92%(13)12 out of 13 people found this document helpful
This preview shows page 2 - 4 out of 12 pages.
from the virus, but at least I would like to die with dignity and not be standing on street corners sucking oldmen’s dicks for drug money.” For each client, an additional and related issue was dealing with the impact of serious early physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in their childhood and adolescence. Maladaptive efforts to cope during their teenage and early adult years, including serious substance abuse, also had a devastating impact on group members. For each client, there were added layers of complexity caused by poly substance abuse, criminal behavior, prostitution, homelessness, prison time, and destructive interpersonal relationships. The group members’ ability to trust and to develop true intimacy after so manyyears of being exploited, as well as having exploited others to meet their emotional and drug needs, was severely diminished. Despite these obstacles, this is also a story of magnificent courage in the face of adversity and the wonderful ability of mutual aid to uncover and nurture the essential impetus toward social connection and caring. The approach used in this case example focused on the development of a mutualaid process in the group (Schwartz, 1961; Shulman, 2011, 2012). The underlying assumption was that these clients, who were struggling with similar concerns, could be helpful to each other. The task of the social worker was seen as helping the group members to help each other. In addition, as an example of longer term group work (8 months), the impact of time on the process is evident. The clients, my coleader, and I were conscious of the need to work directly and quickly in order to make the best use of the time available. As will be seen repeatedly in the case example, the clients are simply waiting for the signal from the group leaders that they are ready and willing to work on tough issues. The First Session: The Beginning Phase Our goals in the first session were to establish a clear sense of group purpose reflecting the common ground between the needs of the members and the service offered by the agency. We wanted the group members to get a sense of our roles not as experts on life but rather as group leaders (one social worker and one substance abuse counselor), who were there to help them to be
sources of support for each other. In addition, we hoped to set out the ground rules and to develop a beginning sense of trust in us as the leaders (leader– member alliance), as well as in other group members (member– member alliance). Also important was the need to convey what I call “the demand forwork.” We wanted the clients to get a sense that we meant business and that, in this group, we were prepared to deal with tough and painful issues and emotions just as soon as they felt ready. Our signal to them came in my direct opening statement as well as my effort to reach for painful feelings. To fashion an appropriate opening statement, I had consulted with staff and other clients in similar situations and then