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Attendance will be required for all group members to optimize the effect of the sessions. Group members will be allowed to leave the group as long as the intention to leave is provided in writing. No reasons will be required.
Because of the nature of the group, a mutual confidentiality agreement will be signed by all group members, including leaders, at the first meeting of the group. There will generally not be homework, apart from the requirement to apply what has been learned to the work and home environment. Group members may report on results if they feel they want to.
There is no need for a formalized institution to determine the ground rules and structure of the meetings. This will be a collaborative process between me and the group members.
IX. Group Sessions
Group dynamics generally consist of four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing (Group Dynamics, Unit 10). Each stage can be identified by means of the format and processes of the sessions to be held with my group.
Session 1: Forming:
This stage is the first in stage of the group dynamics, and involves group members getting to know each other and the group process for the first time. It is expected that group members will be somewhat reluctant to voice their minds during this early stage, and ice breaking strategies may be a good way to start.
When group members come in, they will be provided with a name tag and invited to enjoy refreshments. When everyone has arrived, they will be invited to take a seat within the circle that has been constructed by the chairs made available. Initially, I will take the leadership role and explain the purpose of the group, the projected outcomes, as well as what will be expected of each group member.
After this, I will introduce myself and explain my personal interest in creating the opportunity for the group to meet. Group members will then be invited to introduce themselves and mention anything that they would like to share about themselves. At this stage, it will not be required from group members to talk about their particular stress factors.
Instead, I will lead a genera group discussion on stress and its possible effect upon the work and family life of individuals. I will give a brief introduction on the issues involved, and will then invite group members to make either general or personal observations; whichever is more comfortable for them.
Finally, I will invite each group member to briefly state what they expect to gain from attending the group sessions. After this, I will adjourn the session, and more refreshments will be made available.
Session 2: Storming
The storming stage includes conflict between group members as they begin to interact in a more forceful manner and in an attempt to find their own identity along with the identity of the collective group. This stage is expected to occur only during the third or fourth session, and it is also here that it is expected that potential leaders will emerge.
The objective of this session will then primarily to revisit the goals and objectives mentioned during the first session. Group members will be allowed to contribute their own thoughts on possible additional goals that have not been determined beforehand. This is seen as part of the group dynamic, and healthy for the growth of the group.
Each group member will receive an opportunity to speak, after which group members will provide feedback moderated by the leader. Meanwhile the leader will make notes on potential alternatives for leadership as observed in the group.
Once the goals and objectives have been clarified, and conflict stabilized, the meeting will be adjourned, with refreshments. It is not expected that more than one session will be needed to emerge from the storming to the norming stage.
Session 3: Norming
The norming stage is characterized by the beginning of group cohesion, where social agreements are reached and conflicts are resolved. I believe this is a good stage during which to elect new leadership for the group.
The goals of this session will therefore begin with electing a new leader, and giving this leader the opportunity to lead the discussion. I will however continue to act as co-leader in order to help with any difficulties the new leader may encounter.
At this stage, I also believe that it is appropriate to begin discussing increasingly personal issues, especially as stress relates to family life. After a brief introduction on work stress, the family, and communication strategies, group members will be invited to talk about the dynamic and possible problems within their own families. The group leader will then have the opportunity to lead the discussion and feedback on these issues.
At the end of the session, I will conclude by suggesting strategies that can mitigate the problems and difficulties that emerged, with a request that members implement these at home and report the success or failure of the strategies during the following session. The norming stage is expected to take one or two sessions.
Session 4: Performing
This final stage is characterized by the group understanding its collective roles and norms, and can begin to work effectively towards accomplishing these. Each session in the performing stage will be characterized by opening with a reconsideration of the previous week's suggested strategies. Members will receive the opportunity to report on success or failure while bringing up new challenges or problems that presented themselves at work or home. Each biweekly session will also include the selection of a new leader. Sessions will continue until the collective goals of the group have been accomplished.
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