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Conflict: not too much, not too little - some research suggestions

(this post is downloadable as both a Word doc and as a PDF file).  

Occasional disagreement and conflict are pretty much inevitable.  I scanned Medline for relevant research articles to see if there are any helpful insights that have emerged recently.  As usual when one trawls for information, hundreds of publications emerge.  Here are a few of the areas I found particularly interesting.

Opening up group, session 6

The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.

- Anonymous

Yesterday evening was the sixth session of the "Opening up" group.  It had been a longer gap than usual - ten days since our full day meeting at the fifth session.  As we often do, we began with a round of "checking in"; an opportunity for all of us to say briefly how we were feeling.  Like two or three others, I had been particulary busy in the preceding few days.  Great how present-time, honest interaction with a group of others brings me out of all that brain-busyness into being more here-and-now.

Opening up group, sixth session

Yesterday evening was the sixth session of the "Opening up" group.  It had been a longer gap than usual - ten days since our full day meeting at the fifth session.  As we often do, we began with a round of "checking in"; an opportunity for all of us to say briefly how we were feeling.  Like two or three others, I had been particulary busy in the preceding few days.  Great how present-time, honest interaction with a group of others brings me out of all that brain-busyness into being more here-and-now.

Interpersonal group work

“ [This is] the doctrine that we cannot accept the command of an authority, however exalted, as the ultimate basis of ethics. For whenever we are faced with a command by an authority, it is our responsibility to judge whether this command is moral or immoral. The authority may have power to enforce its commands, and we may be powerless to resist. But unless we are physically prevented from choosing the responsibility remains ours. It is our decision whether to obey a command, whether to accept authority. ” - Immanuel Kant

Here are a set of handouts and questionnaires that I often use when I'm running interpersonal process groups.  Also on the left of this page you'll find links to a session-by-session description of one such group.  As the "Group therapy, background information" leaflet (see below) comments: "Group therapy simply means that therapeutic work is done in groups rather than one-to-one. Many different types of therapy have been tried in group format. Rather than construct a long list of such therapies, it may be more helpful to divide the many types of therapy group into two general categories - structured groups and process groups. Structured group therapy often involves the transfer of skills and knowledge. It may feel a bit like a classroom situation. Frequently, structured groups are used as a cost-effective way of delivering similar forms of therapy to individual one-to-one work.

Interpersonal group work 2

See the earlier blog post "Interpersonal group work 1" for comments and handouts particularly orientated to pre-group assessment.  It's usually time very well spent, orientating would-be participants to what interpersonal process groups are likely to involve.  This both speeds up the time it takes new group members to start engaging helpfully in group interactions, and reduces drop-out rates.  Participants who know roughly what the group is going to be like, why the experience is relevant to what they want to change in their lives, and how they can best engage with the group to gain most benefit, are likely to be participants who get most from the group experience.  Below I've listed various handouts that can be relevant in this orientation process.

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