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Written by: Reineth Prinsloo

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

– Vince Lombardi

The social nature of human beings and group dynamics provide an excellent context for intervention. Group work has numerous advantages, including commonality, belonging, support, learning from one another, practicing new behaviour in a safe context, feedback from other members, participation in a mutual aid process, socialisation and access to multiple resources and perspectives. Groups can represent the world in a micro-context, allowing group members to experience real-life situations.

At Horizon House, the influence of groups on people’s lives has been well documented, as well as the value of group work to attain individual, family, group, and community goals. Group work is therefore purposefully applied in a focused, goal-directed approach for the benefit of individual group members and the group as a unit or separate system. Groups inculcate hope and reassurance, break down isolation, and allow members to care for one another. They provide a meaningful instrument for change.

Groups for mental health – Club Phoenix

These groups offer ecotherapy, skills development, arts and crafts, as well as dance and movement. They focus on stress relief and eliciting fun and excitement so that residents are motivated to attend. The groups also include elements such as strengthening relationships, acquiring healthy and appropriate social skills, and stimulation.

Life skills groups

The life skills groups have five to seven members per group. Relationship and couples’ groups, bereavement groups, hostel meeting groups for new residents, groups for building resilience, and trust-versus-friendliness groups are specific types of groups that are conducted around topics such as communication, good citizenship, understanding diversity, conflict management, social media management, emotional regulation, self-esteem, respect and self-care (personal hygiene).

Ecotherapy group work

The ecotherapy groups include horticultural therapy with garden-related activities such as digging and preparing soil for planting, planting seedlings, weeding, watering, trimming leaves, and crop harvesting to create a sense of giving and nurturing. These activities foster increased awareness of the natural world, reality orientation and life changes (seasons), and reduce stress, anxiety, depression and anger. Activities for environmental care and maintenance create a sense of belonging and connectedness while promoting self-worth, respect for others, and social interactions. Being in nature helps to improve their mood and well-being.

Occupational therapy groups

Occupational therapy promotes health and well-being through activities that enable the residents to participate in their personal occupations, as well as social and cultural activities.

  • Exercise groups promote a healthy lifestyle where each person participates in a physical activity group based on their capabilities.
  • Craft groups/baking groups promote the development of visual, perceptual and fine motor skills.
  • In drumming groups the sensory-motor approach is used to stimulate the senses, practice purposeful movement and promote cognition.
  • Cognitive games were introduced to incorporate movement into the daily routine while promoting cognition and focusing on skills such as visual processing, attention span and short-term memory.
  • Craft groups provide a sense of purpose and a sense of accomplishment for the residents which leads to better self-esteem.

Group sessions provide social interaction by including team-building activities which promote interpersonal communication. Horizon House uses a holistic approach to provide residents with a sense of belonging and connection in a safe and caring environment, and group work is an excellent method to reach this goal. In the formally structured groups the residents experience cohesion and practice communication and socialising. They learn social skills and their well-being is enhanced.


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