Group cohesion development : a study of three approaches

Thompson, Suzan Koleta, Department of Education, University of Virginia
Pate, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Lafleur, N. Kenneth, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Sowa, Claudia, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Heuchert, Charles, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

There is consensus among counseling researchers that group counseling is a viable and effective counseling mode for personal and interpersonal development. Group cohesion is one of the foundations for group development and is conceptualized as the working alliance between the group leader and group members. Group cohesion also contributes to therapeutic outcome.

The use of adventure in counseling as a vehicle for personal and interpersonal growth has rapidly become popular in recent years. Research on these outdoor adventure intervention has been muddled by difficulties which seem to be inherent in group counseling field research.

The present study evaluated the impact of adventure activities on group cohesion through the use of the Group Environment Scale (GES; Moos, 1986) among two treatment groups and a control group. A Daily Cohesion Checklist and journal entry form (DCC) developed by the researcher for this study was used to track the development of cohesion in the treatment and control groups.

Participants were seventeen counselor education graduate students enrolled in a three-week group counseling procedures course with a training group (t-group) experience at a large university in the south. All groups met for twelve sessions, beginning and ending with common activities. Group 1, the "adventure counseling" t-group, had the opportunity to participate in adventure activities throughout their t-group experience. Group 2, the "adventure activities plus" t-group, participated in three sessions of adventure activities before their traditional t-group experience. Group 3, a traditional tgroup, served as the control group.
The results of the repeated measures, time-series design indicate that total GES and its Cohesion subscale scores significantly changed over time for individuals. Cohesion subscale scores indicate significant differences in treatment and control groups over time. Examination of the DCC mean scores suggests that adventure activities have some impact on the development of group cohesion. This study also shows support for previous studies which suggest that group cohesion is affected by leadership as well as changes in the tasks in which groups participate.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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