Psychoeducational Intervention Tale

Once group process has been explained in conceptual terms, the leader then says, "Let me give you an example of what I mean" and shares the following:

This happened many years ago, in a group of women with eating problems'. The members had met for five sessions and had bonded quickly around their similarities and the relief they felt at being understood and not judged. By this session, however, several had begun to wonder, "Where do we go from here? Can I talk about the things that I am not sure everyone does share and will understand? Is it safe to go deeper?"

Naturally, people became anxious as they had these thoughts, and there were two members in particular who had very different ways of trying to manage their anxiety. One became very quiet and withdrawn, sitting all the way back in her chair; she was clearly paying attention to what others were saying, but just as clearly did not want to engage with others. Another member, very outgoing, became focused on wanting to connect to the others. She began to ask a lot of questions of the person to whom she felt least connected—who was, of course, the very quiet person.

So began the interplay in which one member peppered the other with questions about everything the second had ever previously said in group. The second, at first, gave brief answers, then monosyllabic ones, then said "leave me alone." The interrogator would or could not, and the tension in the room rose, as these two became increasingly angry, and other members increasingly uncomfortable. After a few more minutes, I asked each of the primary participants to stop and tell

Psychoeducation About Interpersonal Process

the group what they had been experiencing, thinking, and feeling in this interchange.

Each said essentially the same thing: "I was anxious and when I get anxious, I get (quiet/try to connect). And I guess she doesn't like that, and I guess she doesn't like me, and I don't like her either." But, by hearing each other say this, each learned several significant things about themselves.

Getting to Know Anxiety

Getting to Know Anxiety

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