They Put Me In A Group

They put me in a group, but I would not talk,
They put me in a group, I was there but I wasn’t,
They put me in a group expecting sharing, enlightenment, support,
They put me in a group and instead I battened down the hatches.

They put me in a group and I said what they wanted to hear,
They put me in a group, my mouth moved but my thoughts did not,
They put me in a group until the buttons got pressed and I kicked off,
They put me in a group and nothing changed.

They put me in a group due to time and budget constraints,
They put me in a group cos that’s just what they do,
They put me in a group cos then they were doing something,
They put me in a group, labelled, diagnosed, to be cured.

They put me in a group and it plain didn’t work,
They put me in a group and it became further proof,
They put me in a group on the way out the door,
They put me in a group, but never saw or knew me.

They put me in a group and wondered why the words did not flow,
I stuttered, I stuttered, I floundered, I fell…

I needed the I, the me, the quiet tranquility,
Of knowing you listened, you heard, you explored,
You knew how I ticked, the trauma, the triggers,
Before putting me in a room where all I could envisage were sniggers.

I needed to share first to one before another,
To feel safe and secure like talking to a brother,
Before I’d have the courage, see the purpose and point,
Of groups, of sharing, strategies, turning up to the joint.

And when I walked out the group room I was not again alone,
You were there for a chat, to reflect, to further hone,
The things I had learned, discussed and shared,
If nothing else to see how I’d fared.

They put me in a group cos it was the right thing for me,
They put me in a group at the right time when I was ready,
They put me in a group without leaving me stranded at the door,
They put me in a group and I kept wanting to come back for more.

They put me in a group understanding the I,
They put me in a group understanding the why,
They put me in a group and help became mutual,
They put me in a group and I started to find my future.

They put me in a group and I felt safe to think,
They put me in a group with a well from which to drink,
They put me in a group to rebuild anew,
And it all started with the I and the understanding you.

________

Group work is a valuable method of engaging with young people when used at the right time, for the right issues, with teens who are ready. Some teens successfully dive into group work, engage, contribute and learn with relatively little extra individual support. In fact, some can open up more in a group setting than in one-on-one sessions.

Others however can struggle due to a number of things including deeply personal and painful individual issues, mental health issues, due to other young people in the group that they know, or because they are more of an introvert than an extrovert, more readily able to share on an individual rather than a group basis. They might say nothing, they might deliberately sabotage and disrupt the group, or they might go through the motions of saying what you want to hear.

As in everything, we have to be aware that what works for one teen may not work for another and rather than reaching for the ‘unworkable’ stamp when a teen does not successfully engage in group work, we need to consider whether we have really seen and understood an individual’s needs and have asked them to do more than they are currently able to.

Anger management not working?

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