Pithily Put Presumptuous Pronouncements


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Presidential Address, Division 49 (Group Psychology & Group Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada Aug. 8, 2009

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  • Those models, theories, yes, even" sayings" that have motivated my work over the decades. Another word for them: APHORISMS. As a prelude to you sharing some of your aphorisms...be thinking along the way about that..there will be time at the end for some sharing of them.
  • I've always held humor in high regard. Someone once said, "take the work seriously, but not yourself." Yeah, I'm a bit of a clown. And who can forget that famous MTM episode, anyway?
  • A group does not exist in a vacuum. The group is a "web of life" itself and it is embedded in succeeding larger "webs of life." All are mutually influencing, which the wise group leader understands and incorporates. This is a basic element of an ecological approach.
  • Speaking of ecology... Lewin asked us to consider the interaction of people with their environment. Doing so allows groups to become petri dishes for change, both internal and external...
  • Interconnection is a primary condition of groups. In fact, group is the dynamic interconnection of its members, set in context. Leaders need to focus on sowing interconnections and on helping members harvest the returns.
  • A fundamental belief that groups work has been supplemented by something more powerful in the marketplace and in public policy: evidence has built to demonstrate that groups do work, that they are just as generally effective as individual therapy with several additional advantages, such as cost-benefit, and they are even more desirable for certain situations and presenting conditions. This is worth celebrating and acting on. The GPRN is interested and our own Research Committee...
  • The "Counseling Cube" occupies a central reading in my personal group work Gospel. Its dimensions allow for group as a major intervention to be used for remediation, prevention, and development. Yeow! The possibilites are enormous. See next screen...
  • The Group Work Rainbow is a creation of mine that seeks to organize 4 major forms of group work in relation to each other and as resting upon the same set of basic core competencies. This, in a nutshell, is the ASGW viewpoint. I thank my son, Zachary, for helping to create the artform of the Rainbow.
  • Oh, yes, did I ever tell you that I believe that prevention is the basic goal for all help-giving, it should be the default position? And that groups can be used for prevention? Effectively? If process powers the work?
  • My latest book: Prevention Program Development and Evaluation: An Incidence Reduction, Culturally-Relevant Approach (SAGE, 2010) adapted Albee's basic formula: Lower incidence by decreasing stressors and increasing strengths. See next slide for simplicity
  • Ahh, simplicity. I can tend toward obtuseness...
  • Sing it along with me... This refrain captures the essence of positive psychology. How does this apply to groups??? See next slide for some detail
  • Playing cards and the value of social networks and social support in positive mental health. An everyday life form of group work...
  • As Carl told us, modified by an old General Electric television commerical: WE are our most important product Who we are and how we are with others...
  • No more "just winging it," please. Effective group leaders PLAN and PROCESS their PERFORMANCE. But they also are alert to ongoing situations and possess ample amounts of professional judgment, flexibility, and adaptability. 'Cause...ya never know..
  • My mind is tiny. I need large organizing frameworks to contain fast-moving data. A group is nothing but not fast-moving. How to make sense of it all, how to use the data stream to guide what we do as group leaders? I give thanks to William Fawcett Hill (HIM, LTD) and ask us to pause a moment in his memory.... see next slide for detail
  • see the "Golden Quadrant," lower right hand corner.
  • Used to be we needed to leave 'em laughing or crying, sort of. Showing some form of engagement, after all... After Lieberman, Yalom & Miles (1973) and others...we know that the group and what goes on within it is NOT the end state but just the medium through which end states can be (hopefully) be reached.... see next slide
  • Working with people with psychological and emotional problems one at a time (AFTER-THE-FACT) is important but insufficient. It is the curse of the direct service paradigm. Too many people, too many problems, too few helpers... GROUP extends our reach...
  • Well, maybe not in this particular case..! (GPRN, Group Summit participants...recognize anyone?) Theory, research, techniques, planning, skills--all important, of course. But without the members where would we be? They are the natural resources that can mobilize energy and promote change and growth...
  • Interpersonal problem solving is what we are about, whether the group be task focused or person focused. So, we must try to stimulate and maintain interpersonal connections and from those develop meaning and change steps. Thanks to Jim Trotzer for this perspective.
  • In many ways, group leaders serve as good hosts and hostesses, table setters--welcoming members to the special safe and encouraging place where growth can occur. That is, they are culture builders first. If the culture is positive, supportive, and challenging then members are more likely to interact and learn.
  • Group leaders are empiricists, who incorporate their humanity and skills to assess group situations, apply models to understand what is going on and what the alternative choices and consequences are, and what choices for intervention would provide the best opportunity for success. And then they evaluate effects and redesign, as needed.
  • What is possible or needed in this situation, in this context?? Group leaders assess and review on-the-fly, considering and selecting the best fit between strategies and needs. This is choice-making. I wrote a newish book about it, with Crowell and Newmeyer: Group Techniques: How to Use Them More Purposefully (Prentice-Hall, 2008). See next slide (Cohen & Smith's Intervention Cube)
  • See next slide, Purposeful Group Techniques Model
  • Co-leadership allows for division of responsibilities, offering variety in modeling, opportunities for built-in planning and processing... But careful co-leadership selection is needed and the relationship needs to be nurtured.
  • Bring the past into the present, reflect on current events and experiences. THE POWER OF NOW!
  • Trust the Process, or its alternate expression, "Go with the Flow.." Even though Sarah Palin recently observed that, "As fishermen, Todd and I both know that only dead fish go with the flow..." We often can trust the group to pull together and use its resources well...but, I think, only when the proper culture has already been built and accepted...
  • Yalom asked us to use the "reflective arc." Focus back on immediately occurring event and ask what it means, try to understand it Meaning attribution, resulting from processing, is the power cell of the group.
  • Experience is not it; meaning is. Meaning leads to holding the experience and drawing from it lessons that can be appllied in the future. Go for the meaning.
  • Deep Processing steps can be used leaders to activate and strengthen their own development. (Conyne, Failures in Group Work, 1994). Transpose: record without manipulation Reflect: Review, adding own thoughts, affect, hypotheses Discover: Incorporate theory, research from others Apply: Intentionally use outcomes of processing for next steps Evolve: Continually shape your own group leadership approach
  • Look to help members share about themselves and give and get feedback--with the proviso that members of some ethnic groups may need other emphases than these... but generally, the Twin Allies can help propel group interaction into high levels See next slide for Johari Window
  • It's an article of faith, those therapeutic conditions (formerly called curative factors, and I'm glad that term was changed), that now has substantial empirical support. Instill hope Universality Imparting information Altrusim Corrective recapitualtin of the primary family group Developing socializing techniques Imitative behavior Interpersonal learning Group cohesiveness Catharsis Existential factors
  • Brevity, simplicity, clarity Cut through the morass, the jingle-jangle jargon, the long and winding explanations Leave behind the need to seem brilliant by using expensive lingo and lots of it Try "less is more"
  • Yes, it's teachable, we have many pedagogical strategies that are useful, especially if experientially valid. And we must teach it, we must help advance the next generation of group leaders, we must advocate for group curricula in our training programs, we MUST
  • And people all around the world, in all walks of life can benefit from good group processes if not from intentionally constructed group work itself.. The Board room, community centers, religious centers, classrooms, mental health centers, planning boards, local-state-and national governments, medical practitioners, etc., etc. Let's Give It Away (George Miller)
  • Lynn and I attended for the GPRN the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups (AASWG) in Chicago last June. Among other things, I heard part of a report of a working group exploring international group work. One summative point that seemed to transcend group work in various nations and cultures: "The need for BEING TOGETHER and for DOING TOGETHER." Don't you agree? "Let's Get Together and We'll Be All Right" (Bob Marley)
  • Pithily Put Presumptuous Pronouncements

    1. 1. Pithily-Put Presumptuous Pronouncements* about Group Work Robert K. Conyne, Ph.D. Division 49 Presidential Address APA Convention, Toronto August 8, 2009 *= Aphorisms
    2. 2. APHORISM <ul><li>“A terse formulation of a truth or </li></ul><ul><li>sentiment; an adage. </li></ul><ul><li>( Webster’s Dictionary ) </li></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>A Pithily-Put Presumptuous Pronouncement! . </li></ul>
    3. 3. 32 GROUP APHORISMS <ul><li>Expanded from 27 to 30, from: </li></ul><ul><li>JSGW , 1997, 22 , 149-156, adapted from </li></ul><ul><li>ASGW Presidential Address, April 21, 1996, Pittsburgh, PA) </li></ul><ul><li>Take a look at YOURS </li></ul><ul><li>*=Added to original list (themes: ecology, </li></ul><ul><li>prevention) </li></ul>
    4. 4. IN MEMORIAM: CHUCKLES THE CLOWN <ul><li>“A LITTLE SONG, A LITTLE DANCE, A LITTLE SELZER DOWN YOUR PANTS…” </li></ul><ul><li>(MTM episode). </li></ul>
    5. 5. *APHORISM 1 <ul><li>CONTEXT IS CENTRAL </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Capra, 1996; </li></ul><ul><li>Conyne & Cook, 2004; </li></ul><ul><li>Conyne, Crowell & </li></ul><ul><li>Newmeyer, 2008) </li></ul>
    6. 6. *APHORISM 2 <ul><li>B=(f)PxE </li></ul><ul><li>(Lewin, 1936) </li></ul>
    7. 7. *APHORISM 3 <ul><li>EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Capra, 1996; </li></ul><ul><li>Kelly, 1987) </li></ul>
    8. 8. APHORISM 4 <ul><ul><li>GROUP WORK WORKS! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g., Barlow, Furhiman & Burlingame, 2004; Horne & Rosenthal, 1997) </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. APHORISM 6 GROUP WORK RAINBOW (ASGW Training Standards)
    12. 12. *APHORISM 7 <ul><li> TRY TO PREVENT WHENEVER POSSIBLE. </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine a warm, sunny afternoon.You are in a local park, lounging indolently on a blanket, with a bottle of wine/juice and a good book on the grassy banks of a river below a swimming area. Suddenly you hear thrashing sounds, and a cry for help from the river. Startled, you look over to see a person struggling unsuccessfully as the water sweeps him away. You courageously dive in, rescue him, and return to the serious business of soaking up the sun. There is no respite for you, however, for you find yourself repeating this performance with several other drowning people throughout the afternoon. As you are ministering to the final victim, an observer asks a question that is startlingly powerful in its logic and simplicity: “Would it ultimately be much easier and less dangerous to go to the swimming area and teach those people collectively how to swim, than to rescue each individually?” -From Rappaport </li></ul>
    13. 13. *APHORISM 8 Prevention: Lower Incidence (Albee, 1982; Conyne, in press) <ul><li>Adapted Incidence Reduction Formula </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease: DEFICITS [Individual-Global]): </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Stressors & Risk Factors: (Physical) x ( Social) x (Culture) </li></ul><ul><li>________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>Increase: STRENGTHS [Individual-Global ]: </li></ul><ul><li>Protective Factors : </li></ul><ul><li>( Personal) x (Interpersonal) x (Group) x System) </li></ul>
    14. 14. OR IN SHORT-HAND… <ul><li>REDUCE DEFICITS AND RISKS </li></ul><ul><li>& </li></ul><ul><li>INCREASE STRENGTHS AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS </li></ul>
    15. 15. *APHORISM 9 “ You’ve got to accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative And latch on to the affirmative Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between .” (Mercer & Arlen, 1944)
    16. 16. Positive Psychology: Strengths-Based <ul><li>Accentuate the Positive: </li></ul><ul><li>Flourish (10-20%) </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminate the Negative: </li></ul><ul><li>Mental disorder (20+%) </li></ul><ul><li>Latch on to the affirmative: </li></ul><ul><li>Positivity (Moderately healthy: 50%) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between: </li></ul><ul><li>Languish (10%) </li></ul><ul><li>(Keyes, 2007, adult figures). </li></ul>
    17. 17. APHORISM 10 <ul><li>APPLY WHAT WORKS </li></ul><ul><li>IN EVERYDAY LIFE: </li></ul><ul><li>The “Ruby & Oren </li></ul><ul><li>Principle” </li></ul>
    18. 18. APHORISM 11 <ul><li>PERSONHOOD IS THE GROUP LEADER’S PRIMARY ASSET </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Corey & Corey, 2006; Trotzer, 2006) </li></ul>
    19. 19. APHORISM 12 <ul><li>A GROUP PLAN HELPS, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., ASGW Best Practice Guidelines) </li></ul>
    20. 20. APHORISM 13 <ul><li>COGNITIVE MAPS HELP PREDICT, BUT ALWAYS HEDGE YOUR BET </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Hill Interaction Matrix, Learning thru Discussion ) </li></ul>
    21. 22. LEARNING THRU DISCUSSION Eight-Step LTD Group Process Plan Step 1: Checking in 2-4 minutes Step 2: Vocabulary 3-4 minutes Step 3: General statement of author's message 5-6 minutes Step 4: Identification and discussion of major themes or subtopics 10-12 minutes Step 5: Application of material to other works 15-16 minutes Step 6: Application of material to self 10-12 minutes Step 7: Evaluation of author's presentation 3-4 minutes Step 8: Evaluation of group and individual performance 7-8 minutes Total Time 60 minutes
    22. 23. APHORISM 14 <ul><li>GROUP WORK CAN HELP YOU GET THERE (BUT IT’S NOT “THERE”) </li></ul><ul><li>(Houts & Serber, After the Turn On, What?) </li></ul>
    23. 24. APHORISM 15 <ul><li>GROUP WORK HELPS US REACH MORE PEOPLE </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., 43 million adults with mental disturbance in U.S., 1 million school dropouts a year, etc., etc., etc….) </li></ul>
    24. 25. APHORISM 16 <ul><li>GROUP MEMBERS ARE OUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Corey & Corey; Trotzer) </li></ul>
    25. 26. APHORISM 17 <ul><li>GROUP WORK IS PROBLEM SOLVING WITH OTHERS. </li></ul><ul><li>(Interpersonal problem-solving, Trotzer) </li></ul>
    26. 27. APHORISM 18 <ul><li>GROUP WORK NEEDS INTERPERSONAL-MULTICULTURAL THEORIES </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., DeLucia-Waack, </li></ul><ul><li>1996; Bemak & Conyne, </li></ul><ul><li>2004) </li></ul>
    27. 28. APHORISM 19 <ul><li>GROUP LEADERS </li></ul><ul><li>ARE CULTURE </li></ul><ul><li>BUILDERS </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Kivlighan </li></ul><ul><li>& Tarrant, </li></ul><ul><li>2001; Yalom, 1995) </li></ul>
    28. 29. APHORISM 20 <ul><li>GROUP LEADERS ALSO </li></ul><ul><li>ARE ACTION SCIENTISTS </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Argyris, Dewey, </li></ul><ul><li>Lewin) </li></ul>
    29. 30. APHORISM 21 <ul><li>GROUP LEADERSHIP INVOLVES CONTINUAL CHOICE MAKING </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Cohen & Smith, 1976; Conyne, </li></ul><ul><li>Crowell & Newmeyer, 2008; Robert Frost) </li></ul>
    30. 31. Cohen & Smith “Cube”
    31. 32. Purposeful Group Technique Model (Conyne, Crowell & Newmeyer, 2008) Ecological Concepts Best Practice Guidelines Group Development Group Type Group Level Group Focus Therapeutic Factors
    32. 33. APHORISM 22 <ul><li>CO-LEADERSHIP CAN BE HIGHLY DESIRABLE </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Many) </li></ul>
    33. 34. APHORISM 23 <ul><li>HERE-AND-NOW BEATS THERE-AND- THEN EVERY TIME </li></ul><ul><li>(Bradford, Gibb & Benne,1964;Yalom, 1995) </li></ul>
    34. 35. APHORISM 24 <ul><li>TRUST THE PROCESS </li></ul><ul><li>(Dossey, Recovering the Soul, 1989 ) </li></ul>
    35. 36. APHORISM 25 <ul><li>PROCESSING POWERS. </li></ul><ul><li>(Dye, 2008—”Tsunami;” </li></ul><ul><li>Yalom with </li></ul><ul><li>Leszcz, 2005) </li></ul>
    36. 37. APHORISM 26 <ul><li>MEANING IS </li></ul><ul><li>CENTRAL TO </li></ul><ul><li>GROUP WORK </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g., Lieberman, </li></ul><ul><li>Yalom & Miles, 1973; </li></ul><ul><li>Conyne, et al., 2008) </li></ul>
    37. 38. DEEP PROCESSING (Conyne, 1999) <ul><li>Step 1: TRANSPOSE </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2: REFLECT </li></ul><ul><li>Step 3: DISCOVER </li></ul><ul><li>Step 4: APPLY </li></ul><ul><li>Step 5: EVOLVE </li></ul>
    38. 39. APHORISM 27 <ul><li>SELF-DISCLOSURE </li></ul><ul><li>& FEEDBACK ARE </li></ul><ul><li>TWIN ALLIES </li></ul><ul><li>(Luft, 1984; Stockton </li></ul><ul><li>& Morran, 1991) </li></ul>
    39. 41. APHORISM 28 <ul><li>YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH </li></ul><ul><li>THERAPEUTIC CONDITIONS </li></ul><ul><li>(Yalom; and others) </li></ul>
    40. 42. APHORISM 29 <ul><li>LESS IS MORE </li></ul><ul><li>( Tao te ching) </li></ul>
    41. 43. APHORISM 30 <ul><li>HEY! WE CAN TEACH THIS STUFF! </li></ul><ul><li>(Conyne, Wilson & Ward, 1997) </li></ul>
    42. 44. APHORISM 31 <ul><li>LET’S GIVE IT AWAY! </li></ul><ul><li>(Miller, 1969) </li></ul>
    43. 45. APHORISM 32 <ul><li>LET’S GET TOGETHER, AND WE’LL BE ALL RIGHT! </li></ul><ul><li>(ASGW; BOB MARLEY) </li></ul>
    44. 46. YOUR APHORISMS <ul><li>LIST 3 IDEAS THAT STRONGLY MOTIVATE YOUR WORK WITH GROUPS—PERHAPS YOUR “APHORISMS…” </li></ul><ul><li>_____________________ </li></ul><ul><li>_____________________ </li></ul><ul><li>_____________________. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SHARE WITH THE GROUP. </li></ul></ul>
    45. 47. Roam On <ul><li>WHY FAINTEST THOU! </li></ul><ul><li>I WANDER’D TILL I DIED. </li></ul><ul><li>ROAM ON! </li></ul><ul><li>THE LIGHT WE SOUGHT </li></ul><ul><li>IS SHINING STILL. </li></ul><ul><li>(M. Arnold, Thyrsis ) </li></ul>