Leader Overview

The role of the Help Yourself leader is to facilitate the 6-week, 2.5 hour per week Chronic Disease Self Management Workshops for groups of 12-15 people who have one or more chronic condition. Leaders always co-facilitate with another leader who has also successfully completed the leader training. No previous knowledge about chronic illness is necessary to qualify as a leader because all teaching is done from a detailed leaders manual.

Marshall staff can assist when setting up and recruiting for a leaders training. To become a leader a person must attend a four day (approximately 6-hours a day) leader training. It is recommended that the trainee then lead a workshop as soon as possible after being trained (within 2-4 months). Leaders must attend all 4 days and must successfully participate in two practice teaching activities to receive a Help Yourself Leader Certificate. Each leader receives a detailed leader’s manual that serves as a step-by-step guide for facilitating the workshop. The workshops are always taught by a pair of leaders who partner to lead the 6 week program.

The Help Yourself workshops must be taught by TWO individuals who have completed the Leaders Training (4 days) and have demonstrated by practice teaching that they understand and adhere to key program concepts. It is recommend that one or both leaders have a chronic health condition themselves. Leaders may be lay people from the community or professionals. Potential leaders do not need to have any prior experience to qualify.

Professionals trained as leaders are encouraged to think of themselves as peer leaders rather than bringing their professional knowledge to the group. The program is effective only if both the workshop leaders strictly adhere to the content and process of the leaders manual without inserting outside expertise. This key program component can be a challenge for professionals, but is critical for allowing self-efficacy to emerge from within the group.

Who are the workshop leaders?

Workshop leaders can be professionals or lay persons with one or more chronic illnesses. Leaders often come out of the workshops where they have been participants. Places for recruiting lay leaders can include: health centers, local volunteer organizations, churches, caregiver groups, voluntary health agencies, service clubs, and retiree clubs and agencies.

Who trains the workshop leaders?

Master Trainers who have been trained and authorized by Stanford train the workshop leaders. Master Trainers receive training beyond the workshop leaders’ training. Only people authorized by Stanford are qualified as Master Trainers.

Who trains Master Trainers?

Stanford has a special level of trainers called “T-Trainers” who are qualified to train Master Trainers.


It’s important to be flexible and vary the time you offer workshops to accommodate the needs of your community. When targeting specific populations select the time to accommodate them the best. Plan workshops for 6 weeks in a row and be sure not to skip a week if at all possible. Consider holidays and seasons in your area (e.g. weather) when scheduling. Generally, summer, fall and spring are good times.


The workshop should be in a location that has room for people to sit comfortably at tables. One of the most common configurations are for tables to be set up in a U shape or a square. This is so that people can sit and still face each other. Locations must be wheelchair accessible and have convenient parking and bathroom facilities. Community based locations work best. Churches, community centers, senior centers, and community clinics often work better than hospitals. Be sure the location is available for all 6 weeks of the program and will accommodate the needs of the workshop. Comfort for participants and confidentiality are important considerations when selecting a location.


The ideal group size is 12-15 participants. Maximum group size should be no more that 20 participants. When participants register for the workshop, encourage them to attend all 6 sessions. If someone is going to miss more than 2 sessions, they should be put on a waiting list for future workshops. Be sure to have a system for keeping attendance. See Appendix 8, Workshop Attendance Sheet.