Groups: Process and Practice

Developing, Managing ad
Evaluating Groups
 This PowerPoint has been adapted from instructional
materials developed by Dr. Maureen McGuire-Kuletz,
The George Washington University for the Group
Counseling class of the Master’s in Rehabilitation
Various Types of Groups
Task facilitation groups
 aims to foster accomplishing identified work
Psychoeducational group
 aims to educate group members who want to
acquire information and skills in an area of living
Support Groups
Professional Training Standards
for Group Workers
 ASGW (2000) has recommendations for what
constitutes competence as a group facilitator –
 Knowledge competencies: course work is essential
 Skills competencies: specific group facilitation skills
are required for effectively intervening
 Core specialization in group work: task facilitation
groups; psychoeducational groups; counseling
groups; psychotherapy groups
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 2 (7)
Ethical and Legal Issues
in Group Counseling
 Informed consent
 Provide members with adequate information that will
allow them to decide if they want to join a group
 Some information to give prospective members:
 The
nature of the group
 The
goals of the group
 The
general structure of the sessions
 What
is expected of them if they join
 What
they can expect from you as a leader
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 3 (1)
Psychological Risks
of Group Participation
 Although there are benefits to participating in a
group, there are also potential risks that group
leaders need to monitor —
 Members may be pressured to disclose and
violate privacy
 Confidentiality may be broken
 Scapegoating may occur
 Confrontation may be done in an uncaring manner
 Group leaders may not have the competencies to deal
with some difficulties that arise in a group
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 3 (3)
 Confidentiality is the foundation of a working group
 Leaders need to define the parameters of confidentiality
including its limitations in a group setting
 Members need to be taught what confidentiality involves
 Leaders talk to members about the consequences of
breaching confidentiality
 Leaders remind members at various points in a group
of the importance of maintaining confidentiality
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 3 (4)
Some Legal Safeguards
for Group Practitioners
 Take time and care in screening candidates for a
group; and for preparing them on how to actively
 Demystify the group process
 Strive to develop collaborative relationships with
the members
 Consult with colleagues or supervisors whenever
there is a potential ethical or legal concern
 Incorporate ethical standards in the practice of
group work
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 3 (7)
The Role of Group Leader Values
 Essential that you are aware of your values and how
they influence what you think, say, and do in groups
 Groups are not a forum for you to impose your values
on members
 Purpose of a group: to assist members in examining
options that are most congruent with their values
 Group members have the task of clarifying their own
values and goals, making informed choices, and
assuming responsibility for what they do
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 3 (6)
Forming a Group: Setting Yourself
Up For Success
 Five areas for a practical proposal for a group
 RATIONALE – What is the rationale for your group?
 OBJECTIVES – Are your objectives specific and attainable?
 PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS – Have you considered
all the relevant practical issues in forming your group?
 PROCEDURES– What kinds of techniques and interventions
will you employ to attain the
stated objectives?
 EVALUATION – How will you evaluate the process and
outcomes of the group?
Practical Considerations
in Forming a Group
 Group composition (depends on what type of group)
 Group size (up to 12 but 7 or 8 work best)
 Open versus closed group
 Heterogeneous versus Homogeneous
 Length of the group (12 to 15 weeks best)
 Frequency and duration of meetings (1/wk; 1hr 30mins)
 Place for group sessions
 How will you go about getting the information out about
your group
Desirable Characteristics of a Group
 Group balance (ideally dynamic balance b/w cognitive reflective
members who talk about their feelings – intellectualizes and emoters
– express feelings; self-blamers and blamers of others; genders –
differing viewpoints)
 No poor-risk combinations (extreme crisis or suicidal, unable to
conceptualize or verbalize at the level of the group, paranoid,
psychopathic, sociopathic, drug or alcohol involved in a
heterogeneous group)
 Member acceptance of each other
 Willingness to self-disclose (certain level of ego strength)
Questions for Screening
of Potential Members
 The type of group determines the kind of members that are suitable
or unsuitable
 The key questions are
 Should this person be included in this group at this time with this
 Other questions -What methods of screening will you use?
 How can you decide who may benefit from a group?
 And who might not fit in a group?
 How might you deal with a candidate who is not
accepted to your group?
 Explore
 Motivation for joining group
 Ability to deal with & comment on interpersonal
interaction of interview
 Ego strength
 Environmental stressors (acute & chronic)
 Interpersonal relationships (friends – closest
prolonged friendship, degree of intimacy with
members of both sexes)
What are some advantages of a group
 Group setting offers support for new behavior and
encourages experimentation
 The group is a microcosm of the real world – allows
us to see how we relate to others
 Group setting provides an optimal arena for
members to discover how they are perceived and
experienced by others
 Groups help members see that they are not alone in
their concerns
Initial Stage
Characteristics: Initial Stage
 What are the main characteristics of a group during the initial
 Participants test the atmosphere and get acquainted
 Risk taking is relatively low – exploration is tentative
 Members are concerned with whether they are included or excluded
 A central issue building trust and focusing on the here and now
 There are periods of silence and awkwardness
 Leaders set the stage for exploring ground rules and assist members
in goal setting
Common Fears Experienced
by Group Members
 Anxiety over being accepted or rejected
 Concern about the judgment of others
 Afraid of appearing stupid
 Concerns about not fitting into the group
 Not knowing what is expected
 Concern over communicating feelings and thoughts
Establishing Goals
 Main task – helping members formulate clear goals –
check in with group members as the group
 Absence of goals – considerable floundering and
aimless sessions
 Collaborative process in identifying goals
 Goals – lead to contracts and homework
Characteristics: Initial Stage
 What are the main characteristics of a group during the initial
 Participants test the atmosphere and get acquainted
 Risk taking is relatively low – exploration is tentative
 Members are concerned with whether they are included or excluded
 A central issue building trust and focusing on the here and now
 There are periods of silence and awkwardness
 Leaders set the stage for exploring ground rules and assist members
in goal setting
Transition Stage
Transition Stage of a Group
 What are some of the characteristics of a group in the transition
 Transitional phase is marked by feelings of anxiety and
 What kinds of behaviors might you expect at this stage of a group’s
 Members are:
testing the leader and other members to determine how safe the
environment is (trust should be deepening)
 struggling between wanting to play it safe and wanting to risk
getting involved
 learning how to express themselves so that others
will listen
Common Fears Emerging
at the Transition Stage
 Fear of making a fool of oneself
 Fear of emptiness
 Fear of losing control
 Fear of being too emotional
 Fear of self-disclosure
 Fear of taking too much of the group’s time
 Fear of being judged
Leader Functions During
the Transition Stage
 Show members the value of recognizing and dealing
fully with conflict situations
 Help members to recognize their own patterns
of defensiveness
 Teach members to respect resistance and to work
constructively with the many forms it takes
 Provide a model for members by dealing directly
and tactfully with any challenge
 Encourage members to express reactions that
pertain to here-and-now happenings in the sessions
Group Leader Interventions in Dealing with
Difficult Behaviors of Group Members
 Avoid responding with sarcasm
 State your observations and hunches in a
tentative way
 Demonstrate sensitivity to a member’s culture
 Avoid taking member’s behavior in an overly
personal way
 Encourage members to explore a resistance – don’t
demand they give up a particular “resistive” behavior
Examples of Problematic Styles
of Behaving in a Group
 Silent Members
 Monopolistic behavior
 Latecomers and Absentees
 Persistent Nondisclosers
 Scapegoating
 Challenging the Leader’s
 Bombarding Others with
Silent Members
 Reasons
 Might feel unworthy
 Cultural background
 Observing or taking it in
 Manipulation
 Naturally shy, inhibited, embarrassed, fearful, or hesitant
 Communicates behaviorally rather than verbally
 Intervention
 Refrain from initiating a direct response to the silent member
 Use strategies that require the group members deal with the silent
member rather than the leader
 The leader should observe to see if the silent member has
psychologically withdrawn or is really involved
 Reason
 Self-centeredness
 Accustomed to being ignored
 Attempting to keep control of group
 A way to avoid intimacy
 Intervention
 Should not be silenced but helped to be heard differently
 Help the member recognize the effect his/her behavior has on the group
“What do you want from the group now that you have said this?”
“How do you perceive the group members responding to you?”
“How can you say that in ten words or less?”
Latecomers and Absentees
 Reason
 Form of resistance
 Although they might be absent from the group they are not forgotten
 Intervention
 Help group members deal with their feelings about the absent
 Remove group member (might suggest individual counseling)–
have to deal with remaining members feeling through here and now
 Latecomers’ reasons given not response
 No negotiating to tolerate lateness
 The most productive way to deal with latecomers is within the
group context NOT on a one-to-one basis
Persistent Non-disclosers
 Might be verbally active but not be disclosing in a meaningful way
 They have spent a long time blocking affect from their experiences
 May perceive self-disclosure as dangerous because it makes them
vulnerable to control by others
 Interventions – leader should search out answers to the following
 What feelings does this member have in common with other
 How may I respond to these feelings and facilitate affiliative
feelings among them?
 How may I prepare this member and use feedback from fellow
 Reason
 Most often the member is the object of displaced aggression
 May sermonize, be contentious, act dumb, ruminate about
past events, or remain untouched by the appearance of
 Intervention
 Need to find the source of the group’s anger (often toward
the leader)
 Try not to: encourage members to give feedback to the
scapegoat, or try to protect the scapegoat or focus group
attention on the scapegoat
 Initial resistance is demonstrated by the need to use
 Reporting events that happened outside of group is
easier than relating to group members
 Acknowledging other members’ presence requires the
member to recognize personal emotion which the group
member considers dangerous
 Giving voice to one’s feelings leaves the member
Challenging the Leader’s Authority
 Opportunity for the leader to be a role model
 Respond openly and avoid becoming defensive
 Share responsibility with the group
 Invite others reactions
 This is a good thing as the member is able to become
less dependent on the leader and feels the group is a
safe place to freely express himself or herself
 Reason
 May be a way of hiding
 Remaining safe and unknown to the group
 Direct people toward thinking and away from feeling
 Masks the questioner’s feeling toward the member they are
 Intervention
 Help questioner understand that the questioning is intrusive and
elicits defensiveness
 Practice making only direct statements
 Need to get at what prompted the question
Giving Advice
 Can be subtle or not so subtle
 Interrupts thoughts and feelings
 Increases dependency
 Reason
 A form of defense
 Resistance
 Intervention
 Explore the meaning behind giving the advice
 Explore what is gained by giving the advice
 Point out to advice giver he/she is not giving enough attention to
Working Stage of Group
Working Stage of a Group: Key
points of the working stage
 There are no arbitrary dividing lines between each stage
of group
 Group development ebbs and flows – does not stay static
 Work can occur at every stage – not just the working stage
 Not all groups reach a working stage
 Not all members are functioning at the same level in a
working stage
Characteristics of a Productive Group
versus a Nonworking Group
 Working Group
 There is a focus on the here and
now to explore feelings, ideas, &
 Goals of members are clear and
 Cohesion is high – a sense of
emotional bonding
in the group
 Conflict in the group is recognized
and explored
 Members are willing to make
themselves known
 Trust is increased and there is a
sense of safety
 Members less reliant on leader
 Nonworking Group
 Mistrust is manifested by an
undercurrent of unexpressed
 Participants focus more on
others than themselves
 Participants hold back –
disclosure is minimal
 Members may feel distant from
one another
 Conflicts are ignored or
 Communication is unclear and
Choices to be Made During
the Working Stage
 Disclosure versus anonymity
 Honesty versus superficiality
 Spontaneity versus control
 Acceptance versus rejection
 Cohesion versus fragmentation
The Value of Homework in Groups
 Group: not an end in itself
 Group is:
 A place to learn new behaviors
 A place to acquire a range of skills in living
 Training ground for everyday life
 Homework – a means for maximizing what is learned
in group
 Members can devise their own homework assignments
 Ideally, homework is designed collaboratively between
members and leader
Ending Stage of Group
Ending a Group: What are some of the tasks
of the final stage of a group?
 Reemphasize importance of maintaining confidentiality
 Dealing with feelings of separation
 Dealing with unfinished business
 Reviewing the group experience
 Practice for behavioral change
 Ways of carrying learning further
 The use of a contract and homework
 Giving and receiving feedback
Giving and Receiving Feedback
at the Ending Stage
 The sentence completion method can enhance the
quality of feedback and can result in focused feedback
 Examples:
My greatest fear for you is ...
My hope for you is...
I hope that you will seriously consider...
I see you blocking your strengths by...
Some things I hope you will think about doing for
yourself are...
 Some ways I hope you’d be different with others are...
Sample Proposal for a
Group with Adults
 In designing a specific group, consider these
 Description of the type of your group
 Rationale of your group
 Goals of your group
 Marketing methods
 Screening and selection members
 Structure of group – description of sessions
 Methods for assessing outcomes
Groups: Process & Practice - Chapter 11 (3)
Developing, Managing ad
Evaluating Groups
This information is the intellectual property of the George Washington University
and is to be used for educational purposes only.
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