Reflection of Lessons and Further Research
Some members that attended the first group still regularly attend 4 years later so establishing my role as a caring, understanding facilitator of the cancer process is key in the establishment of a successfill group. Throughout the years of participation, I am always awed by how a member can come and even if they are the only one, they stay, share and process intense issues with me. It is through the trust and consistency established that I have had this happen, even with new members.
Another lesson I have learned is that it is important to design each gr oup like it’s the first and or last group in order to make an impact. As the facilitator, you want to influence them even if they do not return to the group community. Taking that perspective as you design each session really helps because it’s foundational in social work to make every interaction meaningfill and therapeutic.
I share the above thoughts because, despite being an oncology social worker and Arizona State University faculty, some of these key clinical components are not learned in books and evidence-based practice. To truly have a successfill group, it’s important that the facilitator can create relationships that connect with these young adults beyond the data. A group facilitator should really have specific training in oncology social work. And it is important to have an openness to adapt to where these young adults are. Some have said it really helps that I was not their team social worker because they felt they were there for their parents and not for them. It’s a very interesting dynamic to discuss and look into in terms of oncology social work interventions. Is this a part of why young adults are underserved
Supporting Young Adults in a Group Format 25 psychosocially? They feel the social worker is for their parents and not for them during treatment? Does it depend on the social worker? How do we evaluate this? It is an interesting concept to explore and to do research on since I have such great feedback from the young adults that have attended the group.
Another aspect that is very significant in a group is timing. Some participants have started group right after diagnosis. Others have come years out of survivorship. What is the influential factor in trying a support group? From what I have learned from facilitating the group is that timing is individual. This is another reason for ongoing sessions or continuous closed groups. Another component of participation is perception of their support or lack thereof. The process of referr al is another consideration. Who is making the referr al and how is the group explained?