Group Leader Lynn Banez: Leadership and Performance Critique
Microtraining Associates (2002) present a video recording of a group therapy led by Lynn Banez. The video incorporates four sessions, and they can be used to discuss the leadership style of Banez and her performance as a group leader. As indicated by Corey (2016), multiple components of leadership can be important for groups. Here, the focus will be on knowledge and skills, and the paper will demonstrate that Microtraining Associates’ (2002) assessment of the ability of Banez to lead groups is probably appropriate. The specialist demonstrates notable diversity competence, session organization skills, and listening skills that are necessary for group therapy.
First of all, Lynn Banez exhibits significant knowledge of multiculturalism, as well as the dynamics of oppression. This awareness is present throughout the video, but it is especially visible during the second session in the discussions about gender and race. It is a primary competency for a group therapy leader and most other therapists because it enables them to recognize and appreciate a variety of viewpoints (Corey, 2016; Midgett, Hausheer, & Doumas, 2016). In turn, such an open mindset results in an improved ability to understand the perspective of group members (Midgett et al., 2016). In diverse groups, being competent concerning multiculturalism is especially significant because the power dynamics that are present in the society might get replicated within the group (Chang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018). The group from the Microtraining Associates’ (2002) video is explicitly shown to be very diverse, which means that this aspect of the leader’s competence is of utmost importance. By corresponding to this requirement, Banez demonstrates her ability to handle the situation.
Secondly, Lynn Banez has mastered crucial group leadership skills, including those related to opening sessions, closing them, and setting the ground rules, as well as goals, for the group in general and individual sessions in particular. This skill set is defined as significant because it enables a therapist to set the tone and support learning in every session, successfully managing and structuring it (Corey, 2016; Pomery, Schofield, Xhilaga, & Gough, 2016). An example from the video can be seen in the final session, in which the goal is set as the summary and application of the information learned throughout the four sessions. This set of skills is especially good at illustrating the high quality of the leader’s performance. Furthermore, Banez made sure to protect the members’ confidentiality and safety; the basis of this activity was established during the first moments of the first session. This ability is very important for group therapy as well; it demonstrates that Banez recognizes the rights of her group members (Pomery et al., 2016). Thus, Banez possesses the necessary skills to manage the sessions of group therapy.
Finally, Lynn Banez is a very attentive listener who is also careful to respond to non-verbal communication. In the video, there are repeated references to the looks or facial expressions of the members that Lynn keeps track of to ensure that everybody is heard. For instance, when Lynn cannot make sense of a look, the specialist asks for clarification. Throughout the discussion, Lynn Banez restates and summarizes the statements of the participants, asks the necessary questions, interprets or restates them when necessary, and in general, ensures the clarity of communication. The sessions also appear quite supportive: Lynn Banez is quick to empathize with the participants and facilitate their discussion. Furthermore, Lynn also introduces certain elements of self-disclosure, including, for example, those related to her personal feelings as a leader. As a result, she appears authentic, but she does not draw attention to herself; instead, she uses self-disclosure to show herself empathizing with the participants and facilitating the discussion. All these techniques are described by Corey (2016) as significant for a leader to master.
In summary, Banez is an effective leader who demonstrates significant knowledge and skills that are likely to facilitate group therapy. The resulting leadership style reflects the personality of Banez, but it is also based on good understanding and mastery of most tools that a therapy leader should be familiar with as demonstrated by Corey (2016). The performance of the specialist can be considered very good as a result of the described knowledge and skill.
Diversity Competence as a Leadership Characteristic in Group Therapy: A Theoretical Discussion
Lynn Banez focused on diversity because of the specifics of the group portrayed in the video. Furthermore, diversity competence is a major element of group therapy leadership as demonstrated by Corey (2016). As a result, it is logical to discuss this topic in greater detail. For the leader of the group from Microtraining Associates’ (2002) video, the significance of this leadership characteristic is especially notable because this therapy engaged people with very diverse backgrounds. However, it should be noted that multiculturalism is a generally common trait of modern-day societies (Chin, Desormeaux, & Sawyer, 2016; Midgett et al., 2016), which means that nowadays, group leaders are likely to benefit from this ability.
Put simply, diversity competence refers to the competencies of a group leader as related to the topics of multiculturality. It commonly incorporates the knowledge of social justice topics, including privilege and oppression (Midgett et al., 2016). Furthermore, it requires the understanding of one’s ideas and values and the impact of culture on them (hang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018; Midgett et al., 2016). This knowledge enables a specialist to become more aware of their personal views and biases and those of other people (Midgett et al., 2016). On the other hand, it also provides a leader with the ability to nudge group participants toward a similar understanding, which should result in improved self-reflection among them (Chang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018). Thus, a culturally competent therapist may be more capable of managing a group, especially a culturally diverse one.
The same ability is supported by other elements of this leadership characteristic, including cultural competence and cultural sensitivity. The two abilities prevent leaders from doing or saying insensitive things and enhance their skill of connecting with people with other cultural backgrounds (Chang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018; Chin et al., 2016). The anticipated outcomes of these components include the appreciation of the diversity of group members and improved respect toward diverse cultures exhibited by the leader and transferred to the members. In turn, these outcomes can result in better conflict management. A culturally competent and sensitive therapist can foster a respectful environment in which difference-related conflicts will be less likely to arise and easier to resolve (Chang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018). Therefore, multicultural competence can have significant benefits.
As pointed out by Midgett et al. (2016), group therapy specialists require appropriate training for the development of multicultural competence. This research demonstrates that such educational efforts are indeed capable of affecting one’s abilities as measured by the “Multicultural Counseling Knowledge and Awareness Scale” (Midgett et al., 2016, p. 269). However, Corey (2016) also highlights the importance of personal attempts at establishing the necessary skills. In particular, the author suggests increasing one’s knowledge that is related to the cultures shared by the group members, as well as that associated with social justice causes. Furthermore, according to Corey (2016), self-reflection is also necessary; once a leader has the basic knowledge on the topic, he or she may reflect on relevant biases and stereotypes. By becoming aware of them, a leader can work to undermine them and promote other, more accurate, and respectful frames of thinking.
To summarize, multicultural competence is a crucial aspect of group therapy leadership. It consists of the elements that can increase a leaders’ self-awareness and ability to understand group members, as well as improve his or her group management skills. Cultural competence is the key to ensuring a respectful, sensitive environment with diverse groups. In order to enjoy these benefits, a leader requires training and self-reflection that would provide him or her with the necessary knowledge about society and himself or herself. This competency is illustrated very well by the video offered by Microtraining Associates’ (2002), in which Lynn Banez demonstrates a notable understanding of the key concepts of multiculturalism and social justice while promoting a similar understanding in a diverse group. In turn, this theoretical review of the concepts explains why it is important that Lynn Banez exhibits diversity competence and justifies a positive assessment of this specialists’ performance.
- Chang-Caffaro, S., & Caffaro, J. (2018). Differences that make a difference: Diversity and the process group leader. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 68(4), 483-497. doi: 10.1080/00207284.2018.1469958
- Chin, J., Desormeaux, L., & Sawyer, K. (2016). Making way for paradigms of diversity leadership. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 68(1), 49-71. doi: 10.1037/cpb0000051
- Corey, G. (2016). Theory and practice of group counseling (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
- Microtraining Associates. (2002). Group microskills: Encountering diversity. Web.
- Midgett, A., Hausheer, R., & Doumas, D. (2016). Training counseling students to develop group leadership self-efficacy and multicultural competence through service learning. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 41(3), 262-282. doi: 10.1080/01933922.2016.1186765
- Pomery, A., Schofield, P., Xhilaga, M., & Gough, K. (2016). Skills, knowledge and attributes of support group leaders: A systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 99(5), 672-688. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2015.11.017