Psychology in the Real World: Community-based groupwork offers comprehensive guidance on how to set up these types of groups (and groups in general). Below is an extract focussing on questions to ask when thinking of setting up a group:

Setting up groups and avoiding common pitfalls

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln

The lack of preparation for groupwork I have encountered in Health and Social Services, and in the voluntary sector, has at times been breathtaking. Staff are busy and good intentions to meet co-facilitators beforehand and carefully plan a group can get so squeezed that I have heard of people meeting for the first time just an hour before the first session to decide what type of group to run and what to do. Community-based groupwork often needs more hours spent meeting and preparing before the opening session of the group than the actual time spent in the group sessions. One co-facilitator, Lucy Gahan, said: ‘I’ve come to realise that groupwork in community settings is 70% logistics.’ As Box 1 indicates, there are a lot of things to think through when considering running any kind of group.


Box 1. Questions to ask when setting up a group

Do you need to research anything before setting up a group? If so, how are you going to
do that? Who is going to be involved?

What might be damaging people in the community you aim to help? What are the areas
of resilience?

What might bolster resilience and reduce the damage (or environmental toxicity)?

What type of group (or other project) might help?

Who might you invite to come to the group?

What benefits do you hope group participants might get? What benefits might others in
the community get?

What are you going to call the group?

How are you going to get people to join the group/get involved? Are there going to be
any inclusion and exclusion criteria?

How are you going to discover people’s personal aims for participating in the group?

Where are you going to meet? What do you want the physical environment to be like?

How long for? How regularly? What is the group going to engage in?

Is it going to be an open or closed group? Is it going to have a fixed end date?

Are you going to have co-facilitators? What are going to be the roles of any facilitator?
How are stresses on facilitators going to be eased?

What records might be kept? How are any costs to be funded? How might the group be
evaluated?

How are you going to get management and colleagues’ support for this project? What
objections might be raised and how do you intend to overcome or circumnavigate these?

How are you going to critically reflect on each stage of the process from planning to
running to evaluating the group?

In what ways might the group be a harmful experience for participants? How might you
reduce the risks of this? In what ways might the group be harmful to the wider
community? How are you going to reduce that risk?