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Week 8 Discussion Post Responses

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Respond to the 2 discussion posts below and present a different point of view on their strategies.The discussion posts below are based on the following: Post your description of the strategies for working with involuntary group members presented in the Schimmel & Jacobs (2011) article. Describe ways you agree and/or disagree with their strategies. How might you handle the situations presented in the article differently? Explain ways these strategies promote empowerment.



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  • Cynthia’s Discussion Post


Group Work with Involuntary Members

Facilitating a group can be a daunting experience, however, when the group leader exercises effective leadership skills they may be able to shift the perceptions of involuntary members and create an atmosphere where all members may positively contribute as well as gain information from the group. Some of the skills necessary in a leader are the ability to maintain control, empathy, and creativity. (Schimmel & Jacobs, 2011).  Group members may have different experiences that contribute to their resistance in the group setting such as adverse childhoods and trauma. The job of the leader is to take note of any difficulties and approach them in a way that builds trust and safety of the group setting which can lead members to feel secure and willing to share and invest in the groups’ purpose (Toseland & Rivas, 2017).

Strategies for working with Involuntary Members

In the article by Schimmel & Jacobs, the authors present strategies that can be effective with involuntary members in different group settings. Involuntary members may exist in a group of their own, meshed within a group of voluntary participants, as well as enter the group after creation (Schimmel & Jacobs, 2011). To build a safe and secure environment for all members voluntary and involuntary, facilitators should screen members to ensure the group is appropriate for their needs as well as have an understanding that the group may need to begin slowly and build up to difficult topics. Some members may be unwilling to speak initially for many reasons, and steps should include ensuring a relaxed space that is inviting so that members feel respected and unpressured.
Several strategies discussed by Schimmel & Jacob (2011) included the use of props, written exercises, creativity, movement during sessions, and assessing member readiness. (2011). Creative props allow members to attach their emotions to inanimate objects which may be useful for members by providing representation that they can see. An example of this described by Schimmel & Jacob involved group members in an anger management group that used strings to represent how short their fuses were. Members were shown strings of different sizes and asked to choose the one which best described the management of their anger. (2011). By allowing members to visualize their anger, it allows them to formulate a picture on what their anger looks like to them. Many times, members within a group may be unaware of the effects of their negative behaviors, and visual representation may allow them to have a more accurate perception.

 Agree and/or Disagree with the Strategies

I agree with the strategies presented by Schimmel & Jacobs in their article. My reasoning for this is the strategies provide methods that are beneficial to both voluntary and involuntary members within a group. The example I use is the scenario that described a process called inner circle, outer circle. (Schimmel & Jacobs, 2011). Inner Circle/ Outer Circle allows a member to choose their placement within a group. If a member feels ready to participate in the group and make positive contributions, they can choose to sit closer to the group and engage with its members and leader. When a member does not feel engaged or unwilling to participate, they can sit outside the group. Members are still allowed to hear the information and are welcome to join when they feel they are ready and will not create distractions for other members. (Schimmel & Jacobs, 2011). This strategy allows members to feel safe and respects all members feelings. Respect and safety are enormous in group work, and without them, most groups will not flourish. I agree with the strategies because I believe they exhibit consideration regarding group members and the overall group functioning.

Addressing Situation/Strategies to promote Empowerment

Some of the situations presented in the article could be handled differently through the use of different techniques and strategies. One that I might employ would be the involvement of a co-facilitator. Through the usage of a co-leader, I might be able to enact role-playing scenarios with another educator to enforce some of the material to the group. A co-facilitator may also be useful to watch members during a session to assess involvement or other behaviors that may not be beneficial to the group. When the leader is leading the group, they may not be as aware of all dynamics currently occurring within a group. By allowing another professional to be present within the group members may be less likely to engage in these behaviors. Once a session ends both facilitators can come together and share information that is beneficial for the next group meeting or to keep all members of the group engaged. The use of two leaders also allows for sharing of varying degrees of expertise and provide more structure. (Toseland& Rivas, 2017).

I do believe that many of the strategies proposed in the article promote empowerment for the group members. Empowerment may look different to each member. It may be giving them new skills to solve their problems. A member may find their voice during a session and build the ability to share their feelings which may not have been possible for them in previous interactions. Group members may also feel valued and included in the process when a group leader involves them during sessions, especially when members are encouraged to share and speak with other members and provide support. Perhaps even changing the mindset of an involuntary member and them becoming a voluntary member is an act of empowerment, because the person now feels adequate and in possession of the tools they need to make lifelong changes.



Schimmel, C. J., & Jacobs, E. (2011). When leaders are challenged: Dealing with involuntary members in groups. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 36(2), 144–158.


Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.



2) Lynn’s Discussion Post


Post your description of the strategies for working with involuntary group members presented in the Schimmel & Jacobs (2011) article. Describe ways you agree and/or disagree with their strategies. How might you handle the situations presented in the article differently? Explain ways these strategies promote empowerment.

The first thing to realize about involuntary groups is that not all the members are negative.  Many times, members want to engage in the group and gain from the experience.  Let the group members complain about things for a certain amount of time, then cut the time off.  The garbage can strategy is a visual way for the leader to shut the negativity down in the group.  When the lid goes on the garbage can the negativity stays in the garbage can.  Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

The leader can discuss what the possible gains can be obtained from the group.  However, the leader needs to get the members engaged.  Some of the ways to do that is to do things that are unexpected.  For example, use a curse word, this shows that you can adapt to the group.   The leader needs to be able to lead the group and take control of the group. Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

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Other strategies are bringing in role plays, or movie clips that are dramatic and related to the group.   Members can answer written questions, and a sure the client no one else sees them. Be aware of literacy issues and reading the questions out loud first can help members to answer the questions.  Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

Creative props can be effective such a using string to represent short fuse of anger, or a small beer bottle compared to big beer bottle to point out size of the problem.  Rubber band prop to establish trust, and rounds to involve members., and they learn about each other. Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

Movement exercises are used to get clients involved.  They can entail clients getting in a line and moving up or down the line to represent how strongly they feel about an issue, or how difficult or easy a task is.  Having one member sculped another to show how the member feels about the group, such as closed off, open, or taking a step forward, etc.   Clients standing 10 to 15 feet from a line, and then asking them to move forward or backward depending on how far they feel they are from their goal.  The goal maybe to get something out of the group.  Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

I find that movement exercises are useful, because the group members get to see where other group members are in the process and can then find things they share in common and things that are different.  It can be difficult to get a negative member to engage in these exercises at first.  Maybe they could be used a little later in the group.  Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

I would not use the dramatic approach.  Using the role play of a police officer could set the group into fear and resistance due to attitudes toward law enforcement.  Movie clip can be useful; however, this can trigger clients as well.  I think we need to consider other issues that may be going on with the clients, and how our strategies affect them.   The thing that comes to mind is someone with PTSD may be adversely affected by the unexpected.  Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

I would roll with the resistance in the group, especially if there are many members who are negative and not wanting to participate.  For example, I would acknowledge that the group has to be there, and the goal is to satisfy the courts.  Ok so how can we get to your goal in the least painful and interesting way?  The leader would explain that negativity and disruption is not the goal.   Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).

The way that these strategies promote empowerment, is that the client has the option to get something out of the group or not.  They can measure how severe the issue is that brought them there.  Using the inner circle and outer circle strategy is a great way to show members on the outside they have choices, and the inner group may be a better way to engage in the group. Schimmel & Jacobs (2011).


Schimmel, C. J., & Jacobs, E. (2011). When leaders are challenged: Dealing with involuntary members in groups. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 36(2), 144–158.

retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


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