A more in depth look into working with groups.
After completing this module, you will be able to do the following:
- Understand the Importance of group themes.
- Find a theme.
- Keep the group members linked.
- Know the difference between speak in turn and jumping in.
- Know ways to actively work in the group setting.
- Go to the other side of the problem.
- Solidify work already being done.
- Review and plan ahead.
- Use analogies.
- Understand group norms.
- Know the continuum of Interventions.
- Watch for snowballs.
- Be aware of the common norms to watch for.
This module will provide and in-depth look at several elements of solution-focused group work, and provide the student with additional tools to help effectively use this treatment modality.
Solution Focused Substance Abuse Treatment: Chapter 7.
- Do you believe group themes are necessary? Why or why not?
- Your client tells you they recognize their addiction is driving away loved ones, but they feel helpless to stop it.
- When is speaking in turn applicable? When is jumping in necessary?
- How do you actively work in the group setting?
- How do you go to the other side of the problem?
- What can you do to solidify the work already being done?
1-2 questions 100 each=200 words
3-6 questions 200 words each = 800 words
Total for Order 3 = 1000 words
with 2 references from American Psychological Association
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Also to be referenced
by Sylvia Mignon MSW PhD
9780789037237Solution Focused Substance Abuse Treatment
by Teri Pichot , Thorana S Nelson, et al.
Solution-Focused Group Work
Group themes are crucial and necessary when dealing with both solution-based therapy
and problem-focused therapy. Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) suggest that for counselors to
work effectively in a group setting where there are multiple clients while using solution-focused
brief therapy, they must initiate a meaningful link in clients’ conversation. The authors further
suggest that a counselor’s intent for a client in a group setting is to achieve their miracle. This
will require recognizing a ligature among the group who have different goals. Suppose there is
no link or a group theme. In that case, those clients who are willing to participate will turn to
supportive behaviors by giving advice and asking questions that a counselor will tend to ignore.
Those angry clients who are required to participate in a given theme within a group will become
distracting. Last, Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) indicate that counselors will group clients
with similar problems believing that the solutions must be similar in problem-focused therapy.
On the other hand, a solution-focused brief therapist will seek solutions or desired goals, and as
such, the group theme might keep changing because of the client’s differing goals or miracles
daily. Therefore, counselors are advised to listen purposefully in this type of therapy.
Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) quote Yalom (2005, p. 33)’s assertion that group
settings are a “commonplace for many interventions and treatment groups as seen as a
microcosm of the client’s world.” In this case, a client may feel that they are being drawn away
from their loved ones. Still, in group therapy, the counselor will focus on understanding how the
client interacts with those in their lives and use these interactions with the other group members as a method to resolve the peripheral social and relational issues and guarantee the client learns
effective communication and coping skills. In this way, the client will be able to understand
themselves and explore effective behaviors and ways to interact with the world around them and
within the world so that they cannot feel helpless to stop it.
Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) suggest that counselors keep the group members
linked to ensure that it is inclusive. They use two different options; they utilize a circling
approach where each client is asked to answer in turn, and they can request group members to
jump in and willingly contribute their answers when only when they are comfortable to do so.
Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) state that on some occasions, it might become necessary for
the counselor to apply to “speaking in turn” approach when a group member or two and taking
more than their share of group time, and if the lack of balance starts to affect the group norms
negatively. Additionally, “speaking in turn” might become necessary when members in the
group are more tangential or divergent, and the group leader is having a challenge in maintaining
focus and direction. The counselor can let others know that they need to wait for their turn to
speak by slowing down the process. This method can decrease group energy and enthusiasm, but
it becomes necessary when counselors maintain an effective group therapy environment.
On the other hand, Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) assert that solution-focused brief
therapists often use the jumping-in approach in a group setting in ideal circumstances since it
trusts the client’s timing and desire to participate. The authors expound on this approach because
not all group members need to answer every question, and not all members find it helpful to
participate verbally. Jumping in can be applied when group energy is low, and clients are not ready to voluntarily participate (Duncan, 1972). The therapist can use non-verbal participation in
this case. When they notice a group member nodding in line with an agreement when another
member is speaking, the therapist can competently interpose and offer words to the member’s
nods. This might lead the group member to start speaking about the given theme and help in
solution-focused group therapy.
Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) argue that a therapist’s use of the miracle question is
one of the most effective tools to suspend a client’s disbelief so that they can gain exploration of
a place in which their problems are resolved. They assert that this method is just one of the four
categories in which effective group therapy occurs. There are other ways in which therapists can
actively work in a group setting. First, Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) state that counselors
can “take the client to the other side of the problem.” This method can only be applied if a client
wants to be different, and when the therapist readily identifies such, the best intervention would
be to take the client to the other side of the problem when the issues are resolved. Second, Pichot
and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) assert that counselors can also “solidify the work” that has already
been done since some clients have already done a significant amount of work before coming to
therapy. This is a powerful tool when clients come from referral sources. Third, Pichot and
Smock (2009, Chapter 7) indicate that counselors can effectively work within solution-focused
group settings by assisting the “client explore the differences as a result of, and the significance
of, the changes that clients are making.” As such, they can learn lessons and answer the question
‘so what?’. Last, counselors can review and plan ahead to work effectively in a group setting in
cases where clients have accomplished their initial therapy goals. Their current goal is to show
the referral source that they are sustaining these changes in the long run.
As one of the tools that counselors use to actively and effectively work in a group setting,
“going to the other side of the problem” relates to dealing with a client who wants things to be
done differently and taking them to the side where the problem has been resolved. Pichot and
Smock (2009, Chapter 7) argue that when clients come to therapy, they want something that they
do not have or are geared towards increasing the amount of something they currently have. Four
scales can aid in measuring the needed progress and offer insight to the counselor regarding the
best target intervention. These factors include; progress towards gaining this quality, skill, or
trait, others’ perception of the client’s attainment of this quality, skill, or trait, the confidence of
maintaining these, and others’ confidence in the client. This is based on the assertion that a scale
of 10 equals that they have what they want or complete confidence they can keep what they
obtained. The authors assert that clients might be at differing points on any of the four scales as
mentioned earlier, and as such, an intervention such as a miracle question can take the client in
which they are a 10 on any scale needed. This can be effective.
According to SAMHSA (2005, Chapter 5, there are three stages of treatment: early,
middle, and late stages of treatment. There are varying conditions of the clients, effective
therapeutic stages, and ideal leadership characteristics with each stage. Given these three stages
of treatment, Pichot and Smock (2009, Chapter 7) argue that some of the clients in solution-
focused brief therapy already have done a significant amount of work before they decide on
coming to therapy. As such, they might focus on pre-session change, which can act as a vital tool for a start to clients who view therapy as a formality. If such clients present themselves at
therapy, it would not be advisable for counselors to redo the interventions they have gone
through in stages of treatment or form a referral source. Such clients will interpret such strategies
as discounting the positive changes that they had already attained. The counselor should focus on
solidifying the changes they have made. The authors indicate that counselors can utilize Insoo
Kim Berg’s two-step complement (Institute for Solution-Focused Therapy, 2021). In this
approach, the counselor can verbally identify changes that the client has otherwise overlooked in
the previous stage of treatment. The client will follow every need that the client presents and use
these achieved goals to formulate a future goal for therapy. Many clients today are motivated to
make additional changes and identify something they would like to change. As such, the
counselor should be able to solidify what has already been done to move forward with therapy,
hence ensuring working effectively.
Duncan, S. (1972). Some Signals and Rules for Taking Speaking Turns in Conversations. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 23(2), 283–292. https://doi.org/10.1037/H0033031
Institute for Solution-Focused Therapy. (2021). What is Solution-Focused Therapy. Institute for
Solution-Focused Therapy. https://solutionfocused.net/what-is-solution-focused-therapy/
Pichot, T., & Smock, S. A. (2009). Solution-Focused Substance Abuse Treatment. Routledge: Taylor
SAMHSA. (2005). Stages of Treatment. In Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US).
Yalom, I. (2005). The Schopenhauer Cure. HarperCollins Publishers.