NAMI Connection
Recovery Support Group
Facilitator Training
Group Dynamics
Why Do We Need A Model?
• to help navigate around the predictable
negative group dynamics which can torpedo
a successful group process
• a support group can operate much like a
personality with a will of its own, and that
collective group willfulness can pull even the
most experienced facilitator off course
Group Dynamics
What is a group?
Two or more people interacting with each other
2= Dyad
3= Trio
10-15 = Work Group
20-500 = Audience
200-1000 = Crowd
Group Dynamics
• NAMI Connection groups are peer working
groups of 10-15 people
• Support groups should be maintained at
this size
What are Group Dynamics?
• Groups act and react as individuals do
• Groups have many of the same dynamic
(interactive) problems as individuals
• If you understand how individuals react in
certain circumstances, you can explain
problems that arise in groups.
Dynamic issues that concern groups
• Leadership
• Boundaries
• Rules
• Goals
• Subject Matter
Problems caused by negative
group dynamics in support
Problems in group dynamics
• Related to leadership
• Related to group boundaries
• Related to observing group rules
• Related to group goals
• Related to our specific group subject –
mental illness
Problems related to
Problems related to
Group Boundaries
Problems related to
Observing Group Rules
Problems related to
Group Goals
Problems related to the
Group Subject – Mental Illness
What is the remedy for these problems?
• A Capable Leader
• Clear Boundaries
• Stating and Enforcing Rules of Relationship
• Clarifying Goals and Purposes
• Identifying the “Common Cause” in a
Positive and Optimistic Manner
Problem Dynamics
• Challenges to leadership
• Negative group dynamics start to
Why do people go to a Support Group?
 To leave feeling better than when they
 To feel that they contributed as well as
they were supported
 To feel in a very real way that they have
something in common with others.
What do they want at a Support Group?
• A safe place
• To not be judged
• Boundaries that are enforced
• Capable Facilitators
Encouraging a group to do its own work
You are present to
help the group meet its needs,
not to have the group
help you meet yours
A well-functioning Support Group
• Has a skilled Facilitator
• Does its own work
• Involves as many group members as
• Encourages self-enforced observation of
behavior guidelines
A well-functioning support group
• Allows group members to feel they have
• Provides strategies
• Connects participants to resources and
• Makes members feel they have benefited
from attending
NAMI Connection
Strategies, Structures and Group Processes
The model that ensures
an effective
support group meeting
What Facilitators need to know
• To recognize problems in group dynamics
– there are cues that the Facilitator
needs to transition the group
• Know what structure or group process to
use to remedy the problem
• Have the skills to shift the group from
where they are to where they need to go
Cues and Remedies
• Each Structure and Group Process exists
to remedy a particular set of negative
dynamics that commonly occur in support
• Strategies help to shift the group
smoothly and naturally
Identifying negative dynamics (cues) and
possible remedies (structure or process)
Dynamics and Remedies
When you hear this Cue:
• Someone taking too long during Check In
Move to this Structure: Agenda
• 1-2 minute time limit for Check In
When you hear this Cue:
• A “downer” meeting needs to be closed
on a positive note
Move to this Structure: Agenda
• Closing
When you hear this Cue:
• People can’t stay in the present
Move to this Structure: Group Guidelines
• Keep it in the here and now
When you hear this Cue:
• Someone or the group is negative
or hopeless
Move to this Structure:
Principles of Support
 A principle can represent something we
can all strive for
When you hear this Cue:
 Someone expresses intense feelings
(emotional stage reactions of feeling
overwhelmed, anger, grief)
Move to this Structure:
Emotional Stages Chart
• Acknowledge that strong emotions fall within
the predictable stages of emotional
When you hear this Cue:
• Someone relates a traumatic event
(violence, commitment, arrest, restraint, or
traumatic loss)
Move to this Process: Hot Potatoes
 A step by step way to address traumatic
events and close the discussion of the
trauma on a positive note
When you hear this Cue:
 A basic issue or question can be clarified by
the group
Move to this Process: Group Wisdom
 Provide basic information or helpful and
constructive ideas to a group member, share
coping suggestions
When you hear this Cue:
 A discouraged person needs new options to
solve a long-standing problem
Move to this Process: Problem Solving
 Moves person away from what doesn’t work
by offering new/different options to
approach their problem
NAMI Connection Facilitators
• “Take charge” when shifting the group
and then step back to let the group do its
own work
• Shouldn’t sound or act like therapists
• Provide a safe, nurturing place
What is
facilitators of a structured support
group model?
Not using the model
Structures and Processes
Remember, as a capable Facilitator:
You are present
to help the group meet its needs,
not have the group help you meet yours.