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By Naveed Etamdipour

At Genesis Recovery, groups are a pivotal part of growth and change within an individual and as a community. For my first blog post I would like to explain the five stages of Bruce Tuckman’s theory which are categorized by various traits ranging from the beginning of an individual’s exposure to a group, all the way to a leadership role that an individual takes on. These stages can even be applied to group formation in social circles out in our community or growing experiences in everyday life. In this blog post I will discuss Bruce Tuckman’s five stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning, while also giving feedback of my own personal reactions and opinions to this model.

Tuckman’s first of five stages begins with “Forming” in this stage the group is essentially starting up, or meeting for the first time. Forming is explained to be somewhat of a honeymoon stage in which members are fairly polite, individualized, and often very much excited about what is yet to come. Here in the first stage the leader or facilitator plays a more superior role as other members of the group may be unclear of their responsibilities to the group.

The second stage or phase of change within the group is called “Storming.” Here in this stage the honeymoon tends to clear away and real work begins to set in. Members of the group argue for their position as responsibilities are clarified by the facilitator. Conflict is foreseeable here in this stage because of member’s differences in personality and roles assigned. Here at this stage is where the Counselor’s must resolve conflict by engaging the group members in understanding the great importance of working with one another. A counselor’s role is pertinent here especially in a spiritually therapeutic environment such as Genesis Recovery. Members must learn to set aside their differences and assume a brotherly role from a place of care and concern. Depending on the maturity of the group, the Storming stage may last for several weeks and in order for the group to transition successfully into Norming, members must align themselves with a conjoined effort towards achieving the main tasks at hand: a clinical approach which involves learning about the nature of addiction from the perspective of various models of treatment. A spiritual approach which enables members to express their faith and teachings of the bible to their recovery and a 12- step approach which allows members to thoroughly work through the wreckage of their past as well as strengthening a relationship with the Creator.

Next, emotional conflict is reduced and Group members begin to share a new found focus. Conflict is resolved with compromise and criticisms become constructive within the group. Here most individualistic and independent attitudes are placed aside with group effort and motivation becoming the key to proceeding to the next stage of development. The members begin to respect one another and also the facilitator.

Hard work reaches progress of the main goals and tasks of the group in this fourth stage of performing. The group becomes a team in which the leader can delegate roles and responsibilities without conflict, members are able to leave the team without cause the stages to shift or lapse. The leader is now able to work comfortably on other goals without having to put as much pressure on the group as was before. The group is now in an optimal state acting as one, clearly more positive cohesive and mature than when the group first started.

The Last and final stage was added in 1975 by Bruce Tuckman ten years after the initial four stages. The end of the group also referred to as the Mourning or Adjourning stage is seen to be a bittersweet accomplishment by many of the groups members. Members may share their experience of the process with one another and share with each other the insight and hope they have acquired throughout the experience. Positive accomplishments are celebrated and many of the team members continue relationships long after the group adjourns.

I fully agree with and believe Tuckman’s Theory of Group Development because I have first handedly experienced these stages myself. I also believe that the concepts in this theory can be applied to everyday life whether it is within work, school, or any group conscious or unconscious of the phases in this theory. When I first read a brief summary of Bruce Tuckman’s stages of change my immediate reaction was that I had previously experienced these stages first hand myself throughout my own treatment experience. Although these stages apply to the way dynamics of a group come to bloom, it can also apply to the stages in a process such as the treatment experience. I can recall the honeymoon feeling of the forming stage, independent and watching others from the sidelines while remaining reserved about the main goal in mind which was sobriety and a relationship with God. As time went on I was given a role in the community and often argued certain rules and became defiant to change. After overcoming my storming phase of treatment I began to buy into the program, accepting the tasks that were being offered to me. I began to experience a positive attitude and a motivation for more status within the community, and this positivity led me to becoming a leader in the community both in treatment and out in the community of my city of San Diego. Today I often ask myself at whatever season of life I find myself in… “What stage am I in?” or better yet paying very close attention to the stages to come.

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