The purpose of this paper is to create a make up 'group' that would appropriately support the DSS agency, whose goals include support, prevention and treatment of abused and neglected children and their families. There are many people this group might pertain to, including abused children, friends and family members of abused children, family members that abuse and even adult children from abusive familial relationships. For purposes of this paper the researcher explores a group consisting of family members who have been abused including children and potentially a second group of reformed family members who are trying to prevent abusive relationships within their family and community.
Needs And Problems Facing The Agency
The DSS agency is a child-driven, family-centered, community-focused and strengthen based agency committed among other things to diversity within the community and cultural competence as well as committed learning. The agency focuses specifically on child abuse and neglect, hence specialized trainers and social workers experienced working with abused populations to enable better group participation and ensure children's safety in a nurturing and resilient work environment.
The strengths of the agency include a diverse network of dedicated specialty workers and social workers and families committed to improving relationships in the community and support for victims and family members of abuse and neglect. The program addresses the needs of not only children but also families and community members. The needs of the group will include ongoing support and counseling to help address internal and external factors that may be contributing to the group dynamic. Steps taken to ensure maximum participation include delivering educational material to community members and family members defining the group's purpose, schedule and expectations of members within the community. At this point the agency does have a limited budget to work with, hence spending related to group issues must be balanced with budgetary limitations.
Special challenges facing this group may include working with a diverse population including adults and children from varying cultural, racial, environmental and socio-economic backgrounds. The demographics of the community are also changing, suggesting that in the future the group will need to adapt and conform to meet the changing needs of members.
Type of Group Selected
Selecting the type of group for the DSS agency is just as important as assessing the appropriate intervention and support techniques necessary to facilitate group trust and success. For this agency the best group is a support and stabilization group for adults experiencing life crises, stress and lack of support in their lives, as all of these factors may contribute to child abuse and neglect.
In addition a secondary group providing support to abused children may also be applicable, this group would also include support and stabilization. Such a group will not only serve to support the innate capabilities of members but also support parents or other family members in danger of deterioration and help members develop coping skills aside from abuse and neglect (Garland, 1989). This group can also allow members to express their feelings, share experiences and become educated regarding alternative modes of interacting aside from abusive relationships.
Steps To Get Group Started
The first steps to get the group started must include education and information above all else (Garland, 1989). Community members must be specifically informed as to the intent, objectives and composition of the group. It is vital that an exact statement be provided community members and staff members interested in helping with the group. Hence the facilitator must describe the group as 'supportive' in nature and targeted toward abused children and family members in danger of deterioration and neglect. The intent of the groups must be clearly expressed. It will also help to describe the techniques the group will adopt to accomplish its goals to staff and community members, so organizers have a clear and not fuzzy picture of the group's goals and objectives.
Composition Factors To Consider
There are many composition factors that may be considered for this group. It is likely in this case that attendance for some members will be mandated by the courts or required by other programs. While ideally each member of the group will be motivated to work on their problems, this may or may not be the case in abusive relationships where addictions are present. Members of the group must have a common purpose, namely protection and nurturing of the children in the community and prevention of abuse in familial relationships. This will help focus the group life.
It is likely that certain members of the group will have varying needs depending on their background, socio-economic status, cultural environment and lifestyle. While abused children share a common experience, their needs will vary depending on the circumstances that brought their abusers to the group. The immediate concern of the group will be preventing and stopping abuse, residual problems will need to be addressed at a later time.
The group should aim to be cohesive in that people within the group must have a similar level of experience. Because the community in which the group resides will be diverse the group itself will hopefully include a diverse population of people from varying races, ethnicities and socio-economic conditions. The purpose of this group is to help people with specific problems, hence the group composition will include individuals where a common situation or issues are shared and experienced intensely This will help the group form goals and objectives that are more easily defined.
Persons in pain including those who abuse and the abusers are more likely to relate to one another and form successful groups despite varying demographic barriers or different ages, lifestyles, socioeconomic backgrounds and similar differences (Klein, 1972).
Purpose of Group and Work Agreements
Groups often fail because they fail to clarify their purpose and negotiate a working agreement (Kurlan & Salmon, 1998). The authors suggest that purpose is often misunderstood or overlooked in-group work and that attention to clarity of group purpose may often lead to group failure (Kurland & Salmon, 1998). Hence it is vital that the group establish their purpose and create a working agreement. A fuzzy or vague purpose is just as inadequate as a complete lack of defined goals.
The purpose must describe the ends in which the group is "collectively pursuing" (Kurlan & Salmon, 7). Individual group members may have unique expectations, hopes and goal aside from the group purpose but these goals should mesh with the overall group purpose (Kurland & Salmon, 7). A group purpose must not be vague and must reflect the group dynamic. The purpose must further evolve from the need of group members as a collective unit.
It must also connect with member's perceptions of what they want and need from the group, and must be acknowledged by the group, hence the need for a working agreement. The purpose of this group will be "To motivate and encourage members to acquire constructive coping skills and to learn techniques for supporting and nurturing their families and selves, as well as supporting members as they continue there journey and provide concrete suggestions for avoiding abusive environments and tendencies in the future." For a children's group the purpose will include, "To provide a safe and encouraging environment where members are supported and provided with nurturing relationships and opportunities to heal."
The purpose of the group will include active instruction, support and clarification of the issues at hand. Structural and/or environmental modification may also be necessary (Garland, 1989).
The worker agreement or contract must include maintaining safe balance with respect to power and control while still enabling autonomy and self-direction for group members in order to enable new levels of involvement, trust and participating among group participants (garland, 44).
Power and Control Stages in the Group Setting
The power and control stage may be manifested in many ways. It may for example present as defensiveness and hostility which may present a barrier to the group functioning well, as each member reacts to the anxiety of group therapy in a hostile manner forming a protective shell that prevents interdependence and learning (Garland, Jones & Kolodny, 1973). While initially group members will react excitedly about the future prospects of the group, and attempts at organization may be made, a wide range of behavior may be present including "frantic exploration" and reluctance in some cases to participate (Garland, Jones & Kolodny, 35) Once a group is established however power and control become issues, as group members begin to "lock horns with the power and control issues of the group" including problems like "status, ranking, communication, choice making and influence (Garland, Jones & Kolodny, 42).
Here it is likely that people within the group will form alliances to mutually support and protect one another (Garland, Jones & Kolodny, 42). Some members of the group may link together to protect themselves from someone who appears more aggressive or deviant, and it is here at this stage that some members of the group may find themselves excluded (Garland, Jones &…