Women in stress & transition, a group therapy model of intervention

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Sullivan, Verna
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The focus of this practicum was service provided to women experiencing stress, transition and social isolation. The mode of intervention was a long-term psychotherapeutic group compromised of 30 sessions, each of which were 2 hours in duration. The group experience was intended to contribute to the improvement of members' capacity to cope with stress. Unlike more traditionally defined psychotherapeutic groups (Toseland & Rivas, 1995) facilitators attended to enhancing individual strengths and developing the group members' inter-connectedness for mutual support. More traditional psychotherapeutic are usually facilitated without giving consideration to environmental issues, which impact individual members. This group was facilitated with a style, which identified environmental issues that were important variables affecting stress levels. Once these issues were identified, facilitators guided members in identifying methods to change environmental factors, which could reduce stress experienced. Also, facilitators encouraged mutual support and problem solving amongst the members. This group was facilitated with a feminist treatment perspective. This included the promotion and encouragement of social connectedness between members. Once group norms were well established, members were encouraged to maintain contact and provide mutual support between group sessions. The group was co-facilitated in order to provide role modeling respectful and authentic adult female relationships. Facilitators encouraged members to realize and demonstrate personal strengths. This focus on strengths and empowerment is in keeping with the feminist perspective, which was the style utilized by facilitators. This provided members with experiences and a sense of efficacy which could be generalized to their daily interactions. Group members identified specific goals in reducing stress, improving lifestyles and enhancing relationships. Members made significant gains in these areas at the termination point of the group. The conclusion is based on clients' self reports during exit interviews and data gathered through the use of goal attainment scaling. (Appendix 12, 13).