Criminal Thinking group facilitators who conduct ongoing and open-ended groups may become lax in their pre-group preparation process. Presenting material that we are very familiar with over time can lead to unconscious habits of behavior and biases that may work against a more deliberate and focused approach to the group thinking change process.
Working with offenders in a group therapy setting requires presenters to be armed and ready to prevent an intellectual boxing match. I have found that working through a group readiness ritual provides me and a potential co-facilitator a clear understanding of the ultimate outcomes that we hope to achieve. It also allows us to agree on methods of handling conflict, criminal thinking tactics and other potential diversions that will eventually surface during the group process.
These steps help to make the group process conscious and deliberate:
- Before the group begins:
- Discuss the general or specific purpose of group.
- Describe the goals, methods and materials that will be used to to accomplish the purpose.
- Discuss group activities (who will present what, when and how)
- Determine the role of the co-facilitator:
- Observer – takes notes, evaluates, learns “student-role”
- Participant – asks questions as a group member, is involved in process “encourager-role”
- Facilitator – guides group process equally with other facilitator “Guiding role” – determine the level and type of confrontation which will be used by both facilitators-determine how tangent subjects or diversions by staff or clients will be directed-discuss how you will both stay consistent with each other
To be effective facilitators, group leaders must have knowledge of the group’s content and purpose and understand the method and means in facilitating the group process.
What pre-group steps do you take to facilitate conversation and change in criminal-thinking or other types of groups? Visit the CriminalThinking.net resource pages for ideas and free worksheet assignments related to all the major thinking errors.