The Healing Cycle

A review of Helping Groups Heal: Leading Small Groups in the Process of Transformation by Jan Paul Hook

Helping Groups Heal: Leading Small Groups in the Process of Transformation By Jan Paul Hook Templeton Press, 2017.

Helping Groups Heal, by Dr. Jan Paul Hook, in collaboration with Dr. Joshua N. Hook and Dr. Don E. Davis, presents an accessible approach to working toward sustainable growth and healing in a variety of small group settings. Dr. Hook pulls from both personal experience and the biblical promise of struggle followed by redemption. 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 a more productive member of groups such as these.

The first chapter introduces the reader to The Healing Cycle, “a model for group work” and to a hypothetical church small group through which the reader will see The Healing Cycle play out. This group is made up of two married couples, one divorced woman and one single young man. Each of these hypothetical players brings a different experience to the group, and each has unique strengths and struggles group leaders are sure to encounter.

Dr. Hook walks readers through the six stages of The Healing Cycle:

  • Grace—unconditional acceptance that empowers change.
  • Safety—feeling secure and protected from danger and an openness.
  • Vulnerability—sharing ourselves honestly.
  • Truth—giving accurate feedback about another person within the context of grace and love.
  • Ownership—taking responsibility for your part in a conflict.
  • Repentance—taking ownership and making a change.

Each chapter describes the step, its psychological merit, its faith-based merit, examples of the fictional group introduced in the first chapter struggling with the step, skills that will empower the leader in executing the step effectively, positive examples of the group using the step, and exercises to aid both the group and the leader. One common phrase throughout each chapter is “growth edges”—areas in which members of the group, including the leader, can grow and change for the better.

The final chapter, Back to Grace, reinforces Dr. Hook’s assertions that each stage of The Healing Cycle depends on the others, and actively practicing each stage must be a continual effort. Within the definite structure of the chapters, Dr. Hook presents a clinical approach to small groups as an organic process easily accessible to leaders with any level of experience.
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