Clinical Mental Health Program

Cohort Group Proposal Part I

Cohort Group Proposal Part I Program Transcript

JEANNIE FALKNER: Hello, class. I’m Dr. Jeannie Falkner in the School of Counseling, the Clinical Mental Health Program and I’m really excited to speak with you about your group proposal project and your group class. Often students come and they’re not quite sure how to start a group. So we want to do some brainstorming and let you hear us as faculty Dr. Tomeka McGhee and myself about what it takes to put together a group.

I hope that by the time you complete your class and have this group proposal, that it’ll be a solid one that you can take with you into your field experience and perhaps lead your group there. So tonight we’re going to talk about what it takes to put together a group.

Tomeka, often students come to us with a real passion about working with a certain group or a certain population. That might be victims of domestic violence, I know you’ve done some work with bereavement in group. But what next? What happens? How do we talk to students about how to begin putting together a group?

TOMEKA MCGHEE: And for me the first thing that comes to mind is the rationale behind creating a group. And a part of that is, first of all, identifying the type of group I want to do and then second of all thinking about the type of population that I want to work with, whether that’s female’s, children, and then specifics in terms of the age group that I want to work with.

Then I want to think about the literature. What’s in the literature that may support the work that I want to do? And so I might first want to look at what the needs are in my community. If I’m working for a particular agency, they may already have an idea of what that is.

And so I can just use that information to start building my proposal. But if I’m doing some contracting work or independent work, then I might do a needs assessment in the community itself to find out what’s going on.

JEANNIE FALKNER: So as they get started, the first thing they need to do is identify what type of group. Is it going to be a counseling group? Is it going to be a psychoeducational group, a psychotherapy group? And then they really need to decide who is this population.

If they wanted to work with victims of domestic violence, go to the literature. What does that inform us about that population? What are the risk factors? And what has been shown to be effective so far in working with that group? So you really have to think through who is it I want to help and what’s out there, step one.

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Cohort Group Proposal Part I

TOMEKA MCGHEE: Yeah. And I think also you have to think about the particular training you have, not just in the type of group, whether it’s counseling or psychotherapy, but you need to also think about the mental health issue that you’re working with do you have training in domestic violence.

JEANNIE FALKNER: That’s right. And that’s where the literature can help inform you as to what’s required to lead that type of group. So we go to the literature. You find out a good bit of information about your population.

You decide that, well, I think that maybe I want to do kind of a combination of a pschycoeducational counseling group, because I want that relational aspect of a counseling group but there’s also information to impart during that group. Well, what do I do next? There are a lot of steps from that point to the end of preparing for a group aren’t there?


JEANNIE FALKNER: We have to go to some of the more practical elements. Where am I going to lead this group? Is it going to be in the community mental health center? Is it going to be in a private outpatient practice, an in-patient practice if they’re working with behavioral health? Where is it that I’m going to lead this group?

TOMEKA MCGHEE: As well, you need to think about what transportation may be needed to get the clients or the members to the group itself. You may also want to consider whether or not childcare is a factor in making sure that clients can come to the sessions that you’re offering.

JEANNIE FALKNER: And the time of day, often I see students want to develop a group and they want it during the daytime, but people work. So am I’m going to be able to do an after hours group or is it going to be during the day time?

Then I think we get into screening. Who’s appropriate for this group? Are there people that have other issues that might not be a good fit for group? Yalom likes to say that he deselects, if there’s someone who is not appropriate for the group then we get them other resources but maybe they don’t fit with that group.

So we have to go through a screening process as to who could benefit the most from the group that we propose?

TOMEKA MCGHEE: Absolutely. And then think about where are you going to get the people? Where am I going to recruit? Am I going to send out flyers in the community? Am I going to collaborate with churches? Am I going to go to the local hospital? And I going to go to doctors offices or any other?

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Cohort Group Proposal Part I

JEANNIE FALKNER: School counselors Am I going to do a teen group? Would the school counselors be someone who could refer?

TOMEKA MCGHEE: Absolutely.

JEANNIE FALKNER: So we have to know how can we get the people who need this group? How can we get the information and get them to our group? And then, what are we going to do during the group? What is the goal of the group?

So often I find that students sometimes struggle with– they’re excited about their population. They’re ready to leave the group. And I’m like, well, what changes do you expect your group members to occur? What changes should occur if they attend your group? And that’s where you have to get really specific. And you’re good at that about measurement and outcome and goals. So how do you decide what is the goal of the group?

TOMEKA MCGHEE: I use Goran’s Technique that was developed back in 1981. And he really makes it very simple for us in terms of clinical mental health that we might have the ability to evaluate those outcomes or those results rather quickly. He used a technique called SMART. That the goal should be specific, measurable, attainable realistic, and time bound.

So when you think about creating your goals for the group, all of those components should be present. For example, if I’m working with an individual, a female recovering from domestic violence, I might want to say that I want to increase sleep hygiene 20% by the second month of counseling.

Well it’s really easy to measure that. I just need to find out whether or not she actually did, or he reduced or increased the sleep hygiene 20% within that time frame that was given. And so a part of that too is thinking about the procedures on how I want to create those goals and those objectives. So that may mean I need to discover what theoretical orientation I want to use, what technique I’m thinking about using to do that, or what particular curriculum may be out there that specifically deals with domestic violence in those areas that I’ve identified.

JEANNIE FALKNER: So there are multiple steps before you ever think about starting a group, and the best way to make it successful is to go through those steps. One can even break down the sessions. We know that there’s stages and phases of groups. So with that knowledge, we can anticipate given the literature in the population some expected behaviors and communication patterns that might occur in the early stages of group.

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Cohort Group Proposal Part I

Cohort Group Proposal: Part I Additional Content Attribution

FOOTAGE: (domestic violence) Credit Line: hoozone/Creatas Video/Getty Images

MUSIC: SC_Light&Bright06_T32 and/or SC_Business01_T41 Credit Line: Studio Cutz

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