Week 5: Understanding Group Dynamics
It is important to understand group dynamics because of their impact on the function and success of the group process. The actual “dynamic” is what influences the behavior of each member of the group and the group as a whole. Every group develops their own dynamic, and it is the social worker’s role to ensure that the interactions within the group are helping the members reach the group’s goals. Sometimes it takes only one member to interrupt or destroy the group’s cohesion and social interaction. It is the role of the social worker to oversee the functioning of the group and to ensure that all members feel empowered to help change the dynamic to a supportive influence. It is also the role of the social worker to make sure that the group process is moving in a direction that is consistent with the group’s purpose.
- Analyze group and family dynamics in a case
- Compare group dynamics to family dynamics
- Analyze the role of the social worker in empowering groups
Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Chapter 3, “Understanding Group Dynamics” (pp. 67–97)
Watch segment from timestamp 30:00 to 39:48.
Watch segment from timestamp 0:43 to 09:38.
Discussion: Group Dynamics and Family Dynamics
When working with families and groups the priority is for the social worker to understand the process that is taking place. In both situations there is the overt (clearly stated) dynamics and the covert (hidden) dynamics. The content (what is being said) in both settings is what is open and stated. The process (how it is being said) is the unspoken information; what is underneath the interaction is what the social worker needs to explore in both groups and family systems.
For this Discussion, watch the video segments of a group and a family session provided in required resources.
By Day 3
Post the following:
- Describe the group dynamic (communication, cohesion, social integration, influence) of the group shown in the required media.
- Explain how this group’s dynamics may influence treatment.
- A description of the family dynamic (communication, cohesion, social integration, influence) of the family shown in the required media.
- Explain how this family’s dynamics may influence treatment.
- Explain any similarities or differences when assessing dynamics in a group versus a family and how those dynamics may affect treatment.
By Day 5
Respond to two colleagues. Explain whether you agree or disagree with their comparison of group and family dynamics. Provide a suggestion of how to assess dynamics in a group or family and explain why it may be important to understand the dynamic for treatment.
Sherene Campbell RE: Discussion – Week 5COLLAPSE
It is essential to understand the factors that influence group dynamics. Group dynamics are series of actions that group members go through when they come together and interact (Toseland & Rivas, 2017). This particular group dynamic presents as having levels of familiarity, directness and connectivity. Julius facilitates the group with leadership, structure and veracity. The dynamics of the group slightly deviated from the usual assembly, as Pam was obviously upset about Phillip’s presence in the group. She expressed that the group was previously known as a place of safety and amenity for her; however, presented as irritated and distressed about the negative history she shared with Phillip (Yalom, 2011a).
Pam explained to the group that Phillip treated her poorly, by “deflowering” her and dropping her, as he allegedly did to her close friend. Pam expressed that the group was her “haven, where she came to feel safe” (Yalom, 2011a). The group members shared that they formed relationships with both Pam and Phillip, and although they wanted Pam to stay, they explained that the value of Phillip’s presence to the group was, while she was away. Julius was calm and reasonable, and acknowledged Pam’s feelings without disrespect towards Phillip’s presence, and was able to bring the entire group together by encouraging both to stay and continue the session (Yalom, 2011a).
The group is clearly quite progressive, having spent a lot of time together, they had the ability to point out value and express their emotions freely (Toseland & Rivas, 2017). Julius was effective in allowing Pam to express her feelings, but he was able to avoid any over-embellished outbursts or walkouts, and conclusively helped to include the entire group who was able to support both, pronounce positive attributes of both, and encouraged both members to stay and continue in the session (Yalom, 2011a).
Group dynamics and structure will strongly influence the therapeutic outcome. In the group video Pam presents as an outspoken, dominant figure. With this type of personality, she presents as having a substantial influence on the group, and could have influenced the group in a different direction. The group could have demonstrated a blind defense to Pam’s claim, pushing Phillip off, or could have become infuriated at her initial outburst and rejected her from the session. Julius demonstrated lenient control over the situation, allowing just enough to ensure Pam felt “heard”, acknowledged her feelings, valued her presence and described specific value Phillip had on the group, and also bringing everyone together while processing the feelings (Yalom, 2011a).
In the Roger’s family video, Michelle’s counselor made a referral for Michelle and her family to meet with a family therapist, in hopes of helping them learn how to communicate more effectively. After completing and analyzing the family genogram, strengths were identified. Michelle’s parents have been displeased with her social contacts and interactions, and they fear that those individuals would have a negative influence on Michelle. While demonstrating their discontentment, they have used derogatory terms and criticism towards Michelle which has significantly compromised the communication, which shaped a divide in the family. Michelle’s father portrayed himself as very authoritative and disconnected; the step mother has created an alignment with her husband further, alienating Michelle (Yalom, 2011a). For treatment to be effective, each family member will require respect, appreciation, and validation of their feelings in order to ensure positive change.
The difference between the family versus the group therapy, would be that the group established an alliance and member support within their therapeutic group session. The dynamics within the family unit could have demonstrated much more vulnerability and connection with family members. Despite the “hiccup” between Pam and Phillip, the group was able to express themselves and appeared to genuinely appreciate one another’s support. The family clearly has some underlining issues, which affects their intercommunication (Yalom, 2011a).
Toseland, R.W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Yalom, I., Psychotherapy.net (Producer). (2011a). Group Therapy: A live demonstration. [Video file]. Mill Valley, CA: Author.
Sharon Turner RE: Discussion – Week 5COLLAPSE
According to Toseland & Rivas (2017, p. 67), one of the fundamental purposes of a group is to create a social system. How is a group a social system? Groups influence “both individual group members and the group as a whole” (Toseland & Rivas p. 67). Group therapy can help individuals interact with one another to formulate ideas among one another to offer socio-emotional support.
The group that was lead by “Julius,” (the counselor who as recently been diagnosed with cancer), has been an ongoing group that has already developed its cohesion (Psychotherapy.net, 2011). They appear to have been together as a group for years and thus have developed the roles each of the play, all but one member, Phillip. Phillip is the newest member of the group (Psychotherapy.net), Phillip (who has been with the group for about four months), and another member, Pam (who has been away from four months), has an unsettling history (Psychotherapy.net). The other group members, Gil, Bonnie, Rebecca, Tony, and Stewart (Psychotherapy.net). Despite the tension between Phillip and Pam, the group was able to get past it and stayed together.
Although the counselor, Julius, was present during the sessions and at times offered guidance and clarification within the group, the group was free-floating. Free-floating occurs when the members of the group can have meaningful and responsible conversations among one another (Psychotherapy.net). The group members were able to offer support and thought-provoking feedback. Julius’ presence did, however, provide clarification, which allowed the members to clarify the depth of what they were saying. Additionally, Julius was mindful of both verbal and nonverbal languages spoken while in session. Julius seems to have developed a “third ear,” which, according to Toseland & Rivas, means to “become aware of the meanings behind messages and their effect on a particular group member and the group as a whole.” (p.70).
The therapist, Monica McGoldrick, conducted the family group session. The family consisted of Michelle (15-year-old) and Julian (21-year-old), children of David and stepchildren of Kathleen (McGoldrick, n.d.) David and Kathleen share a child name Jade (2 years old). The family presented due to concerns regarding Michelle’s behavior (McGoldrick). However, the issues surrounding the family was much deeper than that. The family had past issues such a the death of David’s first wife and mother of his older children, and David’s and Kathleen’s childhood issues (McGoldrick).
During the family group session, the dynamics were leader-centered. In other words, Monica McGoldrick as the therapist as the leader, provided direction and assigned tasks we needed. For example, the therapist offered a suggestion to include Julian is a family session to get his feedback on the dynamics of the family (McGoldrick). Julian’s involvement was able to have a breakthrough with David that the therapist was struggling with. Furthermore, the family presented to this session with conflict and judgment. David and Kathleen did not take the time to get to know Michelle’s friends; David did not spend time with Michelle, nor did he help Michelle process the loss of her mother or grandmother. As the sessions went on, the family was able to connect, open up, form strong communication skills, and grow from past hurts.
Similarities and Differences
The differences between the groups were that the family did not present with a solid cohesion; there were strife and distress within the family. This distress shut the family down and created dysfunction. Whereas the other groups seemed to be able to communicate by providing feedback that was well received and added insight to the group.
Both the groups were lead by experienced therapists who took the time to gather information about each group member. In doing so, each therapist was able to address the individual’s needs as well as respect the group dynamics.
McGoldrick, M. (n.d.). The legacy of unresolved loss: A family systems approach [Video file]. Retrieved from https://waldenu.kanopy.com/video/legacy-unresolved-loss
Psychotherapy.net (Producer). (2011a). Group therapy: A live demonstration. [Video file]. Mill Valley, CA: Author. Retrieved from https://waldenu.kanopy.com/video/group-therapy-live-demonstration
Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Submission and Grading Information
To access your rubric:
Week 5 Discussion Rubric
Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5
To participate in this Discussion:
Week 5 Discussion
Assignment: Assessing Group Process 2
Each member of a group contributes to the group’s dynamic even if the member is silent. As a clinical social worker, it is important to understand the dynamics you bring to a group and the role you tend to assume in a group setting. Every individual has his or her own way of interacting. Knowing your own personal style and the role you tend to choose will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses when working within a group.
For this Assignment, describe the dynamics of your Wiki Group. By this time, your group should have developed the family case study and defined the scope of the problem.
Reflect on your participation in the dynamics. What role have you assumed in the group? Have you used any empowerment strategies in moving the group forward? If not, what strategy could you implement?
Group Process Assignments should integrate course concepts related to group process. Assignments should demonstrate critical thought when applying course material to your group experience. Support ideas in your Assignment with APA citations from this week’s required resources
THIS IS THE GROUP WIKI
Peter’s family is the one selected for this project. Peter is a 34-year old Caucasian man who originates from San Francisco, California. He is married to Fernando, a 33-year old Latino man, who is a first generation American. Fernando’s parent immigrated from Cuba before he was born. They live on the outskirts of San Francisco and have been married for three years. They met while in college where Peter earned a business degree, and Fernando earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing. The couple adopted a child about nine months ago from Colombia. The child’s name is Jose and he is currently 24 months old. Peter’s job keeps him very busy and requires him to travel a lot. Therefore, the primary issue here is balancing work and home life for Peter.
Roles & Communication
The group that will address the concern comprises five members, Sharon, Sandra, Catlin, Hannah and Titilope. Each member will have a specific duty. Someone will oversee the family assessment to establish the underlying problems (Mullen et al., 2008). A timetable was completed to break down weekly goals for the project and each member of the group have decided to assign goals each week based on the previous development of the project. For example, during week four Sharon will be responsible for engagement techniques, Sandra will be responsible for research on social, cultural, and diverse considerations, Titilope will be responsible for defining the specific problem, and Hannah and Catlin will be responsible for organizing and publishing material into the Wiki.
Members will communicate over the Internet using email, hangouts to video chat, and via texting to communicate weekly and to share research and project materials. Every member has a smartphone; thus, this will necessitate effective communication regarding the progress of the project.
Mullen, E. J., Bledsoe, S. E., & Bellamy, J. L. (2008). Implementing evidence-based social work practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 18(4), 325–338.
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