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DBQ#1: Self and Group Member evaluations
I believe that frequent self-reflection will be a powerful tool for me as a new group leader. This process of self-reflection should be ongoing and not just focused on as group termination nears. Having so little experience in running groups, I will have concerns along the way. I will be open to learning how to become better and more sophisticated as a group facilitator (Berg et al., 2013). Berg et al. (2013) suggest that co-leading a group can also help receive honest feedback about how I project a specific attitude, any “blind spots” I may have, missed opportunities, and my overall general approach to group facilitation. To increase my comfort in facilitating groups, I must remain open to self-reflection and others’ feedback. Like any feedback, some of it might be hard to hear and uncomfortable to receive and process, but essential to becoming the group leader I want to become. Berg et al. (2013) also suggest that a review of audio and video recordings in the effort to self-critique may be helpful. I have much experience in this during my Motivational Interviewing supervision that I was involved in for several years. As part of that process, video recordings were brought to the group supervision, and my supervisors and peers reviewed my recordings and provided feedback and vice versa. This process was very uncomfortable initially but became easier and even fun as we all got used to the process. I also found it one of the best techniques in skill improvement and learning to give and receive feedback in a group.
Likewise, requesting feedback from group members is also essential in creating the most effective group possible and receiving feedback that can better the facilitator’s approach and efficacy. According to Yalom and Leszcz (2005), receiving important feedback from group members approaching the termination stage is a “microcosmic representation” of their grief and loss throughout their life. It should not be overlooked (Marmarosh et al., 2013). One important issue of receiving group member feedback is assessing the client’s needs once the group has ended (Marmarosh et al., 2013). Attachment issues are vital to remain focused on throughout the group, especially when entering the termination stage (Marmarosh et al., 2013). Attachments of both the group members and the leader can be influential in group therapy, so it should be part of the group evaluation and self-evaluation (Marmarosh et al., 2013). When soliciting member feedback, it can help utilize open-ended questions or short-paragraph beginnings to get clients started (Berg et al., 2013). Berg et al. (2013) suggest that making the client feedback questionnaire anonymous will aid in member honesty and likely result in more helpful feedback. I would definitely be comfortable with asking for and receiving group member’s feedback using this method.
Finally, the group leader’s evaluation of the group is a natural part of the group’s wrapping up (Berg et al., 2013). While the group leader’s assessment of the group will help improve future groups, group members also need to feel successful and that their group attendance was worthwhile (Berg et al., 2013). Group members should be included in the leader’s evaluation of the efficacy of the group. While the leader may focus on specific, defined goals of the group and whether they were achieved or not, group members will usually focus on their perceptions of how they have changed, what the experience was like, and the changes they recognize in other members (Berg et al., 2013). According to Topping (1998), peer feedback can define what the experience has meant for them and what it means moving forward after the group has terminated (Ion, et al., 2019). Reminiscing or conversations about experiences that the group has shared is a natural approach to the evaluation process and should be used by the group leader (Berg et al., 2013).
Berg et al. (2013) point out that a converse relationship exists between group evaluation and years of experience. New group counselors tend to evaluate every step of the group, while experienced facilitators may not complete any evaluation type with the groups they run. This is an important concept. Since there is always growth and learning that can come with experience, it remains important to evaluate groups regardless of years of experience thoroughly.
Berg, R., Landreth, G. L., & Fall, K. A. (2013). Group counseling: Concepts and procedures. New York: Routledge.
Ion, G., Martí, A. S., & Morell, I. A. (2019). Giving or receiving feedback: Which is more beneficial to students’ learning? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(1), 124–138. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2018.1484881
Marmarosh, C. L., Markin, R. D., & Spiegel, E. B. (2013). Attachment, loss, and termination in group psychotherapy. In Attachment in group psychotherapy. (pp. 211–226). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14186-012
This course prompted personal self-reflection and how those qualities translate to the professional roles of counselor, group facilitator, and leadership style.
Examining my thoughts, attitudes, and feelings about how I facilitate and process a group, also helps me understand why and how a chain of events occurred. Looking at past experiences, especially the challenging moments, and why those happened as they did, can provide understanding in how the facilitator could have done something different. Then, envisioning what the group chain of events could have been instead, because of a different choice. Most reflections “are on things that go wrong – these situations stay in one’s head and force us to begin to think about whether things could have been done differently” (Koshy, Limb, Gundogan, Whitehurst, & Jafree, 2017, p. 2). In addition, this course also helped me look at both sides of reflection, including, “the things that went well and can often be more rewarding and be just as useful because it can build confidence and help you repeat it again on another occasion” (Koshy, & et al., 2017, p. 3).
Reflecting on my role as a group leader has helped me learn what I need to learn more about, and how I want to change some of the ways I currently run group. This includes not just the mechanics of how the group is set up, but how I indirectly affect the process of the group. Examining what leadership means and exploring each piece as it relates to leadership, including: “Listening, ethnically centered, assertive, diplomatic, elucidation, and relevancy” (Campbell, 2013, p. 1).
Currently, at the end of each group session, I leave 5 minutes at the end of group, to complete a 5 question survey. The group completes this two times. Once in the beginning of group, and again at the end of group. It asks 5 questions about thoughts and feelings and uses a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5. This survey assess how they were before group started and how they were at the end of group. This provides feedback to me – where they were and what the group (or myself) may have provided, both positive and negative. This includes a question about the facilitator, so that I can get some direct feedback. This tells me if “things are going in the right direction or whether redirection is required” ( Hardavella, Aamli-Gaagnat, Saad, Rousalova, & Sreter, 2017, p. 327). I am comfortable with group feedback, both in survey form, and direct. I welcome this feedback, it helps me as a facilitator and ultimately benefits the group, “feedback is the fuel that drives improved performance” (Hardavella, & et al., 2017, p. 327).
Campbell C. A. (2013). Reflections on leadership. Perspectives in Health Information
Management, 10(Winter), 1b.
Hardavella, G., Aamli-Gaagnat, A., Saad, N., Rousalova, I., & Sreter, K. B. (2017). How to give
and receive feedback effectively. Breathe (Sheffield, England), 13(4), 327–333. https://doi.org/10.1183/20734735.009917
Koshy, K., Limb, C., Gundogan, B., Whitehurst, K., & Jafree, D. J. (2017). Reflective practice in
health care and how to reflect effectively. International Journal of Surgery. Oncology, 2(6), e20. https://doi.org/10.1097/IJ9.0000000000000020
DBQ#2: Couse Reflection
Group facilitation is a powerful tool that requires a skilled clinician. When groups incorporate evidence based treatment, this can also be a powerful mode to deliver treatment.
This course has helped me examine the dynamics of co-facilitation more closely. More specifically, what kind of facilitator I would like to work with. Reviewing how complex the dynamics are and how facilitators “acted in the moment and how their interventions impacted group processes over time” (Shaw, Looney, Chase, Navalekar, Stello, Lontok, & Crabtree, 2010, p. 4). This reminded me how intuitive group work is, as much as “choosing, in a particular moment, what to do, whether or not to intervene, and how to intervene” (Shaw, & et al., 2010, p. 4). It is essential that the clinician remain aware of the unspoken behaviors – as much as it is to listen and remain in the moment as the group is dialoging. Having another facilitator, adds another set of ears and eyes to the group. In particular, one that compliments my own style. This course helped me look at what that is. Reviewing the group process in this course helped me confirm that I prefer co-facilitation for specialty groups.
This class has helped me question how I run groups and whether I prefer having a co-facilitator. I decided that I do. I like the dynamics that this presents to the group, as well as the complimentary techniques which bring about awareness, reasons, and motives that otherwise may not be identified and/or explored (Shaw, & et al., 2010). The complex group process is considered “a promising approach in healthcare that can facilitate positive change” when practiced with an effective facilitator(s) and purpose (Cranley, Cummings, Profetto-McGrath, Toth, & Estabrooks, 2017, p. 1). Examining the roles of the leaders in the groups helped me process the group work differently. It also helped me look at how I do things and the choices I make, including selecting a co-facilitator.
And, this class helped me become more introspective in the type of leader I am. This course helped me look at my own qualities and how this influenced my theoretical orientation and preferences. It is important for the leader “of any group to understand that he or she is responsible for making a series of choices as the group progresses – and how to much leadership to exercise interventions” (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005).
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville
(MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 6 Group Leadership, Concepts, and Techniques. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64211/
Cranley, L. A., Cummings, G. G., Profetto-McGrath, J., Toth, F., & Estabrooks, C. A. (2017).
Facilitation roles and characteristics associated with research use by healthcare professionals: a scoping review. BMJ Open, 7(8), e014384. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014384
Shaw, E., Looney, A., Chase, S., Navalekar, R., Stello, B., Lontok, O., & Crabtree, B. (2010). ‘In
the moment’: An analysis of facilitator impact during a quality improvement process. Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal, 10, 4–16.
One of the most important takeaways from this class concerns the importance of being intentional about building a diverse group. Marmarosh et al. (2013) assert that most group members enter group psychotherapy with questions and doubts about whether they will feel safe and accepted in the group. This can be especially true for members of minority cultures or marginalized citizens. I also learned that it is not enough to have a single individual from these diverse populations. However, the group should be well-represented within the groups or face further marginalization (Burns & Ross, 2010). As an example, Melendez and Rice (2000) found that African Americans exhibit greater attachment avoidance than their Caucasian peers (Marmarosh et al., 2013). Possible reasons for this may be greater instability in the family of origin, lower socioeconomic status, and financial adversity as a predictor of a lower sense of security (Marmarosh et al., 2013). As a group facilitator selecting potential group members, having a thorough understanding of these factors is essential in intentionally building a diverse psychotherapeutic group.
A second important concept that I found important is the concept of using co-leaders for a group. Co-facilitation makes sense for several reasons, including a greater capacity to tend to more group functions simultaneously, provide for accurate collection of information from the group interactions, and the benefit of being able to divide up tasks before, during, and after the group sessions (Berg et al., 2013). Another benefit of co-leaders is that if one of the leaders is out, the group does not have to be canceled; it can be facilitated that day with the other leader (Berg et al., 2013). Finally, by observing group leaders interact in cooperative and healthy ways, group members who may have only witnessed dysfunctional relationships and interactions can learn new, healthier ways to communicate (Berg et al., 2013). I also learned about co-leadership in groups because not all co-leaders are going to be compatible, which can be a huge problem and can erode group effectiveness, and if allowed, can reinforce dysfunctional relationships and how they interact (Berg et al., 2013).
Another powerful lesson learned from this course is the use of silence in the group milieu. I learned that it will be important for me to become more comfortable with silence as a therapeutic technique and that it is not always appropriate for me to break the silence to eliminate my perception of tension (Berg et al., 2013). Berg et al. (2013) suggest that the group leader perform a silent self-reflection on his or her comfort level with the silence, the group’s level of discomfort with the silence, and what the silence could mean to the group at that moment. Silence in the group does not always indicate a lack of action (Berg et al., 2013).
Having a lack of real-world group leadership opportunities continues to contribute to my overall apprehension about facilitating groups. However, as soon as the severity of the pandemic has declined enough, I will be starting the process of forming and running group therapy sessions. This class has provided me with the insight to understand many of the experiences that I will face when that time comes. Some of the concepts that I have learned in this class would not be things that I would consider, such as being intentional with the diversity within my groups or being okay with group silence. The class has prepared me to understand group counseling rewards and lessened my anxiety around running a group.
Berg, R., Landreth, G. L., & Fall, K. A. (2013). Group counseling: Concepts and procedures. New York: Routledge.
Burnes, T. & Ross, K.(2010) ‘Applying social justice to oppression and marginalization in group process: Interventions and strategies for group counselors,’ The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 35: 2, 169-176.
Marmarosh, C. L., Markin, R. D., & Spiegel, E. B. (2013). Diversity in group psychotherapy: Attachment, ethnicity, and race. In Attachment in group psychotherapy. (pp. 189–209). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14186-011
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