Genre: Personal Reflection paper
Title: Psychoeducational Group for Couples with Young Children
Student: Anthony L. Brown
Professor: Cynthia Trumbo
DAAC 2354: GROUP DYNAMICS
Parenthood is a demanding job for which there is no “user’s manual” and or time off. For parents of young children, time is often spent balancing work demands, relationship needs, and child rearing, all of which can be very rewarding, yet exhausting. Human Services student Anthony Brown developed a psychoeducational group to educate and assist couples at this stage of life. First, he identified specific research to support his rationale and develop relevant content. Next, he methodically structured each session with relevant discussion topics and activities. By the final session, Anthony developed brief survey questions to assess members’ overall satisfaction with their group experience. Overall, his proposal illustrates how research can inform treatment practices.
Psychoeducational Group for Couples with Young Children
Anthony L. Brown
Lone Star College-Montgomery
The purpose of this educational group is to provide information to couples of young children on how to maintain and nurture their relationship after recently having children. The instructor would integrate ideas from family, cognitive and behavioral therapies, and laboratory-based marital interaction research to share with the couples to prevent marital distress, and dysfunction (Myrick, 2011). The instructor is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and has facilitated numerous family and marriage groups. The main objectives of this group are as follows: 1) Provide couples with education and information for maintaining healthy relationships, 2) Offer stress reducing techniques, and 3) Provide couples with an outlet to share their own experiences with other couples. Furthermore, couples are encouraged to keep in contact with the other couples outside of the group to arrange playdates, and assist each other with childcare for previously arranged date nights.
This group is important for couples (both married and unmarried) who are struggling in their relationships after having children, to strengthen their relationships and teach skills that foster healthy relationships. This group is designed for couples, ages 18 and older, who have recently had children. The starting age of 18 is to ensure that we will have consenting adults in the group who are able to make decisions without parental consent. Couples in this group are dedicated to maintaining and enriching their relationships and realize that children who grow up in a healthy, two-parent family do better on average on a host of outcomes, and that healthy relationships yield many benefits for adults and communities (Myrick, 2011). The addition of children to a relationship can be a tough conversion for most couples. In order to alleviate the stresses of this major life event, an educational group would be invaluable in the couple’s transition from a couple to a family (Myrick, 2011). Because most participants would be new to the group experience and may need additional counseling resources, the instructor would refer those couples to counseling professionals who could assist them. The membership size would be open to ten couples who would be encouraged to attend each session.
The leader would facilitate discussion session by addressing problems couples have maintaining their relationships. Hearing from other couples would help stimulate thought and discussion within the group (Jacobs, Schimmel, Masson, & Harvill, 2015). The leader would also discuss what some therapists refer to as the “fish bowl theory”, related to the interconnectedness between the parental bond and the well-being of children (Mitcham, 2009). A prevalent theme throughout the group would be to make couples aware of how important their relationship is to the health and well-being of their family as a whole. By choosing to attend the group, they have made it a priority to continue to enrich their lives and the lives of their children.
The group would last seven weeks, meeting once per week for two hours, at a local church. The first hour of the first meeting would serve as an “icebreaker” activity where members would get acquainted, review group’s purpose, norms, and give members an opportunity to discuss their expectations. The instructor would open each session with personal anecdote from his own experiences of raising children, and ask participants to share their stories. This icebreaker activity would help relax and get them ready to fully participate in the learning and discussion presented for that session. Group members would also be encouraged to share any amusing stories or observations they had experienced since the last group session. After the leader and group members shared, the leader would discuss the activities and topics planned for the session.
OUTLINE FOR SEVEN GROUP SESSIONS
Purpose: “Introductions and Expectations”
Activities: In session one, the leader would set the tone by letting the group members know that the educational group is meant to be informative and fun. He would provide the group members with his credentials and restate the goals and purpose of the group. Next, the leader would communicate to the group that since there will be no children attending the group, members should view their time in the group as time to “recharge their parental and relationship batteries.” To begin, the group leader would conduct a round by asking each couple if they would share any pictures they may have of their children and answer the following questions: 1) How long have they been in their relationship? 2) How many children do they have and what are their ages? and, 3) Would they share a story about the last time their spouse or children made them smile? Once the round was completed, the leader would conclude the discussion and summary of the session.
Purpose: “Communication and Children”
Theme: Effective Ways to Communicate
Activity: The leader would request group members to participate in a role-playing game. The leader would ask the couples to create a scenario where one couple was trying to communicate with each other while another couple played the role of their children. The role-playing activity would allow the leader to observe what may be effective versus ineffective about each couple’s communication patterns. The leader will then discuss the ineffectiveness of patterns such as ignoring children (Levine, 2005).
Purpose: “Establishing Personal Boundaries”
Theme: Personal Space
Activities: The leader would discuss with members the importance of maintaining individuality and emphasize that creating boundaries is not the same as creating “barriers” in a relationship (“Personal Boundaries,” n.d.). The leader would use a “sentence completion” handout to help members set boundaries with their partners and children. The notecard would read “We will be setting better boundaries for ourselves and the children, such as _________,” leaving enough space for each couple to write their answers. The leader would then ask members to read aloud and discuss their answers with the group.
Purpose: “Child-Rearing and Well-Being
Activities: Leader would lead a discussion concerning common myths and misconceptions about child rearing and tantrums. The leader would give each couple a “true/false” quiz related to the myths of temper tantrums developed by Levine (2005). There will be nine questions: “1) Are temper tantrums unhealthy? 2) Is a temper tantrum-prone child a bad child? 3) Do temper tantrums lead to delinquency? 4) Are you a bad parent because your child has temper tantrums? 5)Is there anything you can do about your child’s tantrums? 6) Are temper tantrums attempts to manipulate? 7) Does responding to your child’s tantrum spoil them? 8) Should you always have full control over your child? 9) Is there one “right” way to cope with temper tantrums?“(Levine, 2005, p. 9-12). Once the leader dispels these myths he will provide information about how to effectively deal with temper tantrums when they arise.
Purpose: “Daddy and Mommy Time”
Theme: Date Night
Activities: The leader would discuss the importance of establishing “date night” for couples and solicit ideas from the members. Each couple would pick one of the ideas, have a date night of their own, and share their experiences the following session.
Purpose: “Me Time”
Theme: Self Care
Activities: Leader would discuss the importance of maintaining self-care and proper work life balance. Couples would discuss ways they have struggled and brainstorm ideas for maintaining home and work balance.
Purpose: “What have You Learned?”
Theme: Group Closing
Activities: This final meeting will be a review and discussion of the topics covered during the course of the group. The leader would encourage members to share what they learned. During the final meeting, members would be encouraged to exchange information so they could keep in touch with other members for playdates and childcare arrangements.
STRATAGIES TO EVALUATE THE GROUP
During the final ten minutes, group members would be asked to anonymously evaluate the effectiveness of the group and leader. Questions would be rated on a scale of one to ten and include: 1) How likely are you to recommend this group to other couples you may know, 2) How effective was the instructor in relaying information, 3) What is the likelihood you would attend another group with this instructor?
They would give their surveys to the instructor as they exited.
This educational group was designed for adult couples with young children, to help them maintain healthy relationships. The main objectives were to: 1) Provide couples with education and information to maintain their healthy relationship, 2) Offer stress reducing techniques, and 3) Provide couples with an outlet to share their experiences with other couples. Topics addressed included: communication skills, maintaining personal boundaries and well-being, child rearing, date night ideas, work versus home life strategies, and self-care ideas. The important premise of this group was to strengthen families by improving the relationship of the parents. As adults, parents provide the foundation of the family, which allows the children to grow up in a healthy environment.
Jacobs, E.E., Schimmel, C.J., Masson, R.L., Harvill, R.L, (2015). Group counseling: Strategies
and skills. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Levine, J. (2005). Everything: Parents Guide to Tantrums. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
Mitcham, Bill. (2016). Parent’s bond impacts children. Retrieved from
Myrick, M. (2011) Marriage and relationship education: (MRE) program development
management manual. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.healthymarraigeinfo.org/
Personal Boundaries in a Relationship. (n.d.). Retrieved from