Blog 121. Business, Money And Your Career: The Value Of Group Therapy In Business. Find Out How Other People See You.
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In the previous section, I addressed the value of group therapy as is used in focused support groups. However there is another type of therapy which is a more general, and which usually covers all areas people wish to discuss. Here are the benefits:
General Group Therapy:
Years ago during my relationship therapy training I also had to attend regular group therapy sessions. These sessions were important for all sorts of reasons, especially as the interactions, the feedback and what one learns about oneself and indeed others, is invaluable. This is because the feedback from group members (under supervision) can assist in both your personal and business relationships and in my case, it also gave me feedback with regards how clients may see me. This is because we often have no idea how other people see us or how we come across – and in certain careers this insight can come in handy.
It is of course worth noting that whatever happens or whatever is said during the sessions – remains confidential. Confidentiality gets agreed upon by each member or when anyone joins the group for the first time.
What is most poignant is that group therapy also teaches how various people interact within a group – and how the group dynamic is set up.
A social group is defined as, two or more people who interact with one another and who may share similar experiences or characteristics. A group may be established along the lines of particular status, a specific culture, a religion, a sport, a club and so on.
However, the first group that human beings encounter is at home and from their families of origin. As a result, most will have some experience of how a group works. They will also have been assigned a specific behavioural role, as a result of what their family may have expected them the play, and so on. I also addressed this in the section called, “The Family’.
Unfortunately, this learning is not always positive and indeed it may even be lacking in certain circumstances. Either way, specific roles get learned within families or homes, which is then ‘taken’ with them and acted out in various other group settings later on in life.
So how are groups outside therapy set up?
Once a group or indeed a business gets off the ground, various people may be asked to join the group. Either way, a group or indeed a business may have to advertise the various positions available and most will offer some kind of remuneration or a salary.
Each group consciously or unconsciously attracts certain individuals or personalities in order to form the group or indeed, to keep the group going. This is because we attract similar people that we share common experiences with or who will help us grow – even though this might not be immediately evident.
Then depending on various requirements, each group or business will need a leader or chairman, possibly even a vice-chairman and then people who are willing to take on various roles to keep the group operative. It may also require a secretary to keep track of events and maybe even a financial section, and so on. Each group will have different needs – some may be financial, others maybe recreational.
The group will then be put together according to the various roles offered and people will apply accordingly.
Even if someone applies to fulfil a particular role, what they bring to the position will include the role they played or acted out at home – sometimes this is unconscious and may actually not be picked up during an interview and indeed, the person may not even be aware of the role that they naturally play.
And this is what is interesting: What we know or what we have learnt during childhood is often who we become. Trying to change this could be very hard. In other words, it would be smart or sagacious if every person understood themselves well enough, to know exactly what role they are suited to – both consciously and unconsciously.
This would help both an employer and employee. The well-known Peter Principle, is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter. He observed quite correctly that people in hierarchy tend to rise to their ‘level of incompetence’, if they are promoted based only on their successes alone. Just because people may be successful in one area, does not make them successful in another – even if this may seem like a promotion or a step up. Sadly when this happens, people often struggle to perform adequately and they may find it hard to sustain any competency required – as skills from one level cannot always translate to another.
I would also suggest that this is often due to the role that we get assigned by our families and this does not always translate when promoted.
Also and strangely enough, group members can naturally manoeuvre themselves into various positions, and without realising, play out the various roles they are best suited to or know from their childhood.
This can be seen in the following examples:
Generally speaking and from observation it seems that the eldest within the family may take on more responsible roles. They may naturally lean towards leadership roles or they may even become a chairman or vice-chairman. They may be business owners and they may require doers and workers and so on, to help them fulfil a business or group goal.
Included in this group may be the following:
For example, the majority of people in the West anyway, have siblings. This would result in someone being older and someone being younger, usually it would also mean that someone would be more responsible versus someone less so – this usually applies more often than not to the youngest member of a family. This may be the sibling who receives more attention or indeed gets given more leeway as parents usually become more lenient the more children they have.
Most people in groups know this and if they either consciously or unconsciously, attract an adult ‘baby’ into the group, they can be extremely patient and forgiving with the baby the group has somehow attracted.
And even though the ‘baby’ may be extremely skilled, they may also prove to be a nightmare. They may ask unnecessary questions, they may hold up the group during meetings, they may appear needy and they may receive a lot more attention than anyone else, because that is what they are used to and the other group members know this .
And if you haven’t ever encountered the ‘needy baby’, you just have to trawl through social media comments which provide countless examples. There are always those who ask more questions hoping you will feed them the answers – yet a quick Google on their part would have sufficed.
Unfortunately, this behaviour may not actually benefit the group as time is money and so on.
2) But also, the group may require someone to be the ‘consciousness of the group’. This is the person who has the courage to say what everyone else dares not to. They are the ones that speak up in order to confront issues that may normally be swept under the carpet and forgotten. This may not make them very popular, however a group often still requires someone to stand up and speak out – and to challenge the status quo in order to survive and grow. Indeed, they may even be a whistle-blower. In some cases they may be employed to fulfill this role or they may ‘fall’ into playing the role because it is what they would have learnt at home. It may be ingrained and part of their personality.
These two examples show how a group may compose or construct itself and this is why it is important that each individual find a way of acquiring a better understanding of the role they may be more inclined to play.
This is again what group therapy offers:
Unfortunately the value of this kind of group therapy is not as common or understood as it should be. It is a pity because it can provide a useful in-depth reflection and deeper understanding of the dynamics within the group at the office or in business, especially if a situation requires people to work in a group setting.
How people work together can influence a company’s working environment which could then have various ripple effects with regards office management, productivity, leadership and workplace ethics, and so on.
Sadly, when these ripple effects are negative, it can cause havoc with the office ‘family’.
This can happen if someone is not aware of the roles they play and this could cause friction when self-reflection is required or indeed, if the individual cannot modify or adjust their behaviour to suit the needs of the group.
In business, any inability to adjust can become a hindrance depending of course on the needs of the company or the role that may be required.
In other words, the roles we learn in childhood can either benefit or hinder an individual or indeed the company, if they are unaware of the impact that their role might have on other members of the group.
However, behaviour may change depending on the situation we find ourselves in and this is another important insight that group therapy offers.
This is why it is so important to understand the roles that a group requires its members to play. Each group may be different in number, each group may require different responses and they may differ in with regards the expectations and the outcome it wishes to achieve. Each group may require certain roles to be played out and how each member is able to carry out this instruction will depend on the initial role they would have learnt within their families and whether they can be flexible.
In some cases, when someone is hired to participate within a group setting, their job success will be determined by the role they are required to play. If this is at odds with who they are internally or what they are used to – they may struggle and in some cases, they may not understand why.
Furthermore, group therapy can provide what friends and family and certainly what most colleagues usually don’t feel comfortable saying and it can offer an objective scrutiny which can be enormously helpful.
Group therapy can also provide a good sounding board for any issues they may need help with or which they may want or need to resolve.
Also, group therapy can also be helpful if for example, you:
- Come from a small family,
- If you are an only child and struggle with group dynamics
- If you lack negotiating skills.
- If you are shy and reticent,
- If you lack confidence
- If you have communication difficulties,
- If you find relationship difficult,
- Group therapy can also be valuable if what you are experiencing isn’t something that friends of family may be able to provide. As a result, what you may be experiencing may make you feel very isolated and lonely.
- Group therapy is able to offer support as many of the members may have similar issues or they may be going though what you are going through. And therefore the support can be very helpful – especially when members realise that they are not alone. Others may have also gone through they same ordeal or they may at least have similar issues.
- Most importantly, group therapy can be invaluable if there is any conflict, such as bullying, abusive behavior or indeed, sexual harassment . Group therapy can offer support and it can offer methods to help deal with the situation.
It would therefore be useful if businesses and companies would get together with various psychology/therapy training schools so that more group therapy groups could be requested. They could offer invaluable insight and as a business often relies heavily on it’s staff this could be an excellent route for all involved.
Because as Maureen Wild suggests, “When employees respect each other and get along in the workplace, it’s amazing how productivity increases, morale increases and employees become more courteous to customers.”
© 2020 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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