In order carry out this exercise in a group of about ten, you will need a rope of about fifty feet in length and at least three-quarters of an inch thick. (The operating guideline is about five feet of rope per person.)


Step 1: Bring out the rope and explain the exercise

Bring out the rope and explain to the group that the exercise is designed to create some physical representations of reactions and feelings that they might experience in the group. Tell them that they are going to all work with the rope at the same time and create a group that is simultaneously holding the rope.

Step 2: Setting the group to hold the rope

Ask each member of the group to form a line and have everyone face in the direction selected by the therapist. Take the rope behind the line of people and ask each person to hold a section of the rope behind them about belt high. Each person should hold the rope across his or her back at the belt line with each hand facing palm forward. This means that each person will receive the rope with his or her left hand, palm facing forward, run the rope across their back at the belt line and then hold the rope with the right hand, palm facing forward. The rope then extends on to the next person who holds the rope in the same manner. When the initial preparation is complete, everyone should be holding the rope across his or her back at the belt line with two hands and about two feet of space between each person.

Step 3: The first movement

Tell the group that you are going to give them some directions to move and that you will tell them what to do. Ask each person in the group to carefully move about the room in any direction that they choose without letting go of the rope for about five seconds and then tell them to STOP. Next tell them to each move again in a different direction for about five seconds and then tell them to STOP. (If the group members had all moved in the same direction on the first move ask them to be sure to go in different directions on the second so that they are NOT all going in the same directions. Also remind them to not let go of the rope.)

Step 4: The second movement

Ask the group to keep holding the rope behind themselves at the belt line with both hands and to now form a circle keeping about two feet of space between them. When they do this they should all be in a circle facing the center of the circle with the rope going around the back of each person in the group. Ask the group to move together in a circle. Do not tell them which way to go. Once the group is moving in a circle smoothly for about five seconds tell them to STOP and remain in place.

Step 5: The third movement

Place a chair just inside the group at some point in the circle. Ask the group to continue holding the rope and ask them to resume going in a slow circle. As the group is moving, select a person who has just passed the chair and say, "Mary (use the person's name) the next time you come to the chair sit down on it." When Mary comes to the chair and sits, the group will likely stop and Mary may let go of the rope. When Mary is sitting with or without holding the rope, tell the group, "Okay, let's resume moving in a circle now." The group will either move on without Mary if she has released the rope or if she is still holding the rope, she will likely get up and move with the group.

Step 6: End of the exercise

After the group has made another revolution around the room tell the group to STOP. Ask them to let go of the rope, remove it from the group and ask everyone to find a place and to sit down. Tell the group that you now want to explore what happened during the exercise.

1. First ask the group members what it was like to try to move around the room connected to the rope. Next, ask if they had any feelings about any of the other people or other people's behavior during the first movement.

2. Ask the same questions about the second movement where they went together in a circle.

3. Ask the same questions about the third movement starting with the person that you asked to sit in the chair.

4. Ask the group member reactions to the overall exercise and to the people along the rope with them.

In working through each of the questions, the therapist is centered on interpreting the responses from the group members using the issues of inclusion, control, and affection. Did group members express feeling in or out of the group in each of the movements? Did they feel that their competence or power was top or bottom in various movements? Did they develop any feelings of close or distant during the movements? After the initial response reports, the therapist should give an overview of the stages of inclusion, control and affection in groups. Discuss how these issues are continually active in a group with the most success occurring when the majority of the group members are in, top and close.

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