Does online group work really work?
During deep lockdown, I asked myself this question every single time I logged onto zoom to hold an adoption teen group.
Today, looking at our group, reunited for the first time in person since February, I’m thinking, yes it does!
This evening, we’re celebrating the end of last years group with a trip to Foxlake. Coming together one last time before we welcome our new recruits and saying goodbye to Sarah (appointed 2nd most embarrassing group facilitator) as she moves onto pastures new.
The last time these young people came together in person, in February, the group did not quite feel like a group. It still feels like 6 individual young people, only half aware of their common connection (an adoption experience) and group identity.
But this time it felt different, because today I saw…
- Good Communication – relaxed chatting and genuine interest in one another.
- Empathy – helping and supporting each other physically and emotionally get through the challenges of the rope course.
- Connection – eye contact, nudging, pairing up and shared jokes.
- Group identity – remembering “old times” together and acknowledging that “our group” will change soon and that there will be both benefits and challenges to that.
Online group work is not without its challenges. It can feel like an emotional vacuum. Screens freeze, people literally disappear in front of your eyes and there’s a very good chance that the kids will know their way around the technology better than you!
But, for this group, it did work. It helped promote all off the above and we continued to build relationships and friendships and then, we became an “us”.
To Sarah who we will miss a lot.