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Case Vignette




The case involves a busy mental health clinic that is understaffed. Counselors are under some pressure to do group work as a way of dealing with more clients in a given time. A counselor decides to organize a group by putting a notice on the clinic bulletin board and sending a memo to her colleagues asking for candidates. There are no provisions for individual screening of potential members, no written announcement informing members of the goals and purposes of the group, and no preparation for the incoming members. No information is given to members about the leader’s background, possible techniques to be used, expectations, and so forth. No consideration is given to the leader’s qualifications to work with special populations. The receptionist is asked to admit the first 12 people who come to sign up. The receptionist puts people into the group as they inquire, irrespective of the nature of their problems, and they are simply told to show up at the first meeting.




At the first meeting, the entire time is taken up by a depressed and suicidal client. Thus, no time is devoted to even minimal orien­tation to group goals and procedures; there is no getting-ac­quainted process, no discussion of norms and policies, and no at­tempt to inform members of the specific nature of the group. Many of the members are frightened by the intensity of this client’s crisis, and several people do not return to the next session.