Description Of Intervention

For several years my co-instructor and I structured the process groups so that students co-leading groups in the community had a chance to try out activities with their peers. The students decide upon the week's activity, which co-leader pair will facilitate, and when. Inevitably we found ourselves bored with one tedious activity after another. The activities selected were parallel, Type 1 tasks, rather than ones that would facilitate group exploration and interaction, and Type 4. In order to move the groups toward more of a process focus we decided to divide the students into process groups randomly rather than with co-therapists. The hope was that the heterogeneous membership would force the members to interact with one another around issues of trust, power and control, and intimacy with one another, the faculty designated leader, and the group as a whole.

In the support group, the facilitator's role at first was somewhat open ended. The "laissez faire" leadership was problematic. The group was chaotic, members did not listen to one another, and there was yelling, absenteeism, and a high drop-out rate. The leader recognized members' cognitive difficulties such as short attention span, memory loss, and difficulty modulating affect. The leader decided to change the structure from a Type 4 to a Type 2 group. The leader set down specific requirements for participation in a pregroup interview and in the group. The group contract included being on time, putting thoughts and feelings into words, taking turns, and regular attendance. In the group the leader took on brain executive functions such as limiting time each person could speak, encouraging turn taking, and asking members to leave if they did not stop yelling.

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