Growth Groups

by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr.

Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. Is Professor of Pastoral Counseling at the School of Theology at Claremont, California (1977). He is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He is a licensed marriage, child and family counselor in the State of California. His personal website is, and his email address is

Growth Groups was published by Abingdon, Nashville TN, 1977. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) This handbook addresses marriage and family enrichment, creative singlehood, human liberation, youth work and social change. These qualities of the human potential movement are brought together in a concise, clear and comprehensive way.


  • A Preview

    Growth groups seem to be the most effective means for the maximum number of persons to experience enlivening within themselves and in their relationships with others!

  • Chapter 1: Growth Groups Key to Aliveness

    The quality of life in nations and communities, in family relations, in individual worlds is the imperative issue of our times.

  • Chapter 2: Creating a Growth Environment — The Group’s Formation and Flow

    One strength of the growth-group approach is its adaptability to a variety of formats. The challenge is to be aware of the needs of your group and to develop formats which meet those needs best. Provide sufficient frequency, intensity, and continuity of experience together so that the psychological process of becoming a group will operate.

  • Chapter 3: Leadership and Tools for Growth Groups

    The leader-facilitator brings his know-how and personhood to the group as resources for doing three things: (1) facilitating the growth of individual members; (2) developing a group climate and style of relating which release individual members and the group as a growth-stimulating organism; (3) continuing his own growth.

  • Chapter 4: Marriage Growth Groups — Developing Intimacy

    Experiences in a group are most likely to help a marriage become an ongoing stimulus to growth if these guidelines are observed: (1) The couple agrees on certain things both want (goals) and decides how to attain them (strategy). They tell the group about both goals and strategy. (2) Each partner concentrates on changing his side of the relationship rather than trying to reform the other. (3) Between group sessions they use new communication and problem-solving skills learned in the group.

  • Chapter 5: Women’s (and Men’s) Liberation Groups

    The new femininity offers opportunities for (in fact demands) a richer masculinity; together men and women can create more mutually humanizing relationships, including more delightful marriages.

  • Chapter 6: Youth Growth Groups — Identity Formation

    No age group is more concerned than youth about finding and fulfilling themselves. The search for vivid experiencing — for turning on through rock music, mysticism, drugs, sex, freer relationships with people — is a powerful drive in youth. Because growth groups are an effective method of turning on to people, they have a special attraction and usefulness for youth.

  • Chapter 7: Growth Groups for Children and Families

    Growth groups for children can facilitate a child’s development by providing fulfilling experiences. Multiple-family groups can help whole-family units discover and develop their strengths. To nurture healthier, more life-loving children capable of making something better of that unknown world — this is the need and the challenge.

  • Chapter 8: Growth Groups for Singles

    Our culture ordinarily provides relatively shallow interaction between the sexes during dating and courtship (even if sexual intercourse is involved as it often is). The dating games that youth are programmed to play by our society, hide real needs, fears, and vulnerabilities. Growth groups encourage in-depth communication and allow persons to know each other without masks.

  • Chapter 9: Growth Groups in Schools, Churches, and Agencies

    Growth-oriented groups are a practical means of moving to a prevention and fulfillment orientation and away from the repair-therapy orientation. Enhancing positive mental health in small groups for normal people may prevent many personal and family problems from developing.

  • Chapter 10: Training Change Agents to Humanize Society

    We must work to produce personal growth that will energize social change, and social change that will nurture and support personal growth. If enthusiasm for individual-actualization is misused as an excuse for privitism, the long-range results will be growth-stifling for everyone on the planet.