Group techniques can be used to facilitate the movement of a group and to deepen and intensify certain feelings. Although it is unrealistic to expect that leaders will always know exactly what will result from an intervention, they should know how to cope with unexpected outcomes. It is extremely important for group leaders to have a clear rationale for using each technique. This is an area in which theory can be a useful guide for practice.
Techniques can be abused or used in unethical ways. Here are some ways leaders might employ techniques unethically:
· Using techniques with which they are unfamiliar
· Using techniques to enhance their power
· Using techniques whose sole purpose is to create intensity between members or within the group
· Using techniques to pressure members, even when they have expressed a desire not to participate in an exercise
· Using techniques to alter a group member’s personal values or beliefs
Group leaders have a responsibility to exercise caution in using techniques, especially if these methods are likely to result in the release of intense feelings. It is important that the leader has had appropriate training to cope with the powerful feelings that can be triggered by certain role-playing activities. For example, guided fantasies into times of loneliness as a child or physical exercises designed to release anger can lead to intense emotional experiences. If leaders use such techniques, they must be ready to deal with any emotional release. Group leaders need to become aware of the potential for encouraging catharsis to fulfill their own needs. Some leaders push people to express anger, and they develop techniques to bring about this catharsis. Although these are legitimate feelings, expressing anger in the group may satisfy the leader’s agenda more than it meets the needs of the members. This question ought to be raised frequently: “Whose needs are primary, and whose needs are being met—the members’ or the leader’s?” If you push members to express intense emotion, do you know what to do once emotions are released?
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