Frequent concerns about group participation
1. I’ve been in groups before in which one participant dominated. No one else had a chance to share.
It’s true that every group has some who are verbose. And others are nearly invisible. That’s why a skilled facilitator is able to manage group dynamics.
With specialized training and several years of experience leading groups, I use effective methods to assure all are heard and understood. Group rounds, mirroring, and communologue techniques help participants gain skills of awareness.
One of the guidelines is this. “Whether you have the tendency to talk a lot or not speak up, be intentional to do the opposite.”
2. What if I discover someone I’ve known in the past is also in the group?
That scenario has happened once in a group I’ve facilitated. Ever since that time, at the beginning of each new group I ask. It goes something like this. “Take a look around. Is there anyone here that reminds you of someone you know?” That usually breaks the ice and encourages authenticity.
3. I have a hard time listening to everyone else’s story. It gets overwhelming and I feel worse after attending.
You may have an extra abundance of empathy. And it also may be a challenge to let go of what doesn’t belong to you. This is common with many. That’s why one of the guidelines addresses this concern. “Focus on your own growth and avoid the temptation to ‘fix’ others.”
Skillful facilitating requires tuning into non-verbal signals from participants. The focus can be shifted in order to provide emotional safety for the “in-the-moment” challenges.
When “organic” interaction happens, everyone benefits. We are practicing what it means to feel, be heard and understood. Then we are able to experience the emotional space for coping skills. Healthy relating requires the skill of holding the temporary tension for in-between interactions.
4. I’m a private person and I don’t want others to see me.
We all fall into a continuum between two polar opposites. Some of us are more introverted while others are extroverts. In other words, introverts are more energized by solitude. Extroverts love being around other people.
Identifying yourself as a “private person” may have a different meaning. Perhaps you’ve experienced betrayal or embarrassment. Or you may have felt judged and criticized.
As with all of us as human beings, we’ve learned how to move toward pleasure and away from pain. How we adapted in our childhoods are actually maladaptive in our adult lives.
That’s the reason your participation in an emotionally safe group is a stepping stone toward your resilience and well-being.
The group is for your personal growth. It’s designed to equip you with courage and not to impose characteristics of “extroversion.”
5. What is the format for each of the four weeks?
After our initial meeting, we begin each of the sessions with a guided meditation. This includes deep breathing to facilitate the present moment. We also end with a closing meditation/prayer. The rest of our time together has variations of the following.
- Group rounds – each participant checks in with “wins” from the previous week.
- 10 minute live teaching (this is the only portion that will be recorded) Each participant will be able to review.
- Communologue Rounds (skill used if no “spot-light” volunteer)
- Participant “spot-light” (Volunteer briefly shares a personal challenge they would like the group to help with)
- Clarifying rounds – Participants ask volunteer questions for understanding.
- Suggestion rounds
- Review of teaching and entire session
- Closing Round
6. What if I miss a week?
Make sure you allow a 24 hour notice if it’s necessary to miss a session. Of course, you won’t experience the group dynamics. But you will have access to the recorded teaching portion.
7. What if after two sessions, I don’t want to participate anymore.
It’s important to first of all, share with me the reason you don’t want to participate. Of course, I will empathize and not try to persuade you to stay. Secondly, you’ll say “good-bye” to the group for proper closure. This closure benefits you as well as the group. That way, no one is left confused or worried about why you might have left.
8. What if after the first session, I realize it’s not a good fit. May I get my money refunded?
Your application, commitment, and our consultation ahead of time should prevent this from happening. But if it’s not a good fit for you, your fees can apply toward another group. Or you can use the remaining portion toward individual counseling/consulting sessions.
9. What if I know that this group will help me, but I’m absolutely sure I do not want to be in the “spot-light?”
That’s perfectly all right. You’ll gain a lot of wisdom and application to your own life and situation by observing and giving feedback. We’ll talk through this and other concerns you might have. That’s why the application, and consultation are necessary. We want to make sure it’s a good fit for you now.
10. What if my spouse or family member does not want me to participate? I know it will be helpful to me. But they are fearful of how I will change.
It may be a huge step of courage for you to fill out the application. I suggest we talk through your situation during a consultation. Awareness is key and your situation is worth being curious about.
For all of us, our personal changes do influence our closest relationships. A common regret many people face in later years of their lives is this. They wished they had the courage to be themselves, and not what others expect.
Our hope is that you gain resilience and be a positive change agent in your family. It’s normal to experience resistance as most don’t tune into the larger story. We are (as a society) too accustomed for immediate gratification.
I believe your wellness, resilience, and authentic self will be life-giving to you and those you love. Of course, I’m not trying to be “pollyanna” here. As some I’ve worked with have gained the courage to leave toxic relationship patterns which sometimes leads to leaving the relationship.
I’m suggesting we take small steps toward Awareness, Intentionality and Risks. We are breathing fresh A.I.R.
11. All this sounds great. But I can’t imagine a 4-week group will make that much difference.
That depends. For some, four weeks will be a huge catalyst for transformation. For others, is a drop of hope when a full cup is needed. That’s why I’ve designed the group so that you can cycle through again. We’ll cover the same material during the four weeks. But you’ll gain new experiences practicing with a different group.
12. Do you mean I would start all over again with different group participants?
Some in your group may choose to repeat another month the same time you do. Others will be new to you.
We consider each monthly experience a “closed group.” In other words, no new people are allowed to join that month. This assures trust-building and camaraderie.
I realize this is a short time frame. And since each group has a different chemistry and personality, some may choose to stay together. I am open and flexible to offer continuing group experiences.
For now, we’re calling this a sort of “rhythm group.” You have the option to participate once or more.