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Helping Groups Heal

Leading Small Groups in the Process of Transformation

Jan P. Hook Joshua N. Hook Don E. Davis

Life with others is messy. The bonds we form are often the source that drives us to helping professionals like therapists and pastors in the first place. And yet, it is from these relation­ships that our greatest moments of healing spring. Recogniz­ing the value of relationships, pastors and therapists have been leading small therapeutic groups for years. Yet few lead­ers have a specific, easy-to-follow, and researched framework to structure their groups.

Helping Groups Heal presents “The Healing Cycle,” a grace-based model that facilitates healing and growth in groups. It has been tested with a variety of settings, and can be adapted to nearly any small group, from sex addiction therapy to marriage therapy to Bible studies.

The basic components of “The Healing Cycle” are grace, safety, vulnerability, truth, ownership, and confession. Helping Groups Heal guides the reader through these elements, offering case studies and practical advice from the voices of researchers and practitioners. Each chapter shows how “The Healing Cycle” moves its members to share their truth, own it, and make positive change in their lives. Each step of the process allows participants to move past surface issues and find depth in their understanding of their pain.

Whether you have been leading small groups for years or are about to lead your first session, Helping Groups Heal is an accessible, easy-to-follow guide through “The Healing Cycle” that will give each group member what’s needed to grow, relate, and heal. 

Acknowledgments / ix

Preface / xi

Chapter 1: Introduction / 3

Chapter 2: Grace / 25

Chapter 3: Safety / 55

Chapter 4: Vulnerability / 93

Chapter 5: Truth / 127

Chapter 6: Ownership / 161

Chapter 7: Repentance / 199

Chapter 8: Back to Grace / 235

References / 267

About the Authors / 271

Index / 273

This book is full of practical counseling skills, relevant Biblical insights, down-to-earth examples, and other helpful tools for use with groups. I am enthusiastic in my recommendation of this well-written book.

Gary R. Collins, PhD, author of Christian Counseling, Christian Coaching, How to be a People Helper, and more

What an ideal team to write a book! Jan Hook is a wise and experienced practitioner with hundreds of groups under his belt, and Joshua Hook and Don Davis are exceptional clinical and basic researchers who also have a wealth of experience in group treatments. The result is Helping Groups Heal: Leading Small Groups in the Process of Transformation, which is a must-read book for Christian small group leaders who want to help the people in those groups grow and heal. Experienced group leader or rookie, this is a book that can enrich you and your group participants.

Everett L. Worthington, Jr., author of The Power of Forgiving and Humility: The Quiet Virtue

Helping Groups Heal is a must-read book. The authors have written a fantastic resource that should be on the bookshelf of anyone serious about group work. This book will encourage and equip leaders—whether novice or experienced—to move others through a transformational process of healing and growth. Drawing on cutting-edge research, as well as years of personal and professional experience, the model laid out offers a clear, practical path for helping others experience stronger, grace-filled relationships.

Jamie D. Aten, PhD, founder & executive director, Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College

Steeped in practical experience and supported by research, this gem provides insights about the potential for groups to facilitate healing and growth in their members. Written in a practical and engaging style, the team of authors provide a model of well-functioning groups which can be applied to groups ranging from formal therapy to church bible study—or anywhere in between. Whether you are the leader or participant of such a group, this book is well worth the read.

Peter Hill, coauthor of Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach

Bill's "Faith Matters" Blog–July 8, 2017

“This is a guidebook or primer for people who lead Christian small groups, though some of its lessons can apply to such groups of almost any faith tradition. The advice here is direct and drawn from the experience of the authors.”

Bill Tammeus

Association of Christian Counselors–July, 2017

“Leading a small group can be challenging for leaders, particularly if the leader does not have a specific structure in mind for his/her group. Yet, small groups can also be incredibly healing for people and well worth the challenges. In this brand-new book, authors Jan Paul Hook, Joshua Hook, and Don Davis introduce “The Healing Cycle,” a model that promotes healthy group development and healing. In today’s divisive times, small group ministries and healthy group relationships are increasingly important. Helping Groups Heal is a great resource for anyone working with groups.”

Midwest Book Review–September 2017

“Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, Helping Groups Heal is an accessible, easy-to-follow guide for non-specialist general readers through 'The Healing Cycle' that will give each group member what's needed to grow, relate, and heal. . . . [U]nreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Psychology collections and supplemental studies lists."

Church Health Reader (Winter 2018)

“This book is directed primarily at those who are leading or will lead a small group of some kind, whether a bible study or therapy group. However, the contents are beneficial for anyone who hopes to be more productive member of groups such as these. . . . [E]asily accessible to leaders with any level of experience.” 

Taylor Young

Psychology and Christianity–Vol. 36, No. 4

“[The book] has the ring of authenticity born out in my own experience. I suspect many seasoned clinicians will nod their head in agreement with the principles and practical tips these authors describe. What become part of one’s repertoire over years of experience, supervision, reading, and gleanings from workshops has been nicely summarized in one volume. I think this book would make a valuable contribution to counselor education programs.”

Geoffrey W. Sutton