Thursday, December 4, 2008

Group Work - The Personalities

Groups are known for those very distinctive personalities. I believe it's safe to say that we all recognize these particular gems. Strategies for dealing with these individuals follows.

The member who always speak first, AKA The Excessive Talker (ET)
To encourage someone else to speak first, use your eye contact. Start with eye contact with the excessive talker, and sweep around and end the question with the ET completely out of your field of vision. This isn't guaranteed to work, but when the ET is not in your field of sight at all, it will appear you're not posing the question to them. Begin looking at them to avoid appearing rude.

The member who tells the same stories or shares the same problems over and over, AKA The Broken Record
Disengage eye contact and hope for the ‘wind down’. When the member lacks eye contact they usually realize it's time to move on. If this happens so much it's disruptive or the eye contact isn't working, scan the group. If everyone has checked out it’s time to be frank. "Cara, have you noticed that our attention is waning? This is probably because we’ve heard this story before. What can we do to help you?"

The Quiet Member
It's best to draw out quiet members as soon as possible, sometimes even in the first session. The longer a member waits to participate the harder it will become. If they seem to be agreeing quietly or deep in thought, the following are appropriate ways to gently prompt participation:
"Donna, you seem to be agreeing with what Will said. Would you like to tell us a little about what you’re thinking?”
“Caleb, you look like you’re thinking about something. Would you share with us?”
You can also pose a general question while looking directly at the member. The member can chose to accept the eye contact as an invitation to speak, or ignore it. Although it is awkward to ignore a question that appears to be posed directly at you even if it is phrased as a question for everyone.
Dyads are also helpful because when two people pair up to speak, it's usually impossible for the member to not speak with their partner. This also helps the shy member meet other members and feel more comfortable.

Adapted (very loosely) from:
Jacobs, E., Masson, R., & Harvill, R. Group counseling strategies and skills. (5th ed.) Belmont: Thomson.

1 comment:

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