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Observations
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Observations

And

Analysis

Of The

Old Forest Video

 

The Old Forest Video was produced by the Department of Psychiatric Nursing Douglas College in New Westminster, B.C. The video provides students and practitioners the opportunity to observe an active group for the purpose of observing, defining and clarifying common behaviours that occur during the group process. The video is highly recommended and can be purchased through the Douglas College Bookstore for a nominal fee.

 

This paper is not for copy, in whole or in part, or for distribution without my express permission. Where permission has been given, please ensure that reference citations to selected passages are given proper recognition.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

To function effectively as a group leader or facilitator, the professional psychiatric nurse requires understanding of the foundations of group work. These foundations include knowledge of the phases of group development, stages of the group process, and an understanding of various theoretical frameworks used in working with groups. One method of gaining knowledge in the foundations of group work is observing and analyzing a group from its initial orientation to its consolidation and termination phases.

The Old Forest Video produced by the Douglas College Department of Psychiatric Nursing provides the opportunity to observe and analyze a group from the orientation to termination stages. The video depicts a group comprised of six psychiatric nurses that are losing their jobs to downsizing and closure of Old Forest, a facility for the mentally handicapped. A group facilitator from outside the facility is utilized to assist the nurses deal with issues and concerns they have related to the downsizing and closure of the Old Forest Facility in a group setting. The video is divided into sections which is representative of the orientation, working and termination stages of a group. Each stage of the group contains common behaviours found in the group process related to group members and the facilitator.

This paper is an analysis of my observations of the Old Forest Video. Common group behaviours of the members will be identified in relation to the stages of the group process. Identification of common behaviours will be integrated with theory and concepts related to groups. A description of the group leaders responses to these behaviours, and changes in interaction patterns amongst the members will be provided. Identification of the theoretical orientation, roles and functions of the leader as portrayed in the video will be integrated to theory related to facilitation of groups. This is then contrasted to my leadership style supported by rationales based on group theory. This contrast is accomplished by selecting a section of the video where a summary or closing was not given by the leader and is then provided by me as though I were the group facilitator.

The first section looks at identification of common group behaviours noted in the Old forest Video.

IDENTIFICATION OF COMMON GROUP BEHAVIOURS

This section examines identified behaviours of group members indicating the phases of group development. Phases of group development refers to characteristics, behaviours, actions, thoughts and feelings of group members that are indicative of the orientation and exploration, working and consolidation or termination phase of the group process. The first for examination is the orientation and exploration phase of group development.

Orientation and Exploration Phase

Corey notes "the early phase of a group is a time for orientation and determining the structure of the group" (1995, p.101). During this stage of group development, distinguishing characteristics amongst the group are seen. Johnson notes that characteristics of the orientation and exploration phase include "getting acquainted with group leader and members, dependency on the leader, searching for meaning and purpose of the group, restricted content and communicational style, search for similarity among members, giving advice" (1986, p.196).

During the first twenty-five minutes of the Old Forest video, the orientation and exploration phase of the group unfolds. The characteristics of the group are similar to those noted by Johnson. At the direction of the group leader, members introduced themselves and their respective work areas. After introductions were made, the facilitator stated the purpose of the group and the norms or expectations of the group. This provided the necessary structure for the group. Each member was then encouraged to offer their perceptions as to the purpose and reason for their attendance. Each member had a differing purpose and saw their reason for being in the group as important. Mike stated he was "interested in looking for a job in the community or with the government". Norma indicated her reasons were similar to Mike's and added she had concern for the well being of the residents. John indicated his reason was to "listen and get some information about what is really going on". Judy reported she was looking for options that were open and available to her as well as having the opportunity to get to know some other people.

Each response of the members as to their reason for attending the group and in defining the purpose of the group was self-focused. In delineating the theory of William Schutz, Gunderson, Mossing and Ting note during what is termed the inclusion phase "members seek to find their place within a group, are concerned about how the leader responds, are more anxious and self-focused" (1997, p. 5-2). This self-focus is best illustrated when after Mike and Norma reveal their reason for attending the group, Anna stated " my reason for being here is more serious". A second example of this self-focus occurs when Frans stated that attendance at the group "gets me off the unit for an hour and a half or so". A third example of this self-focus is when Mike indicated he wanted a day job, an office with a window and air conditioning. When the discussion centered on the written evaluation, Norma attempted to establish a pecking order. After Judy stated she felt members were making too much of the evaluation and it seemed like a harmless exercise, Norma was quick to point out that her and John had been with Old Forest for 18 years and knew better. Norma's statement implied Judy was the "new kid" on the block and she should pay attention to the words of John and herself when talking about the administration of Old Forest. In addition, during discussion of the written evaluation, Anna attempts to redirect the group to discuss how they are going to deal with the evaluation. This effort was an attempt to provide leadership and direction to the group as well as an expression of concern for procedures. Of particular interest is the direct challenge made by John to the facilitators ability to lead the group in an unbiased way as he saw her representing management as well as the group. In discussing challenges that may be made with respect to the leader, Corey notes that "you may be challenged on professional as well as personal grounds" (1995, p. 105). Corey further notes that "challenging the leader is often a participant's first significant step toward autonomy" (1995, p. 105). The establishment of a pecking order, competition and struggles for leadership is consistent with Shutz's phases of group development. These phases of development (cited in Gunderson, Mossing and Ting, 1997) indicate that during the control phase "competition is seen among the members, there may be struggles for leadership, and concerns about procedure" (1997, p.5-3). From the beginning of the introductions, several members attempted to make connections with other members by searching for similarity. During the introductions, John was quick to indicate he and Norma knew one another. Other examples occur after the topic of the written evaluation is introduced to the group by the facilitator. Mike, Norma, John and Frans began supporting one another in the discussion of finding new jobs as being more important than discussing the evaluation.

The foundation for the success of any group is trust. In recognizing the importance of trust, Corey notes "without trust, group interaction will be superficial, little self-exploration will take place, constructive challenging of one another will not occur, and the group will operate under the handicap of hidden feelings" (1995, p. 96). A central theme identified in the first section of the Old Forest Video amongst the group members is the issue of trust. The requirement of a written evaluation and where the evaluation would go was an added dimension to issues of trust that already exist in groups first starting out. The way in which administration conducted itself, particularly by their absence at the group heightened suspicions among several members. All members in non-verbal ways presented themselves as being uncomfortable providing a written evaluation of the group experience. Members shifted positions in their seats, looked away from one another and crossed their arms. There is noticeable silence among the members and the facilitator after introduction of this requirement. In discussing ways of maintaining trust within a group, Corey notes during the orientation phase there "is the tendency for some participants to jump in and try to give helpful advice as problems are brought up" (1995, p. 97). After the issue of the written evaluation was raised, John, Mike, Frans and Norma began talking about ways they could deal with the issue of job opportunities by bringing in speakers from local mental health centres. Anna failing in her attempts to redirect the group to the topic of the evaluation crossed her arms and looked directly at John with an angry expression. As the group meeting progressed, members began openly discussing the written evaluation. The commentator remarked there was relief amongst the group members that the evaluation was now being openly discussed. The open dialogue was the beginning of the development of trust between the members.

The next section provides an analysis of observations of the working phase of the Old Forest Group.

Working Phase

Establishing a degree of trust and the beginning formation of cohesion between the group members, the group develops maturity and is then able to become productive. Corey notes that the working phase is "characterized by a more in-depth exploration of significant problems and by effective action to bring about the desired behavioral changes" (1995, p.110). Johnson notes that this phase is the point where "the real work of the group is accomplished" (1986, p.195). The reason for the ability to begin the work of the group, according to Johnson is "members are already familiar with each other, with the group leader, and with the group's rules, they are free to approach their problems and to attempt to solve their problems" (1986, p.195).

During the working phase of a group, a sense of cohesiveness must be present before the group can become productive. Corey describes the importance of group cohesion as providing "the group with the impetus to move forward, it is a prerequisite for the group's success" (1995, p.111). Corey notes "cohesion fosters action-oriented behaviors such as self disclosure, immediacy, mutuality, confrontation, risk taking, and translation of insight into action" (1995, p. 111). While cohesion acts as a unifying force, Corey cautions "when cohesiveness is not accompanied by a challenge to move forward by both the members and the leader, the group can reach a plateau" (1995, p.111).

The sixth meeting marks the beginning of the working stage for the Old Forest group. Shortly after the topic of education is introduced, Judy makes disclosure that she is concerned with having to compete for jobs with more experienced people than herself. John responds by sharing his own personal experience and observations about the need for continuing education. Frans contributes to the discussion by talking about his skills and experience as a nurse and discloses that his wife would like to pursue her career and education. Effectively, he avoids talking about the subject of education in the here and now. This lead to a discussion between Mike, John and Frans about bursaries and funds that had previously been available to in-training nurses. This discussion focused on things occurring outside of the group instead of what was happening inside the group. At this time, there was little discussion of positive or negative feelings and the cohesiveness of the group is tentative. The discussion of then and there material as Corey notes "is one way that the members go about testing the waters" (1995, p. 97). When John confronts Norma about her silence, and Frans continued by confronting both Norma and Anna noting they were silent around the topic of education, it elicits negative feelings from Norma indicated by her response that "we can't all talk at once". With the group leader expressing an understanding of what Anna and Norma were experiencing a change in the group process occurred. The focus of the group changed to a discussion of feelings of members in the here and now. Norma disclosed feelings of worry and concern about going back to school after working for so many years and taking out student loans and accumulating debt at this stage of her life. Anna made disclosures of feeling undervalued in that she had continued to upgrade her education and now it seemed as though what she had done wasn't enough. These disclosures are indicative of deepening bonds of trust and cohesion among the Old Forest group. Other members of the group responded to the feelings of Anna and Norma with empathy and caring. During an emotional moment, John offered Anna a tissue. After a brief period of silence, Frans in a display of understanding, empathy, and caring validates Anna as a person by saying that she was more than just a set of qualifications. She was a caring person. Judy displayed empathy and caring by indicating that she had received support from both Anna and Norma and wished she could alleviate the pain they were experiencing at that moment. A here and now focus, self-disclosure, confrontation and expression of acceptance, empathy and caring, affirms the groups movement into the working phase of the group process. A central theme identified is feelings of undervalue and self-worth. Mike commented that he never thought he would be in a position of uncertainty about his future. He believed that a career in nursing would provide stability and financial security. Norma indicates after 18 years with Old Forest, her devotion to the area of nursing she was in had made her specialized and an expert in her field and yet with the closing of Old Forest she found her options were limited. Anna spoke of continually upgrading her qualifications and having done so felt somewhat abandoned and worthless as she was now underqualified for other nursing positions.

After having discussed the personal and emotional issues of education, Anna suggests UIC as one alternative option that is available to all the members. The introduction of this topic elicits confrontation and changes in the interaction patterns of the group members. After Anna introduced the subject of UIC and spoke of how it worked and how much money they could collect, Judy indicated that the dollar amount "wasn't too shabby and she could certainly live with that". After this comment Norma, who had received support from Judy in the discussion of education commented that "well it isn't too great either". John joined in this confrontation by asking Judy "who is your pension plan". This change in pattern of interaction shifted from those that had previously been supportive and empathetic of other members to open confrontation where they had previously received support. When Norma suggested to Frans that perhaps he didn't understand how the UIC plan worked, Anna tried to support Frans and as a result of that support John challenged Anna in a negative way by stating "it's just a bunch of crap". John later apologized for his remarks and then went on to explain what he actually meant by his remarks. This negative confrontation was more clearly demonstrated when after Mike suggested that UIC wasn't an option for him he told Anna that "it might happen at your place but it doesn't cut it at my house". This negative confrontation continued when John seeking to clarify what Mike's concerns actually were, Mike responded by asking John if he "was deaf, are you not listening to me". The tension of the situation is diffused somewhat by the suggestion of Norma that someone come from UIC to look at not only Mikes individual situation but all of their situations to see what kind of advice could be offered.

This exchange illustrates that the cohesiveness of the group is subject to fluctuations at different stages of the group process. In describing problems that can arise during the working phase of a group, Corey notes that "members may collude to relax and enjoy the comfort of familiar relationships and avoid challenging one another" (1995, p. 122). After having discussed the deep personal and emotional issues related to education, and the level of sharing, caring and empathy that occurred between the members, the introduction of UIC as a topic was diversionary. It allowed the group to maintain familiar patterns of communication without having to challenge one another. The focus of the group became a discussion of the there and then instead of discussing the here and now of what was happening inside of the group.

With the end of the sixth meeting, the common characteristics of the group are indicative of the working phase of the group process. The last section of the video depicting the termination phase of the group is analyzed in the next section.

Termination Phase

The twelfth and final meeting of the group marks the termination phase of the Old Forest group process. With the absence of Norma, the group begins. After members discuss their concern and possible reasons for her absence Norma arrives and apologizes for her lateness. Several of the members express sadness with the ending of the group. In describing some common characteristics of the termination phase of the group process, Corey notes that "there may be some sadness and anxiety over the reality of separation" (1995, p. 126). Judy indicated that the group provided a safe place for her to share her personal feelings of sadness and feelings of incompetence. Frans talked about feelings of ambivalence in that he had come to rely on others and had learned to take more responsibility for himself. John recognized that despite saying he was flexible that he in fact had become inflexible and acknowledged his inflexibility by the sarcasm he displayed during the previous group meetings. Norma expressed similar feelings to John and acknowledged that she had found support within the group and now sees that she has options available to her. This acknowledgement of personal responsibility and realization of future options is described by Corey as characteristic of the termination phase in that "members are deciding what courses of action they are likely to take" (1995, p. 126). Anna acknowledged the support she had received from others and realized that many problems she was experiencing was common to other members. At the direction of the group facilitator, members were asked to reflect on what the group experience meant to them. A couple of members described being able to trust oneself and others and how to better react in group situations. Another characteristic of the termination phase, as described by Corey is "there may be talk about follow-up meetings or some plan for accountability so that members will be encouraged to carry out their plans for change" (1995, p. 126). During the last meeting, members resolved how the final evaluation would be prepared. At the suggestion of the facilitator, members were agreeable to co-leading future groups with other nurses that were facing a similar future.

Having described the common characteristics of the orientation and exploration, working and termination phases of the Old Forest group, the next section describes the facilitators response to individual member behaviours that have been identified.

FACILITATORS RESPONSE TO MEMBER BEHAVIOURS

Orientation and Exploration Phase

During the orientation and exploration phase of the group Corey describes one of the behaviours of the facilitator as "developing ground rules and setting norms" (1995, p. 102). After the introduction of the individual members, the facilitator described the three ground rules or group norms that she expected to be observed by all members. As the members discuss their reasons for being in the group and their perception of the groups purpose, the leader responds using the communication techniques of active listening, reflecting and clarification. The use of reflection and clarification is a component of establishing trust. Corey notes that "leaders who show they are interested in the welfare of individual members and of the group as a whole engender trust" (1995, p. 96). When John challenged the facilitators ability to lead the group, the facilitator allowed for the expression of negative feelings held by the group. Corey indicates that "if conflict is brought out into the open and negative feelings are listened to nondefensively, there's a good chance that the situation producing these feelings can be changed" (1995, p. 97). Corey further states that "members need to know and feel that it is acceptable to have and express negative feelings" (1995, p. 97). The facilitator took the individual responses of the members, identified common themes and then related these themes to the general purpose of the group. In describing the importance of identifying themes which are present in a group, Gunderson, Mossing and Ting note that "talking about themes helps the individual members to see what they have in common with each other" (1997, p. 5-29). In searching for similarity among members, when John identified that he and Norma knew one another, the facilitator was quick to note that "good, so some connections are already being made".

During discussion of the written evaluation, the facilitator continues to allow for the expression of negative feelings. After a period of silence, the facilitator acknowledges the increase in tension, mentions that the group has discussed a variety of topics and acknowledges the feelings of irritability and uncertainty. The group leader then seeks feedback from the individual members as to their perception of what is happening in the group. Acknowledgement of the feelings of the group is a display of empathy by the facilitator. Corey indicates that "with regard to empathy - both cognitive and affective - you can create a therapeutic situation by being able to see and understand the world from the internal vantage point of the members" (1995, p. 98). When Judy specifically asks what the group can do about the evaluation the facilitator responds by noting that "we can discuss it, look at it from every angle and decide what we choose to do with the written evaluation". In discussing the division of responsibility within a group setting, Corey indicates that "ideally, each leader will discover a balance, accepting a rightful share of the responsibility but not usurping the members' responsibility" (1995, p. 99). By stating that "we" decide what goes into the evaluation, the facilitator is becoming a member of the group and is assuming some responsibility for the activities of the group.

At the conclusion of the orientation and exploration phase, the facilitator summarized the activities of the group. She spoke of the accomplishments and affirmed her perception of the building of comfort and trust among the group. She then indicated the work of the next group would be further discussion of the written evaluation and sought consensus from the members in this being suitable as a topic for the next session.

Working Phase

One of the behaviours desirable of the group leader during the working phase, according to Corey is "interpreting the meaning of behaviour patterns at appropriate times to that members will be able to reach a deeper level of self-exploration and consider alternative behaviours" (1995, p. 123). This is demonstrated when the discussion centered on the topic of education and Norma and Anna were both silent. The leader in reflecting and communicating an understanding of what they were experiencing in the here and now allowed for both to more openly express their feelings. The leader continued provided reflection and clarification in stating that "no matter how you look at it it's a burden". This provided continued encouragement to both Anna and Norma to reach a deeper level of self-exploration. This expression of exploration brought about the expression of empathy and caring from the other members of the group. The leader then provided a summarization of reflections of the caring and sharing that had gone on within the group.

During the discussions around the issue of UIC, the leader allowed for expression of negative feelings. When Mike began introducing a variety of topics and was clearly uncomfortable with the whole discussion of UIC, the leader described the behaviours that she was seeing directly to Mike. She provided reflection and clarification in stating that for Mike the whole topic of UIC was intolerable. She summarized the alternative options that had been put forward by the group and in Mikes somewhat sarcastic response of "yeah, yeah, I heard the suggestions of the group" she allowed this expression without judgement.

Another characteristic of the leader during the working phase as described by Corey is "providing systematic reinforcement of desired group behaviours that foster cohesion and productive work" (1995, p. 122). In continuing to describe characteristics of the leader during the working phase, Corey indicates that the leader is " looking for common themes among members' work that provide for some universality" (1995, p.123). This is demonstrated when at the end of the sixth session, the leader summarized the accomplishments and achievements of the group. She remarked that problems common to all of us (the evaluation) had been resolved and this had allowed individual concerns to be addressed. The discussion of individual concerns she reported had resulted in a deepening trust among the group members.

Termination Phase

During the termination phase of the group Corey notes that one of the characteristics of the leader is to "assist members in dealing with any feelings they may have about termination" (1995, p. 127). The facilitator openly encouraged the members to share their feelings about the termination of the group. Members openly expressed sadness with the ending of the group and the facilitator self-disclosed that she herself had feelings of sadness and stated that she would miss the members of the group. Corey defines another characteristic of the leader in the termination phase as "providing opportunities for members to give one another constructive feedback" (1995, p. 127). This was accomplished when she asked members of the group to describe what they had learnt about the group. Corey indicates that during the termination phase the facilitator "assists members in determining how they will apply specific skills in a variety of situations in daily living" (1995, p. 127). This occurred when the facilitator spoke with the group about their future plans and decisions. She reflected that at the start of the group members were concerned with what administration would be doing for them. She noted that the focus of the members now was what they could do for themselves. Another characteristic noted by Corey is that the facilitator gives "members the opportunity to express and deal with any unfinished business within the group" (1995, p. 127). It is mentioned that the group collectively finished the written evaluation during the last session.

During the last session, the facilitator makes the suggestion that if would be helpful if members of the group acted as co-leaders of similar groups in the future. The suggestion that the group could use their knowledge and act as co-leaders of future groups at Old Forest is supported by Corey when he states "I routinely discuss the various ways in which participants can go further with what they've learned in the group. These ways may include participation in other groups, individual counseling or some other kind of growth experience" (1995, p.125).

Having discussed the facilitators response to the members behaviours, the next section looks at the theoretical orientation, roles and functions of the leader of the Old Forest Group.

THEORETICAL ORIENTATION, ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE LEADER

The orientation of the leader depicted in the video is of the Person-Centered Approach, developed by the late Carl Rogers. Corey states that the person-centered approach "is grounded on the assumption that human beings tend to move toward wholeness and self-actualization and that members, as well as the group as a whole, can find their own direction with a minimal degree of help from the group leader or facilitator" (1995, p. 263). During the orientation and exploration and working phases of the group, the facilitator allowed the members to determine the direction of the group process with little direction. This is evidenced by the initial floundering and lack of direction that was seen in the first segment of the video. The members jumped from one subject to another and the members brought focus to the group and led its direction. Corey also notes that "the person-centered approach emphasizes the personal qualities of the group leader rather than techniques of leading, because the primary function of the facilitator is to create a fertile and healing climate in the group" (1995, p. 263). These qualities required of the leader are defined by Corey (1995 pp. 267-273) as being genuiness, unconditional positive regard and empathy. Genuiness refers to the group leaders external expression being congruent to their internal experiences and feelings. Unconditional positive regard is the communication of caring for the individual without evaluation or judgement of the clients expressed thoughts or feelings. It is acceptance of the person for who, what and why they are. The person-centered approach is more about the attributes and skills of the facilitator than any one technique to be used in the group process. These skills defined by Corey (1995, p. 277) have been expanded upon to convey an improved understanding. These skills are:

  1. Listening actively and sensitively. This activity is the foundation of therapeutic communication. This skill requires energy in the form of concentration. Active listening minimizes distractions, conveys objectivity, is not evaluative in nature in terms of agreeing or disagreeing and focuses on the clients expressed thoughts or feeling.
  2. Reflecting. Is an indicator of the facilitator's level of listening skills. It clarifies the participants thoughts, feelings and needs. Reflecting is useful in it assists in the formation of a trusting relationship. Trust develops as the client receives the message that expressed thoughts, feelings and needs is being received empathetically.
  3. Summarizing. This skill allows the facilitator and client to examine themes that may be present during interactions. It is effective for reviewing progress, which has been made between the facilitator, the group member and the group as a whole.
  4. Sharing of Personal Experiences. This is self-disclosure. Sharing of personal experiences allows the facilitator to reinforce genuine regard and respect for the client. While the person centered approach uses self-disclosure as a means of becoming a group member for the facilitator, such disclosures must not become the focus of the group.
  5. Encountering and engaging others in the group.
  6. Going with the flow of the group rather than trying to direct the way the group is going. In the person-centered group process, the facilitator is to be a group participant. The facilitators aim is to be directive in approach instead of using techniques to achieve an outcome.
  7. Affirming a participant's capacity for self-determination. This is one of the foundations of the person-centered approach. The belief that humans are forward moving towards self actualization is to be reinforced as this is one of the goals of the group.

Throughout the group process, the facilitator used the skill of active listening, reflecting, clarifying and summarizing during and at the end of each segment of the video. The facilitator reflected both cognitive and affective expressions of the group members. She went with the flow of the group instead of trying to provide direction to the group. Although the facilitator did not engage in much self-disclosure, at the termination session she did disclose that she too was feeling the sadness of the other group members in that she probably would not be seeing the members again.

Having described the theoretical orientation, roles and functions of the group leader as depicted in the Old Forest Video, the next section looks at how I would have handled the situations and behaviours of the group members compared to the facilitator depicted in The Old Forest group.

MY LEADERSHIP STYLE AND RESPONSE TO MEMBER BEHAVIOURS

My leadership style and orientation is similar to the facilitator depicted in the Old Forest group.

One situation that I would have handled differently was the issue of the written evaluation. Instead of discussing the group norms and expectations, and emphasizing the issue of confidentiality and then introducing the topic of the evaluation, I would have held a pre-group meeting where the evaluation could have been discussed. Having a pre-group meeting does not relate to the person centered orientation but rather is a function that would better prepare members in terms of expectations and requirements of the group. In discussing the functions of group leaders, Corey notes that one important function of the leader is "arranging for a preliminary group session for the purposes of getting acquainted, presenting ground rules, and preparing the members for a successful group experience" (1995, p. 94). Had the members of the group been afforded the opportunity to learn of the group requirements in advance, the group could have spent time in ways that are more productive. Issues of trust might also not have been so significant had the evaluation been discussed before the sessions had actually commenced.

In the orientation phase, the members initially floundered by eventually found a sense of direction and was able to move forward with little intervention from the facilitator. I also would have provided reflection, clarification and summarization of what was occurring in the group and would have sought the input of group members as to what was happening in the group at that moment. The expression of negative feelings and the challenging of the leader by John also would have been allowed as the expression of such feelings without judgement assists in developing trust. As Corey notes "members need to know and feel that it is acceptable to have and express negative feelings. Only then can the group move ahead to a deeper level of work" (1995, p. 97).

During the working phase, the group again continued to find its own direction with little input or intervention from the facilitator. She merely introduced the subject of education as being a suitable topic, which had been brought forward by members in a previous session. I also would have encouraged the open discussion of members feelings, fears, worries and concerns related to the topic of education. I also would have provided a conveyance of understanding to Norma and Anna to encourage the discussion of their feelings. After the display of caring and empathy of the members I also would have acknowledged the support of the other members and would have enquired how the support given made them feel.

During the discussion of UIC and the distress that Mike was exhibiting, I too would have confronted his behaviour by indicating what I saw happening with him. In discussing confrontation, Corey states members should be "confronted with care and in such a way that they are challenged to recognize their defensive behaviour and invited to go beyond them" (1995, p. 107). Mike was invited to go beyond his resistance to the topic of UIC when the facilitator mentioned the options that had been put forward by other members of the group.

During the termination phase, I also would have allowed the members to openly express their feelings of sadness with the termination of the group. I also would have sought input from the group as to what they had learnt from the "group". This continues the use of the here and now focus and moves members from talking about only themselves but about the group experience as a whole. Inviting the members to act as co-leaders for future groups allows members to integrate their learning experiences from the group, use them in their everyday living and promotes further learning.

Having discussed how I would have handled situations and behaviours of members of the group, the next section is a summary or closing that was not provided by the facilitator or the commentator.

SUMMARY

One section where no summary or closing was provided by either the facilitator or the commentator was mention of how many meetings were left before termination of the group. Corey notes "it is essential that termination issues be brought up early in the course of a group's history" (1995, p. 123). In discussing the importance of preparing members for the termination of the group, Corey states "unless leaders recognize their own feelings about termination and are able to deal with them constructively, however, they are in no position to help members deal with separation issues" (1995, p.123). One implication of failing to recognize the ending of the group as described by Corey is "there is a danger that as group members become aware that the end of the group is nearing, they will isolate themselves so that they do not have to deal with the anxiety that accompanies separation. Work generally tapers off, and new issues are rarely raised" (1995, pp. 123-124).

In providing a summary related to the nearing of the end of the group, I would have summarized by stating "As we are all aware, we are nearing the end of our group meetings. Being part of a group that has involved the level of sharing and caring demonstrated in our group sometimes leaves members with feelings of anxiety as our time together nears an end. Perhaps today we could spend some time talking about our feelings of the group coming to an end and share our concerns about leaving the group and moving forward in our lives without the support this group has provided to us all".

CONCLUSION

The Old Forest Video has been a useful learning tool in gaining an understanding of group work. In observing the phases of group development, the dynamics of interactions among group members and the facilitators response to member and group behaviours, a deeper understanding of the group process has been achieved.

Gaining experience and understanding of the group process through observation and analysis has provided me with valuable insight into the workings of a group and the necessary steps required to ensure the success and productivity of group interactions that I will encounter in my practice as a professional psychiatric nurse.

 

Reference

 

Corey, G. (1995). Theory and practice of group counseling (4th ed.). Pacific Grove, California: Brooks/Cole

Gunderson, J., Mossing, J. & Ting, B. (1997). Group process for psychiatric nursing practice (3rd ed.). New Westminster, British Columbia: Douglas College

IMS. (Producer) & Heaton, J. (Director). (1991). The Old Forest [video]. New Westminster, British Columbia: Douglas College

Johnson, B. S. (1986). Psychiatric-mental health nursing adaptation and growth. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott

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