Everything You Need to Know About Group Skills describes a range of clinical and organizational interventions that are conducted in groups. In clinical settings, treatment is often delivered in the context of group therapy, group counseling, and psychoeducational groups. In organizations, team building groups are used to develop and solidify work teams. Task teams provide a format for brainstorming new ideas, performing complicated tasks, and developing performance skills. In education, interactive group activities are fast replacing passive learning because the tangible, experienced lesson is better learned.
All groups develop in stages, and to effectively facilitate a group, the leader needs knowledge about group process and be capable of delivering the specific interventions that keep a group on task and in motion. Everything You Need to Know About Group Skills provides an overview that clearly defines the types of groups and the stages of group process. Methods for designing and forming a new group, screening participants, and establishing group standards are detailed. Instructions are given for conducting each type of group from initiation to termination. Specific group interventions are explained in detail. Everything You Need to Know About Group Skills provides suggestions for effective responses to challenging situations that arise in groups.
The mindful execution of a leader’s activities determines the effectiveness of the group. Although some group leaders seem to have a natural ability to lead groups, the actual tasks of leading a group are specific and learnable. Everything You Need to Know About Group Skills is an excellent primer for students of psychology, counseling, social work, human services, education, management, and business.
A worker at a re-employment agency laments, “My case load is too heavy. I spend most of my time working with a few difficult cases and not nearly enough time working with the multitude who could benefit from services.” The owner of a marketing company gives notice to her managers that “far too much employee time is wasted in idle chat and office politics. They haven’t had a fresh idea in months, and we can’t afford a consultant to get them jump started.” A psychologist in private complains to colleagues that, “insurance reimburses at such a low rate, I have to work more hours just to break even.” An eighth grade teacher exhausts herself trying to teach her oversized class. She asks herself, “How can I teach them if I can’t keep their attention?”
All of these professionals are struggling with the same thing – the demand to produce more with fewer resources. Working with groups rather than individuals might be the solution for all of them, and it is within their reach. Group work is a highly efficient, yet cost-effective way to bring about change in individuals and organizations. Group work is far more than the assembly of individuals who have a common goal. Effective group work entails structure, mindful planning, and effective leadership. Many factors contribute successful group work.
Group leaders can be clinicians, human services professionals, educators, or managers. A group can have a single leader, or can be co-facilitated by two or more leaders. Depending upon the design of the group, the group leader tasks might include providing education, initiating dialogue, directing the flow of communication, setting up activities, and actively processing group dynamics with the participants
Group design is the method by which the group will be formed. The factors that determine the design of a group include the goal of the group, the number of participants, the number of times the group will meet, the duration of each session, the criteria by which group member will be selected, the structure of the activities of each session, and the type of leadership that is required. A human service worker, for instance, might design an eight-session group for clients with similar problems, affording each client an opportunity to feel less isolated in their struggles, receive important treatment, and receive support from others. Human interaction creates energy, and organizations that strategically channel that energy do so through mindfully planning business meetings, brainstorming, task completion, and team building. In education, small groups often share in teaching by doing research together and reporting back to the whole class. Students have an opportunity to ask each other questions they might not be willing to ask in a traditional class.
This book is written to go beyond identifying the structural components of group. A central goal of this book is to offer a deeper knowledge of group dynamics and the impact of effective group leadership.