awareness and sensitivity to the realities of oppression and privilege;
  • To transfer the experience in the group to one’s own daily life;
  • Non-violent communication (listening, honest expression of oneself, respect for the others)
  • Sharing of power (in opposition to domination)
  • Individual responsibility
  • Active participation
  • Cooperation
  • Non-Violence
  • Building complex images of reality
  • Confrontation
  • Valorisation of individual and group experiences
  • Creativity
  • Awareness/self awareness
  • Learning of putting questions instead of imposing solutions
  • To promote and develop the intercultural dialogue;
  • To foster the use of non-violent methods, as the Reciprocal Meiotic;
  • Change as a continuous process.
  • RMA is a process that aims to bring change in social, political, economic, educational and individual spheres.
  • To cultivate stronger bonds and conflict solving attitudes among participants.
Method Instruction
The main tasks of the facilitator are to guide the communication, giving every participant the chance to talk, keep the time, reflect feelings and clarify interventions less clear or confuse.

Examples for different issues of discussion:

  • Two political parties don’t agree on educational matters
  • Two youngsters don’t agree what to do in the evening
  • Two countries don’t agree about boundaries

Conflict situations are often characterised by:



  • High interpersonal tension
  • Negative feelings (frustration, fear, anger, impatience
  • Low communication or absence of communication
  • Different perceptions of situations
  • Misunderstandings
  • Breakdown of relationships
  • Violent structures
  • Sexist structures
Step-by-Step Description
Make sure everyone is there for the instructions.  People joining after the exercise has begun may confuse and reduce the impact of the exercise.

1 Ask the group to sit in a circle.
2 The facilitator introduces the issue or a “good question” (in some cases the participants are prepared before hand as they had   already read written materials)
3 The facilitator talks about the issue to discuss
4 The coordinator can intervene and give his own contributions.
5 Closing time comes when people are tired, when time is finishing;
6 Close by summarising and, if it is the case, talk about the next encounter, when, at which time, about what;
7 It is also a good idea to close by asking a short evaluation (maybe just in a few words) of the meeting.
The facilitator can develop statements based on conflicts, Gender, sexual orientation, presence or absence of disability, spirituality, Migration backgrounds, criminality, efficiency of team work, etc. to meet the aim of the discussed issue.
Frame Conditions
(Room, Space)
This exercise works in any space which gives enough room to the group.
  • group size
  • recommendation about point of time or process (e.g.“starter”)
  • Framework/Related Methods


Works with any number of participants from a minimum of 6 to 12

In accordance with your organisation’s thematic workplan you can develop respective sets of statements on other issues, which belong to the maieutic approach.

The opera Omni of Danilo Dolci

Possible difficulties
  • group situation
  • point of process
Different languages  (translation is not always affordable)
Comments and Experiences/Evaluation
Barone, Giuseppe: Una rivoluzione nonviolenta, Terre di mezzo and Altra Economia, Milan 2007;
Dolci, Danilo: La struttura maieutica e l’evolverci, La nuova Italia, Florence 1996;
Galtung, Johan: Peace by peaceful means, Sage – London 1996;
Goswami, Pooja: Conflict resolution, conflict forms, causes and methods of resolution. Deep and deep publications Pvt. Ltd., New Dehli 2007.


1 Blickhäuser, Angelika / Bargen, Henning von (Hrsg.) (2006): Mehr Qualität durch Gender Kompetenz. Ein Wegweiser für Training und Beratung im Gender Mainstreaming. Königstein/Taunus.

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