Group Leadership Reflection Paper
ARP 648 Group Dynamics
San Diego State University
This paper examines the cumulative reactions to the ARP 648 course at San Diego State University in Group Dynamics, which culminates in a group leadership activity. It will explore innues of tranference, counter-transference, cultural diversity, ethics and planning of group counseling in the context of both a graduate student classroom context and a men’s rehabilitation counseling context. This paper also explores the exploration of using an empathy exploration game as a conduit of transference.PAGE_BREAK: PageBreak
In a traditional men’s rehabilitation group, trust is often already built out of similar conditions of being mandated by court to attend or just by being a male. Trust activities to find similarities between cases would definitely be a priority in bridge the surprise in the variety of cases present, say at a Domestic Violence Rehabilitation meeting. Of course the court system brings a variety of diverse cases of domestic violence that includes intimate partner abuse, psychological abuse, battery and child abuse. Formally speaking in order to make sure cooperation in activities, keeping a client’s case ambiguous and confidential can maintain trust between members. From one person to another, cases may be so extreme, the inability to understand could cause havoc in a group. However, fortunately in the academic context, group members already have trust from being members of the same cohort or program.
This class was a great opportunity for focusing on techniques, especially iva the material of the Corey’s text. In addition, I found the inclusion of my own techniques helpful. From the Coreys, redirection and reframing was handy. From my own repertoire, simulative transference helped me feel secure about contextual interaction. From the RCP program, the general practice of group nprs was extremely helpful too.
Transference/ Countertransference in the classroom context, especially due to the level of trust prior established did not seem particularly problematic. However in the context of Mens Rehab, I did personally witness the occurrence go awry. A group of men in a court ordained instance, venting in the name of “support” almost seemed to achieve the same effect of a group of people “grinding their axes” or deepening negative motivations was uncomfortably apparent.
In the case of my class activity, a strong point is that we are academics, comfortable in a context to which we’ve all spent years of adjustment–obviously successfully. However, even considering our adjustment, the activity did shine light on the subtle expression of underlying attitudes. The game I designed, LLPH, requires players to draw cards that indicate social and demographic statuses. Statuses like gay, black,ransexual, intersex, low income, HIV/AIDS disabled, etc.
What I did find striking was that for a class of disability counselor specialists, the knee-jerk reaction of some classmates was surprisingly negative and certainly judgemental. This gave me insight that as a processing tool of creating empathy and transference of psychoprojection, the simulation was handy. Making a person say “I am a transexual white male” or “I am an intersex Asian Muslim” brings the though so intimately with the player that Cognitive Behavior Theory comes into play. The verbal activity of being someone we are not makes a visible gut-reaction, helpful in assessing where a pupil, client, consumer, etc. Simply the negativity expressed by a participant who pulled a card they didn’t expect indicates their true feeling about that status and potentially people who have that status. This makes assessment much easier. In the context of Mens Rehab this activity could be very helpful. Often the crimes revolve around physical and status power and creating instances in which that power is transferred to an imagined statues enables a counselor to find the underlying attitudes of their participant.
The most important aspect that I found was mostly to do with the process questions employed after my classmates played the game. Helping them consider the quality of their reactions would bring apparent the psychoanalytical motivations necessary for them to identify their challenge and ultimately their rehabilitation.
In both the academic and clinical context, the idea of human-to-human transference is terrifyingly risky. Just during an internship at the Department of Rehabilitation, I learned of a tragic incident in which a female counselor lost her life to an unstable consumer. I feel it is the obligation of not only the larger overlying body of the State and Federal Government to protect the lives of civilians–especially female citizens–but there needs to be a proper methodology within the counseling industry that safeguards “too much” contact or transference. Simulative mediums like video games, board games, etc do this by anonymizing individuals into simple “users” with icons or avatars. And although people criticize digital mediums as being not real or escapist, they very much insulate people from the risks of the crimes and sadness that comes about from contact being too real. They save people from the very real problems of transference that even Sigmund Freud–the psychoanalyst who coined the phrase–was victim too via his well too documented problems with sexual molestation of female clients and self-medication of cocaine.
Because transference is innately risky, I feel the proper ethical future of counseling will benefit from the back-end, front-end, user architecture of the IT field and its simulation gaming infrastructure. However rather than just an AI behind games, it would be a highly trained cadre of medical professionals.
In relation to clients in a men’s rehabilitation group setting, some offenses that call for court discipline could easily cause a very negative reaction from other attendees. Offenses like child molestation, depending on the personalities of group members, could easily be met with violent negative retributive reactions. Because of this, again, transference between members is risky. And like discussed in Love’s Executioner chapter with the womanizing Carlos, some members may feel uncomfortable to the point of leaving the group.
If we continued our session, I would have the members play their roles at a more gradual pace on the game board, taking note of the life event that occurred and how it relates to their current situation. In this I would focus on process questions in more detail. I’d inquire further on their feelings on their opportunities in life. What have been yur ups? What have been your downs? Did you feel the cards you were dealt–your innate attributes lke sex, prientation, religion, etc.–benefited or detracted in the difficulties you’ve had? How did it influence your relationships? How may have influenced your partner’s or children’s decisions? Although participante can’t possibly exactly know what others are feeling, based upon their own self-reflection, the start or the attempt to empathize would be great progress in a men’s rehabilitation group. A text composed of detailed, comparative questioning would be a natural extension and could be composed of lines of inquiry that can be more pointed and directed towards themes of anger management, power distribution and gender role expectations.
Overall, I learned a great deal about the opportunity to devise and plan a group session. In studying Neurofeedback with a clinical psychologist in Mission Valley, and my studying cognitive disability with SDSU, I feel the mind definitely needs structure and direction even in the most creative of situations. The group activity allowed me to solidify my opinions on this and reinforced my observations on general practices in scholastic structures and even religious and spiritual structures in passing along information. I feel the summation of my counseling style–especially in a group–is through devising a curricula of relevant information and process questions to review the activity and a then a general final reflection. I’d ultimately find this well suited for therapies like the WRAP plan, AA or others. But for the biggest lesson I learned from watching both the videos on the Coreys during the course is the volatility of transference. I think I will stay adamant about conforming to structure especially as the child of counselors. Potential client boundary issues can be minimized when the object of transference is neutral and objective along the lines of the Empty Chair technique.