Mixed counseling groups
Prevention Centre of Addictions of the Cyclades
This practice comes from the field of prevention. It derives from the belief that community is the institution which can contribute in the most effective way to decrease the use of psychodrastic substances. Dealing with addictions is nowadays an important problem which can keep youngsters marginalized and uninvolved. It is clear that the available state mechanisms of control and relief are insufficient, therefore highlighting the need for solid multi-level prevention actions.This practice aims to give a new perspective on prevention groups, and therefore contribute to dealing with the broad problem of addictions.
In prevention counseling, the term �group� is usually associated with specific population-targets. For each population group, there is a particular framework training, according to their needs and their role in society. However, these population-targets coexist in real life, in the community, at school, in the family. Based on this simple remark, we wanted to discover common points, where people trained by the prevention centre (parents, educators, adolescents) could coexist in a mixed group of volunteers, a mixed theatrical group. The mixed theatrical group wrote scripts through drama therapy approach and process work, for possible theatrical plays. During the 15 years of life of the theatrical group, certain processes functioned within it, creating a new relationship among parents, educators and adolescents. New principles, values and dreams emerged, so that human relationships can be more functional, especially when they are based on communication and cooperation, through mutual expression 2 and creativity within a theatrical group. By bringing people together to act for the good of the community, volunteer action creates bonds of trust and encourages cooperation; in other words it creates social capital, creates a democratic dialogue. In case that the people who volunteer have different nationalities, religions, financial standings and ages, the fact of their acting together can contribute to an increase of social harmony.
Preparation A. ADOLESCENTS The change of behaviour we expect to bring about has to do with consciousness and inwardness of values. In other words, through experiential methods we expect youngsters to obtain information, dexterities (sentimental, cognitive and behavioural) and the particular knowledge which will help them understand the world, themselves and their real needs better. B. PARENTS GROUPS Parents are called upon to become their children�s life-trainers on how to organise their lives in a functional and creative way and provide them with the emotion and support they need. However, socialising does not have to do with two persons. It needs groups and human space. In this group, parents are substantially supported on their parental role, the role of the family and their role as their children�s life-trainers. A series of sessions with experiential methods is followed, so that parents can understand that �I am teaching my child with the way that I live, not with the things I say, and I can really help it when my life has a meaning�. C. EDUCATORS GROUPS Creating a positive climate in the school community strengthens the resistance to the factors that lead to the use or overuse of legal and illegal substances. Such a climate encourages those conditions that promote the principles and the values of prevention. Through experiential seminars, educators are trained and supported concerning their pedagogical and socialising role at school. D. MIXED GROUPS - MIXED THEATRICAL GROUP Through the training and coordination of these parents�, educators� and adolescents� groups, a mixed theatrical group of script writing was created in Syros in 2003-2004, with trained parents, educators and adolescents, who wrote through group processes the first theatrical play called �The Slap�. 3 The object of the coexistence in the mixed group was to examine the difficulties in the communication among them and possibly to outline those changes that would improve their relations. All the above was stamped in a theatrical play. After an incident given to the group (a slap from a teacher to a pupil), the members of the mixed group started negotiating it according to each one�s role. The process was based on turning to account the small group, whose members would be able to express feelings, ideas and thoughts. The mixed theatrical group, after having submitted a candidature folder for the European Juvenile Theatre Festival, managed to be the only Greek entry in a meeting of 300 youngsters from 15 countries. Training The mixes group was trained in an experiential way on how to interact through discussion and social theatre. Based on the social theatre approach, we tried to receive messages from the society, which �through group processesfinally compose a play-suggestion presented to the society again. Social theatre is a social action. Using the theatrical action as a tool and the collective living of facts as a pedagogical mechanism, it aims at spherical mental, sentimental and body cultivation, development, maturity of the group�s members and through their interaction at human communication. The presentation of this work to the community acts sensitises the audience, who may recognise their own experiences, leading them to an inner discussion and change of certain attitudes. It works as a space where the community gathers, where citizens express their experience and discuss about their dreams concerning the human and the society, finding again the roots that connect it with ancient drama and its function in the ancient city.(POLIS)
In the field of Prevention, this subject could be interesting for other social and youth workers in prevention centres and other organisations or educational bodies, because it is a challenge to find the meeting point of the three population-targets� needs. The above groupsproved to have worked creatively, making up theatrical plays, festivals, walks etc. Through all these actions, they have experienced a new way of relating with each other, breaking the norms of the roles they have to play together or separately, at school or in the family. 4 The role of the mixed theatrical group was a catalyst which reinforced every individual, who could afterwards face more effectively the various complicated social needs and the complexity of today�s societies, thus strengthening social cohesion and participatory democracy.
The practice can be applied at any time in various types of organisations and groups, such as youth centres and prevention programmes, as well as existing theatre groups. The coordinator must be familiar with group dynamics and process work.