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The Essential Toolkit for Running Groups

Approved by the British Psychological Society for the purposes of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

There is currently not a single service that is not under pressure to deliver more client contacts and more effective interventions. This is the case whatever field we work in; from mental health to changing health behaviours working with young people, from dietetics to psychotherapy. Unfortunately however, our primary training is often in one-to-one models of change. Equally, more specialist training in group work often requires commitment to expensive and time consuming long courses for which funding is often not available. This can be particularly pressing because dynamics within groups often mean that what works in one-to-one work does not always transfer to working with multiple clients and that problems in group work are often more common as a result. This one day course run by Consultant Clinical Psychologist Paul Grantham provides the necessary basic toolkit to address these issues successfully and prepare and refresh professionals in their group work. Whether you are new to running groups or are simply looking for a refresher to provide new ideas and strategies, this course is invaluable.

This both highly practical and evidence based seminar will:

  • Examine whether group work is as effective as one-to-one work
  • Provide you with a 17 point checklist found to prevent up to half of common problems in groups
  • Explore how to engage both male and female participants in groups more successfully
  • Suggest how to work successfully with both "low energy groups" & mandated clients who have been "sent"
  • Recommend how to manage poor attendance in groups
  • Help you to develop a more productive working relationship with group co-leaders

Who should attend?

All health and social care professionals who want to develop new ways of working effectively with clients within time constraints:

Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Care Staff, Outreach Workers, Housing Support Staff, Probation Officers, Substance Misuse Workers, Community Practitioners, Speech & Language Therapists, Dietitians, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Health Visitors, Youth Workers and all those helping people to change

What would you do in the following situations?

  • You are running a health behaviour change group. The group has developed a split based on competitive behaviour concerning severity of problems. How do you handle this?
  • A member of a group for managing depression engages in frequent rescuing behaviour towards other group members. What are the possible causes of this and how is it best be managed?
  • You have established a community group for young people . You have found it very difficult to recruit males into the group and after two sessions it has lost a quarter of its participants. What are the possible causes of this and what do you do about it?

If you need answers to these or similar questions – this seminar is for you. This day will give you ideas on how to approach these and many other difficult cases in new and constructive ways.


  • Do groups "work" or are they just a way of increasing contact numbers with clients?
  • The evidence base (and otherwise) for group work. What works with whom and how does it compare with the effectiveness of one-to-one work.
  • Failing to prepare means preparing to fail (1)
    • Why preparation is the single most important element of your group. A 17 point checklist and how to use it to ensure maximise group success. How to anticipate potential key weak points in your group and how to manage them.
  • Failing to prepare means preparing to fail (2)
    • Checking our own practice against the checklist
  • Relationships with group co-leaders
    • Ensuring that co-leaders are assets and how to address difficulties in the relationship
  • Non-verbal behaviour in groups and how to use it to ensure group success.
  • Understanding and shaping both our own and the group’s non-verbal behaviour is a key skill for ensuring a productive group and preventing common problems arising
  • Record keeping and supervision
  • Options for record keeping of group sessions including sample protocols. How supervision of group work differs from supervision of one-to-one work. Lessons for supervisors and supervisees.
  • Common problems in groups and how to manage them (1)
    • Whole group issues. Split groups, negative immobile groups, antagonistic groups. issues of poor attention span and poor engagement. Chaotic groups and how to use their energy to the group’s advantage. Dealing with repeated ground rule breaking and declining or variable group attendance.
  • Common problems in groups and how to manage them (2)
    • Individual issues. From individual "annoying habits" through to individual disruption. Spotting subtle sabotaging strategies and how to neutralise them. Using the group room to manage difficult group behaviour. attending to individual needs that divert attention from the group.
  • Group planning and implementation
  • Tailoring group exercises to the client group
  • Practicing starting a group session
  • Handling difficult group members

“A fantastic course. Please increase the frequency and number of these, I could have done with this months ago.”
E.H., MH Worker

"Exactly what I was looking for to promote and develop more group work within my service. Good mix of leaning methods, a really useful day. Thank you!"
P.E., Counselling Service Manager

“Very helpful, has offered me inspiration to get involved with group work with increased confidence.”
D.T., Psychotherapist

“Helpful, factual without being didactic. Unusually interactive and humorous for a seminar. Confirmed what I was doing right while giving vision to improve areas.” 
J.S., Senior Counsellor

Course Leader:

Paul Grantham
B.A. (Oxon), M.Sc, M.Clin.Psychol., BABCP (Accred)

Paul Grantham is a clinical psychologist with vast clinical and training experience. Having originally taken a degree in history at Oxford University, Paul chose to make Psychology his professional career and took an MSc degree in Psychology at Sussex University followed by training as a Clinical Psychologist at Liverpool University. He has worked extensively within the NHS for many years as a clinical psychologist including primary care, mental health, forensic, substance misuse and physical health and has trained staff in health care, social services, local government and education around the UK and abroad. Paul has a particular interest in people motivation for change, resistance and reasons of why people do NOT change and currently focuses on practical applications of resource based therapies. He has presented and written on a range of psychological issues with particular emphasis on working with clients’ inner resources for overcoming problems.

Paul is registered with the HPC, an Associate of The Royal Society of Medicine and is an Accredited CBT Therapist. An extremely informed, clinically experienced and humorous speaker he is known for his emphasis on the practicalities rather than just the theory of client-based work.

Paul is a founder and Director of SDS Training Company and one of the most popular and inspirational tutors in the field of psychological skills training.

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