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Why are Groups the most Effective Modality of Intervention with Children in Middle Childhood?

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  • The advantages of a group intervention is that children within the group feel they have a common identity, they are all ‘in the same boat’.
  • The divorce experience is normalized and feelings of isolation and stigma are reduced (Kalter, Pickar & Lesowitz, 1984; Lesowitz, Kalter, Pickar, Chechik, & Schaefer, 1987; Pedro-Caroll & Cowen, 1985).
  • Group dynamics facilitate the social cohesion necessary for children to feel safe enough to share painful and uncomfortable feelings.
  • The group is a social microcosm in which children learn better interpersonal skills, children learn from each other and teach each other.
  • Yalom (1975) says the feeling of being helped and of helping others gives group members a feeling of empowerment and control over their life situations, as well as a heightened sense of self-worth.
  • The group is a therapeutic and educative milieu for peer-initiated learning.
  • The group is a place in which issues of loss can be addressed.  For example when a group member cannot attend a session there is a definite sense of there being a missing link participants have to deal with.  Children’s feelings in terms of loss-related issues are evoked and dealt with as a consequence of having to deal with the group ending (Grych & Fincham, 1992; Kalter et al 1984; Pedro-Caroll & Cowen, 1985; Stolberg, Cullen & Garrison, 1985).
  • A group intervention facilitates greater access to therapeutic help for more children at one time.  It is accessible to financially deprived children of lower economic status.
  • The observation of an animal species like the Painted Hunting Dog, who survive in packs, has taught me that they, like us, do not have the equipment – physiological or emotional, to survive on our own.  No matter how self-sufficient we consider ourselves to be, we also need nurturing kinship groups to survive.  Stress is greatly reduced if we have caring and supportive groups to whom we belong.  We were born ‘in relationship’ and I believe our Creator designed us to live in clans, families and groups,not only for our survival, but also that we can enjoy enriching and meaningful lives.

 

References:

Kalter, N., Pickar, J. & Lesowiz, M. (1984).  School-based developmental facilitation groups for chidren of divorce.  A preventative intervention.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 54, 613-623. Lesowitz, M., Kalter, N., Pickar, J., Chechik, M. & Schaefer, M. (1987).  School-based develomental facilitation groups for chidren of divorce.  Isues of group process.  Psychotherapy, 24, 90-95. Pedro-Carroll, J. L. & Cowen, E.L. (1985).  The Children of Divorce Intervention Program: An investigation of the efficacy of a school-based intervention program.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 603-611 Yalom, L.  (1975).  Theory and Practise of Group Psychotherapy.  Basic Books: New York. Grych, J. H., & Fincham, F.D.  (1992).  Interventions for children of divorce: Towanrds greater integration of research and action.  Psychological Bulletin, 111, 434-454. Stolberg, A.L., Cullen, P.M., & Garrison, K.M. (1985).  Evaluating a primary prevention program for children of divorce:  The Divorce Adjustment Project.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 13, 7-17.

 

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