Pongo's Group Process

When we work with distressed young people in groups, for example in groups within juvenile detention or the state psychiatric hospital, one of the biggest challenges we face is group dynamics.

Will teens take themselves and their lives seriously in front of their peers? Will teens risk openness and creativity? Will teens risk exposing deficits in their skills? Will teens act out their anger with their peers? Will teens test the safety of the group?

It's important for the writing mentor to understand that group dynamics reflect the adolescent vulnerabilities of individuals, which are intensified for young people who have led and are leading difficult lives. If the writing mentor addresses these vulnerabilities, he or she can lead an open and effective class. On the following page, we list some of the teens' principal vulnerabilities within the group setting.

Teens' Vulnerabilities in Groups

We also offer some very specific guidelines on ways to interact with teens in groups. The following language can address the teens' vulnerabilities while enabling you to clarify constructive behavior and set limits on distractions.

How to Interact with Youth in Groups