Guidelines for Observing Clinical Groups?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Freudian Slip, 05.16.14.

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  1. Freudian Slip

    Freudian Slip 2+ Year Member

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    Next week I will be observing my first clinical group (social skills training for people with schizophrenia in an outpatient setting) and I was wondering-- any tips for observation? I know it seems like a silly question, but what exactly do you do when you observe a clinical group? Do you introduce yourself? Talk? What shouldn't you do?

    I know it must vary from site to site-- but what have been your experiences?

    Thanks for the help... I'm nervous!
     
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  3. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    This is really a question for your supervsior, not us. Varying degrees of involvment would be expected based on where you are in your training.
     
  4. A Blue Duck

    A Blue Duck

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    Don't be nervous. The therapist/psychologist will likely take the reins with the practical stuff- introducing you to the group or allowing you to say a few words about who you are and why you are there. In the groups I've observed (inpatient and IOP), the psychologist briefed the group that I would be coming in advance, to make sure everyone was comfortable with the idea. Almost always everyone has been receptive and really quite curious about who I am and what I am studying/researching.

    For the most part you won't be participating in any of the exercises. Things such as talking about weekly goals and gains/setbacks, you obviously will not be able to answer, and will not be expected to. Things like mindfulness exercises...I don't see why you couldn't participate as well- I usually did. Overall, just remember why you are there- to learn about the dynamics of group therapy and gain exposure to a (potential) clinical group of interest. Focus on what the therapist is saying and trying to achieve when he/she speaks, and focus on the patients and their problems when they speak.

    I would probably only talk when you are directly asked a question, unless the psychologist tells you otherwise. It's likely not a good idea to ask follow-up questions to patients or to offer your own advice- that is simply not why you are there. Questions you have are things that can hopefully be discussed with the psychologist/therapist after the session.

    Oh yeah- note taking. I always did it and no one batted an eye, but I can see how in some settings it may be problematic. I would check with your supervisor, and, obviously, just don't write down personal information.
     
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  5. Freudian Slip

    Freudian Slip 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you so much, A Blue Duck. This has been most helpful! I feel a lot less anxious just simply knowing the psychologist will most likely take the lead with the practical stuff. As a new student, it is all the little unknowns that can make a situation seem daunting. Thanks again!
     
  6. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    Please don't take notes in a group of schizophrenics on your first day...
     
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  7. CheetahGirl

    CheetahGirl Clinical Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Agreed. My rule for note-taking would be only at the beginning of group to write down everyone's name (and position) at the table/circle. I would also disclose in the beginning that I may jot down notes if I want to remember something, but generally did not (because of various levels of paranoia among group members).
     
  8. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

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    I never took notes during groups I observed or participated in as a student. I felt it would be too obtrusive to the group process. I would suggest doing your best to blend in, observe, and listen. A previous poster mentioned to not give advice, I want to strongly second that. The giving of advice can be very disruptive to a group process. In fact, you might observe group members who advise as opposed to empathize, pay attention to how that affects people. Look at non-verbals and body language, too, that is an essential skill to develop.
     
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  9. Freudian Slip

    Freudian Slip 2+ Year Member

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    All great tips. Thanks everyone!
     
  10. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

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    By the way. I personally love groups both as a facilitator and as a participant and think that it can be a highly effective mechanism for change so I hope that you enjoy this introduction to the group process. I have found that they can be an effective and inexpensive means for good self-care as a psychologist.
     
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