Sam Gladding: Welcome. This is a demonstration on groups and promoting growth within a group setting. I’m Sam Gladding and I’ll introduce or let the members of our group introduce themselves in just a moment. In fact, let’s let that moment be now..
Nathaniel Ivers: I’m Nathaniel Ivers. I’m an assistant professor at Wake Forest University.
Jose Villalba: I’m Jose Villalba. I’m an associate professor at Wake Forest.
Marlene Estenson: I’m Marlene Estenson. I’m here in town at ___________ University.
Brian Calhoun: I’m Brian Calhoun. I’m an instructor at Wake Forest University.
Pamela Karr: I’m Pamela Karr. I’m program manager at __________ Wake Forest University.
Sam Gladding: So as you can tell, this group is loaded. A lot of Wake Forest, but we have one outlier here in Marlene who’s never met the people at Wake Forest before. This is unrehearsed, so we will see what develops. We want to allow time for questions and process toward the end. So, if you’re wondering will you get to ask a question if you want to, you will. We’ll allow about 20 minutes for that and I will repeat your questions if you – well, just for the sake of clarity.
I want to preference what we’re going to do today with just a few remarks. Basically, I really believe in the process of group and in the power of group. I used not to and I will tell you my transformation and epiphany in regards to this. Once upon a time I was teaching at a community college. I thought that the way you taught was that you had notes and that you lectured and that students would absorb and get the material through osmosis and they would think what a great processor.
However, I realized that my students were not exactly engaged with me. And one night this occurred to me – I must confess I have these dreams at times and they usually enlighten me. And this dream was a particularly powerful dream as I realized that the class that I taught the day before had gone flat as a pancake without any yeast. And so what happened in the dream was this, that I was standing in front of the class as usual, but that I decided that I would get on the desk where I usually taught and that I would have the students line up. And so the students would line up, I would be on top, like this, and Nate if you would come over for just a moment.
Nathaniel Ivers: In back of you?
Sam Gladding: Yeah, the students would line up and come by, just like ducks in a shooting gallery. Except when they got to me, they would raise their heads, open their mouths, I would put my notes right across their months, and I had a ramrod and I would just put it right down their gullet and they would absorb it that way. So after that, I started using groups. And so that’s my story of why groups, I think, are so important. There’s a better learning experience many times than just through lecturing.
When we look at groups, I think we basically look at four types of groups and you’re aware of that. We look at task groups, we look at educational groups, we look at counseling groups, and we look at therapy groups. This particular group we’re going to do today is more of a counseling group where those who were involved are working on areas in their lives that they want to improve.
I think also we look at stages in groups. We look at forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning, or mourning. Anything that ends with the ING sound, we look at that. And this particular group is going to be one that’s in the performing stage because we don’t have time to do otherwise.
Again, when we look at groups, there’s some things that, I think we need to look at. And one is what techniques are we going to use. What processes are we going to use? And what we hope to accomplish in the group. There needs to be a goal at the end where we do something and so that we just don’t talk. If you remember the lyrics from the rock group Meatloaf, they have a little lyric that says baby, we can talk all night, but that ain’t getting us nowhere. We wanna get somewhere, or in the words of Michael Jackson in The Wiz, we wanna ease on down, ease on down the road of life.
So, there are a lot of things we can do. I’ve basically listed about 108 techniques that can be used in groups. We won’t use but 107 of those today. Actually, we won’t use that many. We’ll probably use a baker’s dozen, around 13. So, things that I would say that you might want to look for within the group are things like the executive function that I would have as the group leader, that is to set up the group and to get it moving and going. Caring. That there is care that goes on within the group. There is encouragement by the group of other group members and certainly by me. There would be certainly empathy and goal setting. Kind of a here and now focus. Things can happen there and then, but we wanna work here and now because that gets us to there and then and somewhere else.
Joining with the group, linking group members with one another. These are things that I think you know, but I just want to remind you of and things that I hope to accomplish today. Making the rounds. Making sure that everybody has some airtime. If people don’t have airtime, they just kind of let the air out some way or another through either being passive or passive aggressive. I’m from North Carolina and we always say you don’t have to be Southern to be passive aggressive, but it helps.
Couple of other things, reflecting of feeling, reflecting of content. Silence. Slience is sometimes a very powerful thing and we don’t need to always be jumping in and trying to dictate what happens. And summarizing of course, which we’ll do at the end, and using the power of the group itself, rather than the group being dependent just on me as the leader. So, that’s more than a baker’s dozen, but you get a bonus for just being here.
Last thing I would say is that I think all groups have a personality. There’s a power in a group. And so you can hear the group almost breathing, it’s an entity. You can almost hear it breath. I don’t think any of these people will be breathing that way, but it has a personality and I want to respect that personality that is the group.
Last thing I would say is that I will try to model what I hope the group will do and that is as the group leader I always think it’s important, in fact I think the literature shows it’s important, that when you ask someone to do something, you do it yourself first, rather than saying Pamela, be spontaneous. I would try to be spontaneous myself. Obviously, you can’t just be spontaneous. Well, maybe you can, but I won’t ask people to do something that I don’t do first.
So, I will not let inappropriate behavior continue. I will try to model behavior. And sometimes, I will use hand signals if needed. Using our whole body, our whole selves in a group, can really make a difference in how the group functions. So, it’s not just verbal, it’s sometimes it’s behavioral. And obviously cognitive in terms of assessing what’s going on in the group.
So, this group is a growth group, a counseling group, a group that’s working on areas that they want to improve in their lives and we will begin the group and then we will allow some time after we’ve done things for you to ask questions and to process the group. There won’t be anything that will be kind of hocus pocus in terms of I’m gonna just pull out a trick here and throw it into the group. Rather, I will use group research evidence, base research, that says this is what you do in such a group. And I’m going to aim for the positive, because we know that it’s usually a 5-to-1 kind of ratio of people knowing things that are negative in their lives and growth comes through not only eliminating the negative, but emphasizing the positive. So with that, we will begin and if I have my back to some of you, please forgive me, but you’ll get to see the beautiful people this way and those of you who are unfortunate enough in this area, you get to see me.
We are here today, we’ve been meeting before and we’ve been looking at those things that we want to accomplish in our lives. And so one of those things that I want to do this morning as we kind of go around is to look with you at activities and events that have happened in your life just recently that have been significant or positive. And then we will get into areas that we want to work on as individuals and not that everybody will work on everything today, but hopefully the uniqueness of something you have may strike someone else as something they’d like to have and like to be working on. We’ll also be helping each other in regard to growth.
So, let’s begin in terms of some air time with something that’s happened significant or positive in your life this week and I’d like for you to kind of scale it from 1-10 of how good it’s been for you. So, I’ll start and basically my wife would not believe this because I have very bland taste, but I had a great meal last night with some friends. And it was probably one of the top 10 meals I’ve ever had in my life. And the friends were good and the wine was great. And so I would rate that about an 8 or 9, because it was really just a fun and significant time. And why don’t we go this way, Pamela.
Pamela Karr: Well, a week ago today, I was finishing the last day of a week in St. Lucia where I was pampered totally and I didn’t even turn my phone on, much less try to check the internet for a week. Now, that was a 10. I can’t even imagine how I could have improved on that, except to have figured out how to stay there.
Sam Gladding: Gotcha. Brian?
Brian Calhoun: I would say the event that was really exciting this week, on Tuesday I won a call in show for some concert tickets. I was the 20th caller, I got in, I’m really excited about it. So, I’d rate that about an 8.
Sam Gladding: About an 8, concert tickets.
Brian Calhoun: Yes, exciting.
Sam Gladding: Good.
Marlene Estenson: I went to Columbus to visit a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time. And so I got to spend the night there and just catch up with her. And I would say that was a good 9. It was really enjoyable.
Jose Villalba: I would say last week I spent some time with my wife in Dallas. We hadn’t been out without or kids for a long time. And so we spent about four or five days in Dallas at a conference and it was good just to spend time, the two of us. We missed our kids, but not that much. And that was about an 11.
Nathaniel Ivers: Mine is kid related as well. I have four children and my youngest is 11 months. And she’s gone in stages of how she’s sleeping, but for the past two months, she’s been waking up two or three times at night. It’s just usually our kids haven’t done that, but she did. But last week, she started sleeping completely through the night. And so that’s helping out a lot with all aspects of my life. But I would call it kind of a 7 at this point because I’m still catching up on that sleep.
Sam Gladding: That’ll take you several years. Well, good, everybody’s had a chance to say a little something and to think of something that’s been good in your life. I’m wondering what you might want to work on today? Again, I know that everyone’s coming from a different place, but who would like to work on something today? And again, we can do a go round and see if there’s something that’s in common. And in this case, I will not lead.
Pamela Karr: Well, I am a little worried in advance because after a week off, I had two days in the office and then I came here. So, I know what’s waiting for me on Monday and it’s totally overwhelming and it’s all important. And I’m not sure – I’m just worried in advance. But I know I don’t work really productively when I’m that worried in advance.
Sam Gladding: So, being able to put it in perspective and to work through it and not to worry so much about it.
Pamela Karr: Right.
Brian Calhoun: I think the thing I wanna work on is assertiveness. I just wanna be more assertive at work. There are meetings that I go to and I just wanna have my voice heard and I’m having trouble doing that, getting that confidence, I guess.
Sam Gladding: So, finding your voice and finding your confidence to express your voice?
Brian Calhoun: Yes.
Sam Gladding: Okay. Marlene?
Marlene Estenson: I just finished my dissertation as you know. And so I feel like I’m engaging with my family, again, at a different level because I’ve been in a certain role for the last three years with them. And while I’ve made a point to be there, it’s been different. And now, I’d like to really – I’m back in the family and I wanna make sure, especially my teenage daughters, feel my presence, even more than before. And yet honor the fact that they’re 16 and independent.
Sam Gladding: So reentering family and connecting, reconnecting.
Jose Villalba: Yeah, and mine’s family related as well. Just striking a bit of a balance between work and home. But we all talk a little bit about that sometimes, about how hard it is to do that balancing. Last weekend was great and part of what I’m stuck with is how do I recreate that on a regular basis, because it’s all work and all kids all the time, which leaves little time for my wife and I.
Sam Gladding: So finding that space for you and your wife as well as doing your work and –
Jose Villalba: And being dad.
Sam Gladding: – and being a dad, yeah.
Nathaniel Ivers: And mine’s very similar in nature. I have similar constraints. Lots of work opportunities that are out there and then finding just individual time. After the neuroscience presentation, I realized that I need to do a little bit more exercising. Finding time for that.
Sam Gladding: Humor will help you do that. But yeah, so again finding time for you as well as for everything else that is on your plate.
Nathaniel Ivers: Right.
Sam Gladding: Okay, so who would like to delve deeper into an area that you’re concerned about?
Pamela Karr: Well, I will because one thing I realized is that I totally forgot about everything outside of work. I’m focused totally on – we connected very well with my husband while we were away for a week together and now I’m away again. And when I come back, I’m likely to pull a push everything aside, full speed ahead, without the remembering exercise or any sort of balance. Because that’s probably a pattern. Here we go, everything out of the way, list galore and frenzied.
Jose Villalba: Yeah, I agree too. I think we do a good job of compartmentalizing things and every now and again when you don’t do that, you get a little help. And so in your case it’s what do I do know to get it all back together? Same thing happens to, it’s how do you balance that out and how do you keep from not focusing on one thing at a time?
Nathaniel Ivers: You mentioned this earlier and I think it’s resonates with my own experiences, but when I have a lot to do and my list of things is this big, when I get into work I’m the least productive ever. That’s when I check my emails a hundred times because I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start and that can make it difficult. And then I tell myself, well I can have fun after I get these things done, which last makes me at least less productive, I think.
Marlene Estenson: It does sound like that’s in common with all of us in many ways.
Sam Gladding: It sounds like it is, that the people really are trying to strike a balance between the work and the other relationships in life without one tipping the scale one way or that way. And in your case, and I think I hear it from Nate and Jose and Marlene and Brian to an extent too that that’s really important to be able to create that balance.
So, let me ask and let’s use the power of the group that’s here how you found ways to do that in the past? What has worked for you in not letting one dominate the other and outweigh it?
Nathaniel Ivers: For me, it was some years ago but I actually had to schedule the fun event so that it was on the schedule and I was committed to someone else so I couldn’t just put it aside because it was my own thing. But it was actually kind of – I’m taking ownership of this, but it was actually my wife who signed me up for a tennis league. And in being part of that league I had to play tennis because it was scheduled. And then I found myself a whole lot more productive. But I just have to remind myself of that because I’m just going out and setting up these things on my own sometimes feels like, well if I do this, then I won’t have time for that.
Sam Gladding: Maybe that connects a little with what Brian was saying about being assertive in your life and even though yours was a little different than that about being assertive in meetings, it’s maybe being assertive with yourself and putting it on the schedule so that you will do it. What else has worked for people?
Marlene Estenson: I had two thoughts. One is that in the past have always tried to make a list of my priorities and my relationships are higher than my work. And try to keep that close to me and look at it regularly. That’s been helpful to me. And the other thing is, to be proactive, I’ve, at times, looked at just telling those around me who I know it’s going to affect, like I did do this in the last three years and say this is what I’m doing. Do we all know about it? And we’re all on board with it and this is what it’s gonna mean and look like. But there will be an end and communicate that regularly and I think that was helpful.
Pamela Karr: Sounds like – I mean it’s really important to be able to say to yourself temporarily this may have to be really, really paid attention to. But there will be a time where I can get more balanced.
Marlene Estenson: Right, with your project.
Sam Gladding: And again calling in allies.
Marlene Estenson: Right.
Sam Gladding: Using others to remind you hey this is what I’m gonna do and –
Pamela Karr: And promising not to cut their heads off when they say it.
Sam Gladding: I don’t think we went there about cutting their heads off, but appreciating them that they are letting us know that there’s some place we want to go and that it does have an end as well as a meaning for the present.
Jose Villalba: One of the things that you said was telling yourself. So, I engage a bit in self-talk and trying to get rid of some of those defeating thoughts that I have sometimes. So, with this inability to just strike a balance, guilt comes up. And guilt just kind of festers. And so, what I try to do to balance it out is don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t beat yourself up about it. If you can’t find that balance, it’s okay. Otherwise, the guilt just builds up. So, I’ve worked a lot on self-talk. That’s a bit of a CVT approach, but it works for me just to kind of tell myself, it’s gonna be okay. Sometimes it has to happen that way, and it is what it is. Otherwise, I end up feeling guilty and I’m not balanced and that’s really, really bad.
Sam Gladding: So, basically talking to yourself in a very positive way is what I need to do, is what I can do.
Pamela Karr: And while I hate to take – you know, it’s like Sunday, I can work all day Sunday to get ready to make it easier for myself on Monday, maybe taking some time to get the exercise figured out would be helpful. And sometime to figure out – to remind myself the self-talk I always tell other people, you can’t do it all in one day. You cannot do it all in one day. Just focus on what’s important and then when something else comes up, make a decision. Is this more important than what I had decided was important? And at least have a list, even if you throw it on the floor. So, I think getting a little plan would help me. Right now, I have one. I’ve been too off-off.
Brian Calhoun: And I think exercise is really important. I make three days, my exercise days during the week. I think it’s just good to be regimented. So, you’re talking about Sunday being a day of exercise.
Pamela Karr: Right. Usually, I’m lucky enough, we have a dog and I think that if you have a dog, you will go on walks more in the morning ‘cause you can’t say no to that face. And I was thinking, well I probably won’t do any of my walking or my exercise this week because I need to get in there and get going, but I’ll rethink that strategy. Even if I’m there at 9, I’ll probably be a better 9 than an early, worried 8 maybe.
Marlene Estenson: I find too that if you – you know, for me, if I remind myself during the day that I’m not gonna deprive myself for a whole week if I have a project like you’re talking about or I will be very frustrated. So, like you say take the walk or the things that you want to do, make sure you get them in. But even just like using my special coffee cup in the morning, or taking the two minutes to read a comic or something. Something that I’m going to enjoy, but to consciously choose to make it a 9.
Pamela Karr: I can still do my Sudoku?
Marlene Estenson: Yes, exactly, I do them all the time. I find that’s helpful to me, so that I’m not waiting a week to do that.
Sam Gladding: So, giving yourself permission to do some things. Prioritizing is one thing I think you mentioned, but didn’t say the word.
Pamela Karr: Right.
Sam Gladding: And again, realizing that it can’t all be done in a snap of your fingers. That walking is important. Sudoku – well, okay. Somewhat important for just having a little recreation in your life.
Nathaniel Ivers: Brian can I – you said you exercise three days a week, you set a time aside. Can you tell me a little bit more?
Brian Calhoun: Well, I kind of play off your schedule. Making a schedule, making a day. I just say to myself, I’m going to take three days, I’m going to work out on those three days and make that the minimum. Now, if I go over three, it’s good and helps with the balance and the stress in the workplace.
Pamela Karr: Do you put it on your calendar like he –
Brian Calhoun: I do put it on my calendar and I put it on the fringe. I actually put the calendar on the fringe and I can say that Monday, Wednesday, Friday I’m gonna run, and I’m gonna run for 20 minutes. And if I go over that, it’s great, but yeah just making that schedule. I think that’s what you mentioned as well, making it.
Pamela Karr: It seems if you even put your own appointment on there it seems to make you do it doesn’t it, more, oh well. But then you have to look ahead to see if it’s gonna rain that day or not.
Brian Calhoun: That’s right, yeah. But you try to make up for it.
Pamela Karr: Okay.
Brian Calhoun: So if it rains on Wednesday you go on Thursday.
Pamela Karr: All right, gotcha, flexibility.
Brian Calhoun: Flexibility.
Sam Gladding: Does that help?
Nathaniel Ivers: Yeah, that does help. You answered both of my questions and one was how do you do that and what do you do? And it sounds like running is what you do.
Sam Gladding: So, I can summarize some what we’ve come up with as a group has been some self-talk, some writing out and prioritizing what it is that you want to do. Some reminders and having some allies with friends and family who can help you and reinforce you in what you want to do. What else am I leaving out that you’ve said?
Marlene Estenson: To have a wife that schedules it for you.
Sam Gladding: To have a wife that schedules it for you, that’ll be good. Or a significant other, a main squeeze of some type, a partner, yeah, who again can help you do that. And self-talk, reminding again yourself, this is what I’m gonna do. But Pamela, coming back to you, how does – and realizing these things don’t happen in one day that you can’t make up for everything in one day and that you need some recreation along the way as well as work and other things that you’re planning. Tell us how this resonates with you.
Pamela Karr: Well, it kind of helps me put things a little more in perspective. I do feel calmer, honestly and truly. Maybe my shoulders quit being like this and they’re more like that.
Sam Gladding: Okay.
Pamela Karr: So, thank you. It’s kind of like the book Everything You Learned In Kindergarten but you know – I know all these things, I just kind of forgotten about ‘em.
Sam Gladding: So, you feel physically more relaxed. Mentally are you –
Pamela Karr: It’s not quite spinning as fast, no.
Sam Gladding: Okay, okay.
Pamela Karr: It’s got a plan.
Sam Gladding: And so what will happen when you go back?
Pamela Karr: I think that a plane ride of a couple of hours is a pretty good opportunity to take my day timer and try to think about when could I exercise, even though I won’t be able to look up the weather.
Sam Gladding: Okay.
Pamela Karr: And maybe just come up with a couple of the most important, timewise, I mean that have to be done at a certain time.
Sam Gladding: Okay.
Pamela Karr: And try to resolve to focus on those on Monday to remember that I just went to covey course on five choices in which it had me really take a look at my overall purposes in life that included personals. And redose again and try to remind myself what’s important in the long-run. And that the activities that I’m choosing support those goals I wrote for myself. I haven’t looked at that again since I wrote it. I think that would help me to go back again and try to make a plan.
Sam Gladding: Okay. So, one of the things I like to do when thinking about moving from here and now into the future is kind of like how they do in Hollywood, not like they do in Hollywood in terms of their lifestyles, but what they do in Hollywood in regard to making films. So, it’s kind of like scene one, scene two, scene three. How do you see yourself? What are some ways that you could play out your life in regard to what you do and, so scene one would be, or production one would be what would you do?
Pamela Karr: Look at the week as a whole –
Sam Gladding: Okay.
Pamela Karr: – and try to spread out the big rocks.
Sam Gladding: Okay.
Pamela Karr: The big rocks are the big things I have to do, not the 20 million no telling how many emails are gonna be sitting there. Eek.
Sam Gladding: Okay, scene two.
Pamela Karr: Schedule whether I’m gonna do weights or walk in the morning so that I can get back on that track. Scene three, this will be over the top, but I’ll probably go ahead and make my typical menu plan for the week so that when I get home I know what I want to buy from the grocery store and I can stop pigging out and get back on healthier choice, plan.
Sam Gladding: Okay. So, you’ve got at least three choices. And I think when we look at growth and personally and in a group, it’s always good to have more than one choice. And if you can have two, if you can have three, if you can have four, then you have some options. And if you have choices, you can make changes. But if you don’t have choices, you won’t have those abilities to make many changes. So, are you fine with what we’ve done?
Pamela Karr: Yeah, thanks.
Sam Gladding: We have time for another if somebody would like to – Brian?
Brian Calhoun: I noticed something in myself. Nate had to really draw me out to flesh out my idea. I just didn’t feel like I was assertive enough in helping Pamela with her, kind of setting up the calendar for athletic event or kind of a stress reliever. I just wanna work on that I guess. I thank Nate for doing that and just kind of helping me flesh out my answer. I do wanna work on that assertiveness piece that I do have some good ideas that I can help Pamela with but I just kind of wait too long.
Sam Gladding: So, do you wanna work on that assertiveness piece now?
Brian Calhoun: I would if the people would – yeah.
Sam Gladding: How does the group – I see heads nodding affirmatively. Let’s talk about exactly what you’d like to work on Brian.
Brian Calhoun: I think I wanna work on fleshing out ideas. I think I can help you out a lot more in group if I just articulate better and think about what’s important to you and not be afraid to say it. And I think that’s something that I just need to work on.
Sam Gladding: So, what keeps you from saying what you’d like to say?
Brian Calhoun: I think I’m afraid that when I say it, people might judge me that I’m not saying the right thing or that what I have to say isn’t important.
Sam Gladding: And it’s more with Pamela than anyone?
Brian Calhoun: I think it’s just in my whole life. I do have important things to say, I just wanna have that confidence to be able to say it and put it out there.
Sam Gladding: Okay.
Marlene Estenson: That’s interesting because I found myself wanting to pull you out and maybe that’s my personality, but because you were so quiet, I wanted to say – I was worried about him and I wanted to – I was hoping we would have time to go back to we have more in common with the other things that we were talking about that your assertiveness issue. So how are you feeling about the assertiveness issue? And I wonder if other people around you find that too that they have to pull you out or want to pull you out because of your quietness, because I think you have a lot of things to say probably. And I don’t know you that well, but I would imagine so.
Brian Calhoun: I feel like I am quiet and I was thankful that Nate kind of pulled the answer out of me. I think I could have said more during my time, but thank you for saying that.
Sam Gladding: So, Nate helped pull things out?
Brian Calhoun: Most definitely. It was things that were going, thoughts of what I could give to Pamela and he really did notice that and I appreciate that about this group that he did do that.
Sam Gladding: Let’s try an experiment or an experience. So, Nate, would you be willing to pull things out of Brian?
Nathaniel Ivers: I’ll give it a try.
Sam Gladding: Okay, let’s try it. If you maybe stand up and we’ll have the group observe and I’ll just kind of be the coach here. So, basically, Brian if you would let Nate know what you’d like for him to pull out, maybe that would be helpful. You’ve got all these things here, which one do you want him to pull out?
Brian Calhoun: Well, just things that I do to really stress and get more work-life balance are what works for me.
Nathaniel Ivers: Okay. So do I need to tell the group what –
Sam Gladding: How would you pull that out?
Nathaniel Ivers: Well, I would ask for specifics. Can you tell me specifically what you’re doing and how that’s helpful?
Brian Calhoun: Well, I noticed that she talked about the Franklin Covey, the scheduling. I’ve also done the Franklin Covey course and know about what you do to kind of prioritize projects and it relieves stress. And I didn’t feel confident enough to tell her in the morning.
Nathaniel Ivers: How has it helped you?
Brian Calhoun: It’s helped me to let her know that I share that kind of scheduling thing. And then we could talk about it in group and help her more with her work-life balance.
Nathaniel Ivers: And anything specific about the Franklin Covey scheduling that has been beneficial?
Brian Calhoun: It relieves my anxiousness and I think it would do the same thing for you Pamela just to know that I’ve done it and I can show you what I do.
Pamela Karr: Right.
Nathaniel Ivers: So, I appreciate you pulling that out of me.
Sam Gladding: So, if it were a box or something and there were tools in the box, what tools would you want –
Brian Calhoun: Well, I’d hand my Franklin Covey planner to Nate here to look at for himself as well. He mentioned he wanted to schedule time as well. I think all of us in the group have that. We need to schedule and make priorities in our lives. Jose with his wife. Marlene, you mentioned you wanted to schedule more time and Pamela, that was her main issue, so definitely.
Sam Gladding: So, it’s not just Nate pulling something out of you, you’re giving something to him also that – and to Jose and to Marlene and to Pamela that you have.
Brian Calhoun: Most definitely. And it’s useful and I wanna share that with the group and to Nate.
Sam Gladding: And is there one or two specifics that you could give him?
Brian Calhoun: I would say just set everything – write it down. We mentioned Pamela doing Sudoku. I’d take about 10 minutes in a day and that’s what I’d give to you. I’d say at the beginning of the day, I’d do 10 minutes where I just sit and work on my schedule. And then I work on my priorities. And that’s what I – that’s a piece I would get. It’s more information based.
Sam Gladding: So, here’s something I’d like for you to do. So, Nate if you could hold out your hands like that and Brian if you could give him that and then Nate you can set it there. Too anxious. So, what I’d like to do, sometimes when we are in a group, we talk about things that are happening, but we don’t get it into the marrow of our bones and we don’t get it into behaviors. So, an enactment where you actually give him these things that you’ve talked about, he receives them, he can set ‘em down and you can give him one or two more depending on how many you have. He’s helped you, now you’re helping him.
Brian Calhoun: So, this is just the knowledge that I have that what works for me and just give it to him?
Sam Gladding: Yes.
Brian Calhoun: Okay.
Sam Gladding: Well, but say it.
Brian Calhoun: This is my scheduling, this helps me with work life balance.
Sam Gladding: Okay. Specificity.
Brian Calhoun: Okay.
Sam Gladding: So, being specific into terms of what you’re giving him and you can give him small gifts.
Brian Calhoun: Okay.
Sam Gladding: A screwdriver’s as helpful as a hammer sometimes.
Brian Calhoun: Okay.
Sam Gladding: And so you can give him small gifts, and again, he can receive ‘em.
Brian Calhoun: Okay. Well, this is gonna help you from stress. Would that be a good thing for – he mentioned –
Nathaniel Ivers: the planner.
Brian Calhoun: – working out more, a planner.
Sam Gladding: A planner.
Brian Calhoun: A planner to work out.
Sam Gladding: So, Nate or Nathaniel, I’m giving you a planner.
Brian Calhoun: Okay.
Sam Gladding: Nate, I’m giving you a planner.
Nathaniel Ivers: Thank you.
Sam Gladding: What else would you like to give him?
Nathaniel Ivers: I need more.
Brian Calhoun: You need more? I will give you my watch.
Sam Gladding: Some time, okay.
Brian Calhoun: I will give you different colored markers to prioritize in your planner.
Nathaniel Ivers: I need those too, that’s good.
Brian Calhoun: I will give you running shoes to do more athletic events and grow that mind.
Nathaniel Ivers: I don’t have any more room on my chair.
Brian Calhoun: So, I have given him enough or do I need to give him more?
Sam Gladding: Do you have more to give him?
Brian Calhoun: I always – that’s the problem, I have more to give, but I don’t know when to –
Sam Gladding: It’s okay to keep giving. He looks like he can take it.
Brian Calhoun: Okay.
Nathaniel Ivers: And could use it, yeah.
Brian Calhoun: I have a picture that helps with my mindfulness that’ll help when you are doing your planner just to be mindful of putting your schedule together. It’s a very peaceful scene. That’s what I have –
Sam Gladding: That’s what you have to give him.
Nathaniel Ivers: Thank you.
Sam Gladding: And since giving is always a two-way street, he’s mentioned things that you’ve given him in terms of reminders. Do you have anything else that you would like to give Brian?
Nathaniel Ivers: I think the only thing I would like to give you is just that confidence to just give, to be specific. So here’s some specificity right here for you.
Brian Calhoun: Thank you.
Sam Gladding: And you said some confidence.
Nathaniel Ivers: Yes.
Sam Gladding: So, how does confidence look?
Nathaniel Ivers: I think it looks like what Pamela did from this to that.
Sam Gladding: Okay, so we’re all from Missouri here if you can show us.
Nathaniel Ivers: It’s just being open, opening up.
Sam Gladding: Okay. And once you receive it now, how do you look in terms of confidence.
Brian Calhoun: Well, my back is more arched and I feel a little more confident, yes, because of it. It’s just good to have that visual and to receive it from Nate and to see it in Pamela and be able to know that I can have that same feeling, the same confidence.
Sam Gladding: Okay, does that resonate with you, in terms of what everybody’s great. Okay. So, you’ve each given and received. It sounds like a marriage ceremony, but it’s not. But it’s a friendship and it’s also a building block in terms of something you want to do. Again, it’s not just in our minds and our voice, but it’s in our behavior as well and in our feeling. And let me just ask both of you, what do you feel at this point?
Brian Calhoun: Well, I literally feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders just to be able to talk and to share with Nate and give him those gifts. It feels good. I do feel more confident. I feel my back is a little more arched than when we started group, for sure.
Sam Gladding: So, you feel it in your body.
Brian Calhoun: Most definitely.
Sam Gladding: Okay. Nate?
Nathaniel Ivers: Well, I like what Brian gave me in particular. I like what he said about taking 10 minutes every day. I know Brian a little and I know he’s highly productive. Gets a lot done, has a lot on his plate. And one of my issues sometimes is if I take 10 minutes to plan, I lose 10 minutes to work. But again, I think if I give myself that time, I can be more productive as well. And so I’m taking that with me, his modeling as well as his ideas I think are really helpful. And so, I think what I’m feeling is energy.
Sam Gladding: Okay, energy. Good, good. So with Pamela and with Brian, we’ve got bodies that are a little bit different in terms of feeling a weight off your shoulder, I think you said, and feeling your back arched a little better and more confident there. And with Nathanial or Nate, which we’ll call him both –
Nathaniel Ivers: That’s fine.
Sam Gladding: Yeah, feeling energized and that’s the feeling inside that I’ve got some energy that I didn’t have before. What else as we’re moving in this group? We probably have time for one more person to do some work.
Marlene Estenson: I just wanted to say I also got something out of watching the two of you do that because you shared the idea of a picture and I thought I can use that too. I like the picture idea.
Brian Calhoun: It is very peaceful just to look and just have something that’s gonna set your mind at ease while you’re doing things.
Marlene Estenson: So, thank you.
Brian Calhoun: You’re welcome.
Sam Gladding: And the picture you have Marlene?
Marlene Estenson: Well, I like the peaceful scene. I like that always, but a picture of my daughters right now would be one I would use in terms of, again, engaging back in my family would be a way to remind myself every day, prioritize. What am I doing today that does that? I would like that particularly.
Sam Gladding: Okay, so you can image that picture and what does that do for you in terms of a feeling or a behavior?
Marlene Estenson: Well, I have twin 16 year olds. So, one picture in particular came to my mind immediately was one where they were dressed for Halloween as clowns. And it’s just one of my favorite pictures of them. And to have that there, just a happy feeling. It’s just a positive, satisfying peaceful feeling of nurturer or something, for me.
Sam Gladding: Okay. So, having that picture gives you a feeling of nurturance and that leads to –
Marlene Estenson: More balance. More awareness of my priorities.
Sam Gladding: Okay, okay.
Marlene Estenson: And that’s peaceful to have a balance that we were talking about before.
Sam Gladding: Right. Okay, so that’s a good gift that you received and Brian gave it to you.
Marlene Estenson: Right.
Sam Gladding: Do you want to hand off?
Marlene Estenson: Thank you.
Brian Calhoun: You’re welcome.
Sam Gladding: And I know sometimes it may feel just a little schmaltzy to be doing that, but again if you have a ceremony or a ritual, then you remember it much better and it becomes much more a part of you than it does if you just say it.
Jose Villalba: And just ‘cause it’s schmaltzy doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean anything. I mean one of the things that I’ve liked about what happened here today was it’s tangible. You were talking about sneakers and dry eraser, but you can just see that and that’s a lot better than just talking about some of these more esoteric things. What is balance? I don’t know what balance is, but when you talk about a picture of your girls, I can see that. And so that’s been helpful schmaltzy or not. There is something that resonates where you can do something. Yeah, I’d like that.
Pamela Karr: I have a gift I’d like to give Jose.
Jose Villalba: What?
Pamela Karr: What you were talking about is how wonderful it was to have time with just your wife only and that you have three children and the youngest is?
Jose Villalba: One.
Pamela Karr: One.
Jose Villalba: Right.
Pamela Karr: And how hard that is to connect like you were just able to do. And so my gift would be an idea that we used all through our marriage when our children were younger is that if there’s somebody who can keep them, we tried to have a date. And that date was on Friday night. And that Friday night was not to be accepted any offers anywhere else. We just went out together by ourselves and had dinner. And somebody kept our – from one year old up, and even he knew it was our date night. But if there was a way to give you the gift of thinking about the date night, you have a date. And here’s your calendar so it doesn’t have to be Friday. But it’s something that’s really neat about deliberately making that time.
Jose Villalba: Thanks Pamela.
Sam Gladding: And again, the feeling that you might have?
Jose Villalba: Well, the feeling is that’s a really good idea and that needs to get done. So, it’s almost like commitment. So, the feeling that I have is determination to do something about that. To not just say that’s a good idea, but to go back, schedule it in and do it. So, my feeling is more perseverance, let’s do this. Yeah, yeah.
Sam Gladding: So, kind of resolve –
Jose Villalba: Better word, resolve.
Sam Gladding: Well, I’m trying to reflect what you’re saying. And again you feel a little – well –
Jose Villalba: Better.
Sam Gladding: Better?
Jose Villalba: Yeah, I feel better, yeah.
Sam Gladding: I didn’t wanna put words in your mouth, but yeah, so you feel better. What else? We have about five minutes. I always wanna make sure that you know when we’re going to end. What else might there be that you would want to either give someone or that you want to make sure that you get a voice on before we end this group?
Brian Calhoun: I noticed Jose regifted to Nate.
Jose Villalba: Well, he took it. Regifting and taking.
Brian Calhoun: Taking.
Jose Villalba: Fine line.
Brian Calhoun: Can we share the gifts with the whole group ‘cause I think –
Sam Gladding: Sure.
Brian Calhoun: – I’d like to have a picture and a date night and all that with my wife. So, I mean – is that possible?
Sam Gladding: Sure. So, tell him what you’re giving and –
Pamela Karr: Okay on that planner, date night.
Sam Gladding: And do you wanna give Marlene anything?
Pamela Karr: Would you like a date night too?
Marlene Estenson: I would, that’s wonderful.
Pamela Karr: That’s great.
Marlene Estenson: It would be very important.
Pamela Karr: Nathaniel, how many children do you have?
Nathaniel Ivers: I have four.
Pamela Karr: Oh dear.
Nathaniel Ivers: And I definitely took the date night. Thank you.
Sam Gladding: So, there’s no regifting here, you gave it directly. Other things?
Pamela Karr: I want some of the calendar stuff.
Brian Calhoun: You want the calendar stuff.
Pamela Karr: You can share, do you have more?
Brian Calhoun: Here’s the calendar.
Pamela Karr: Thank you.
Brian Calhoun: Here are the running shoes.
Pamela Karr: Okay.
Brian Calhoun: Here are the colored markers to ___________
Pamela Karr: Oh, I like colored markers.
Brian Calhoun: And here are some post-it notes.
Pamela Karr: All right.
Brian Calhoun: And here is a picture –
Pamela Karr: Thank you.
Brian Calhoun: – to look at when you’re doing your scheduling.
Pamela Karr: Thank you very much.
Sam Gladding: So, everybody’s had a chance to say something and to work on something that’s important for you. And it sounds like there’s a lot of similarity, even though there’s a uniqueness in each. And that the gifts that you’ve given one another have some meaning for you and that they matter. And that, again, you have something that is transformed, not only in your mind, but somewhat in your resolve and in your behavior. Am I hearing that right?
Marlene Estenson: Yes.
Sam Gladding: So, as we wind up and let the audience process with us, I’m wondering what are those things that you’re taking away ‘cause they’re always take aways from groups, otherwise it’s just an experience and those type of experiences are soon forgotten. So, what are you taking away and we won’t do a go round as such, but we’ll let it be as you want to speak.
Brian Calhoun: I wanna speak first because I feel like I have more confidence now. And the shoulders back that Nate gave to me from looking at you, I feel like I have received in this group.
Sam Gladding: And you can have more than one takeaway, but if that’s –
Brian Calhoun: That’s my main takeaway.
Sam Gladding: That’s your main takeaway.
Brian Calhoun: That’s what I really wanna work on.
Sam Gladding: Right. I just wanted to make sure you know you can have more than one.
Marlene Estenson: I wanna try to live in the moment and enjoy my life in the moment. And for me, I was thinking it’s just a gift to have this experience, to get ideas and thoughts from all of you. It’s a gift that I enjoyed in this last hour.
Jose Villalba: And my gift is clarity. Again, the notion that these things aren’t as complicated as we make them out to be sometimes. Set a date, done. It’s complicated because we have kids, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. It’s more of an excuse.
Sam Gladding: So clarity?
Jose Villalba: Clarity is my word, yeah. Clarity.
Nathaniel Ivers: And mine’s energy. For some time now, I’ve had the desire to improve my exercise regimen. But the desire has not translated into action. And so the energy is there and some of the concrete ideas are there as well, which I hope to start incorporating.
Sam Gladding: So, it’s not like you’re a wild horse just running wild, you have the energy, but you also have a direction.
Nathaniel Ivers: Yes, absolutely.
Pamela Karr: I feel like I didn’t – if you had said you were gonna ask me about something I needed to work on I was like, oh then I have to make something up. But I didn’t have to, and I really appreciate the help that I got going back into daily life. So, it’s just another manic Monday.
Sam Gladding: So, it won’t be just another manic Monday, that you have a plan.
Pamela Karr: That’s right.
Sam Gladding: And you have –
Pamela Karr: Will.
Sam Gladding: Again some will and you have some scenarios that you can either start this way or start that way or start that way. Yeah, and hopefully that goes throughout the group in terms of realizing that you have options and how you exercise the options makes a difference in both how you behave and how you feel and what you think. Yeah.
Pamela Karr: Yeah.
Sam Gladding: Anything else from anyone? Well, let me say I’ve enjoyed working with you this morning. We didn’t know exactly what would come about, but it does sound like a lot has come that’s of a positive nature that you can build on that you’ve given and received gifts and that your feeling and your manner and your behavior and even your thoughts are different than they were initially. So, why don’t we close this, get some feedback from the audience. I’ll repeat their questions and if they want to address you specifically, than feel free to go with that. So, let me stop and applaud you for what you’ve done and let me turn to the audience for a moment and see, questions, comments that you might have in regards to what you’ve seen us do here?
How do you some someone, this group did not do that, they were polite, but that’s not every group member in every group, and so we have people who seem to just run on and on and on, how do you stop ‘em and get them to focus? So, let me tell you how I do that and others may want to chip in and also give you some feedback on that. But one of the things I do is I use my body. I didn’t use it that much here, but I will use it at times to give signals to people. So, this is a universal sign that everyone knows in terms of timeout. And –
Pamela Karr: Yeah, show them back there.
Sam Gladding: Yep, yep, like this. Or if somebody’s getting too close to someone, I might give ‘em this kind of a signal like maybe not. But I think sometimes we think that one of the basic things we have to do in a group is to just use our voice. And I really do believe in using the body and letting people know ahead of time, because again if they don’t know they may not respond. They may not respond anyway and you may have to do more than what we’re saying here. But letting ‘em know here that there may be some signals guys that I need for you to respect.
And then asking them in a very constructive way, John or Jane, I hear you saying a lot, but I’m not sure what the essence of that is. Could you put that into two or three sentences? And play with them in the sense that there is a playfulness. It’s serious, but play is always serious in terms of learning something. So, asking them to do that and letting it go from there in terms of fewer words. And let’s see then if members of the group can tell you what they heard. And so use the power of the group. Sometimes, again we think it’s all on our shoulders as the group leader. But the group is very powerful and this group, I think did demonstrate that in terms of what they were doing.
So sometimes, and let me repeat the question. So, you have a girls group and a boys group. Girls group is fine, they talk. And girls are great at doing this. Boys, I mean I have three sons, they grunt. I can just tell ya, boys are grunters. Girls seem to find words for what they’re doing. The boys aren’t talking. So, some of the things I do for a group and its mandatory that they be there, I’m hearing you say that. So, some of the things I do to try to get the boys talking is I’ll have a nerf ball or something that we’ll be passing around and getting them warmed up.
And one of the things – I think this is important – is to make sure that people have a warm up. So, John, Jim, Troy, whoever the person is. Give ‘em a warm up like what would be your favorite food and boys are into food. I wouldn’t go what’s your favorite color, ‘cause they know black, blue, green, that’s it. But something that you know they have some – or what’s your favorite sport or whatever – to get them warmed up.
And then, sometimes, you can actually do theme groups. I think I heard you say that the boys are always going to talk about sex or something. So, that’s great, but that’s not where they need to be. So, let’s talk about how you can be more successful or how you can put your best foot forward and you can even have ‘em again playing which is your best foot and what does that represent?
And again, look at the culture, look at the development of the boys if they’re concrete thinkers. You’re not going to get them to say oh and this is what that represents. And culturally, again we have to certainly respect that and be aware of that. But using themes, because they don’t seem to be able to structure it for themselves. And there’s some really good books here at the American Counseling Association Conference on favorite group techniques and they’re theme related. So, that’s where I’d go with that.
I think a group, again, has a life of its own. And some groups don’t live as long or as well. And I don’t mean to be flippant in saying that. But I do think that some groups are going to run shallow and run short in regard to what they do. And I am convinced that not every group needs to go that deep. That again, developmentally, if people begin to feel safe, if they begin to trust, then the next time they’re in a group, they may go a little deeper yet. And so letting it be that way I think is fine. And realizing that as the group leader, I haven’t failed the group. I’ve helped move them along and the next time they’re in another group, they may feel enough trust to go a little deeper and I may not even see that as the leader.
So, one thing I wanna do when I find that a person is saying the group ended on a negative note or for me I don’t wanna go back with those people is basically saying, again as I said to this group as we ended, what are your takeaways from that? So, what would you want to do differently because you’ll be the leader next time or you’ll be in a group next time, what would you want to take away? And what do you think you might do to make that different? I think anticipation is not just a word. It’s a way that we begin to move in life and to realize I have some power, as Brian has found out in terms of being assertive and anticipating some of the problems.
And so when I was courting my wife, I would always think okay – and I know she thought this more than I did – if she says this, I’ll say this. And it’s kind of silly and it’s amazing we’ve lasted 27 years, but anticipating what you might do to make it better.
Most – and we know this from the research that people know five negatives to every positive in their lives and that seems to show up almost every research study approximately that ratio. So, it’d be easier for them to tell me a negative. And it’d be easier for us to work on a negative. Alan Ivey and Mary Ivy, this morning when they were talking at the ACA opening session talked about building on the positives rather than working on the problems. And I think that’s – even though we didn’t coordinate our sessions. I do think that it makes the group more alive. It makes it more constructive and I’ve seen a lot of destructive groups as most of you have and I don’t wanna go there. I don’t wanna set the stage. I think we set the stage and I know we did a little acting out here, but it’s like if you set the stage, the actors and the play, if you will, or the group, will come into more of a positive result at the end.
So, one of the things that I like to do at times is to get people on their feet and do scenarios. And we didn’t do it that much here, but we at least touched on it. So, again being the Missouri kind of person that you might be in terms of show me what might happen, what you might do and let’s run through three scenes. If you run through more than that, they run out of ideas usually. And then again, working with the power of the group, like Pamela might not know, but Marlene might, or Jose might or Nate or Brian. And so having them suggest things and show other behaviors because again I don’t know is the best form of resistance out there and it doesn’t really help anyone, and of course it doesn’t help if you’re doing it. But if their peers are helping out, I really look at the power of the group and I really look at role plays and coping strategies that they might engage in.
I think if – and I think the literature supports it more than not, that if you have people having a voice that they can hear themselves and if they can participate in a non-threatening way on a question or something that you might ask, that they’re much more likely to participate than to frustrate themselves and you by not doing anything in Happy Days the Fonz would say sit on it right? And some people sit on it in regard to they have feelings, but they don’t feel like they can get their voice heard.
So with a Brian over here, who’s wanting to be more assertive, I would think it would be especially important that he get some air time. And again if you can get some air time – and if everybody’s participated, then there’s nobody that everyone’s looking at as the identified in family therapy and so you identify patient as the outlier, as the outsider, as the person who really is either above or below it all.
So, I really do think it’s one of the better skills we have in group work to make sure everyone gets a voice. And then they don’t have to say anything after that, but at least they’ve participated in this regard.
I think, again the thing to do is to ask the group as you go around have we finished everything? Is there something that we talked about last week that you’d like to work on, to clarify? And again, people may say, yes there is. A lot of times, no. But that way, you’re letting them know that you heard what was happening last week and you wanna make sure that they’re okay. There’s nothing stronger than a broken gestalt. That is if you haven’t finished something, people are gonna get it in there – yeah, regardless of whether you give ‘em permission or not.
I used to work in a mental health center. I’d always give my clients permission to walk around ‘cause I knew many of ‘em were gonna do that whether I gave ‘em permission or not. Made me feel better. And it didn’t make them feel any worse, but I’d start it with last week – summarizing – last week we talked about this and again I’m wondering if there’s any unfinished business about that.
It was somewhat spontaneous on my part, but lemme tell you the rationale of why I did what I did. I thought that what they were doing was a little two ambiguous. And so I wanted to make it more concrete. One of the things we do in counseling, group counseling and individual counseling is we make the covert, overt. And I wanted to make sure there was an overt display and an overt acceptance of what they were giving and receiving. And let me let them talk for themselves, Nathaniel and Brian.
Nathaniel Ivers: For me it was similar to what you’re saying, I think I’ll just piggyback on it. But it’s easy to be ambiguous. It’s easy to stay in kind of the abstract world and this took some mental juices to think, okay what exactly am I giving Brian and what do I do with what Brian’s giving me? How do I bring Brian out was part of the thing that started that? And that was harder work and I may not have gone there without the prompt.
Brian Calhoun: And I’ll speak to the change, trying to work on the change of increasing my confidence. It was good just to move in the group and change position in the group and to move over in that area and to work with Nate giving gifts back and forth and having more explanation, having those encouragers, ‘cause I really didn’t know what to give Nate. So, that was very helpful in that position.
Sam Gladding: Yeah. I wanted them to be as specific as they could. And so many times, again it’s amorphous in terms of what people wanting to share, so trying to make it as concrete as we could so they really had a takeaway.
I was trying to see, and you couldn’t see because you’re in the back there, but I was trying to use my eyes to see what they were doing in terms of their behaviors, subtle or not, in terms of overtness. I considered them an entity. So, I wasn’t working individually, just with Pamela, with Brian, Marlene, Jose with Nathaniel. The group was the entity, they were the client, if I can say it that way, which I just did. So, I wanted to see that everyone came out with something and the group came out with something. So, it was a both and rather than an either or is another way to say that.
But I wanted to, we talked earlier about negative group experiences. I wanted to make sure that this group was running in a smooth a manner as possible and as positive of a manner as something as possible. And that the feeling that they left with and their takeaways was elevated and different than when they may have come in because I think we were all a little nervous we had not rehearsed this.
And one of the best ways we learn how to be good group leaders and good group members, to be honest, is to see a group in action. And so our takeaways, vicarious learning, social psyche stuff that – how do you learn things? Well, modeling, seeing people do it and realizing I can do it this way or I could do it that way or I could do it another way.
I’m a card carrying member of the Associations for Specialists in Group Work, which is one of the divisions of the American Counseling Association. There’s also some other good group behavior societies and other professional societies or associations. But I go to their workshops, ASGWs workshops, Association for Specialists in Group Work as much as I can. I read the literature ‘cause they publish a journal and I read other journals also. I look at videos of people who have run groups and do groups. Jerry Cory, Ed Jacobs, others. I’ll just give a shout out to my colleagues, they’re good.
I actually write about groups and if you get the book, little Timmy can have the operation, it’s okay. So, I try to write about what’s going on as well as to read about it. And I try to journal if I have led a group. I try to journal right after that, just like I’d take case notes in individual work. I’ll do a journal about the group as a whole and any outstanding parts or people within it.
We’ve come to the end of our time today and I want to thank you for being here and being such a great audience. I hope you’re going away with some things that you can learn and employ in groups that you lead. I will be around as will members of this group if you want to talk with them even more. And thank you again for being here.
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