Reviewed by Brian Keogh, Lecturer, The School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College


This user friendly and practical book provides a flexible and thorough introduction to initiating and sustaining a communication skills programme. The book comprises of a number of groupwork exercises for people who have poor, or are in need of improving, interaction skills. The resourceful manual provides the reader with aims and objectives, session plans, activity guidelines and handouts for a total of eighteen groupwork sessions which can be applied to a number of different settings. Each of the sessions is carefully thought out with advice on how to make the sessions work, evaluating the sessions and, most importantly, strategies on how to overcome difficult but common problems in groupwork situations. The sessions flow logically and each one builds on skills that the participants have learned in previous sessions. Homework exercises are outlined in each of the sessions which not only provide for continuity between sessions, they also help the participants to link the skills to everyday living.

What makes this book a useful resource is its flexibility. For example, experienced facilitators may prefer to approach the manual in an elective fashion, using the sessions to complement and build on their own professional repertoire. Novice facilitators may use the book to introduce groupwork sessions into their practice and can feel confident that the resources and practical advice is available to answer any queries they may have.

The author suggests that this book could be used in a variety of settings and is suitable for group work with participants who are from a varied background. This is a fair enough statement, but facilitators working with certain clients, for example, people with mental health problems, or people who have marked literacy problems, may find that some of the sessions are a little too challenging for their participants. Positive interaction skills are essential for people who have a lowered self-esteem and working through these sessions will undoubtedly improve individuals’ feelings of self worth. What is important to remember is that these complex human emotions do not always respond to groupwork interventions and novice facilitators should bear this in mind when using these sessions.

POSITIVE INTERACTION SKILLS: A GROUP THERAPY MANUAL, by R. Dynes (2004). Speechmark Publishing Ltd, Bicester, Oxon (www.speechmark.net). ISBN 0 86388 360 5. £34.95.


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