Working to Achieve Group Goals
The phases of group movement may be classified according to several systems. Perhaps the simplest system divides the group into three phases: orientation, working, and termination. During the orientation phase, group members are seeking to be accepted in the group and to find out how they are similar to and different from the other members. Their expectations for outcomes of group experiences -are often unrealistic. For example, it is highly unlikely that long-term behaviors will be changed by four to six sessions of a supportive group. And certainly expecting to be cured of cancer in a supportive group is totally unrealistic. Anxiety is high during this phase, and there are frequent bids for the leader to perform unreasonable feats and to be all things to all group members. The leader may have to be quite verbal in the first few meetings in order to teach group members how to relate to one another and how to move toward the group goal. As the group proceeds, members may directly or indirectly express anger toward the leader for not being able to meet all their needs. It is important that the leader stick to realistic goals, while at the same time assisting group members to express their thoughts and feelings regarding what happens in the group.
Given time and appropriate leadership, groups will evolve into mature or working-stage groups. Groups may proceed from the orientation stage to the working stage without completely finishing the tasks of the former; in this case, the group may need to go back at a later date to complete them. Some groups end before arriving at the working or mature group stage.
Uncertainty and insecurity are characteristic of groups in the orientation phase. Group leaders should be aware that they also may experience these feelings during this phase; aware-