Here at Resolution Ranch, one of the most pertinent therapeutic aspects of our program is group therapy. When the community has an issue that needs to be addressed, either a resident or a staff member calls “Group!” Then all the community members sit in the lodge and work through the issue in order to find a solution, while staff members facilitate the process. Often, group is called to address an issue between two individuals, as opposed to the issue being dealt with privately. Why is this?
There are several reasons why we utilize group, even when it is a small issue to handle, but the primary reason is to build what we call “cohesiveness.” This word simply refers to the amount of togetherness and belonging a group member feels towards the rest of the group. The level of cohesiveness in a group contributes directly to how willing group members are to be honest and work on personal issues they may have. Once residents feel that they have been accepted and belong to the group, the group serves as a platform for them to learn. Group teaches residents personal responsibility, problem solving skills, relational skills, and communication by having them take charge of community issues and find solutions for themselves.
Often, residents with behavior issues like anger management or ones with poor coping skills are resistant to the group or even to particular group members at first. They often become argumentative, they may distract from the issues at hand, or perhaps excuse their actions in order to avoid responsibility. This is where the group process becomes particularly handy, because when someone is defensive, approaching them directly can often only make them more resistant to what you have to say. So often, at the point a resident becomes resistant in that way, the situation is opened up, allowing the group to give their opinions. This enables everyone to contribute and feel as if they are a big part of the community and how it develops. When utilized correctly, group allows deep issues to be addressed, it allows others the opportunity to learn from their peers, and it encourages the community to grow closer together.