The Group

This particular intervention is effective with both time-limited and ongoing process groups. These skills are recommended for clients with at least average intelligence and those who have the ability to be introspective. These skills are not likely to be used with clients that are psychotic or intellectually challenged. These skills can be practiced within the group setting as well as outside group therapy with a partner or in a mirror for enhanced proficiency.

DESCRIPTION OF INTERVENTION

Before learning the skills of effective communication, I empower my clients with a list of basic human rights. We carefully review this list together and pinpoint those statements that the clients find challenging. Reviewing this list provides insight, which ailows the clients to realize that they, too, deserve to be treated with dignity and utmost respect. Most of my clients have the belief that they are selfish if they place their needs before the desires or requests of others, hence, their difficulties and disorders grow worse and worse over time. Learning these interventions will assist them in not only healing themselves, but also provide more assistance to their friends and loved ones with enhanced effectiveness, i often use the example: If the plane is going down and you hand out oxygen masks to everyone else, you have no life left. But, if you give air to yourself first, you can provide subsistence to everyone else and all can thrive.

Working through this in the group setting provides the members with a sense of universality and allows them to work through their personal conflicts together. I teach my clients that if they want respect they must first respect themselves. If they believe they must be "sweet" at all times, they will invite being used. In the same sense, if they behave as if they are incompetent, they will invite others to be critical of them. In the following section are the basic human rights that the group members are armed with and must believe in prior to gaining the skills of effective communication (Mendelsohn, 2007).

I Have the Right to:

• Say no to requests or demands that I cannot meet.

• Express all of my feelings, positive or negative.

• Follow my own values and standards.

• Say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.

• Determine my own priorities.

• Expect honesty from others.

• Not give excuses or reasons for my behavior.

• Make decisions based on my feelings.

• My own personal space and time.

• Be playful and frivolous.

• Be healthier than those around me.

• Be in a non-abusive environment.

• Make friends and be comfortable around people.

• Have my needs and wants respected by others.

• Be treated with dignity and respect.

After the group members have learned and processed their human rights together, they are ready to move on to effective communication skills. At this time, the group leader reviews the following tips for proficient assertiveness communication. They are as follows:

• Agree on a time and place that is convenient for you and the person to whom you are making a request.

• Make sure your requests are clear, direct, and nonjudgmental.

• Speak clearly, audibly, and firmly.

• Keep tone of voice moderate without implying blame or attack.

• Maintain eye contact. Looking up and down and all around is passive behavior. The listener will lose respect for you if you cannot look at him or her directly.

• Make request small enough to avoid major resistance.

• Keep request simple, specific, and understandable.

• Be objective by communicating the facts rather than fighting the personalities involved, providing the opportunity to state your case.

• Be honest, not cruel. This is not about winning, but communicating to be understood and to experience the realities of others.

• Describe your desires in terms of behaviors, not attitudes.

• Keep arms and legs uncrossed so as not to put the person to whom you are talking on the defensive.

• Do not apologize after you have made your request. This only negates your entire request or feelings, keeping you passive and wishy-washy.

• Focus on the results. Mention the benefits of having your request fulfilled rather than the disadvantages. You do not want to appear manipulative.

• Use "I" messages that express your feelings without blaming others. This gives you personal power and does not attack the other person.

• Connect the feeling statement to the behavior of others, rather than to the person. People are not "bad." It may simply be that their actions dissatisfy you.

Once this list is reviewed, the group breaks into pairs for rehearsal. Later, each pair will role-play in front of the other group members and all members will constructively critique the group members' skills. If the clients are timid at first, the group leader can model the assertiveness skills initially with a "courageous" group member.

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