The purpose of this paper is to show my reactions regarding group work theory after I attended an Alcoholic Anonymous Group in the community. I visited a societal welfare based agency whose intention was to help people out of alcoholism by motivating them to engage more in constructive activities. My objective was to observe how group members related to each other and the skills the leader used to get every member involved in the discussion. To facilitate proper observation, I was allowed into the Alcoholic Anonymous Group where I joined its members and participated in the discussions. This reaction paper offered an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in class (Dominic, 1983). My intention was to see whether participation opportunities were equally allocated to all group members and if members followed the right guidelines that make group discussions inclusive and geared towards the main issues. Moreover, I had to observe whether all members had a similar characteristic of alcoholism and if they were all willing to adopt sobriety so as to comply with the group.
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My initial impression of the group was good and all members were keen to give their views about alcoholism and share ideas in a cohesive manner. All members were well organized, seated in an orderly manner that made it possible for the group leader who was positioned in front of them to coordinate the proceedings properly. The group constituted mostly of adults who had families and admitted their fear that their way of life was not pleasing because that they had to be good role models to their children. One third of the members present that day were new in the group and had only attended the meeting for the first time. The rest had engaged in the discussions before and most of them had already begun rationing their alcohol intake to get out of the menace. It was clear that members were serious with the group’s objectives to improve social welfare by helping alcoholics out of their situations since all the new members had been invited by people who had participated in the group for some time. All members agreed that quitting alcoholism was a gradual process that could not be done at an instance, but everyone had to try their best.
The fact that some of the members, both new and old, were already drunk made the discussion difficult and longer than it had already been planned. It was clear that some of them liked the group due to its accommodative nature and in a bid to free isolation from their families. Although the leader was skillful to ensure that the day’s agendas were all discussed, it was difficult for him to deal with members who were interrupting while their friends gave their own stories. Focusing on group objectives was important to attain the desired outcomes (Guskey &Bailey, 2001). The accounts given by most of the members reflected the group’s objectives. For instance, most of them confessed that alcoholism was the reason for much of the troubles their families were facing. Issues such as the members’ inability to cater for their children’s education made the group relevant in the society since it was the only way people could be advised on better ways to enhance their social lives. Some of the members narrated how alcohol consumption had made them fired from their previous jobs.
The leader portrayed recommendable strengths through which all activities scheduled for that day were achieved. He was able to offer equal opportunities to every member who wished to share his/her story and offer views that could help others who were experiencing similar problems. He possessed all the necessary skills required to get agendas fulfilled. His communication skills were superb and used language that was not irritating at all even at times when some members were uncontrollable. His ability to act wisely and influence members to get them focused made him superb (Beatty, 2010). The leader only tolerated stories that were in line of the group’s objectives. His seriousness prompted members who were just making fun of the discussions to focus on the main agenda and behave in a sensible way. He was also a good listener and ensured that he provided everyone an encouraging atmosphere to air their views. He only intervened when group members engaged on issues that were out of order. Although leading a group where some of the members are drunk may be disappointing, he was calm and showed no signs of irritation. Calmness boosted confidence among members (Tracy, 2012).
The interruption acts of some members manifested poor ethics and values among individuals. There were some cultural issues where some members argued it was impossible for them to avoid alcohol since it was the only way to appease their ancestors. These arguments made the discussion appear more of a debate at times where some people argued that taking alcohol was a culture to be followed in the society for one to be a real man. These problems were handled by the leader and other group members by encouraging such members to take the group activities seriously. Those arguing that taking alcohol was a custom were advised that some of the cultural practices were outdated and people had to adopt modernity. The leader was quite persuasive and encouraged all members to make contributions that could help others attain sobriety other than argue on matters that were out of topic.
Most of the group members played some considerable roles during the discussions to make the group quite manageable for the leader. The older members took it upon themselves to calm and regulate how the new members behaved and how they gave out their responses. They understood that the main aim of the group was to motivate alcoholics to adopt remedial measures that were more helpful to the society. Members narrated how they had managed to reduce their drinking rate from some seemingly impossible situations where they could even cause conflicts in their own families. The purpose of giving detailed accounts of their own lives was to show the new members that the discussion was not meant to bombard the drinking habit but to help them get out of the situation by embracing the steps that had seen them through.
The limitations I observed in the group include the fact that members did not offer suggestions on activities that all the alcoholics should engage in during their free time to avoid any temptations they may have to drink again. A good group should offer solutions for the problems discovered. However, members of the group were only narrating how being alcoholic had been a huge burden. Those who had managed to reduce their drinking habits were only talking of how good it is to take such a move but were not discussing the best ways to facilitate sobriety. They could have talked about members investing some of the money used for alcohol by participating in the financial market through the purchase of stocks that had a high return rate. It should have been suggested that free time be spent with family members or by engaging in other discussions targeting societal welfare.
Despite the fact that the group was targeted on alcoholics, members could have discouraged the attendance of already drunk individuals. All members should have been sober to show that everyone was being challenged to quit alcohol and promote cohesion during the discussion period. Most of the drunken members were not serious in the first instance and only took the seriousness of the leader and other members to cooperate. This paper is quite useful in human services and provides details on what people engaged in this field need to accustom themselves with. The Alcoholic Anonymous Group shows that people are never interested in some of the social vices they involve themselves in but only find it difficult to quit the habits.
Future research in this field requires the observer to participate in the discussions to offer information that is familiar with the capability to change human practices that are harmful. According to my observations in the group, local agencies need to ensure that all people participating in group discussions realize the main agendas and stick to them throughout their sessions to ensure that researchers who are interested to gather some information from them see the relevance of their engagement. Leaders need to bear good listening and communication skills while members need to cooperate and focus on the main agenda.
My involvement in the Alcoholic Anonymous Group helped me observe different features possessed by individuals who engage in group discussions. The assertions made by Heary & Hennessy (2000) that groups make it easier to obtain views about homogenous groups were confirmed. I realized that group discussions only work well if all the participants bear similar characteristics and the same state of moderation. The group leader had all the skills necessary to oversee the discussion objectives. Everyone was given an equal opportunity to share his/her stories and the leader facilitated this by ensuring that no one dominated the proceedings. However, some of the members were not serious and it only required intervention from the leader and other committed members to instill seriousness. Groups require good cohesion that is achieved through the participation of members who have similar problems.
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