Type of paper: Case Study

Topic: Community, Psychology, Development, Leadership, Substance, Skills, Behavior, Role

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/24

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Abstract

This paper looks at the dynamics of therapeutic groups. A group model is developed, and its purpose and goals are analyzed. The role of leaders and how they help in coordinating the functions of the group is discussed. Member roles are also analyzed and how they impact on the functioning of the group. The norms and values of the group model are looked and the factors that promote group cohesion (Klein, Knight, Ziegert, Lim, & Saltz, 2011). Power distribution is discussed and the steps taken to attain equality in the group. A recommendation is then given on how the functioning of the group can be improved.

Introduction

A therapeutic group is one that is closed and has a defined membership. It has a predefined meeting timeline. The group aims to create a safe environment where experiments can be carried out and feedback obtained through exploration of new responses and behavior. Therapeutic groups simulate family and community experiences. Members can address issues of familial origin and express societal discourses. This ensures members can respond to the community using different approaches. Psychotherapy is delivered depending on the dynamics of the group. Group therapy works through examination of individual, interpersonal relationship with the group.
Therapeutic groups tend to be diverse because members come from varying backgrounds and communities. The dynamics of the group are usually analyzed to determine the system of behaviors and the psychological processes taking place in a group. Group dynamics is applied in terms of understanding decision-making processes, analysis of spread of diseases, and creation of effective therapy techniques. It is also useful in following new ideas and technology and analyzing their popularity.

Dynamics of a Therapeutic Group

The behavioral and psychological differences between members in a group creates different perceptions and attitudes. Members of a group develop certain opinions and behaviors towards their own group and other groups. The dynamics of therapeutic group could have a positive and beneficial role especially when they are committed to accomplishing a common goal (Schnur & Montgomery, 2010). However, it could lead to conflict resulting from comparison between individuals of the different groups.

A Therapeutic Group Model

An example of a therapeutic group model is substance abuse treatment. People suffering from substance abuse are grouped in consideration with the specific type of problem they face. Substance abuse treatment requires employment of a variety of treatment models to meet specific client needs during the recovery process (Marcus, Kashy, Wintersteen, & Diamond, 2011). Recovering from substance abuse is a multiphase process. A combination of group set goals and implementation of group methodology defines the different types of groups used.
The group therapy model required for effective substance abuse treatment include psycho-education, skill development, cognitive problem-solving, support, and interpersonal process. Each of the models is matched with the needs and goals of the group (Schnur & Montgomery, 2010). A substance abuse treatment group needs to implement all the models in order to achieve their desired goal.

Purpose of the Group

The purpose of the group is to ensure awareness about the medical, behavioral, and psychological consequences of substance use. A key therapeutic goal will be to motivate members to enter the recovery-ready stage. The group is also concerned with cultivating the necessary skills needed to achieve and maintain abstinence. Another aim would be to change the perception and beliefs of drug addicts to promote continued abstinence. A final role is to provision of support to group members to strengthen their thinking and emotion management. This helps to achieve interpersonal skills in their recovery process from substance abuse (Marcus et al., 2011).
The composition of a group is important as it helps in determination of those who will become members of the group. The group is composed of between ten to sixteen members. It is important to keep the number low to prevent overcrowding. Members come from different backgrounds and ethnicity.
The group is considered to be in the skill development stage. The group operates in a cognitive-behavioral orientation. Psycho-educational elements are also incorporated into the therapeutic group process. Members are given coping skills training. They are given guidelines on how to refuse drug offers, avoid places or situations that trigger the use of drugs, and cope with the urge to use them. Skills also include a wider scope that is relevant to specific members such as ways to manage frustrations, anger, and problem-solving skills to prevent depression which often leads to a relapse.
The skill development stage is relevant because it is possible to assess the progress of the group members. It is not too early where the individual characteristic of the members are not known. The group has held several sessions and, therefore, the progress of the group can easily be determined.

Leadership role

The leaders of the group understand basic group therapy and knowledge. They know the how the group has grown, evolved and patterns of relationship between the group members. The leaders foster interactions among members and manage conflict that may inevitably arise in a therapeutic group environment. Leaders help to ensure members feel part and attached to the group and, therefore, take ownership of the group. They help to demonstrate skills that participants are advised to develop.
A key characteristic of the leadership role is in modeling the behavior of the group. Group leaders help others learn the discrete elements of behavior. They are sensitive to the struggles of group participants and propel them towards positive expectations for change. Because of individual dynamics, leaders expect specific skill development in the group. They are, therefore, prepared to handle the challenges that may be accompanied with the new skills that arise. The group leaders’ foresight and expectations enable them to harmonize the goals of the group depending on the behavioral characteristics of the members.

Role of Members

Each member of the group has a specific role which contributes to the development of the therapeutic group. Roles could be assigned or derived from the behavioral characteristics of a participant. Member roles are classified into group task roles, group building and maintenance roles, and individual roles. A member may be involved in one or more of these roles. The group leader may also be involved in any or all of these roles.
Group task roles involves facilitation or coordination in solving problem of an individual or the whole group. Some members contribute ideas regarding the problem. This is usually inform of a suggestion or proposal of procedures that may help in preventing substance abuse. Other members seek for clarifications. This ensures information agreed upon is adequate and factual before application in problem-solving.
Members are also involved in building and maintaining the group. They empower and encourage members who are still struggling to stop substance use. Some harmonize and mediate between disagreements which might threaten to tear the group apart. They attempt to relieve tensions and are involved in conflict resolution. They ensure the group upholds its virtues and is committed to attaining its goals.
Member roles are not easily defined, and it is difficult to prescribe certain roles to a member. This is because some of the roles displayed are an implicit character of the member, and therefore task role identification may be difficult. The role of members may sometimes hinder the development of the therapeutic group. There are members who evaluate the accomplishment of the group or other members. The evaluation might be beneficial and could impact in improvement of the group goals and implementation of ideas (Schnur & Montgomery, 2010). However, the evaluation may criticize or even demean another participant of the group leading to tensions and conflict within the group.
There is a tendency for some members to be arrogant and stubborn. These members disagree and may oppose without proper basis the decisions made in the group. They may attempt to revive issues that were rejected.
Other participants may be aggressive and define the status of the group members. They express disapproval of values, actions, and feelings of others (Klein et al., 2011). They may attack other members verbally or try to take credit of another’s contribution. Some participants go to the extent of boasting and reporting personal achievements in an attempt to prove their superiority. They try to manipulate the group and interrupt the contributions of others. Some group members make a display of lack of involvement in the group activities. Such members hinder development of the group as they prevent activities of the group from taking place in a normal way.
The norms of the group are guidelines set to ensure that functions are carried out in an orderly fashion and govern the conducts of the members. The group meeting is set to begin at 9am. The time schedule of the group is adhered to strictly. Meetings begin and end on time. During the group session, members are required to listen attentively as another speaks. Interrupting when another is presenting their thoughts is not allowed. Each person is given a chance to speak, and appropriate turn-taking is enforced. Ethnic and gender-based discrimination is prohibited in the group (Cheng, Fielding, & Terry, 2011). Members of the group are required to show respect when speaking to each other.
The group policy is established to ensure cohesion among members. The group ensures members are committed to the task of helping each other recover from substance use, and this brings them together. Helping each other creates interdependence in the group and feeling of responsibility which unifies the group. The achievement of a common goal strengthens the group cohesion (Gonzalez, Hartig, Patil, Martinsen, & Kirkevold, 2011). The similarity of the group members also promotes cohesion since each member is a victim of substance use. Interpersonal attraction is developed because of members being in the same situation.

Distribution of Power

The group has two leaders who control and regulate the activities of the group. Leaders ensure the group norms are followed, and appropriate punishment is given to those who fail to uphold them. The group leaders are chosen basing on their experience with substance users and counseling skills. This is because the leaders are expected to instruct members especially in guiding them towards recovery. Leaders can come from any background and any gender (Cheng et al., 2011). Member of the group are considered equal. There is no power status in relation to age, gender or ethnicity. People from all backgrounds are free to join without fear of discrimination.

Conclusion

Cohesiveness is important to the group though care should be taken to prevent conformity pressures. People in a group tend to perceive others similar to themselves and, therefore, are more susceptible to conformity pressures. Mixing of different age groups can lead to conflict between members especially when it comes to matters of power.

Recommendations

Therapeutic groups can be optimized by considering age of members during formation. A large age gap between participants might create conflicts especially on matters of power. This is because older people view themselves superior to those younger than them. It is, therefore, necessary to form a therapeutic group with members of almost the same age group.
Measures should be taken to prevent cases of conformity pressures. This is done by ensuring every party get a chance to air their views before a group decision is taken.

References

Cheng, G. H.-L., Fielding, K. S., & Terry, D. J. (2011). Responses of group members to procedural discrimination: The role of ingroup prototypicality. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.
Gonzalez, M. T., Hartig, T., Patil, G. G., Martinsen, E. W., & Kirkevold, M. (2011). A prospective study of group cohesiveness in therapeutic horticulture for clinical depression. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 20, 119–129.
Klein, K. J., Knight, A. P., Ziegert, J. C., Lim, B. C., & Saltz, J. L. (2011). When team members’ values differ: The moderating role of team leadership. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 114, 25–36.
Marcus, D. K., Kashy, D. A., Wintersteen, M. B., & Diamond, G. S. (2011). The therapeutic alliance in adolescent substance abuse treatment: a one-with-many analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 449–455.
Schnur, J. B., & Montgomery, G. H. (2010). A systematic review of therapeutic alliance, group cohesion, empathy, and goal consensus/collaboration in psychotherapeutic interventions in cancer: Uncommon factors? Clinical Psychology Review.

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