The main stages of the Work-shop

Goals and objectives.

The whole variety of structural and organizational decisions during the Work-shop is determined by its main goal and the tasks arising from it. The goal determines the type of group, the position of the leader and participants in the group process. Therefore, before you start preparing your Work-shop, you need to decide on the goal.

The purpose of each specific Work-shop is determined by the purpose of the conference as a whole and the composition of its participants. In recent years, in the organization of professional psychological conferences, there has been a general trend of transition from a festival[3] to a scientific conference[4].

In the late 90s and at the beginning of our century, the main purpose of the conferences was to popularize practical psychology and various areas of psychotherapy. The tasks of the leaders of the Work-shop included the presentation of approaches, the most general ideas and the motivation of the participants. Charismatic and seductive psychotherapists, able to put on a bright show from psychology for 2-3 hours, became in demand.

At present, professional communities and organizations that have formed are solving the problem of legitimizing the sphere of professional psychological assistance. The focus of attention of specialists is increasingly not only the exciting process of self-knowledge[5], but also its result: improvement of the condition, personal development, improvement of the quality of life of the client and the psychotherapist, etc. The main goal of professional conferences is the exchange of work experience, professional development, providing feelings of belonging to the community while achieving methodological and value-oriented unity with colleagues. The composition of conference participants has also changed qualitatively: the number of practitioners has equaled, and sometimes even exceeds, the number of beginners (students). There are less and less interested participants (clients) at conferences. These factors are responsible for the shift in emphasis in work from the personality of the leader[6] of the Work-shop to the methods and ways of working with a client or a group.

The main difference between a professional conference of practicing psychologists (psychotherapists) and other specialties is that the work must be shown, not talked about. The best message or report cannot convey the specific features of the conditions created by the specialist: the necessary characteristics of the field of the group or of the therapeutic relationship. The demonstration is carried out in a group, which should be the most suitable for the implementation of the Work-shop tasks. For example: if the presenter is going to show work with a psychosomatic disorder, potential clients should be found in the group, an atmosphere of safety and trust should be created for their self-disclosure, environmental protection should be provided for observers, etc.

It is important to understand that in terms of its genre, the Work-shop is not a therapeutic group, but rather a group of active socio-psychological learning. The participants’ own experience of living in a group gives them the opportunity to expand their professional repertoire, personal awareness in the declared area, to deepen their theoretical understanding of the problem and methods of working with it.

D.B. Karvasarsky, depending on the goals, identifies the following types of training groups for practicing psychologists:

1. Socio-psychological training , the purpose of which is to increase competence in the field of professional interpersonal communication in the client-therapist system.

2. Balint’s groups , the purpose of which is to analyze and improve the therapeutic relationship. In such groups, attention is paid mainly to personal positions and attitudes, problems and conflicts of the psychotherapist, which impede the achievement of optimal contact with the client and work efficiency.

The main tasks of Balint’s groups are the awareness of personal “blind spots” that block professional relationships with the client and the psychoprophylaxis of group members, based on the possibility of working out unsuccessful cases in a group support situation.

3. Supervisory groups ( supervision in individual and group forms), aimed at acquiring experience in their own practical work in a group situation, obtaining professional feedback from colleagues, discussing difficult cases in terms of professional skills.

4. Training psychotherapeutic groups are conducted with the aim of developing and improving a person’s ability to perceive and understand himself and other people in the context of group interaction. The main tasks of training psychotherapeutic groups are as follows: a) acquisition of new knowledge in the field of clinical and social psychology, personality and group psychology, the biopsychosocial concept of a person, b) training in methodological methods and techniques of psychotherapy, c) familiarization with group dynamics , increasing sensitivity to group processes, developing skills in using group dynamics for psychotherapeutic purposes , d) self-knowledge, development of self-awareness , personality, improvement of self-regulation skills [1].

At conferences of Gestalt therapists, groups of socio-psychological training are rarely held, since the concept of the communicative competence of a Gestalt therapist is just beginning to take shape [7], Balint and supervisory groups are held at each conference and can be the beginning of a long-term project after its completion, but the main form for the Work-shop is a training therapy group.

The specific tasks of such a group can cover 6 main areas:

1. Group processes : the formation of interpersonal relationships and the study of processes occurring in small groups; increased sensitivity to group processes; development of skills to successfully intervene in intra-group situations; developing skills to use group processes for therapeutic purposes.

2. Cognition of other people : expansion of interpersonal consciousness (i.e., knowledge about other people) and diagnostic skills in the interpersonal sphere; development and improvement of the ability to observe, perceive and understand the psychological manifestations and originality of other people; developing the ability to apply various theoretical approaches to interpret and predict the behavior of other people.

3. Self-awareness: self-knowledge and improvement of self-understanding; expansion of the sphere of self-consciousness; increased sense of self-identity; personal development; improvement of self-regulation skills.

4. Theoretical aspect : acquisition in the process of direct interaction in a group of new knowledge in the field of psychotherapy, personality and group psychology, clinical and social psychology, biopsychosocial concept of a person; the formation of clear ideas about the conditionality of the main directions of psychotherapeutic practice by the relevant concepts of norm and pathology (approaches to understanding the personality and the nature of personality disorders).

5. Methodological aspect: familiarization with methodological methods and techniques of psychotherapeutic work with a client in a group; development of skills in the use of group dynamics for psychotherapeutic purposes.

6. Deontological aspect : the formation of ideas about the deontological and ethical aspects of psychotherapeutic practice [1].

The purpose of the Work-shop is also determined by the degree of mastery of the subject by the therapist:

· if the therapist has been working in the claimed area long enough and has accumulated experience that he can and wants to pass on to others, presentation may become the goal;

If the therapist noticed that he had found a good technique, a new conceptualization, but feels that the ideas need to be verified, discussed by colleagues and clarified, then his goal is approbation ;

· if the therapist has discovered a little-studied area of psychotherapy, the absence in theory and practice of ways and means of solving an urgent problem for society, he can declare at the Work-shop conference with the aim of its phenomenological study, drawing the attention of the professional community to the resulting deficit.

This approach allows you to see the logic of the organizational building of the Work-shop, determine the required time for its implementation and the position of the leader (see Table 1).

The main stages of the Work-shop

Each Work-shop is a complete event, and at the same time it is a part of a larger event – the conference as a whole. To understand the meaning of the main structural stages of the Work-shop, it seems useful to use the P. Goodman contact cycle model (see Fig.1-2) [2, p.138].

Rice. 1. Stages of a three-day conference.

Table 1. Goals and structure of the Work-shop

No. p / p Thing Target The need for the main stages Desired time Presenter position
Sharing the beginning of the group Concept message Group experiment Individual session Methodical discussion Final sharing
one. Features of the direction of psychotherapy (on the example of Gestalt therapy) Presentation + +++ + ++ 2 hours AR, A
Approbation ++ + + + ++ + 3 hours K, P
Study +++ + +++ 1,5 hour P, CH
2. Possibilities of a specific method or technique (psychotherapeutic metaphors, empty chair technique, therapist’s authentic self-disclosure, etc.) Presentation + +++ + ++ 2 hours AR, A
Approbation ++ + + + ++ + 3 hours K, P
Study +++ + +++ 1,5 hour P, CH
3. Working with a specific psychological problem (for example: addictions, losses, loneliness, chronic fatigue, etc.) Presentation + +++ + ++ 2 hours AR, A
Approbation ++ + + + ++ + 3 hours K, P
Study +++ + +++ 1,5 hour P, CH
4. Work with a specific category of clients (for example: pregnant women, families and couples, organizations in the process of introducing innovations, etc.) Presentation + +++ + ++ 2 hours AR, A
Approbation ++ + + + ++ + 3 hours K, P
Study +++ + +++ 1,5 hour P, CH
5. The combination of 2 possible subjects (for example: the use of metaphor in working with psychosomatics; Gestalt approach accompanied by organizational changes; work with a family after the loss of a child, etc.) Presentation + +++ + ++ 2 hours AR, A
Approbation ++ + + + ++ + 3 hours K, P
Study +++ + +++ 1,5 hour P, CH

+ possible ; ++ desirable ; +++ necessary; AR – active leader; A – analyst; K – commentator; P – mediator; CHG – member of the group

Fig.2. The main stages of the Work-shop.

The condition, needs and energy levels of the participants change during the conference. The responsibility of the leaders of the Work-shop is to be sufficiently sensitive to the general atmosphere, to ensure continuity[8] in the work and to consistently lead the participants through the contact cycle, to ensure the increment of Self of the conference participants at each stage. Thus, the content of the main procedures of the Work-shop will be determined not only by its goals, but also by the stage of the conference as a whole.

Sharing at the beginning of the group is important for the group members to realize their interests and needs in the context of the Work-shop theme, to create a common field and the necessary atmosphere[9]. Depending on the purpose, type of group, stage of the conference, topic and number of participants, sharing can be more detailed or very short (sometimes you can not do it at all[10]). It depends on the facilitator, who can facilitate the process (using active listening and clarifying questions) or apply suppressive techniques (limit sharing time in advance, stop those who speak long and detailed, etc.). Sharing can be set to activate the ID function (“Who is ready to take risks right now?”, “Remember situations when you felt insecure”) or Personality (“Introduce yourself and tell a little about yourself in the context of the Work-shop theme”; “ Everyone understands loneliness in their own way. What is it for you?”). This way, the facilitator can prepare the ground for the next stage of work: if a group experiment or an individual session is planned immediately after sharing, it is important to activate the ID, if a mini-lecture, audio or video presentation is expected, then it is important to rely on Personality.

The facilitator’s conceptual presentation is usually in the form of a short oral presentation (possibly using a whiteboard or projector) about new theoretical ideas or working methods. Since the Work-shop time is limited, it is not possible to allocate more than 20 minutes for the presenter’s message. Taking into account the fact that the next stage of the Work-shop will be individual or group work, the facilitator needs to raise the energy level in the group with his message and ensure readiness for active work. This is quite difficult, so the presentation must be prepared in advance, include appeals to the personal experience of the participants, vivid examples, interactive procedures.

A group experiment can be the main Work-shop procedure, then it should be a more or less completed procedure with a predictable result. Participants are preliminarily divided into subgroups (pairs, triples, quadruples)[11] or the whole group works under the guidance of a leader (for example: brainstorming; study of dynamic processes in the group (Kingdom game); group experiments with regression, etc.). If several subgroups work at the same time, the leading Work-shop ensures the synchronization of the work of subgroups in time.

Also, a small group experiment can be a warm-up procedure before individual work. Then it is important to create an incomplete gestalt during its implementation (For example: in client-therapist pairs, therapists work on clarifying requests in the context of the Work-shop topic; participants create an image of their problem: draw, sculpt, compose a fairy tale, etc.)

The individual session is the main instrument of the work of the classical Gestalt group. A. Gronsky notes that in this model of work, the focus of attention of the group is on a participant who has entered the “hot chair” and, with the help of a therapist, works with his personal problems, dreams, fantasies or other psychological material. Despite its limitations, this model remains relevant, especially in groups with didactic goals. Obviously, the facilitator must be fluent in the practice of conducting individual sessions. However, in order for group work to be successful, it is equally important for him to be sensitive to group processes, to be able to regulate them and use them for therapeutic purposes. Otherwise, even with the most favorable development of events, the group will turn into only a demonstration of the work of a therapist, a theater of one actor, and its own therapeutic potential will be lost [3].

For demonstration work at the Work-shop, it is important not to make a mistake with the choice of the client: on the one hand, he must have a high relevance of the work in the context of the stated topic and at the same time have a sufficient level of personal maturity, openness and psychological stability to work in a conference environment. As noted above, the Work-shop is not a therapeutic group, but a training one. This means that during individual work, the task of the therapist is not only to “cure” his client, but to a greater extent to show the rest of the participants the features of his psychological organization and the strategy and tactics of therapeutic assistance associated with them.

After conducting individual work in a group, emotional sharing is usually carried out for the rest of the participants.

A methodical discussion of an individual session and group experiments is carried out only if the vast majority of the Work-shop participants are practitioners. The discussion is more interesting if the participants have approximately the same level of professional competence[12].

The final sharing ensures the assimilation of the results of the Work-shop and ensures the growth of Self of each participant. The main time of the final sharing should be devoted to didactic aspects (“What do you take into your professional activities?”, “What ideas did you find interesting?”, etc.). If the format of the conference provides for evening process groups, during the final sharing it is possible to help charged participants formulate their requests for work in this group, if such groups are not provided, it is important to provide at least some degree of emotional response. It is especially important to conduct a high-quality final sharing on the last day of the conference, when the task of assimilation of the results of the conference becomes the leading one.

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