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Topic 2.1 The affect-task tension

Another key aspect to take into account when working with groups is the so-called tension between the affects and the task.

By affects we understand all the affective, emotional and mutual support relationships that are established between the people of the group. On the other hand, the task would be the achievement of the objectives that we have set for ourselves with the group and that the group has set for itself.

This objective can be of the most varied, from the involvement of a group of users of a day centre for homeless people, to the formation and consolidation of a support group for people with mental illness.

This relationship between affects and the task is related to the stages of group life. The graph shows how this relationship evolves as the group process progresses.

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Both affection and the possibility of performing tasks grow with the group process itself. The adolescent stage usually supposes a “fall in love” with the group, causing, on many occasions, that the task is left in a secondary plane. At this stage, conflicts also usually appear, since people begin to get to know each other better and show themselves as they are. Normally groups find a balance between the two in the maturity stage.

When a group focuses on affects and neglects the task or goals that bought that group together, groups can fall into a loss of meaning and direction.