Group Therapy: Involuntary Membership

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Ethical Issues in Group Therapy: Involuntary Membership
Group psychotherapy is often voluntary, but sometimes members have been mandated by the court or other authorities to participate. Participation is usually easier for voluntary members since it doesn’t have the added psychological barrier of being forced to attend. For this reason, mandated members have difficulty with participation and are sometimes perceived as reluctant (Roth, 2005). It is important that members understand the dynamics within the group and what goals and processes are involved in being a part of that group. This essay will focus on the strategies of assisting group leaders and group members in engaging in the process of psychotherapy by providing informed consent, learning
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Willing participation for mandated members will be harder to establish because of the circumstances surrounding their membership. They are usually reluctant and unsure about the goals of the therapy group, the processes, the rules and limitations pertaining to confidentiality (Jacobsen, 2013). Group members usually come with biases including cultural beliefs, behaviors, and value systems that group leaders must be willing to challenge to allow them to undergo substantive changes. Part of the participation process is to understand the real reason behind members reluctance and allow them to have an open discussion about how they feel, about being mandated to attend. This will allow the group leader valuable information on how much support each member needs. Team members can then form an agreement on the prospective goals and processes involved in their treatment. This process allows the leader to create a therapeutic environment where the members can feel free to disclose their feeling about the therapy. Forming therapeutic inter-relationships between the group leader and members is vital in any working relationship whether voluntary or…show more content…
As such, consider this example: (1) Marko have been court mandated to be in group therapy but does not want to be there. Marko finds everyone and everything that is said irritating to him and he gives other members condescending looks when they make a contribution. Marko looks visibly upset and often shakes his head and grumbles silently when the group leader speaks; and (2) Jasmina sits and watches Marko. She also becomes upset because she also doesn’t want to be a participant in this therapy group. She gets encouragement from Marko’s behavior to frequently voice her displeasure of being in the class. Others join her. With regards to these examples, it is obvious that Marko’s behavior is having a negative effect on the other group members. This is the opportunity that group leaders must take to calmly address Marko and other group members who have similar concerns. This will allow an open discussion that does not lead to further resentfulness but when guided carefully, allows members to validate their feelings of apprehension. After this intervention, the team leaders can assistance the group in moving on to goal oriented

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