Helping Group Members with Maladaptive Communication 131 Addressing Members’ Testing of the Worker Many of the internal problematic dynamics that surface in groups reflect the members’ questions about the worker’s trustworthiness and ability to under- stand the challenges they face. 1. Discuss with the class any experiences that they have had with being tested in a group. Provide a brief lecture about the function of testing, the importance of not personalizing it, and turning it into work. Afterward, divide the class into small groups and ask a student from each group to be the “worker.” Provide each group with a scenario that describes the type of group, such as a transition group for seniors, a group for women going through divorce, a pregnant adolescent group, or a mandated driv- ing while intoxicated (DWI) educational group. Ask the “workers” to step outside of the classroom and then ask the group “members” to consider why and how they might test the worker (i.e., “You couldn’t possibly understand” “We are just guinea pigs to you” “How could a grown-up understand us?”). Use of Manuals Because agencies and social workers increasingly rely on manuals, we believe that it is important to discuss how students can appropriately use them in a way that promotes mutual aid rather than contribute or lead to maladaptive com- munications and relationships. 1. Begin with a brief lecture and discuss the benefits of using a manual, as well as the potential pitfalls. Some students may be using a manual in their group work practice if so, ask them to describe it and how they are using it. If needed, help the student and the class appreciate how the use of the manual could be tweaked to facilitate mutual aid and encourage members to interact with and support one another. 2. Have the class collectively engage in a role-play in which the group ses- sion is guided by a manual.1 Because students are likely to have difficulty under- standing how to use a manual flexibly, we find it most helpful to ask the class to work together to decide how to conduct the session using the manual as a guide, not a prescription. Introduce students in advance to the purpose of the group, providing them with any information that is available about the
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