The decision of which group would best serve a new participant is one of the more difficult questions that is asked early in the process of attending G4. Finding the starting point for each participant can be difficult because some feel as though they have many prominent issues that need to be addressed. Given the limited amount of information that you are given by participants as they register for the first time, you are going to help them decide which group will best serve their needs. Below are five levels at which a person might find themselves which will tell them which group is right for them.
The level of self-awareness will typically increase as you move down the levels. A struggle at a higher level might exhibit symptoms of a lower struggle but without addressing the higher issue first; for example, an addiction should be addressed before a skill. To address a lower level struggle without addressing those at a higher level, it is more likely that the lower level struggle will return because it is a symptom of the other.
- Safety – When the basic requirements of safety are not present, then safety takes a priority over any other concern. Safety is never an “unfair expectation” of a relationship. If you feel that safety is a concern, then you should immediately seek to involve other people such as counselors, pastors, or legal authorities.
This category would include but is not limited to: suicidal ideation, violence, threats of violence, preventing someone from moving freely in their home, destruction of property, manipulation, coercion, and other similar concerns.
- Substance Abuse / Addiction – Following safety, the use of mind or mood-altering substances is the next level priority concern. Substance abuse amplifies the struggles in life because it halts any maturation process. The consistency and stability required for change are disrupted by substance abuse.
This category would include but is not limited to: alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs not used according to instructions, inhalants, and other substances that lead to addictive behavior.
- Trauma – Past or present events resulting in nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, sense of helplessness, restricted emotional expression, difficulty concentrating, high levels of anxiety, intense feelings of shame, or a strong desire to isolate should be dealt with before trying to refine matters of character or skill. Trauma is a form of suffering that negatively shapes someone’s sense of identity and causes them to begin to constantly expect or prepare for the worst.
This category includes but is not limited to: physical or sexual abuse, significant verbal or emotional abuse, exposure to an act of violence, experiencing a disaster, a major loss or similar experience.
- Character – This refers to persistent dispositions that express themselves in a variety of ways in a variety of settings. Because both the “trigger” and manifestation change regularly and hide when convenient, it is clear that the struggle lies within the core values, beliefs, and priorities of the individual. Skill training will not change character.
This category includes but is not limited to: anger, bitterness, fear, greed, jealousy, obsessions, hoarding, envy, laziness, selfishness, pornography, codependency, depression, social anxiety, insecurity, and similar dispositions.
- Skill – With skill level changes there will be a high degree of self-awareness that change is needed in the moment when change is needed. However, confusion or uncertainty prevents an individual from being able to respond in a manner that it is wise and appropriate.
This category includes but is not limited to: conflict resolution, time management, budgeting, planning, and similar skills.
Having this framework for addressing our struggles can be helpful in helping us to realize that not all struggles are created equal and some should be addressed before others. Change is hard but knowing where to begin can increase our level of confidence in overcoming a struggle.