Read the four group dynamics problem scenarios and respond to each question for each scenario:
Using your knowledge of group roles, norms, and dynamics, describe the problem in systemic terms.
Citations no more than 5 years old. Please use Permalink for all citations used.
Identify the group facilitator goal with respect to restoring a functioning group that can meet its objectives.
Identify at least one group facilitation skill to resolve the problem, using Motivational Interviewing and/or
group process concepts.
Create a group facilitator script for each skill, and describe how you imagine the group would respond.
1] In each scenario describe the problem in terms of group processes and/or MI theory.
2] In each scenario, describe how the current group process prevents the group from meeting one or more
of its goals.
3] For each scenario, identify and justify at least one intervention
you would make as a leader.
4] For each intervention, write what you as the leader would say to redirect the group to effective
functioning, and how the group would respond.
Vincent, an African-American social worker in his mid-twenties, has just started a group for older men who
smoke and are already experiencing health effects, like COPD and lung cancer. The stated purpose of the
group is to help the participants make informed choices about smoking and know about smoking cessation
supports, whether or not they are ready to quit. Vincent has done his research about the different illnesses
and the benefits of quitting smoking.
What Vincent is not prepared for is how much the group questions his ability to help them. How can he
possibly know what it’s like to grow old? Or how important smoking is as one of the few pleasures left? The
group is mostly made up of white men from a conservative rural area, and although no one says it out loud,
Vincent feels like a subtext of their doubts is whether he is smart or educated enough to help them as a
As the group members piggy-back off each other’s concerns, Vincent feels ganged up on. He bristles
inwardly at the covert racism he senses. He is the first in his family to go to college, and yet his intelligence
and expertise are being judged by people who have no idea about his life experiences. At the same time,
Vincent knows that these opinionated men are probably scared on the inside. Otherwise they would not
have shown up for this group.
Amy is a returning adult student in her 50s who has been leading a group for women who have
codependent relationships with alcoholic partners. Amy herself was in one of those relationships; getting
divorced and going back to school have been important steps in her own journey, of which she is quite
proud. As someone who has finally found her voice, she can find it difficult at times to respect that the
group members may not be ready to stop enabling their partners.
Today’s topic is about how accepting partners’ excuses only perpetuates the problem. However, one group
member after the other shares how making their partners choose between them and alcohol now would
only break up the relationship and cause their partners to sink further into alcoholism. Amy works hard to
contain her frustration, and finally blurts out, “Don’t you all see what you’re doing here? This is
codependent behavior!” Her outburst is met by stunned silence, then by a diversion: one group member
asks “How do you know if someone is an alcoholic, anyway?”
Relieved, Amy launches into a lecture about the signs and symptoms of addiction. The group listens
politely, and everyone pretends that the previous discussion never happened. Amy senses that she is no
longer conducting a Motivational Interviewing group, but she is unsure how to get back on track.
Yvette is a Somali refugee who has navigated the complex process of adaptation and is now in a position
to help other refugees. At a local middle school, she has formed a group for recently immigrated boys who
are having adjustment issues resulting in poor grades and academic probation. So far, the group has
engaged well around topics of anti-Muslim bullying, learning English, and dealing with parental
expectations. Yvette has some trouble keeping the group focused, but she feels that they are now able to
talk about reasons to go to school even with all the challenges these kids face.
One of the group members loves to talk and get attention by telling funny stories, and up to now Yvette has
gently redirected the group by asking other students questions. She likes this boy and realizes that he has
experienced a lot of trauma, and humor is an important coping skill for him. However, she is aware that her
responsibility is to the whole group, and the school counselor made a comment in the hallway before group
that there has been no improvement in their in-classroom behavior after several weeksFeeling pressure to move the group forward and stay on mission, Yvette interrupts the boy and says, “We
all enjoy your stories, but I think it is time to talk about why we are here. We have been talking about all the
things that make it hard to do well in school, but has anyone actually done anything to bring up their grades
since we started meeting?” As soon as she asks, Yvette realizes she sounds like she is a parent and not a
group leader. The whole group squirms and looks at each other.
Moving Toward Action
Eduardo has been leading a group for adults who are required to have counseling before getting approved
for gastric bypass surgery. Each member must lose 10% of their weight to show they have the motivation to
maintain healthy behaviors. Eduardo comes from a family with a high incidence of obesity and diabetes.
The group members have done well in exploring their emotional reasons for eating and their difficulty
sticking with weight loss plans in the past. They have helped each other challenge their old thinking and
deepen their awareness of the values behind their desire to be healthy. Many of them want to live long
enough to see their grandchildren grow up.
Some group members have begun to lose weight, but the holidays are approaching. Eduardo understands
how hard it can be to resist the family pressure to participate in overeating, but he is also attached to how
successful the group has been. His supervisor has been very complimentary, and Eduardo doesn’t want to
let him down. He has also lost several close family members to complications from diabetes, and he feels
personally invested in saving these group members who have already come so far.
Eduardo knows he must roll with resistance and not forget the MI Spirit of respect for patient autonomy. But
he sees himself sliding too far, already feeling defeated. He says, “I guess Thanksgiving and Christmas are
just too important. Why don’t we just take a break from these health goals and pick them back up in
January?” The group is a bit shocked, but they agree unanimously.