Group Sessions and Phases

In this section of the paper, the writer will describe several group sessions. The first session is the beginning stage of the counseling group and includes an icebreaker exercise. The second session includes a dyad and moves into the working stage. The third and fourth sessions describe check-ins, problems that are uncovered during the check-ins, and rationale for how the problems were addressed. Finally, the transition to closure is described.

First Session

One of the goals of the initial meeting will be further screening of the members. Further screening of group members will include additional assessment of each member’s readiness for the group experience, confirmation that each member wants to stay clean and sober, confirmation that each member is not suicidal, homicidal, or full of rage, and to determine if each member a good “fit” in the group (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013).

The first part of the initial session will be to establish the rules of the group. The rules of the group are as follows:

  1. Attend sessions regularly and be on time. There will be three 3-hour sessions per week. I will be respectful of their time and start and finish on time. My expectation is that the members reciprocate.
  2. Make a commitment to complete sixteen weeks with the group. Sixteen weeks gives the group sufficient time for the group to form cohesion and for trusting relationships to form (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010).
  3. Maintain confidentiality. Maintaining confidentiality is imperative to the development of the group. Each member must understand and be on board with the importance of keeping discussions of the group confidential. Discussing what happens in the sessions to other people outside of the sessions is discouraged and talking about group members to non-members is strictly prohibited. This gives members peace of mind and it builds trust amongst the group members (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013).
  4. Listen attentively to other group members. Each member is expected to listen attentively while the focus is on other members of the group.
  5. Be open, honest, and clear when discussing issues. Each member of the group can only expect to get out of the group what he is willing to invest. The group is most likely to develop the strongest if the members of the group are willing to be open, honest, and clear when discussing issues (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013).
  6. Set concrete goals for personal development. The members of the group will see a greater benefit from the group experience if they are actively seeking positive change. Putting goals down on paper dramatically increases the odds of obtaining the desired result (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013).

The ice-breaker activity that will be used is called Two Truths and a Lie. Each member of the group will write down two truths and one lie about themselves. When it is each member’s turn, they will tell the group all three and the group has to guess which one is the lie. This is a fun way to break the ice and for the members of the group to get to know each other. This exercise gives the members the opportunity to start connecting and for trust to start being formed.

It is important for the group leader to understand how the members of the group are feeling at all times. This is the best way for to stay on the same page. Therefore, the members of the group will then be given an opportunity to express their fears and their expectations of the group. The fears and expectations will be addressed appropriately prior to closing the first session.

Selection and Deselection Criteria

The screening questions serve many purposes and are vital to forming an appropriate group. When it comes to the selection of members of a group, “Deselection criteria” is normally emphasized more than selection criteria (Delucia, 2006). The goal of the screening process is to identify group members whose needs and goals line up with the goals of the group (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). Another goal of the screening process is to determine if a particular individual should be included in this particular group at this particular time with this particular group leader (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010).

With the goals of the screening process in mind, the writer developed sixteen questions. First, personal information is gathered. Second, the writer wants confirmation that the individual has admitted that he is a substance abuse addict along with his drug of choice(s). Next, the writer wants confirmation that the individual is planning to stay clean and sober. It is important that group members want recovery. If they do not want recovery, then this is not the right group for them at this moment in time. Additionally, does the individual have any mental health conditions? If they do have mental health conditions, which do they have? Mental health disorders are common amongst substance abuse addicts and it will be important for the group facilitator to know what he is dealing with. The group facilitator also needs to know if an individual is suicidal, homicidal, experiences episodes of rage, or has experienced recent trauma. If so, he is probably not a good fit for this group (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). He needs a different level of care than can be provided at the group level. Next, is he in the midst of an extreme crisis? If he is in the midst of an extreme crisis, group counseling is probably not a good fit for him at this very moment in time (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). Next, is he highly paranoid or have an extreme case of anxiety? A person with anxiety or extreme paranoia might not be a good fit for a group-counseling environment (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). The group facilitator will want to know if an individual has been to treatment for his substance condition. If so, which treatment center? How long was he in treatment? And what was his discharge date? This information will tell more about the social class of the individual, what kind of treatment he was provided, and how severe his substance condition is. Is he in a transitional sober living environment or is he planning on moving into a sober living environment? This will tell if he is in a different environment than he was in when he was actively in his addiction. Depending upon which sober living home he is in, the other members of the household will be in recovery, there will be drug testing, and there will be rules and policies, which need to be followed. If a person is in a transitional sober living home, it usually means that he is more willing to go outside of his comfort zone to change his life. Living in a sober living home is an indication that he is taking the next step towards lifelong recovery. Is he willing to commit to sixteen weeks? The individual must commit to at least sixteen weeks with the group. Sixteen weeks is long enough for the members to build trust and for significant behavioral changes to take place (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). The individual must be open, willing, and committed to doing homework when assigned. Work outside of the group is imperative to the group counseling process. Is a person willing to explore difficult issues in his life and is he willing to learn new techniques to handle these situations? This is a gauge of a person’s willingness. Is the individual willing to support other members of the group? This is a group and the members must be supportive of each other to achieve the best possible outcome.

The final step of the screening process will be a one-on-one interview with one of the group counselors. Actually having a conversation with each potential group member is the best way to dig deeper on some of the screening questions, connect, and determine whether or not he might be a good fit for the group.

Screening and Selection Process

In the following paper I outline the screening process for the members of a group, Adults with a Substance Condition. First are the demographic questions and second are the screening questions. I then discuss how I will use the screening questions as selection and deselection criteria. Finally, I discuss the final step of the screening process, the one-on-one interview.

Demographic Questions

  1. Name:__________________________________________________________________
  2. Address:________________________________________________________________
  3. Cell Phone:______________________________________________________________
  4. Home Phone:_____________________________________________________________
  5. What is your age?_____
  6. What is your sex?_____
  7. How would you describe yourself? (Please check the option that best describes you)
  • American Indian
  • Pacific Islander
  • Asian
  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • Non-Hispanic White
  1. Are you:
  • Married
  • Divorced
  • Separated
  • Never been married
  • Member of an unmarried couple
  1. Are you currently:
  • Employed
  • Self-employed
  • Out of work for more than 1 year
  • Out of work for less than 1 year
  • A homemaker
  • A student
  • Retired
  • Unable to work
  1. What is the highest grade or year of school you completed?
  • Never completed high school
  • High school graduate
  • Some college
  • Community college graduate (AA degree)
  • College graduate (B.S. or B.A. degree)
  • Graduate School (Advanced degree)

Screening Questions            

  1. Are you a substance abuse addict?____________________________________________

If so, what is your drug of choice?____________________________________________

Secondary drug of choice?__________________________________________________

  1. Do you want to be clean and sober?___________________________________________
  2. Do you have any mental health conditions?_____________________________________

If so, what are they?_______________________________________________________

  1. Do you currently take any prescribed medications?_______________________________

If so, what are they?_______________________________________________________

  1. Are you suicidal?_________________________________________________________
  2. Are you homicidal?________________________________________________________
  3. Do you experience episodes of rage?__________________________________________
  4. Have you experienced trauma recently?________________________________________

If so, explain:____________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

  1. Are you in the midst of an extreme crisis?______________________________________

If so, explain_____________________________________________________________

  1. Do you experience episodes of paranoia?_______________________________________
  2. Have you been to treatment for your substance condition?_________________________

If so, which treatment center?________________________________________________

How long were you in treatment?_____________________________________________

What was your discharge date?_______________________________________________

  1. Are you in a sober living home or are you planning on moving into a sober living home?__________________________________________________________________

If so, what is the name of the sober living home?________________________________

  1. Are you willing to commit to at least sixteen weeks with this counseling group?________
  2. Are you willing to complete homework assignments and share with the group? (i.e. relapse prevention plan)____________________________________________________
  3. Are you willing to confront difficult issues in your life and are you willing to learn techniques to handle the issues more effectively?________________________________
  4. Are you willing to support other members of the group? (i.e. listening, caring, opening up)_____________________________________________________________________

Today’s thought from Hazelden is:

 

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

–E. E. Cummings

 

One of the true gifts of recovery is that we learn to laugh again. No matter how beat up our spirits have been by our addiction, no matter how heavy or hard our hearts have become, one day we find ourselves laughing. The lightness in our hearts lets us know life is good.

 

It may happen in a meeting as we suddenly stop taking ourselves so seriously. It may happen as we learn to socialize again and share a joke or score a goal in a group of our new friends. It may happen as we look into the eyes of someone who loves us and our hearts bubble over with joy.

 

Laughter heals us. It is one of our heart’s songs. There is always some in our life, somewhere – and we need only look in order to find it.

 

Prayer for the Day

 

Higher Power, please give me something today that will tickle me with joy or humor. Help me give in to the urge to laugh. I know my laughter is music to your ears.

 

Today’s Action

 

When I notice something to laugh or smile about today, I will share it with others. Humor and joy are meant to be shared.

 

Notes on today’s thought from Hazelden:

 

Laughter is one of the things that keeps me coming back. I remember going to my first AA meeting and experiencing the laughter that takes place at a meeting. I remember pulling into the parking lot of my first AA meeting, and seeing a group of about fifty people in front of the church laughing, smiling, and having a good time. My first thought was, “why are all of these people so happy? What is so funny and why are they all laughing?” I thought that life was over because now I was going to be sober. There was nothing to be happy about because I wasn’t going to be able to drink or drug. Not drinking at a football game or while watching a football game did not sound like fun. What about the weekends? What was I going to do if I wasn’t out drinking with my friends? What about holidays and New Year’s Eve? What I have learned in recovery is that life is so much better being sober. I have learned how to laugh and be happy while sober. This is genuine happiness and genuine laughter. One of the reasons that I love going to meetings is because of the joy and laughter that takes place. My life is better than it has ever been today and I owe it all to my sobriety. I’m grateful today for the joy and the laughter that I have in my life. I’m grateful today that I don’t have the need or the desire for a drink or drink to promote my search for happiness.

Group Goals

There are many goals that I can think of that individuals with a substance condition might have. However, I have narrowed the list down to five goals:

  1. Each member will confront difficult issues in his life and learn a technique to handle the issues more effectively.
  2. The members of the group will provide a supportive network for the other members of the group. Members of the group will support each other by listening, caring, opening up.
  3. The members of the group will learn more effective ways to handle difficult social situations. Difficult social situations will be discussed during the sessions.
  4. Each member will complete a relapse prevention plan and share it with the group.
  5. Members of the group will provide constructive feedback to other members of the group.