Example

A student in a counseling class complained consistently and constantly that the class was not "very real." She talked about the fact that everybody was being "too nice." She was so persistent with these comments that it was evident that other students were getting frustrated and not saying anything. They were avoiding her at breaks. I overheard comments and had some comments said to me directly about her being a "problem." One day she again began to talk about how unauthentic everyone was and how could we expect to be role models of real human beings if we were all so fake. She implicated me by saying that real leadership would not allow this phoniness to go on. I watched and saw eyeballs rolling, nervousness, and frustration. I felt that we were at critical mass.

I said to the group:

I am observing a lot of physical movement in the group. I wonder if anyone would care to put some words to their experience. There is silence. Finally, one student says, "I am really frustrated that we keep

Alchemy and Transformation: The Disturber in Group

hearing the same complaining over and over." Another student said, "I wish you (looking toward me) would do something. I think there is too much time in this class devoted to people's problems and their feelings.

Inwardly I could feel a little tension mounting in me. Mutiny and rebellion seemed to be in the air. A number of other students spoke along similar lines; each with their own slightly different view of things. I said nothing about what was said. I did encourage students to speak with the odd word and with nonverbal cues. The disturber student finally spoke. She said, "I still don't hear any real honesty." The proverbial pin could have dropped at this point. I wondered if anyone would move to kill her. I turned to her and said, "Thank you for calling things as you see them. I would be very appreciative if you would be so kind as to demonstrate the kind of honesty that you are speaking about. I don't feel that even you are really saying what you really have to say."

Again silence, but this time a little briefer. Her eyes were darting here and there. She spoke again.

I think that people are very mad at me and I also think that there are issues between people in the group. And, I think everybody is being nice to me or avoiding me, being nice to people with whom they are annoyed, and that we are all being fake. I want us to get real. If someone has something to say to me, I would like you to say it.

Now a very pregnant silence. I spoke:

If anyone has something to say, I invite you to say it and (this next part is said in a tone that makes clear this is a conjunction and emotional safety reminder, and not an admonition to be silent) I want to remind you of the ground rules. No name calling. Speak for yourself. Speak to the person you are addressing directly. Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. If you have something to say to someone, check with him or her whether he or she is willing and able to hear it.

The room was thick with a mixture of anxiety and excitement. Clearly, something real was happening. I will not go into the details but a lot of students had a lot to say and not just to the disturber student. The atmosphere changed from what could be described as "as-if' to "as-it-actually is."

How To Win Your War Against Anxiety Disorders

How To Win Your War Against Anxiety Disorders

Tips And Tricks For Relieving Anxiety... Fast Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Whether work is getting to us or we're simply having hard time managing all that we have to do, we can feel overwhelmed and worried that we might not be able to manage it all. When these feelings hit, we don't have to suffer. By taking some simple steps, you can begin to create a calmer attitude, one that not only helps you feel better, but one that allows you the chance to make better decisions about what you need to do next.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment