Case Example

In the initial stage of the group the members dealt with the setting of group norms, and ambivalent feelings of loyalty and trust toward the members and the leader (Yalom, 1985). One particular meeting during this phase began with awkward silence, furtive glances at the leader, and a reluctance to open the conversation. I silently considered the members' insecurity in a new, strange situation, and their need to feel protected. Shortly after, a mem-

The Use of Group Processes for Alleviating Teachers' Stress

ber described the stress caused by the lack of access to supplies locked in the principal's closet (emotional nourishment). Other members nodded in agreement. Not having this access made them feel like aliens, feeling like they were not given the same consideration as the teachers in regular classes. They felt like supplicants who had to beg. Administrators were experienced as not being on their side. Would they also have to be supplicants for emotional nourishment from the group leader?

A lively discussion followed in which the group debated: "Will she do something?" "Can she do something?" "Can the leader protect them and keep them safe?" At that point I expressed empathy and relatedness to their feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless (emotional support in the form of accepting their feelings). I asked if the "outside stress" might have reflected their concerns about the leader and the group, as an intervention toward developing a focus on the group as a whole (Slavin, 1993, Yalom, 1995).

There was a notable sigh of relief. The group began to share experiences. Knowing that other people experience the same problems helped the members feel less alone, or embarrassed.

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