Group Development: Maintaining
After a group is established and has attained stability through commitment from the members, the group moves into the stage called “maintaining.” During this stage, group members become more unified and take risks with self-disclosure. The members feel supported as they explore issues and gain a deeper sense of understanding (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2006). Group members are better able to handle and tolerate confrontation, and they challenge one another with more ease and confidence. Higher-functioning groups can tolerate more confrontation while maintaining a supportive atmosphere. When groups are not as high-functioning, group leaders may need to be more active to maintain the interpersonal safety for the group. In higher-functioning groups, the leaders continue to facilitate the group process, but they can now afford to take a less active or directive role.
It is important to remember that group development is not linear. The progress made is not automatic and is seldom a result of the group following a rigid set of rules, processes, or stages. Groups that allow revolving membership may experience a constant cycle of development as group members terminate and new members join. Effective group leaders can be instrumental in helping the group get through all of the different stages of development.
There are a number of key functions that group treatment can facilitate in the management of substance abuse. Early in the process, group treatment can help support a client’s motivation to change. A group leader can encourage the group members to confront denial and challenge resistance to change (SAMHSA, 2005). Group members who are further in their recovery can play a unique role in pointing out shared experiences and the potential benefits of positive change. When these benefits are rehearsed in groups, existing members are more likely to make a renewed commitment toward their own recovery.
The final stage of group development is termination. For closed groups, these stages of work are processed in a collaborative fashion. When there is a revolving group membership, the group is more likely to deal with frequent termination of individual members. Rituals such as a graduation ceremony may help structure the experience and offer group members cues as to how to manage their emotional reaction to a member leaving the group.
Berg, R. C., Landreth, G. L., & Fall, K. A. (2006). Group counseling: Concepts and procedures (4th ed.). New York: Routledge. ISBN: 9780415952194.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U. S. Department of Health & Human Services (2008). Tip 41. Substance abuse treatment: Group therapy. Retrieved March 9, 2009,
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
1. Identify models for group leadership.
2. Prepare for the ethical use of supervision as a group leader.
3. Recognize appropriate utilization of clinical supervision to address ethical issues.
Use your textbook and the Internet to read the following:
• Chapter 7, “Maintaining Group: Process and Development,” pages 173–198. This chapter explores typical problems in the developing group process and suggests solutions that facilitate group cohesiveness.
• SAMHSA’s Tip 41. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, Chapter 5. This chapter turns to the stages of treatment. In the early, middle, and late stages of treatment, clients’ conditions will differ, requiring different therapeutic strategies and approaches to leadership.
Question 1: Group Dynamics
Review the questions that follow each of the portraits in the DVD, The Courage to Change: Portraits of Men in Recovery. Please note that the questions are at the end of each segment. They can easily be located using the DVD’s menu functions. These questions are intended to spark discussion, where the video segment is used as a resource for group discussion. Consider the questions that follow the segment that you discussed for u06d1. What stage of group development would be ideal for the questions to have the most benefit for the group members? Use the course readings to support your answer, and discuss how the questions could be used to help address the tasks for the group at that stage of development. NOTE: The discussion questions will be about “Shaggity, Raggity, Draggity Steve’s Story because that was what the writer wrote about. 1 page needed with two references.
Question 2: Rating Scale
Refer to the “Group Counselor Rating Scale” on page 191 of your textbook. If you were leading a group, which of the eight areas of functioning would you expect to be highest? Lowest? How might this affect how you are viewed by group members? NOTE: 1 page needed with two references.