Topic: Alcoholics Anonymous Curative Factors
Objectives for Support Group Observational Experience
The Curative Factors of Groups
1. Define the purpose of a group.
1. Identify various types of groups.
2. Discuss the “curative factors” of groups.
In your psychiatric textbook by Mary Townsend, please read chapter 10 prior to participating in your Community Mental Health Experience. This chapter discusses therapeutic group concepts and all of the different ways in which working with and in groups can help improve the lives of patients with psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.
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1) Define a group.
2) Identify the various types of groups.
3) Attend TWO SUPPORT GROUP meetings. You may select two “open” meetings of your choice (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); Narcotics Anonymous (NA); Alanon; Survivors of Suicide; Gamblers Anonymous, and others that offer support to one another in the group setting; NOT an educational group).
4) After attending BOTH meetings:
a) Discuss Curative Factors
i) Choose two of the 11 group “curative factors” (covered in chapter 10) that were obviously beneficial to individual members attending the groups.
ii) Discuss which curative factors you choose and why you choose these two particular curative factors.
iii) Elaborate on a variety of ways you could see that these factors were present and how they were catalysts in producing change the lives of individuals in the group (such as statements that the members shared within the group or non-verbal behaviors such as nodding “yes” to what is being said, or by other non-verbal interactions indicating positive change within the lives of the group members).
In completing the typed written portion of the assignment, APA format is required.
11 curative factors
1.The Instillation of Hope. By observing the progress of others in the group with similar problems, a group member garners hope that his or her problems can also be resolved.
2.Universality.Through universality, individuals come to realize that they are not alone in the problems, thoughts, and feelings they are experiencing. Anxiety is relieved by the support and understanding of others in the group who share similar (universal) experiences.
3.The Imparting of Information. Knowledge is gained through formal instruction as well as the sharing of advice and suggestions among group members.
4.Altruism. Altruism is assimilated by group members through mutual sharing and concern for each other. Providing assistance and support to others creates a positive self-image and promotes self-growth.
5.The Corrective Recapitulation of the Primary Family Group. Group members are able to re-experience early family conflicts that remain unresolved. Attempts at resolution are promoted through feedback and exploration.
6.The Development of Socializing Techniques. Through interaction with and feedback from other members within the group, individuals are able to correct maladaptive social behaviors and learn and develop new social skills.
7.Imitative Behavior. In this setting, one who has mastered a particular psychosocial skill or developmental task can be a valuable role model for others. Individuals may imitate selected behaviors that they wish to develop in themselves.
8.Interpersonal Learning. The group offers many and varied opportunities for interacting with other people. Insight is gained regarding how one perceives and is being perceived by others.
9.Group Cohesiveness. Members develop a sense of belonging that separates the individual (“I am”) from the group (“we are”). Out of this alliance emerges a common feeling that both individual members and the total group are of value to each other.
10.Catharsis.Within the group, members are able to express both positive and negative feelings—perhaps feelings that have never been expressed before—in a nonthreatening atmosphere. This catharsis, or open expression of feelings, is beneficial for the individual within the group.
11.Existential Factors. The group is able to help individual members take direction of their own lives and to accept responsibility for the quality of their existence. It may be helpful for a group leader to explain these curative factors to members of the group. Positive responses are experienced by individuals who understand and are able to recognize curative factors as they occur within the group.
Running head: CURATIVE FACTORS WITHIN ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS1
Curative Factors within Alcoholics Anonymous
Bluegrass Community and Technical College
Curative Factors Within Alcoholics Anonymous
Substance addictions can be terrifying things. They can destroy interpersonal relationships, families, careers, and lives. Unfortunately, many people battling addictions to alcohol, narcotics, and even food lose everything that matters to them before they either realize they have a problem or seek help.
Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous are two such groups that people to work through their addictions through support of others that have gone through the same problems. A group is “a collection of individuals whose association is founded on shared commonalities of interest, values, norms, or purpose. Membership in a group is generally by chance, by choice, or by circumstance.” (Townsend, 2011, p. 168) Self-help groups “allow clients to talk about their fears and relieve feelings of isolation, while receiving comfort and advice from others undergoing similar experiences.”(Townsend, 2011, p. 169)
As I have an uncle that is an alcoholic, I decided to attend two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I previously had to attend an AA meeting for the Sociology class I took in high school, but feel that as I more fully understand the purpose of self-help groups. I attended meetings on February 5, and February 12 respectively at The Ridge. Many of the attendees were residents of the Adult Dependency Recovery Unit, and as such were already participating in the Milieu therapy available at The Ridge. Many of those that were not residents of the Ridge had not been to AA meetings before.
One gentleman stated that he had lost his job in 2009 and hadn’t been able to find one that could support his family in the same way he had been doing prior to losing his job. He informed the group that he drank quite a bit before losing his job, but in order to handle the stress of being unemployed or under employed he began drinking more. He hadn’t realized he had a problem until his wife had threatened with divorce two weeks before he attended this meeting. When I talked to him, he jokingly stated that prior to realizing he had a problem, he thought, “AA was for quitters!”
Therapeutic groups are so helpful due to eleven curative factors: instillation of hope, universality, imparting of information, altruism, corrective recapitulation of the primary family group, development of socializing techniques, imitative behavior, interpersonal learning, group cohesiveness, catharsis, and existential factors. Although I saw all of these factors to some extent, the two primary factors I noticed were the instillation of hope and the imparting of information.
“By observing the progress of others in the group with similar problems, a group member garners hope that his or her problems can be resolved.”(Townsend, 2011, p. 170) Following the meeting on February 5, the gentleman I mentioned above appeared very excited, and informed me that he couldn’t believe that so many others had the same problems he was having, and knew how he felt. Many others had drinking problems before the economy collapsed and began drinking more afterwards. Unfortunately for these group members, many lost their homes and families before they sought help. After the first meeting he attended, he pledged that he would quit drinking and work on repairing his marriage and family life. Several residents of The Ridge had been sober for several years and recently relapsed into drinking. They appeared hopeful that they would be able to truly kick their addiction once and for all.
“Knowledge is gained through formal instruction as well as the sharing of advice and suggestions among group members.” (Townsend, 2011, p. 170) There were no group speakers when I went to the meetings, but there were several members that had been sober for years that were able to impart information to newer members about how they stayed sober for so long. One member informed the rest of the group that the only reason she had been sober for so long (5 years!) was because she had extracted herself from friendships that encouraged her drinking. When she decided to get sober, those friends didn’t encourage her to stop. In fact, they kept her drinking for months before she had the strength to end those “friendships.” She did reiterate that it is a daily challenge to not drink, and that on stressful days it was, “so hard not to give in to that glass of wine, or vodka, or beer.” She imparted the knowledge that no matter what, even if there were setbacks, as long as they knew it was possible to get back on track, nothing was possible, even staying sober.
Alcoholics Anonymous and other self-help groups offer many curative factors that allow people to work through their problems and addictions while garnering information from people that have gone through the same issues. After attending these meetings, I truly believe that the instillation of hope is the most important curative factor these groups facilitate. Without hope, people will not feel confident in whatever knowledge they may glean, or feel encouraged by any other curative factor.
Townsend, M. C. (2011). Essentials of psychiatric mental health nursing: Concepts of evidenced-based practice (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.Sent from my iPhone