Answer & Explanation:Reading ReflectionChoose either your textbook readings or assigned group articles and respond as follows:Jacobs, Masson, & Harvil: (Ch. 7, 12, 16)Brown, N (2009).Counterproductive group member behaviors, Becoming an effective group leader. Pearson.Stockton, R., Morran, D.K., & Nitza, A. G. (2000). Processing group events: A conceptual map  for leaders. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 25, 343-355.Connections: How do the textbook readings or article readings connect to what you have already learned in class or to your experiences prior to this class?Challenges: How do the readings or articles challenge your thinking or beliefs?  What new ideas extend or broaden your thinking in new directions?Concepts: Identify the top 3-5 key concepts that are important to remember from your readings this week.  Please define each concept.   Changes: What changes in your attitudes, thinking, or action would you need to make to apply what is suggested in your readings?Professor comments on last assignment “I wish that you elaborated a little more on your thinking related to your reading.” Please she wants you to elaborate more.. Be specific.

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Person-Centered Approach
to Group Work
Small Group Process for the Health
Fall 2016
Laurette Olson Ph.D. OTR/L FAOTA
Key concepts and Assumptions of
the Person-Centered Approach to
Clients are basically trustworthy and have the
potential for self-direction. Because of this, there
is a minimum of directions on the part of the
leader. Too much direction would undermine
respect for group members.
Emphasizes personal qualities of group leader
rather than techniques for leading the group.
The leader creates a CLIMATE where healing
can occur.
Key concepts and assumptions
Genuineness, unconditional positive regard and
empathic understanding of members’ subjective
world are the core therapeutic conditions for
External measures such as diagnosis, testing,
interpretation, advice giving are not useful for
group work.
Group members are the central focus of the
group. Group members are as facilitative or
more facilitative of the group process than the
group leader.
(Corey, 2000)
Leader Functions
Conveying Warmth and Empathy
Attending to Others
Understanding Meaning and Intents
Conveying Acceptance
The Leader adopts what Rogers called “the therapist’s
hypothesis”. This is the belief that the capacity for selfinsight, problem-solving, and growth resides in the
clients. This means that the central questions for the
therapist are not ‘What can I do for the person or group
members? or even “How do I see these group members”
but rather “How does these group members see
themselves and their situation?”
Fundamental Components of
Leader/therapist attributes
Acceptance, Respect and Positive Regard
Being Authentic and Congruent
Expressed verbally and nonverbally though
messages such as “I follow you,” “I’m with you”
or “I understand,” empathy is the Therapist’s
(listener’s) effort to hear the other person deeply,
accurately, and non-judgmentally. A person who
sees that a therapist (listener) is really trying to
understand his or her meanings will be willing to
explore his or her problems and self more
Empathy is surprisingly difficult to achieve. We
all have a strong tendency to advise, tell, agree,
or disagree from our own point of view.
Empathy in a group
Is a shared responsibility and a resource for the
Primary task of a group leader to model empathy
and encourage members to be empathic. It
contributes to the development of cohesion and
for a group to be productive by building trust and
safety, forging connections among members,
making members feel included, encouraging
emotional expression and promoting a
willingness to engage in self-exploration.
If a leader want to build
therapeutic alliances, help
members feel better, solve
problems, improve
relationships, and change
the leader needs to demonstrate high
levels of empathy for group members.
The capacity to be empathic
An openness to experience
An awareness of here and now feelings.
Emotional regulation and control
Psychological boundary strength
The skill of accurately expressing what you are
experiencing and feeling
Trust in self to differentiate experiences from
own personal issues (projection, transference)
Ability to recognize empathic failures and repair
Psychological Boundary
Your psychological boundary is where you
end and others begin.
Group members may have poor
psychological boundaries, it is important
as a leader to work on your own
Leaders who have issues with
psychological boundaries may:
Push members for deeper disclosures
than they are ready to share.
Insist that members do what the leader
tells them to do.
Become enraged when attacked,
criticized, or charged with an error.
Do things that are intrusive to members.
How does a new leader/therapist
develop empathy?
1. Be present-centered: Bring all attention to
what is currently taking place in the group and
with members.
2. Limit thoughts about the past or future
3. Limit trying to anticipate what you will need or
want to say. Carefully consider what you say, but
make your response a result of the present.
4. Be aware of your inner experience in the
present so that you can use it to better understand
the present: what is currently happening.
Developing Empathy
5. Work to consciously “sense” the inner world of different
members. Don’t jump from member to member, but stay
focused on the person who is speaking or a member who is
currently most focal to you. The more you practice, the
more proficient you will become in listening to content and
tuning in to the emotional piece of a person’s message.
6. Sit patiently and allow others to organize their thoughts.
Use active listening to help, but it is NOT empathic to
interrupt a speaker, finish the sentences of others, or tell
another what you believe that they are thinking.
Developing Empathy
Resist giving answers or advice
including proposing solutions or
alternatives, making decisions
for another.
What might an empathic failure
look like?
1. No responses were given to what a member
2. The topic was changed.
3. You became bored
4. Your mind drifted from the group and thought
about about there and then concerns.
5. You reacted something as trivial and
unimportant when another thought that it was
When there is an empathic failure, the
leader & group needs to:
Identify the empathic failure
Act to repair the empathic failure
Closely related to empathy. Acceptance means
having respect for a person for simply being a
person. Acceptance should be as unconditional
as possible. This means that the listener should
avoid expressing agreement or disagreement
with what the other person says. This attitude
encourages the other person to be less
defensive and to explore aspects of self and the
situation that they might otherwise keep hidden
Refers to openness, frankness, and genuineness on the
part of the listener. The congruent listener is in touch
with themselves. If angry or irritated, for example, the
congruent person admits to having this feeling rather
than pretending not to have it (perhaps because they are
trying to be accepting). They communicate what they
feel and know, rather than hiding behind a mask. Candor
on the part of the listener tends to evoke candor in the
speaker. When one person comes out from behind a
facade, the other is more likely to as well.
In some cases, the principle of congruence can be at
odds with the principles of empathy and acceptance.
Rogers’ definition of
Refers to focusing on specifics rather than vague
generalities. Often, a person who is has a problem will
avoid painful feelings by being abstract or impersonal,
using expressions like “sometimes there are situations
that are difficult” (which is vague and abstract), or “most
people want…” (which substitutes others for oneself).
The listener can encourage concreteness by asking the
speaker to be more specific. Foe example, instead of a
agreeing with a statement like “You just can’t trust a
manager. They care about themselves first and you
second”, you can ask what specific incident the speaker
is referring to.
Active Listening is
being able to hear and
understand direct and indirect
communication and conveying
your understanding to the other
Active listening Advantages:
Increases the listener’s understanding of
the other person
Help the speaker clarify his/her thoughts
Reassure the other that someone is willing
to attend to his or her point of view and
wants to help.
Active listening skills
– Reflection of feeling or content
– Paraphrasing
– Clarifying and questioning
– summarizing
– Support and encouraging
Reflection of Feeling or Content
A key point is that perceived feelings
should be clearly identified and labeled.
Same purposes as paraphrasing.
Developing Reflecting Skills is critical
Why: Because people do not always say
what they mean and leaders don’t always
understand what they hear.
Guidelines for Reflecting
Identify the underlying message and name
the emotion that you hear
Be tentative and paraphrase to check for
Be alert to connections or links to other
Paraphrasing: restating what has been
said without parroting.
Provides a speaker the opportunity to
clear up any misunderstanding.
Helps with reflecting on content
Reduces confusion and misunderstanding
that can easily occur.
Using Paraphrasing when
A speaker is overly general and more
specificity is needed.
A speaker’s comments suggest examples
of a topic to you. Examples can provide
Complicated directions are given or
complex ideas are shared.
Clarifying and Questioning
Clarifying goes with reflecting.
It illuminates intent and provides clearer
Developing Questioning Skills
Learn when not to ask questions. In some
situations, it is more helpful to make
statements than to ask questions.
Become aware of your habit or tendency
related to asking questions is an important
step in learning.
Questions: Don’ts and Do’s
Beware of asking too many questions. People
can feel attacked and may not experience the
questions as a display of interest but a hostile
Be conscious that many questions are
statements that signal what the speaker wants to
hear or feels is important.
Questions are important and can be very
– Use questions for gathering facts and
initiating clarifications
Tying together key elements that were
Encouraging and supporting
Being too supportive is counterproductive
and promotes dependency.
Strategies for encouraging and support
Focus on how members have made positive movements
and developments on their problems or concerns
Become aware of positive changes and shifts members
Demonstrate your faith in members’ abilities and
competencies by your words and actions
Solicit and consider members’ input
Listen to ideas that may be off beat or different, don’t
discourage new ideas.
Try to use a part of everyone’s input
Some Common Mistakes when
practicing active listening:
Stereotyped Reactions. Constantly repeating a phrase like “you feel
that …” or “you’re saying that …”
Pretending Understanding. If you get lost, say “sorry, I didn’t get
that. What are you saying?”.
Overreaching. Ascribing meanings that go far beyond what the other
has exprcssed, such as by giving psychological explanations or by
stating interpretations that the other considers to be exaggerated or
otherwise inaccurate.
Under-reaching. Repeatedly missing the fcelings that the other
conveys or making responses that understate them.
Long-windedness, Giving very long or complex responses. These
emphasize the listener’s massive effort to undcrstand more than
they clarifv the other person’s point of view. Short, simple responses
are more effective.
Inattention to nonverbal cues. Facing or leaning away
from the other, not maintaining eye contact, looking
tense, or presenting a “closed” posture by crossing the
arms arc only a few of the nonverbal cues a listener
should avoid. “Correct” verbal responses arc of little use
when accompanied by nonverbal signals that contradict
Violating the other person’s expectations. Giving
reflective responses when they are clearly not
appropriate to the situation. For example, if the other
person asks a direct question and obviously expects an
answer, simply answering the question is often best. In
other words, if someone says: “what time is it?” you
don’t usually say “You’re feeling concern about the
Other Skills:
Reframing and Redirecting
When you reframe, you repeat what
someone said and giving it another
perspective. Very useful when the
speaker focuses on deficiencies,
weaknesses or mistakes
Redirecting is similar to reframing, but you
are actively asking the person to go in
another direction.
Another Skill for Group
Leadership: Blocking
• Skill used to protect group members from
attacks or proceeding in the wrong way. Could
be interpreted as redirecting, but the term
blocking is used when emotional intensity is high
or displaced onto other members. Blocking is
also useful when a group member rambles and
tells long stories instead of being focused or
getting to the point.
• Blocking must be done carefully.
Another Skill: Linking
Helps especially when a discussion
appears to be disjointed, fragmented or
It is bringing together underlying ideas,
themes, concepts, understandings when
the associations are not apparent on the
Questions to ponder about yourself as
a leader using active listening in the
beginning stage of a group
Do you talk too much or too soon?
Are you concerned with answers more than
Are you quick to give advice?
Do you ask many closed ended questions?
Do you like being directive?
Do you tend to listen subjectively to confirm your
hunches about people?
How much attention do you pay to subtle
meanings behind content and words?
Corey 2000
In the working stage, questions to
Can you tolerate the expression of negative
feelings within a group including accepting those
feelings directed at you?
Are you able and willing to share your own
reactions in an appropriate manner with group
Can you be yourself or is your professional role
central to your identity within a group?
Do you trust members with your feelings and tell
them how they are affecting you?
(Corey, 2000)
In the final stages, questions to
Are you able to facilitate rather than direct
a group?
Can you be supportive and confrontive?
Can you be nurturing and challenging at
the same time?
Corey, 2000
Key References
Brown, N. W. (1998). Psychoeducational
Groups. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Brown, N.W. (2009). Becoming a Group
Leader. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Corey, G. (2000). Theory and Practice of
Group Counseling 5th Edition. Wadsworth.

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