In this paper, I will be discussing my finding in Overeaters Anonymous support group. I will enlighten the reader further by providing knowledge of the topic. The purpose of the OA meetings and objective will be included along with the support groups dynamics and demographics. I will be incorporating my observations from the Corey video and the reading. The working stage of group development along with the leader’s behavior during sessions.
Dynamics and Demographics I attended an OA support group at the Anuvia Prevention Center located on 100 Billingsley Road in the Horizon Room. I obtained permission from the leader of the OA group to attend four group sessions. This purpose of OA support group is a program of individuals who, through shared experience, strength, and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating by working Twelve Steps.
Many of the OA members mentioned that they have tried to lose weight through many methods, only failed repeatedly due to their inability to control their eating habits. The members report that the best decision they’ve ever made was to allocate a meeting. At the OA meetings I found others who have the same concerns and who shared their feelings.
The Overeaters Anonymous Support Group purpose is to carry on the message of recovery from compulsive eating to those who still suffer. Some of the OA members are sponsors that have completed the OA program and continue to maintain their compulsive eating habits and their purpose is to continue inspiring the other members whom continue to struggle with eating compulsively. As a new member of the OA support group, I introduced myself to the other member and explained that I am a graduate student at Liberty University Human Services and Counseling program. The members of the OA support group were receptive and welcomed me as a newcomer.
Before the OA session began the group leader asked each member to stand as she led us in the serenity prayer. In the first session, I was not too familiar with each verse word for word but I noticed that I had read the prayer before. After reading the prayer, the leader asked each member to be seated and she asked each member to introduce themselves and the purpose of attending the group. While going around the circle I acknowledged that each member referred to themselves as either “Hi my name is _____________, or I am a “compulsive overeater” or a “food addict.”
I introduced myself as Kerski Houston, not really a compulsive overeater but I have a tendency to eat much more rapidly. After watching the “Groups in Action” video, I observed similar interaction from my group initial session as far as members testing the atmosphere and trying to get better acquainted (Corey, et. al., 2014). Confidentiality
The OA support group was confidential and the members mentioned during introduction that what goes on in the OA meetings is asked to only be discussed in those meetings and no outside information is to be shared with any non-member. There were no consents of information passed out for newcomers to sign in agreement to assure the rights of privacy.
However, the leader informed the newcomers in the beginning by providing information about the issues with privacy and confidentially to their new members. If a member violates or if suspected to violate policy it is considered to be unethical and needs to be reported to the sponsor. I found it very difficult at times during the end of the session trying to get the sponsor to sign the attendance form due to the privacy act and not wanting to disclose their personal information.
I observed that each Saturday during group sessions the women outnumbered the men tremendously. I found it very interesting that the men had more to share about their experience of different patterns of food behaviors than women. The bible speaks in James 5: 16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (ESV) This scripture certainly speaks to the subject at hand, in session members shared their feelings and thoughts and gave feedback. Support Group
The OA support group was based more off the literature and carrying the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps. During my observations I acknowledged each member reading paragraphs in rounds according to the assigned reading for that particular Saturday. Often the members would read a section then comment on what the portion they read and what it meant to them during their recovery process. I think the leader did a great job by creating the therapeutic climate and maintain the groups focus. The leader showed authority when needed which happened mostly during cross talk which is not tolerated in during session.
The leader did a great job with creating the right atmosphere where members and newcomers felt safe to share their thoughts and feelings. I shared my struggle with food that occurred during the summer which the doctor mentioned could possibly lead to a medical condition called diabetes if I did not reduce my sugar intake. After sharing this information, I felt more accepted, and the members seemed to be more appreciative that I could relate. I enjoyed hearing the member’s state during the end of session how the Twelve Steps would work, if you work it.
The Stage of Group Development When relating the Book to the stage of the OA group’s development, I believe that the support group is currently progressing in the transition stage. In this stage members are building safety and trust. I did observe some conflict during session amongst another new member that was from a different country whom spoke a different language. The member was reluctant to participate, due to other members criticizing her language barrier. The leader utilized techniques to shift the focus to something more constructive such as using dyads. In the transition stage, safety is a factor and trust has to be established before a member is to engage in deeper work (Corey, et. al., 2014). Challenges and Conflicts
Some challenges which I observed that the leader faced occurred when a member took on the role of the coleader. The member had basically demonstrated a variety of behaviors such as probing for information, trying to “fix others”, and frequently asking questions. Another challenge was diversity issues that affected the group process. An African American male mentioned that that he had trouble speaking aloud because he felt different for majority of the members in the group. The leader encouraged him to talk more about this struggle and how it affects him every day. He made an important step by accepting this challenge.
Leadership Style I think the leader of the OA support group demonstrated more of an interpersonal leadership style. According to the reading, Corey (2008) states the leader emphasizes more on the here and now. The OA leader focused more on the needs and concerns of the individual members. This style was very beneficial for this support group because the leader assisted with improving relationships among all members to accomplish the group’s task.
Conclusion In conclusion, I realized what makes an effective leader, stages of group development, and the group process. The leader has responsibility of assisting their group with accomplishing their goals. I believe a good leader takes the lead. I consider the OA leader an effective leader, because she demonstrated good leadership skills and had a great vision of where her support group members need to be. I really enjoyed the support group experience and meeting diverse individuals.
I think the biggest advantage of support group therapy is not feeling alone. It helped me to gain a sense of empowerment and control. I would recommend this program to individuals who may need the additional self-support and struggle with weight gain.
References Corey, G., Corey M. S. & Haynes, R. (2014). Groups in action, Evaluation and challenges 2nd edition, Belmont, CA, Brooks/cole.