Previous Conferences

The focus for the 2013conference was: Creating cultures of caring: Achieving diversity and inclusiveness in the practice of group work. The theme explored new developments in group work programs and the essential role they play in building healthy communities. While the global financial crisis had an impact on governments, countries and businesses, an unspoken impact is being felt in many vulnerable communities. 

A vicious cycle of disadvantage is deepening with 1in6 Australian children now living in poverty compared to the 1980’s where it was 1in8. The current focus of governments in mainstreaming representative bodies does not increase efficiency but reduces the value and attention given to minority experience and leadership. This intensifies the experiences of many people who often feel more marginalised, confused, compounded previous traumas and the feeling that they only ‘half belong’ to the community in which they live.  This results in an underlying and growing anger about many of their life experiences. It is through formal and informal group experiences that many people experience connections to the broader society that become lifelines of opportunity. Group work can be a healing process when done effectively.

It is now being recognised in research, that best practice programs combine new research from neuro-biological approaches (mindfulness) while building relational connections between group members and responding to the broader social issues that impact on group members’ lives. Often family based programs work best when they work simultaneously with the children and parents (either in the same or separate group programs). This conference explores how the above connections are applied to dynamic group work in various target groups and contexts. 

This conference explored:

o Inclusive group work and diversity

o Incorporating difference into our group work

o Group work with people living in vulnerable communities

o Using group work to heal ourselves, our communities and the world

o Creative group work in Corrective Services, other Government Departments and Corporate Organisations

o Environments that improve health, belonging and connection in communities.


KEYNOTE CONFERENCE FACILITATORS WERE

Dr Ed Jacobs

Ed Jacobs, Ph.D. is a professor in the Counselling, Counselling Psychology, and Rehabilitation Department at West Virginia University, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He currently is serving as the coordinator of the Masters program in Counselling at West Virginia University. Dr. Jacobs has written four books: Impact Therapy, Creative Counselling: An Illustrated Guide,  Group Counselling: Strategies and Skills and Group Counselling in Correctional Settings. He completed his undergraduate and Masters work in Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin and his Doctoral work in Counsellor Education at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Mohamed Dukuly

Mohamed Dukuly is a trainer and facilitator with several years of group work experience with families and individuals from CALD background. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Education and post graduate qualifications in Social Science and Family Mediation. Mohamed is presently pursuing his Master Degree in Social Work.

Pam Cohen

Pam Cohen is a social worker specialising in group work and supervision at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.  She has had many years of experience teaching group work at the University of NSW and across Australia in a variety of tertiary settings. She has presented papers on the application of mutual aid at international conferences and is known for her commitment to and passion for this approach.  She is interested in exploring how this approach enhances our understanding of politics and society.

Workshop or Paper Session Topics

  • Nandila Spry & Dr Cecile de Roux - Evaluating a women’s group program using a Human Resource Development model
  • Rosemary Arias - Early Breast Cancer Information and Support Group
  • Serah Greenberg-Kraft - Integrating Resilience Training and Mindfulness into Group Work Programs
  • Lil Beamish - The Big Picture - Jigsaw Children's Program
  • Janine Robertson - Providing Choice is the Key to meeting diverse needs
  • Toni Hubble, Claudia Stephenson  & Robyn Stowe - Emerging findings from evolving practice:"My changing family and me".
  • Andrew King and Phil York - Facilitating Dads in Distress Peer Support Groups
  • Julie Holt - Groupwork in a Camp/Retreat setting-Opportunity or Chaos?
  • Judith Pemell - Creating a Culture of Care in a System of Fear
  • Susan Elvery and Trevor Armitage - Exploring the Co in Co-leadership'
  • Peter Slattery - Crash bam boom – Groupwork with young people
  • Dr Ed Jacobs - Group work with correctional service clients
  • Heather McAlpine - Do You Wanna Make Up?
  • Andrew King - Developing IGL endorsed group work programs
  • Pam Cohen - Making Mutual Aid happen: How to bring out the potential for helping relationships in your groups
  • Deb McEvoy-Herbert - Parents as Case Coordinators (PaCC)
  • Mohamed Dukuly - Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) program & Group work
  • Matt Garrett, Christina Battle & Janine Bendit - The challenges and opportunities for group practitioners' working with parents of Kids in Care:
  • Dr Ed Jacobs - Tools for change in group work
  • Angharad Candlin & Monique Dickerson - Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, Kind: Keeping Your Hands on the Circle in Group Facilitation
  • Annette Bex  & Tracie Mitchell - The Power of Informal Groups
  • Andrew King - Transformative group work – The what, how and why?

 

Feedback from IGL Conference 2013

Feedback from the end of course evaluation form

 Course feedback
 
No. of completed evaluations 47 
Days Attended 1 Days 6 13%
 2 Days 41 87%

How was your experience?  Excellent 26 55%
 Very good 20 43%
 Average 1 2%
 Poor 0 0%

How useful was the event to your work? 1 0 0%
 2 1 2%
Okay 3 1 2%
 4 17 36%
Very useful 5 28 60%

The location of the conference was…? 1 0 0%
 2 0 0%
Okay 3 4 9%
 4 14 30%
Great 5 29 62%

The quality of administration was…? 1 0 0%
 2 0 0%
 3 2 4%
 4 10 21%
 5 35 74%
 
Key outcomes
 98% of participants thought the workshop was a very good to excellent experience. 
 86% of the participants thought the event was useful to very useful to their work.
 92% of participants reported the location of the course was very good to great. 
 95% of participants who reported the quality of the administration was very good to great.
 
Qualitative feedback
What topic/issue was most interesting and/or useful for you?
• Dr. Ed Jacobs tools for change in groupwork.
• All topics were interesting.
• Group techniques of engagement and tools.
• Ed Jacobs (and everything!)
• Ed, Pam’s and Mohamed’s talk
• Group work with correctional clients – directly relevant to my day to day work.
• Dr. Ed Jacobs and Mohamed’s talk.
• Ed Jacobs.
• Working with young people.
• Experiential nature/learning.
• The three keynote speakers were all of great interest and blended into each other really well. Mutual aid – building relationship in cultural transition and practical skills for keeping the whole group engaged.
• Pam Cohen – mutual aid and Ed Jacobs – practical.
• It is hard to say. 80% was very useful to me.
• Dr. Ed Jacobs – Groupwork with correctional service clients.
• Mutual aid.
• All of Ed Jacobs – So practical.
• Ed Jacobs.
• All sessions were useful – especially Dr. Ed tools and props.
• Impact theory, importance of mutual aid, skills around mutual aid.
• Ed Jacobs was very engaging and practical.
• Jigsaw/Ed Jacobs/ Mutual aid and campfire.
• All had a great balance of theory and hands on practical ideas and interventions.
• Ed Jacobs on engagement.
• Ed Jacobs.
• Ed Jacobs – useful techniques, strategies to use in groups. Also mutual aid/support in groups.
• Both of Ed Jacobs presentations – excellent practical strategies and skills to utilize in own work setting – incredibly valuable.
• The practical skills demonstrated e.g. use of $1 bill, cross cultural aspect in group, Mohamed’s presentation, multi-sensory styles (Ed Jacobs).
• Tools for change.
• Mutual aid.
• The use of energy/ focus and props to stimulate and engage the group, alongside the reinforcement and context given for the benefit of mutual aid.
• Practical exercises/tools/ideas.
• Mutual aid.
• Dr Jacobs – Did not get opportunity to attend workshops.
• Impact counseling and groupwork.
• Creating a culture of care in a system of fear.
• Ed Jacobs.
• Big picture thinking i.e. mutual aid practical experiences and tools.
• All of Ed Jacobs stuff.
• Mutual aid and impact stuff.
• Heather’s workshop followed by Ed’s presentations.
• Ed Jacob’s bag of tricks.
• Dr. Ed’s workshops.
• Group work presentations by Dr. Ed.
• Sorry, can’t pick just one! All excellent!
• Informal groups.

What topic/issue was least interesting and/or useful for you?
• Impact group session.
• Nil.
• Anything to do with kids (don’t work with them).
• Paper sessions 1 – I found it difficult to relate or to find something significant to take away.
• Co-facilitation (least interesting but most important) and parenting group –
• Mindfulness paper.
• Transformative group work - the what, how and why.
• Each presentation and workshop was interesting and useful.
• Co in co-facilitation.
• None, absorbed all I could do during 2 days. It was great.
• Co-leading I found the content good, however I found the facilitation of it somewhat lacking in enthusiasm of facilitators. Could have been significantly more interesting (this was pertinent for first 45 minutes of the workshop).
• Co-leading – not energised enough in presentation of some.
• xxxx talk.
• xxxx presentation on IDT didn’t really answer my questions or teach me a lot about the approach.
• xxxxxx workshop.
• They were all interesting but some practical skills (more of them) in the workshops would be good.
• Nothing.
• None really.
• Exploring the co in co-leadership.
• Ed Jacobs corrective services workshop.
• Support group info.
• Children’s group because I don’t work in children.
• None.
• None really, the program was ‘packed’ and it was difficult to choose which workshop to attend.
• None.
• Everything was interesting.
• DIDSS – not directly relevant to my work.
• Do you want to make-up (still great though!)
• IDT workshop
• N/A

What impact will this Conference have on your life/work?
• I will be able to introduce new ideas.
• Motivating – Ready to implement!
• Keep me motivated to work with groups.
• Inspiring, useful practical ways of engaging. Has refreshed my enthusiasm and motivation.
• It will extend to my work.
• Just good to see-hear- be part of group.
• Reinforced and renewed my passion for group work, to take back my workplace and to continue pushing for quality group work.
• It will improve some group work outcomes and have better impact.
• This conference gave valuable information on group work that I can apply to with work and life.
• Often working in isolation, the IGL conference gives me a sense of belonging and motivation to continue. What a band of extraordinary people!
• Skills I will take to group facilitation and share with colleagues.
• Mohamed’s comment about war and lack of positive relationships between people and society, his birth country has had a significant personal impact. It motivates and validates the effort involved in building and maintaining relationships.
• The diversity of participation and value of input helps me to see application in varying contexts – including my local community, practice and world view.
• I’ll share impact theory with my colleagues, propose our group work to be recognized by IGL, facilitate a workshop for volunteers.
• An introduction to new techniques that I will definitely use.
• It was/is an affirming experience for me.
• Increase confidence in use of tools and techniques.
• Huge.
• I’m going away with more knowledge, enriched personal connections and strategies to use with participants.
• Encouragement and new energy and thoughts, value of group work. +++
• New ideas and concepts which can be introduced.
• Presented ideas, time for reflection.
• Have use for the ideas both now and in the long term.
• Fuelled my passion for group work.
• Utilise more of Ed’s tools and teach them more supervisees.
• Increased reflection of my work. Will seek more knowledge about groups rather than stagnating into a comfortable style and practice new techniques to encourage participation of group members.
• Certainly self-reflection has been a huge part of the 2 days and will be something that I constantly aim to utilize. The practical skills of Ed Jacobs workshop will certainly form part of my own workshops.
• It was great for networking and gaining information about group work. I have met a lot of great and helpful people and opening up job career opportunities.
• Work with clients/families with more tools, greater empathy.
• Lots of practical things that I can apply in the group.
• I shall actively use some of the tools/ideas I have learned.
• I am interested to further my reading on mutual aid.
• New ideas.
• Very practiced and hands-on.
• Was surprised at the depth of feeling that I felt, this sense of ‘value’ will be taken into all areas of work and life.
• Increased motivation – new skills.
• Trying new things, risk taking.
• New professional networks, reinforcement and learning new group work strategies and theories.
• Change the way I view opening groups.
• Definitely increased tool kit. Greater awareness of the value of my leadership. Huge awareness of mutual aid.
• Very significant…understanding of change for myself, for clients, specific tools and guidelines for groups.
• Lots of new ideas to implement in groups and in philosophical approach.
• Will use in work place.
• Really motivational and invigorating.
• I’ve made some excellent connections (and new friendships) and will be seeking grants/funding to bring those to the NT for training/workshops.

How can IGL further assist to support your work as a group leader?
• While a lot of the practicalities don’t actually apply to my work as educator, I can apply theories to my work and will feed back a lot to my organization.
• Further training.
• Continuing provision of resources – especially training days, workshop with content accessible to people new to it, group leadership.
• Continue to bring good quality workshops to all.
• Very practical training.
• N/A
• Will join up.
• Offer workshops throughout the year that offer more than ‘education’. Our souls need to be fed as well.
• Format of the program in terms of instructing to use (.e.g. choice for workshops, paper presentation timing)
• Will consider memberships and will continue to look of the training that is offered by IGL.
• Invite us to the next conference.
• The availability of resources on the website is certainly valuable. Please keep refreshing and offer new resources. Thank-you.
• Keep having conferences and workshops.
• There’s lots training for group facilitators but I’d like something for those of us who train/supervise group leaders.
• Training – glad to see the 3 and 6 day training is being offered.
• Connection with other energetic, forward thinking, committed group workers.
• The source of expertise and connections for organizational growth.
• Keep conferences and IGL workshops going.
• Further up skilling with large practical component.
• Remain doing its work – training, workshops, topical, conference, network of group leaders and support for group leaders/workers.
• Just keep on keeping me informed of best practice.
• I’ll contact you to go to the endorsement process.
• Continue to provide these quality experiences, including workshops on supervision.
• Keep of the group work!
• Updates – bringing in experts like Dr. Ed Jacobs.
• Reflective practice and process group work training.
• More conferences.
• Offering more mesmerizing workshops. I would like to have more workshops about psychodrama in groups.
• Ongoing training and conferences.
 

 


The 2011 Institute of Group Leaders Conference -

The place of professional group work in the next decade

 Sponsored by...






When: Friday, Saturday 19th & 20th August 2011

Location: Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt St, Sydney  

CONFERENCE INFORMATION

The focus for this conference was: The place of professional group work in the next decade. The theme explored new developments in group work programs. While group work is viewed as an efficient and effective tool for change, it is still often under resourced, taken for granted, poorly supervised and receives less attention for research or evaluation. Despite these challenges, many organisations have started to focus on improving their evaluation processes and better understand what actually creates change in their group work programs.

It is now being recognised in research, that best practice programs combine new research from neuro-biological approaches (mindfulness) while building relational connections between group members and responding to the broader social issues that impact on group members’ lives. Often family based programs work best when they work simultaneously with the children and parents (either in the same or separate group programs).


This conference explored how the above connections are applied to dynamic group work in various target groups and contexts.  The conference, like past events, provided an opportunity to network and revalued the pleasure of working with people in groups. The whole conference embraced the design and utilization of group work and allowed for the experience of excitement, ‘ah..ha’ moments, exchanges with peers, application of new understandings, improved observation of the subtle changes that occur in groups and fun.

 

Conference keynote presentations

Kevin O’Sullivan - Using group work to support
change in Corrective Services
New South Wales 

   Video links

       Part 1

        Part 2

        Part 3

 

 

PowerPoint Handouts

Rachel Collis - Mindfulness in everyday group work

Video links

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 PowerPoint Handouts


Key outcomes for the 2011 conference are:

  • 100% of participants thought their experience was very good to excellent.
  • 92.3% (83% in 2009) of the participants thought the conference was useful to very useful to their work.
  • 92.4% (85% in 2009) of the participants thought that the location of the conference was very good to great.
  • 98.1% (94% in 2009) of the participants thought that the quality of the administration was very good to great.

When conference participants were asked what impact the Conference will have on the way they work, some of the responses were:

  • Practical tools, direction of program, personal direction of my work-path, and encouragement.
  • Food for thought, back on track.
  • Acknowledgement of the way I work (mindfulness and its importance).
  • It will be very relevant to my group work.
  • Greater awareness of evaluation and research to validate the group value.
  • Open my mind to new learning and teaching.
  • Ideas to take back to group programs I run.
  • New ideas and approaches, reconnecting with colleagues/networking, excellent workshop=gave me energy.
  • Both personally and professionally a very helpful experience.
  • I believe the relaxed, safe and stimulating environment helps me to absorb new ideas and reaffirms old/known concepts to help my professional practice and life.
  • A good opportunity to network.
  • Take away activities, reinforce and promote importance of facilitation and group work.
  • Will hopefully re-energise my work practice. It has certainly raised myself awareness in relation to personal issues and brought some clarity at a time it was needed. Great being around like minded, thoughtful people. Feel thoroughly revitalised.
  • Huge.
  • Makes me think of other ways to do groups and incorporate new ideas.
  • Re-energised and clearer about my future direction.
  • Stimulate, re-enthuses.
  • Food for thought – challenging me along my journey as a group leader/worker/facilitator and a practitioner.
  • Inspiring me personally in my personhood and similarly in my work educating and working therapeutically with groups at work.
  • Has highlighted some areas that I would like to possibly work in. Has also highlighted some personal goals that need to be acknowledged.
  • Lots of great ideas to re-incorporate into my work – particularly the slowing down/mindfulness work.
  • Energising, too much work to do everything I want to do, fantastic networking, IGL conferences are the best conferences I have ever attended.
  • Re-look at my current practice in running groups. Go back and look at running other therapeutic groups to support client need.
  • Integrate theoretical group work concepts more intentionally.
  • Re-energised and committed to the future growth of group work.
  • Confidence increase that what I am doing is right and worth defending.
  • A good platform to move forward from personally, professionally and enlightenment.
  • Broaden my understanding and commitment to the work I do and why it is so important.
  • Validating of an isolated worker.
  • Make changes, know what the best practice is.
  • I work with families delivering services in mental health, children contact centre and it is all about group work and the attendance of the workshop was well timed.
  • Implementing new techniques.
  • Enthused me to keep going.
  • Recognise I need to carefully document what, how and why I am doing.
  • Professional/personal growth.
  • Many things I can use in both my personal and professional life.
  • Principles will stay with me during my workshops.
  • It always energises me to come to this event and meet like minded people. It hsa opened my eyes to possible places where group work is offered.
  • Renewed sense of group work and its importance.
  • I will take many ideas into my work.
  • More aware of other services, organisations and renewed enthusiasm for group facilitation.
  • Increased confidence and opportunity for ongoing networking.
  • Goals for my organisation, program and teams; look to getting or courses accredited, continue to seek funding for research/evaluation, support IGL to provide training for group facilitators, celebrate how well we are doing what we are doing with professional staff using researched, evidence based practice and absolute respect for our clients/participants.
  • It has got the juices going and I go away with more energy and commitment to group work.
  • Better theoretical framework for group work.
  • It will prompt me to continue advocating for group work to be valued. It would be helpful for IGL to continue advocating too.
  • Reaffirms my passion for group work and has provided some new ideas about my own approaches and practice.

2011 SPEAKERS...

  • Dr Elizabeth Scott on the mental wealth of nations: Population-based and group based approaches to maximising our cognitive and behavioural potential
  • Rachel Collis on the use of mindfulness in everyday group work programs
  • Kevin O’Sullivan on using group work  to support change in the Department of Corrective Services
  • Andrew King on using relationship connections in group programs to significantly change life experiences 
This conference explored:
  • New directions in group work that meet the diversity of community needs
  • The interconnection of neuro-biological science and relational connections and its impact on positive mental health through the use of group work
  • Accreditation of group leaders
  • The IGL Endorsement Process to improve the standard and completion of group work program development
  • Creative ways to build connections in a society that has an increasing number of people living alone
  • Working in groups with the mandated clients
  • Working with domestic violence groups.  
Paper presentations
  • Sharon Turton CAPA - onnecting Kids: The Journey: ‘Connection’ in the group setting
  • Anne Vranisan CatholicCare Melbourne -Creating a Climate for  Change - the Challenges of Post Separation Parenting Groups
  • Angharad Candlin CatholicCare Sydney - Keeping it outside the box: using creativity and diversity to reach marginalised parents
  • Liz Sanders UnitingCare Burnside - Newpin Inside:  Meeting the Needs of Parents  in Prison
  • John Bartram & Sharron Matayalo CatholicCare Sydney - The Forgotten Body
  • Lorraine Holland and Janet Sallabank NSW Dept of Corrective Services Offender Programs and Services - The Emerging Role of the Program Facilitator
  • James Ferguson, Deborah Jenkin and Neysa Burns NSW Dept of Corrective Services- Messy Women: adapting DBT group work to reach a previously unreachable group of forensic clients
  • Angharad Candlin & Karolyn Ellis CatholicCare Sydney - Facilitating Change in a Cold Climate
  • Irene Gaffney & Tim Broady Relationships Australia - Research, Family Violence and Groupwork
Workshop presentations
  • Cath Lancaster & Jacquie Milburn Womens Health in the North - Collected Wisdom - Facilitated Family Violence Groupwork with women
  • Dr Leonie Aitken and Trevor Armitage- Interpersonal Group Therapy A focus on interpersonal interactions between members of therapy group
  • Peter Slattery - THOUGHTPICS…an IMAGE @ MUSIC based groupwork resource
  • Andrew King Groupwork Solutions - Developing IGL endorsed group work programs
  • Annette Coulter Centre for Art Psychotherapy -Art-based activities for groups
  • Serah Geenberg-Kraft The Benevolent Society - Increasing carer resilience through psycho-educational group work: The role of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBI)
  • Kerrie McFadden & Jenny Wakeford Relationships Australia - The Us Kit  - Tools for Family Based Groupwork
  • Ross Fairbank Groupwork Solutions & the Australian Institute of Male Health Studies - Dads 2 be
  • Heather McAlpine Relationships Australia - "Sorry seems to be the hardest word"
  • Stephanie Ingram, Deb McEvoy-Herbert & Vanessa Sheer Learning Links - Innovative service delivery provides timely empowerment for parents
  • Muffy Churches ASK Learning - Maximising Personal Potential
  • Julie Holt 'Wattle Place- The NSW Support Service For Forgotten Australians - A Healing Retreat For The 'Forgotten Australian's'
  • Andrew King Groupwork Solutions - The power of new perspectives - Using physical sculpture in group work
  • Vicki Parkes Relationships Australia - Diversifying Delivery - Adapting F2F Education Programs to Teleconference and Online
  • Mohamed Dukuly, Susan Cunningham & Elizabeth Schaffer STARTTS - Families in Cultural Transition: An alternative healing process
  • Theo Chang & Tony Trimingham Family Drug Support -  Family Drug Support's Stepping Stones to Success - Group work that works for families supporting alcohol and other drug dependents
Outlines and PowerPoints for papers and workshops

2011 IGL Conference - Andrew King Keynote - Using relationship connections in group programs 2011 IGL Conference - Andrew King Keynote - Using relationship connections in group programs (140 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Elizabeth Scott Keynote - The mental wealth of nations 2011 IGL Conference - Elizabeth Scott Keynote - The mental wealth of nations (12864 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Kevin O'Sullivan Keynote - Using group work to support change 2011 IGL Conference - Kevin O'Sullivan Keynote - Using group work to support change (1825 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Rachel Collis Keynote - Mindfulness in Every Day Group Work 2011 IGL Conference - Rachel Collis Keynote - Mindfulness in Every Day Group Work (9200 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Andrew King Workshop - Using Sculpture and Role Play 2011 IGL Conference - Andrew King Workshop - Using Sculpture and Role Play (2581 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Anne Vranisan – Our Kids Parenting Orders Program CatholicCare Workshop 2011 IGL Conference - Anne Vranisan – Our Kids Parenting Orders Program CatholicCare Workshop (2540 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - John Bartram & Sharron Matayalo Paper - The Forgotten Body in Male Behavio 2011 IGL Conference - John Bartram & Sharron Matayalo Paper - The Forgotten Body in Male Behavio (434 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Heather McAlpine - Sorry seems to be the hardest word 2011 IGL Conference - Heather McAlpine - Sorry seems to be the hardest word (305 KB)

2011 IGL Conference - Stephanie Ingram and Deb McEvoy-Herbert - Parents as Case Coordinators ‘PaCC’ 2011 IGL Conference - Stephanie Ingram and Deb McEvoy-Herbert - Parents as Case Coordinators ‘PaCC’ (0 KB)



Overview of the 2009 IGL Conference

The 2009 IGL Conference was again a great success. 100 people attended and experienced the wonderful sessions conducted by the keynote facilitators, attended an excellent range of workshops that captured best practice in group work, heard the Newpin Women’s Chair and the transformation stories that stem from the use of music and networked with many other like-minded group leaders. The Institute of Group Leaders expresses its appreciation to the conference sponsors - Interrelate (Silver Sponsor) and Relationships Australia (Bronze Sponsor). These sponsorships are vital for the smooth organisation of this conference. Special appreciation is given to the conference organising committee who included Trish Nove, Sue Fraser, Andrew King, Dave Sheerhorn, Jan Brooks, Deb Willis and Mala Henderson.This conference focused on Moments of change in group work. Change often occurs alongside emerging new learning. Learning in the moment is difficult. Often leaders reflect about what has occurred in a group after it has finished. However, when this process of noticing as things happen is diminished, the ability to fully intervene is likewise reduced. Group interaction often operates on automatic pilot, where a common pattern emerges. When this occurs, learning becomes static and predictable. Like long distance driving, a state is produced where events and experiences stream past us without any significance. This ‘waking sleep’ not only occurs while driving but also in group members’ relationships. Our reaction to a situation is less responsive to the new information we receive at that moment, but based on our previous life experiences.

It is important to reduce this time lag in noticing, while running groups. This is achieved through the group leader obtaining greater experience, undertaking regular reflection and accessing adequate supervision. Reducing the time span and moving from ‘learning retrospectively’ about a group to ‘learning in the moment’ allows new skills and responses to develop. Retrospective noticing often results in the group leader responding with judgments as group members’ new, subtle and more spontaneous responses are missed. The negative judgments (captured by the tone ‘yet again’) serve only to dissipate the energy required for noticing.

When a person learns in the moment, they have the opportunity to immediately act differently. Mason identified that there is a real freedom, perhaps the only real freedom, in just that one moment; the moment I am fully awake and alive to a possibility. If my attention is fully caught up in the task at hand, then there may be none left over to pay attention to the overall direction, to guide and monitor progress, to recognise opportunities to do other than react in habitual ways. Awkwardness and discomfort often occur when people start ‘learning in the moment’. As this moment is entered, feelings of ambiguity, uncertainty, fear of the unknown, frustration, boredom, confusion, mental exhaustion, and physical discomfort are often experienced by the group leader and group members (Burns, 1996).

Stephanie Burns, in her session on the artistry of group work, explored how learning in the moment is difficult.  This difficulty occurs because many of the opportunities for learning are missed as group leaders do not notice enough of what is occurring in the group. The first challenge of group leadership is to notice the significance of what is or what is not said in a group. This session reviewed how a person learns in the moment, they have the opportunity to immediately act differently. There is a real freedom, perhaps the only real freedom, in just that one moment; the moment you are fully awake and alive to a possibility. Your attention is fully caught up in the task at hand, then there may be none left over to pay attention to the overall direction, to guide and monitor progress, to recognise opportunities to do other than react in habitual ways.

Rollo Brown, in his session on group leadership, fundamental life forces and change, explored what is it that group leaders really do that allows insight and healing to occur? He said that our leadership works to the extent that we tap into the underlying life forces that shape human behaviour. It is in these moments that profound change and insight occurs. His presentation explored what are these forces and the role of the group leader in managing them.  This is important because most people are fundamentally ambivalent about groups.  Groups evoke issues of belonging, authority and identity that are all influenced by our early experiences with family, peers and school. As group leaders we need to be aware of the life forces we are invoking and be prepared to work with what emerges.

Brian O’Neill, in his session on the use of the group in training therapists: a holographic perspective explored how traditional models of training in group work have utilised the group as a resource and in vivo situation for skills demonstration, practice and supervision. His presentation explored the boundaries of this use of the group to extend to the group as a trainer, supervisor and as the ground of a holistic wisdom above and beyond that of the group members. Such conceptualisation offers alternative lens for viewing the group that derive from the field perspective of Gestalt therapy. The gestalt field perspective of groups helps makes sense of our movement between our logical, cognitive understanding of group process and the more intuitive, immediate experiences of the group as a whole.

The feedback from the conference was significant. Rarely do conferences inspire, encourage and rejuvenate practice. The key outcomes from the IGL post conference feedback were:

  • 83% of participants thought the conference was useful to their work.
  • 81% of the participants thought the conference was pitched at the right level.
  • 85% of participants reported the quality of the speakers was very good to great.  
  • 71% of participants reported the quality of the workshops were very good to great.
  • 85% of participants reported the location of the conference was very good to great.  
  • 94% of participants who reported the quality of the administration was very good to great.

When conference participants were asked what impact the Conference will have on the way they work, some of the responses were:
  • Provide knowledge on facilitation of groups
  • Affirmation
  • Some good ideas I can use
  • It affirmed by practice and caused me to think about new possibilities
  • A better understanding of complementary programs/organisations – validation or work – Clarity of current work/offering
  • I am really reflecting on a lot of information that I am going to utilize in my work as a trainer and group leader
  • Expand skills and support skills
  • Motivated to do more groupwork
  • Make me think in a new way about the group structure – particularly the nature of learning, keynote speakers fantastic. The focus on feelings and insight from various speakers affirms by best practice
  • Being able to identify other innovative resources and creativity approaches
  • Work more creatively and with more insight into group members as individuals
  • Reinforced by passion for groupwork
  • Inspired, new ideas, affirming, clarifying
  • Confidence
  • A boost for morale, happy to see familiar faces as a part-time facilitator. New ideas to reflect upon.
  • I will use many of the techniques
  • Validation of my philosophy of approach
  • Some new skills to try/ will look at blind spots/more aware of an obstacle of being an asset and the facilitative approach
  • Stimulatory, refreshing, encouraging
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT...

Sue O’Brien

The Institute of Group Leaders

admin@igl.org.au
0425 285 1630425 285 163
 

Andrew King
info@groupworksolutions.com.au
0437 546 5600437 546 560