WDP (Westminster drugs project) SU’s (service users)
Participating in therapeutic group activities can benefit an individual’s identity, self-esteem and well-being in many different ways. For example during an open support group the chairs are set out in a circle and the service user will take a seat with his/her fellow SU’s and the group is facilitated by a trained practitioner. At WDP this is very important for the SU’s self development. It’s a space for SU’s to talk openly about what is going on in their lives. It is also a safe environment, where SU’s can get feedback from each other and the facilitator. This type of group can help SU’s identify with one and other and come up with ways of tackling issues regarding everyday life. Here you can develop your own sense of identity and self- awareness. It gives SU’s self-esteem a huge boost to take part in such groups and greatly improves well-being. By taking part in regular support groups the SU’s will develop at a different pace from each other, positive self-development can be achieved by being open-minded. Friendships and bonding can be achieved through group work.
At WDP we have one to one sessions with SU’s, this is usually for thirty to sixty minutes. Here the SU’s can talk with their key-worker privately about what is going on in their lives, maybe they would not want other SU’s to know certain things about them. It is used as a way of support, with the aim of enabling the SU to develop and move forward in a positive manner. Topics such as anger management tend to work better in groups. SU’s can share tips with each other and let each other know of ways that have helped them manage their anger in certain situations. The facilitator will be there to guide and direct the group, plus give their own knowledge on the topic. We work with SU’s who have addiction problems and can react on their emotions very quickly. I think their fellow SU’s can help them identify triggers that could lead to drug or alcohol usage. Bruce Tuckman’s theory on group dynamics I find very interesting and easy to follow.
I looked into his theory when I done a City and Guilds level three in Community Justice (drug and alcohol services). He had looked at four stages that a group would go through while participating together. The stages are as follows: •Forming – Coming together as a group for the first time, individuals will be nervous and have different kinds of doubts •Storming – Group individuals will test the water with each other, confrontations will most likely occur. The politeness barrier will come down and there may be a lack of order •Norming – The aims and objectives at this stage become clearer.
Resulting in acceptance of one and other, trust, and productivity •Performing – Working together as a group on a common goal. Effective communication, co-operation and a high motivation Bruce Tuckman and Mary Jenson later developed a fifth model known as: •Adjourning/Mourning – The group having completed their goal and going separate ways It is possible for the group to not reach the Norming stage, as individuals have different ways of working and may not develop trust between each other. Individuals may possibly drop, usually early on in group stages.
It is of benefit to work with Individuals (people requiring care & support) and others (carers & family members, line manager, therapists or other specialists). It is important to have a plan of action for the group you will be in charge of running. What will be the nature and purpose of the group/the aims and objectives. It is important for the SU’s to feel safe and at ease. As a volunteer practitioner I can ask my supervisor for advice around therapeutic groups that I will be running. As we run different kinds of groups at WDP we have set group action plans and instructions of how to deliver groups. These are all on file on the WDP intranet. It is of Importance to address any risks that may be associated with planned activities.
The health & safety of the SU’s is vital, so the environment should be suitable for whatever activity chosen. As the facilitator it is important to be very aware of the group dynamics, so the SU’s feel part of the activity and not to feel excluded. If I was to run a group on relaxation & meditation I would make sure the room was set up with space between each chair that the SU’s would be sitting in. I would also be able to use lavender oil diluted with water to spray in the room, this will help with relaxation. I can also play a cd on meditation or go through a planned method of meditation. The temperature of the room is important, to have it at a happy medium. Depending on the type of group I am running. As sometimes I may need to have pens, paper or hand outs ready before the group starts. It is important to have the group planned and equipment ready as the certain group will have a time limit and as a volunteer practitioner I must run the groups to the correct time. Before the group activity starts I get someone in the group to read out the ground rules.
Then I get the SU’s to check-In one by one to see how they are feeling and if they are ok to take part in the activity. Then I would explain what the group is about and what the aims & objectives are. This will make people feel at ease and comfortable as possible. Depending on what type of group I am running, I will make sure that all the SU’s feel part of the group and encourage active participation. I like to make sure that each individual feels their input is valued. I like to keep the group going in the right direction and praise SU’s for their input. It is also important that I can communicate effectively and give constructive feedback without making someone feel they have done something wrong. Keeping to the scheduled time for the group is a must. There needs to be time at the end of group to check out and to see how everyone is feeling. To wind down the group and not to leave any of the SU’s feeling vulnerable.
It is valuable that the SU’s give their feedback about the groups they are taking part in. This helps us as facilitators see where we are going right and where we need to improve. It is important that the SU’s are gaining good experiences from the groups and learning ways of coping in everyday life, learning new skills etc. At WDP we have evaluation forms, the SU’s can fill them in and this gives us a chance to see how they feel about the services we deliver, what we are doing right or where we can Improve. It is Important for me to know how the SU’s are feeling about what I deliver to them in groups.
I need to keep up to date on my knowledge of what groups I run and to keep my supervisor in the know about what is going on with SU’s and groups I am running. Whenever I finish a group session I must make notes on Theseus (SU data) informing of who took part in my group and if there is anything of Importance that needs to be documented. This means that the other workers involved with the SU’s are made aware of what is going on. We have policies & procedures to keep to while working at WDP. This is of high Importance as we work with vulnerable adults.