Healthcare and Medicine Reference
members resent and often actively resist leaders who, while being paceset-
ters, also need to micro-manage the team's functioning.
A Personal Reflection About Groups: A Student Learns
about Leading a Group
My (Dr Glicken) second-year graduate social work field placement was
in the rehabilitation unit of a large teaching hospital. My supervisor cor-
rectly wanted me to have a group experience. Two internationally known
professionals, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, led a group of recently dis-
abled people who were in the hospital for medical treatment, but also to
help them learn to cope emotionally with their serious disabilities. My
supervisor allowed me to join the group as an observer. My job was to
watch, discuss group dynamics with my supervisor, and to keep my
mouth shut, a wise rule since my mouth was very large and uninformed
at that moment in time. I was 21 years old.
I was also to meet with the two clinicians and my supervisor after each
session to discuss group dynamics, treatment strategies, and to learn to
work with different professions. To our dismay, the psychiatrist and psy-
chologist developed a bitter antagonism toward one another. The psychol-
ogist was a behaviorist and the psychiatrist was a Freudian. One wanted to
change behavior, the other thought behavior only changed if you under-
stood it. Suddenly, the two stopped coming to group sessions and I was left
on my own to treat some very antisocial and profoundly disabled patients.
One of the patients had tried to steal a car parked on a steep hill, released
the emergency brake, and as the car began racing downhill with him on
the hood, the patient was slammed into a tree where his leg was crushed
and later amputated. When he joined the group, he was wheeling himself
down the hall of the hospital at night stealing money and sexually abusing
the female patients. I was to get him to stop.
My supervisor asked that the four of us meet to get the two profes-
sionals to return to the group. Clearly, an untrained Master of Social
Work (MSW) student couldn't handle such a troubled and difficult group
of patients. Neither showed up for the meeting but each let it be known
that they'd speak to us without the other present. When we met, each
berated the other while my supervisor tried to get the discussion back on
track. Impossible. The animosity was just too great. They both said,
finally, that I should run the group but to keep my mouth shut and let
the group do the work, which is exactly what I did.
I told the group that the two professionals had time conflicts (many peo-
ple sniggered. It was no great secret that they disliked each other), and that
given the fact that I was just a student, could we figure out if the group was
important enough to continue and, if it was, how could we make it work?
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