Communities are made of families and individuals, males and females of all ages with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Some groups may have special needs and may need increased attention, such as children, elderly people with disabilities, lactating or pregnant women and sexually abused or raped women or men. Additionally, during crisis and in conflicts stigmatization from the community arises for certain groups. This might cause additional problems and suffering, requiring special tailored attention to cope with within the community. Members of each group face different risks and are affected in different ways by the adverse situation. Therefore, interventions need to be targeted and tailored to the various needs of all groups and individuals in groups.
Groups carry a lot of potential in increasing people’s abilities to deal with distressing events:
• Mutual witnessing of the experienced
• Creating a safe space within the group
• Solidarity, support and empathy
• Understanding the impact of violence on social relationships (group as mirror)
• Participation and joint action
• Possibility of (re-)creating a “joint voice”.
However, in order to deal with destructive dynamics in groups, there is a need to review and reflect on elements that are impeding the group process. In each group, there is a fear of exclusion and a request for belonging. This needs to be addressed and reflected upon during the group process. There is a general request to provide an appropriate group frame and setting, including sufficient time, confidentiality, rules in regard to continuity, fixed start and ending times, defining who belongs to the respective (working) group and who doesn’t in order to allow for the establishment of a safe space.