Groups are therapeutic and a very effective method of coping with any issue needing attention. Groups are often used as a support mechanism for specific issues of a specialized demographic. There are certain guidelines every group should go by to attain the best results for all participating and are as follows.
A group is three or more people sitting in a circle with one person as a facilitator. It is best for the group to stay below 12 members for the best interaction but can be as large as 20 before effectiveness is lost. If the group gets larger then it is best to break up into smaller groups after the introduction is given or from the very start.
The facilitator’s purpose is to lead the group – provide direction. It is best for this person to be a peer or somehow seen as an equal. They can be a trained doctor, minister or manager, but the group must see this person as a peer or someone who has walked the road they have traveled and can provide guidance.
The group must have a purpose or theme to it. For instance, the topic can be very general such as substance abuse or more specific such as alcoholism. The group can be targeted to a specific population such as employees of the company or members of an organization or they can be open to the public. This will depend on the organization or individual sponsoring the group. The topics for groups are as varied as the imagination. They do not have to be centered on psychological disorders or illness. The group could be a sewing group that meets to socialize and share techniques & ideas. Or the group could be a think tank with ideas to improve performance of an organization. The guidelines offered here still apply.
The group needs ground rules for process and procedure in writing, and available to every participant. The group does not need to be strict, but it does need a basic framework. Having a set ritual or procedure adds structure and allows the group to operate smoothly with a minimum of interference from the facilitator. It is important to maintain equality in the group so each participant feels comfortable sharing. The facilitator could rotate to a different person each time. The important thing is to stay focused on the topic and allow (encourage) everyone to participate equally.
Having the group size small and structured in a circle is vital in maintaining the air of equality. The more intimate the group the deeper the sharing and the more each person will get out of the process. Simply being in the group will be beneficial, however the more a person participates, the better for everyone. A good group will operate on spontaneity with each person speaking without interrupting another.
In review, groups are 3 or more individuals with a common purpose who come together for the betterment of all. They have the structure of written guidelines facilitated by a peer in a compassionate and mature fashion. The group has a purpose or topic and it is made clear in the introduction of the meeting so all participants know beforehand. The group sits in a circle facing each other and the size of the group is limited to 12 ideally or no more than 20.
Groups have been used since the beginning of society. A child is born into a group (family), so it is only natural to use groups for working through issues and to simply socialize. Humans are social animals after all!