The environment

					Meanderings on the context/environment
The environment

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"We are going to the beach!!!" exercise What do we mean by the environment?  The external environment…physical layout, "candles & incense" example, rows versus "in a circle," indoors versus outdoor, etc., the weather, the time of day  The internal environment…akin to the climate. The notion of groupthink, the "we're supposed to act this way" syndrome, "the honeymoon period", expectations connected with a setting (in church we act this way, in school…), the effect of factors of diversity ( when in Rome…), What are squigglies? They are internal (Point A) and external (Environment) conditions that take the focus away from the experience The environment as an integral factor in an experience. Most of us have experienced this: Group A- wow! The ultimate juggle got all this done! Group B- ouch! The ultimate juggle sure went nowhere! What made the difference? 1. Us Our Point A Squigglies 2. Them Their individual Point A’s The group Point A Squigglies- individual and group 3. Context External Internal Point B’s : individual and group Factors that affect the desired environment  Point B  Point A  the current environment Creating and maintaining the desired environment requires specific tools, including A clear vision of norms and beliefs we want present (Adventure Beliefs)  A clear understanding of desired behaviors ( Adventure Contract)  A clear understanding of facilitator tasks (Leadership Tasks)  Use of the Guide for Creating the Desired Environment  Ongoing evaluation of our facilitation ( Evaluating our leadership tasks)

Alvarez

2003

Meanderings on the context/environment
 Rationale for attending to the environment. We attend to the environment to minimize its effect on the participant's experience in, and focus on, the event. How do we attend to the environment? By attending to the desired norms and expectations of that environment so that their potential negative effect on the context is minimized, and so that optimal focus goes to where it ought to go…to the desired area . So why do it? To stop its capacity to become a squiggly and to minimize the squiggly’s power. Where does the environment come from? The environment is brought into the experience by the individual(s) and by the collective

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Beliefs/Norms in the environment: ideal and real  Real norms for interaction, for sharing space, for rule making and following, for communication, etc., will develop. It is up to all of us, particularly the facilitator(s), to create the ideal or desired environment with its desired norms and beliefs. Otherwise, the group will take on this charge and make up their own collective set of norms (any examples?)  What makes an environment “ideal” is determined by o The facilitator’s needs (what environment can I best facilitate in?) o The needs of the participant(s) o The expectations; the reason for being in that experience, the participant(s) Point B, the facilitator’s Point B Some common norms/beliefs  Alvarez/Stauffer Adventure Beliefs  Yalom’s Curative Factors  Other: PA’s Full Value Contract, Challenge by Choice, Experiential Cycle

Alvarez

2003

Meanderings on the context/environment
 How does one attend to the beliefs?  Through discussions ( “what norms do we want to go by while we are in group?”  Autocratically (“these are my rules”; “these are the rules in group”; “here at the course..”  Through interactions (“in this activity, we expect/need/hope…”)  Through discussions after interactions (“Wow! I like it when…”)  Through “the teachable moment” technique ( When does one attend to the beliefs? Throughout the experience!!!!!!!  As we assess who has shown up  As we assess the current environment  As we seek buy in for the purpose of the session  As we attend to the environment (create the desired environment)  As we present and facilitate the adventure experience  As we promote the learning  As we evaluate the process Enhancing the group environment. So you want to run a group? Ok. 8 participants and 2 co-facilitators. Prior to the start of group, lots of work needs to be done. How will it be advertised? Anger Management group? Grief group? Sp. Ed. group? Friendship group? Does it matter? Who’s in/out? Do you want some homogeneity? All boys/girls? All with special needs? All 3rd graders? When best to meet? During a special class that all kids love? During recess? For how long? How many weeks? How many minutes? How often? Now what? How can you enhance the likelihood that a participant will want to join and contribute? By attending to those questions posed above. Why? Because attending to those questions would be synonymous to attending to the environmental beliefs of the group. By calling it “an adventure club instead of a social skills group, you have made group joining more safe, and even more fun sounding. By mixing up the group, you have enhanced the opportunity for enjoyment and connection (after all, we all like to be in the presence of others seemingly better than us so our status is enhanced. What’s so cool about being in a group with 7 other students with emotional impairments? Enhancing freedom Make sure, especially during those first 1-3 sessions, to offer opportunities for participants to decide to not stay in the group. Demonstrating and modeling the value of freedom pushes the facilitators to work really hard to seek buy in from all participants. It also pushes the participants to think for themselves about their involvement. Having a young person let go of the “probation officer made me” mantra to a “ I choose to stay” mantra is a growth opportunity worth offering. In many groups, I often invite participants to join in group for 3 sessions before committing to it long term. This gives them an out, if it becomes necessary (although no one has even taken this opportunity in that direction). It also takes away the power of the “I won’t do it because my parent’s want me to do it.” Finally, it allows us to see if, as a collective, the group’s Point A offers too many squigglies, too many negatives, too many strong leaders to be successful. Sometimes too many impulsive or attention deficit individuals will force you to focus much of the work on controlling that behavior that it might be best to do some revising before the group experiences it as a failure. Enhancing belonging and connection. Why a collective Point A? Why would an individual agree to a collective? There has to be reason for the individual to join the collective. As facilitators, we seek commonalities, seek 'reasons for joining'. Often, we offer them 2003

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Alvarez

Meanderings on the context/environment
similarities, like -"this is a divorce group, or an anger management group, or a resource room or an EI classroom. They probably need better reasons to buy into the collective than those delineated. Like- "this is a fun class," or - "in this group, we all wear karabiners." It is important to provide positive, cool reasons to belong, to be willing to shed one’s individual Point A to join in a collective. What about group makes them want to compromise their needs and wants and their beliefs and desires, for the needs, wants, beliefs and desires of the collective?

Alvarez

2003