Helping Group Members with Maladaptive Communication 129 6. Social Work Methods and Skills When social workers use connecting skills, they lessen the likelihood that maladaptive processes will surface in the first place. These skills include directing members to talk to one another and build upon one another’s com- munications encouraging and reinforcing cooperation, mutual support, and members’ participation putting into words members’ reactions to one another identifying and building upon common themes connecting the individual to the group and the group to the individual and using activity to facilitate connections. Differentiating skills foster independence and autonomy among members. These skills include inviting members to disagree, supporting differing opinions and perceptions, and crediting members’ collective work. From the beginning, workers scan the group, monitoring members’ individ- ual and collective actions. The information gleaned from doing this forms the basis of the workers’ use of connecting and differentiating skills. Scanning also helps workers identify maladaptive processes the earlier these dynamics are identified and addressed with members, the more quickly they can be resolved. When groups develop maladaptive group processes, understanding their transactional nature is the first step toward resolving them. Workers use internal mediating skills to help members address problematic processes when they surface. This skill set includes identifying and, when needed, reidentifying maladaptive patterns for the group holding members to the agreed-upon focus challenging avoidance searching for and sustaining expression of feelings searching for and identifying common definitions and perceptions and rene- gotiating expectations for participation when needed. Giving up an entrenched pattern is not easy. Therefore, member resistance should be anticipated. The worker holds members to the work. Firmness and persistence convey strength and caring, which in turn can help members face maladaptive processes. Competency 7 Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities • Collect and organize data and apply critical thinking to interpret information from clients and constituencies. • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person- in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies.
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