Rules To "Group" By
|These are the rules that we use at our local Christian 12-Step recovery group.|
The following ideas are presented for your consideration as guidelines for conducting the discussion in your study group. As with any group guidelines, the group itself must determine what is acceptable and necessary to them to provide a safe and nurturing environment. It is useful to periodically remind group members of the guidelines they have endorsed for their conduct in the group. Each group member should be aware that he as well as the entire group is responsible for seeing that the guidelines are followed.
1. What’s said here, stays here. It is difficult to over emphasize the importance of confidentiality regarding the person and details of anything said or done within the group.
2. It’s always okay to pass. Each group member is free to choose what and when to share, within the context of the current topic of discussion. It is always OK to pass.
3. No cross talk. For politeness sake, as well as for the comfort of the individual who is sharing, there should be only one person talking at a time. Comments or cross-talk with others in the group while an individual is sharing can wound that person and prevent others from hearing and understanding what is being shared.
4. I’ll let you know when I’m done. When a person has finished sharing, it is helpful if they say “I’m done” or its equivalent. Then other group members will know that they are free to take a turn. Allowing longer than usual silences while a group member is sharing is an important element of the recovery process. When strong emotion is felt by the person speaking, he often needs opportunity to think and find the words to express his emotions.
5. Share your own stuff—not the problems you see in your spouse, or in a relative, or in someone else’ life. Share your own feelings and what you did/said/learned.
6. Grounding is good. No hugs or tissues unless they are asked for. When someone is experiencing strong emotion, the group should allow them to have that emotion. Touching, offering Kleenex, or other intrusion most often is interpreted by the person who is sharing as an effort to shut off the emotion. This impact takes place in the subconscious; therefore we are not consciously aware of it. However, grounding works. This can be done if the person is okay with touch by placing a gentle, firm touch—hand to hand, hand on arm or back, shoe against shoe—and holding it. No patting or rubbing. If done properly, this will convey empathy without sending the message that it’s time for the person to dry their tears and move on.
7. No fixing. One of the character defects most of us share is the desire to “fix” things for someone else. Fixing or advice giving should not be done unless it is asked for as feedback. Then, the feedback is to be given in the form of “this is what happened to me.” It is okay to ask an occasional question to clarify for yourself what the individual is saying. However, this is not a therapy group and questions should not be used to draw the speaker into more revelation of himself.
8. Use only your fair share of the time. As someone shares, revealing a difficult and deeply emotional hurt, it is tempting to forget about our own recovery needs and focus away from ourselves and on that individual’s hurt. Our cultural habits are to gather around and to support. In recovery groups we can meet this need by listening intently, giving eye contact, and using body language that says “I care.”
9. No verbal abuse allowed. Occasionally, someone in the group may be in the habit of spewing out their rage and anger about someone or about a situation in their life. Even though it is not directed toward you, you are having to listen to it and are receiving emotional abuse. It is always okay to say “I’m feeling extreme anger, to the point of rage, related to . . .” However, you should then focus on what there is in your history that triggers the anger (anger is a secondary emotion, usually covering fear or a sense of danger) or discover if you are allowing a boundary violation (which would give you a sense of helplessness, being stuck). It is never okay to abuse your fellow group members by ranting and raving, in anger and rage, about someone or something in your life.