Attending the first meeting of a therapy group can be an intimidating experience. Every member of the group is having difficulties in some area of his or her life and now needs professional help. It does not matter if the group members are voluntary or involuntary; it still can feel scary to share problems with individuals who are essentially strangers. That is why strong leadership at the first meeting is so important. The clinical social worker’s role is to create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone. Using introduction strategies is helpful, but understanding how to assess and handle the uncomfortable situations is critical. This is a time when strong clinical skills are necessary so that certain members do not destroy the cohesion and possible clinical success of the intervention.
Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Chapter 7, “The Group Begins” (pp. 197–230)
Chapter 8, “Assessment” (pp. 230-263)
Laureate Education. (Producer). (2013a). Bradley (Episode 1) [Video file]. In Sessions. Baltimore, MD: Producer. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.
Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload TranscriptCredit: Provided courtesy of the Laureate International Network of Universities.
Holosko, M. J., Dulmus, C. N., & Sowers, K. M. (2013). Social work practice with individuals and families: Evidence-informed assessments and interventions. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Chapter 3 “Assessment of Adolescents”
Chapter 4 “Intervention with Adolescents”
Involuntary members have been ordered to attend a group in exchange for some reward. Many times, this is a result of judicial system intervention. Often, these members are not interested in participating and getting to know others. The clinical social worker must understand the potential issues or problems that arise within a group of involuntary members and ways to address these issues. It can be especially difficult to create a sense of empowerment when these members have been mandated to attend.
For this Discussion, pay particular attention to the Schimmel & Jacobs (2011) piece.
Post your description of the strategies for working with involuntary group members presented in the Schimmel & Jacobs (2011) article. Describe ways you agree and/or disagree with their strategies. How might you handle the situations presented in the article differently? Explain ways these strategies promote empowerment.
Sharon Turner RE: Discussion – Week 8COLLAPSE
Involuntary Group Members
Social workers working with treatment facilities (outpatient or inpatient), jails, school, drug courts, and detention, just to name a few. It can be challenging to work with someone who feels they are forced to engage in a program that they choose not to be involved in. According to Schimmel & Jacobs (2011), when a social worker has to work with such clients, the social worker “must be patient, flexible, and thick-skinned; that is, they need to be prepared for negative reactions, and not take them personally.” Additionally, group leaders should be equipped with different techniques used to try and engage the involuntary group member.
Two of these techniques are that can be used to help involuntary group members to engage are to do the unexpected and the inner circle, outer circle techniques. The group leader sets the chairs with two circles, one inner and one outer (Schimmerl & Jacob, 2011). According to Schimmel & Jacob (2011), those who wish to sit in the inner circle are those who are interested in participating in the group. The outer circle is for those who do not wish to partake but still observe the group (Schimmerl & Jacob, 2011). The inner-circle group members can talk about the subject at hand while the outer group listens as they work on an activity (Schimmerl & Jacob, 2011). If at any time, a member sitting in the outer group wishes to participate, they will just have to ask to come into the inner circle (Schimmerl & Jacob, 2011).
Anther technique a social worker can use to encourage involuntary group members to engage in group therapy is to “do the unexpected.” The example Schimmerl & Jacob (2011) gave was the group leader placed a large trash can in the middle of the room. The leader instructed the group members to share any negative thoughts they had about the group (Schimmerl & Jacob, 2011) The leader gave the group member about 10 minutes; they did not have to speak in turn bit rather talk all at once. After the 10 minutes, the leader put the lid on the trash can and pulled it out of the meeting room (Schimmerl & Jacob, 2011). The intention behind opening the group session this way is to clear the air of all of the negative thoughts and energy. Sealing the trash can and taking it out of the room is a visual of the negative energy leaving.
Both of these techniques allow the leader to stay in control of the group. The group leader is not only trying to dispel the negative energy but also create an atmosphere of comfort and trust. Creating a trusting atmosphere allows the group members to move in a positive direction. Additionally, both techniques give the group members the “space” they need to vent or come to terms with being involved in the group. The techniques empower the group members and the group leader to fashion a level of respect for one another. The leader is not “forcing” the involuntary member to “open up.” Nevertheless, at the same time, the leader is not “turning them away” either. The leader is molding a tone of self-worth and decision making for the client.
Schimmel, C. J., & Jacobs, E. (2011). When leaders are challenged: Dealing with involuntary members in groups. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 36(2), 144-158.
Respond to a colleague who presents a different point of view on these strategies than you.
To access your rubric:
Week 8 Discussion Rubric
To participate in this Discussion:
Week 8 Discussion
Group therapy is one of the most successful interventions for adolescents. This is because of the nature of this stage of development and the need to belong to a group. Hearing the stories of other teens and knowing that their experiences and feelings are similar is very therapeutic. Another characteristic of the adolescent stage is a short attention span, so the clinical social worker should tailor exercises that initiate and sustain discussion for adolescents.
For this Assignment, watch the “Bradley” video.
In a 2- to 4-page paper, identify two opening exercises that you might recommend for a group of adolescent girls who were victims of human trafficking.
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