Inter Vention Description

We are in a room with a group of individuals who are sharing a specific situation in their lives that elicits suffering and with which they have been working together for a number of sessions. They have now gone through a phase of emotional relief in the group and they are beginning to perceive how their particular personal event has affected their present-day social relationships. They are now at a point where they feel the need to readapt their daily lives in relation to how they are being perceived by others.

In this case, they are aware that they are being perceived by others in a pitiful or commiserative way. This is the reason, they feel, that they need, above all else, to rebuild their situation with themselves and with friends, neighbors, and other interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, they feel they are being perceived as a person with their own specific characteristics that now include the self-concept of being seen as "ill or different." For instance, they are now being labeled by others as "parents of a child with Down's Syndrome, widow or widower, divorced individual, etc." This perception, from others, comes from the clients acquiring a different social status category which they feel places them out of the "norm." Due to this new perception of them, by others, they have internalized a sense of feeling different with concomitant feelings of low self-esteem.

In terventions in Groups with Clients Sharing the Same Critical Fact 79

A THREE-PHASE INTERVENTION Phase One: Unveiling the Steps

A focused question is posed to the group to spur dialogue and interaction. "How would you describe yourself apart from being a divorced individual, parents of a sick child, etc. ?"

Everyone is asked to describe at least three aspects of themselves apart from the critical fact that brings them into the group. It is advisable to ask them to do it on their own on a piece of paper, which would be provided for this purpose. This is a way to help them focus on their inner task and on what they have to write.

Afterward, the chosen aspects are held jointly. Probably, some aspects would turn up related to some characteristics as personal qualities and affections (friendly, kind, charming mother, shy...) as well as (professional careers, social life features such as being a good neighbor, good friend, nice partner, etc).

The professional proceeds to show that if there is a positive inside structure, the clients will be able to see themselves distinct from their shared critical fact and will not be stuck or stagnated in that fact or label. Therefore, their relationships would not be experiences of displeasure or social disappointment but rather ones of a sense of well-being.

Phase Two: Discovering the Aim

The next step will be to become aware of the process itself. Every member is encouraged to bring to the next session a second exercise. They are requested to describe and write down briefly a situation that had made them feel good or bad relating with their actual situation.

By this, we can analyze how they feel in social interactions. Talking about it in the group will permit them to redefine attributes and make proposals of how to get away from the perception of unfavorable situations and be able to reinforce the positive ones. Nevertheless, this negative perception is just a small part of their total identity.

The grade of perceived vulnerability is, above all, inside of the clients themselves. Neutralizing this negative affect allows a kind of emotional distance to readjust their social activities and social self-esteem, which should be, after all, a constructive ingredient in their lives.

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