Group Theory

Theory is a set of related ideas that has the potential to describe, explain, and/or predict human experience in an orderly fashion. A theorist develops a structural map of commonalities that he or she expects to observe or has observed.

A method, as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, is a procedure, technique, or way of doing something, especially in accordance with a definite plan.

Group work provides a context in which individuals help each other; it is a method of helping groups as well as helping individuals; and it can enable individuals and groups to influence and change personal, group, organizational, and community problems.

As discussed in class, there are four stages of group theory and development. The stages include: forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Forming involves the knowledge and understanding of the feelings and emotions felt by group members in this stage is helpful, if not essential, to the effective structuring of a program to work towards the desired outcome for the group.

Storming is the stage when group members begin to confront each other as they begin to strive for roles within the group that will help them to belong and to feel valued. Aggression and resentment may manifest in this stage and thus if strong personalities emerge and leadership is unresponsive to group and individual needs, the situation may become destructive to the group’ s development.

During the norming stage, groups begin to work more constructively together towards formal identified or informal tasks. Roles begin to develop and be owed within the group, and although these may be accepted, some members may not be comfortable with the role or roles which the have been allocated.

The final stage is performing. This stage sees the group performing effectively with defined roles. In fact, at this stage, it could be said that the group has transformed into a team. However, potential exists within this stage for oppression to begin if one or more group members does not appear to fit in with the group’s view of its task, or is not performing as effectively as expected.

Groups are extremely important in the lives of all individuals. Many of our goals can be achieved only with the cooperation and coordination of others. The success of any group depends on the ability of its members to exchange ideas freely and to feel involved in the life and decisions of the group. All groups have goals. It is important that short term and long term goals are set realistically if the group is to develop and function effectively. These functions are achieved through the direction of leadership and the development of individual roles within each group.

Icebreakers can be an effective way to start the first meeting of a group. They help people get to know each other and buy into the purpose of the event. If an icebreaker session is well-designed and well-facilitated, it can really help get things off to a great start. By getting to know each other, getting to know the facilitators and learning about the objectives of the event, people can become more engaged in the proceedings and so contribute more effectively towards a successful outcome.

Other methods that I would encourage during first meetings of a group include the following: promoting participation among individuals, informing individuals of the benefits of collaborative learning in group therapy and group work, and discussion of intended tasks, goals, and roles anticipated by the group members.