Writing a Group Proposal
Rick Halstead, Ph.D.
Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT 06117
Before beginning any kind of group, it is important to have a clear idea about the group you intend to facilitate. It is important to understand that a group begins as a conceptualized idea that the facilitator later brings to fruition. To be successful in that process one must first start with a detailed outline that addresses various aspects of the group. These aspects include the formation of the group, content and process of the group sessions, and how the group will be evaluated. This detailed outline is referred to as the group proposal.
Learning how to write a good group proposal is important for several reasons. First, writing a proposal helps to ensure that you have followed the proper steps in forming and running the group. Second, if you are going to be co-leading a group, the proposal helps to make certain that both co-leaders agree on the focus of the group and the procedures that will be employed to help group members reach their goals. Third, the group proposal is usually reviewed by your supervisor and the agency’s utilization review and/or quality review committees. Fourth, to run a group you must have group members. Group members often come by way of referrals from other counselors in the agency. By giving referral sources a well- crafted proposal to review, you save other counselors and yourself a lot of time. Fifth, you are ethically obligated to conduct a screening interview with potential members for the group. During this screening interview you must provide potential members with a clear explanation about the purpose of the group and answer any questions that potential members may have. Having written a good proposal will enhance your ability to manage this task.
There is no standard form that the group proposal can take. There are, however, certain elements that must be covered to enable other professionals to obtain an accurate overview of what it is that you intend on doing in the group. These elements include the rationale for the conducting the group, the specific objectives that you will work toward meeting, the practical considerations in forming and running a group, the specific procedures that you will follow in running the group, and how you will evaluate the group.
Regardless of the setting in which you work, a group proposal will involve providing information in each of these the areas that are outlined below.
Component Elements of the Group Proposal
A well-crafted group proposal will have detailed information addressing each of the following areas: a rationale for the group, objectives for the group, practical considerations, group procedures, and method(s) for evaluations. Each of these areas will be described in greater detail below.
Rationale for the Group – The counselor must provide a rationale as to why this group is being created. In writing a proposal one should strive toward explaining what type of group is being proposed along with why this group will be important or worthwhile. Such an explanation might include a perceived client need, a particular social trend, neglected issues, or recent research that suggests that a particular type of group intervention is of preference.
Objectives for the Group – What are you hoping to accomplish by running this group? Your objectives need to be congruent with the rationale for the group detailed in the previous. For example, if your rationale states that you are starting a group to address issues of loss and grieving because there are eight clients at your agency who had just loss a significant other, it would not be appropriate to have objects that were geared toward reducing symptoms of bulimia. You must ask yourself, “What do I most want the people in this group to gain from being a member of the group?” It is also important to make you objectives specific and measurable. For example, in a personal growth group an objective might be as follows: Each member will share and express of feelings toward others in the group using a here-and-now frame of reference. This objective is specific and it is measurable in that you can observe the number of times a member engages in the stated form of group interaction.
Practical Considerations – This category involves defining the nuts and bolts of forming and running the group. Where will group members come from? What population will you be looking to work with? What type of advertisement will you do? Where will the group meet? How many weeks will the group meet? What is the proposed
length of time that each session will last? How will screening be conducted? How will group members be informed as to whether or not they have been admitted into the group? How will those not admitted into the group be served (e.g., individual counseling or referral)? How will informed consent be gained prior to members entering the group? How will members’ progress be recorded and by whom? These are just some questions that must be answered when taking the practical considerations of the group into account.
Group Procedures – This category addresses the specific actions that you will engage in as you are conducting the group. This may involve the theoretical orientation that is being applied during the running the group, specific exercises that may be involved, and elements of group process that may sever to meet the needs of the group members. When writing the procedures the counselor should pay close attention to the objectives of the group in that it is by implementing the procedures that the group objectives are thought to be achieved.
Evaluation of the Group – How will you determine the extent to which the group was a success? This element must also be related to the objectives for the group. If your objectives where written in specific and measurable terms, the evaluation is simplified. You may chose to evaluate the group in terms of making specific observations or in some cases measuring change over time by conducting a per-test and post-test procedure using an appropriate psychometric instrument.