ROLES OF GROUP CLIENTS

The group members' roles are:

1. Building and maintenance roles (not the janitorial staff), which are positive
2. Group task roles, which help the group progress
3. Negative individual roles, which hinder group progress

Some examples of positive building and maintenance roles are:

1. Facilitators who like to make others feel at ease
2. Gatekeepers or expediters who like things to stay on track
3. Conciliators who smooth out conflicts
4. Compromisers or neutralizers who offer thinking solutions
5. Observers who like to comment on and sum up what's happening
6. Followers, who may be unsure of themselves, but help things along by agreeing a lot (much like, for some people, the ideal mate).

Group task roles include:

1. Initiators and energizers
2. Information and/or opinion seekers and givers
3. Coordinators
4. Elaborators
5. Evaluators/orientors
6. Procedure facilitators

Negative individual roles include:

1. Aggressors who insist on argument and disagreement with others' beliefs
2. Playboys who, aptly enough, act out an unwillingness to become engaged
3. Help seekers who insist on always talking about their own personal problems
4. Recognition seekers who attract attention to themselves at others' expense
5. Self righteous do-gooders who know other members are wrong, especially on moral questions
6. Informers who tell about other members' doings outside the group, or, in a word, gossips
7. Hostile members who protect themselves through intimidation and sarcasm
8. Withdrawn or silent members who avoid joining in

The group leader's competence (knowledge and skill) and the role he/or she takes on, are primary to group success:

1. Knowledge: includes understanding theory, group dynamics, ethics, research, individual members' roles, when and where to schedule meetings, group interaction and stages, and therapist roles.

2. Skill: includes being able to determine who should be in the group, recognize and intervene in members' self-defeating behavior, illustrate desirable behavior, read non-verbal behavior, and effectively use other basic group therapy techniques. A leader should also be skilled at working with a co-leader and following up with post-group assessments and procedures.

A leader should possess courage, creativity, openness, a responsible sense of personal power, a sense of humor, readiness to model behavior and try new experience, and caring goodwill.