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Four “A”s

I am putting together a new group for work and as always I prefer to do my creative efforts at home in my own time. I have always worked that way finding the day to day grind and meeting responsibilities, deadlines and helping people makes work fairly frenetic most of the time and not a great space for thoughtful creative enterprises. I’ve had my best therapeutic insights, come up with a new approach to a stuck problem in just musing on it a bit on my own time. When I was married I would get checked for not leaving work at work but if you enter the helping professions sometimes a little more is asked of you. I don’t fret about work, worry about my clients, or beat myself up over outcomes. I do sometimes brainstorm, ponder, muse, pray for the people who are struggling who cross my paths. Its part of caring about people.

I also like to do my creative thinking at home so that I continue to own my own thoughts. If I were laying this out on my office computer on the clock then there would be every expectation that the fruits of my labor would belong to my employer. Now I am pretty much anti-copyright but I would hate to see a situation where I don’t have access to my own ideas because someone else owns them. So most of my original stuff makes its first appearance here.

The state of Missouri pays substance abuse treatment agencies for two types of groups, education groups and process groups. Education groups you teach something and that is my preferred mode of operation. Education is not a particularly effective intervention for people struggling with drug abuse and addiction. Most of them know drugs and alcohol can be bad and recovery can be a road out when you’ve lost the ability to find your own way. Motivation is actually the name of the game and so education groups have become an opportunity to grow my motivational speaking abilities. Its more akin to preaching then teaching and has been a lot of fun.

Process groups are group therapy. In education groups I make my personality very large and in process I make it very small. I start each group with a check in. Your name and how are you feeling. I point out identifying and resolving feelings is key for recovery. Rather then provide a feelings list (there are many if you google them) I want to stimulate creativity and honest expression I just ban a few meaningless pleasantries: good, fine, OK, & alright. I also ban “tired” as a body feeling and rarely an emotion. Then I define what process means and ask people to do it, sit back and watch. Nod, call on people and ask questions when no one is talking. If everyone didn’t participate I do a check out of what stood out in treatment today?

It works fine, have heard many times, “that was the best process group I’ve been in”. But my new slot is 7:00 pm, much too late for an unstructured member driven process group. So instead I want to do something highly structured that is still a group process activity. I have been kicking around a self help/social change group for many years. This seems an ideal time to kick it off. I am going to call it an Accountability Group and organize it around what I call the 4 “A”s: Awareness, Assessment, Action, and Accountability. I thought about calling it 4 A or AAAA as well. It will be set up on a level system and to go with the 4 “A”s there will be 4 life areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

We’ll begin the group with a check in and perhaps expanded introduction. The first week will be all about Awareness which begins the change process. Identification and informal observation.That can last one week to forever. Out of that Awareness we will develop Assessment tools to measure and create a baseline. Usually for two weeks. Out of that data an Action Plan will be developed. Accountability will come from the group as well as mutual support and the sharing of ideas.

I envision a 16 week process and leveling people up as they get things done. Making it easy to start, just be aware but making the next levels having concrete achievements tied into it. After you move through the whole system for all four areas you are ready to start your own 4A group. We’ll develop tools for each level and documentation and accountability systems collaboratively over time.

Categories: feelings, health, work
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