My most memorable college memory was the group counseling sessions within impoverished communities. We coordinated with the group leaders, administrators, and local government units before our trip to set up a counseling session with their constituents. There was never a community that could decline our group counseling.
We would ask them to let their people know about our intentions and that there would be booths for groups with different issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, stress, etc. We eventually ventured out to international regions, prisons, and other areas that needed mental help the most.
How To Conduct A Group Counseling Session?
The most important thing to do if you want to conduct a group counseling session is to figure out why is the group there in the first place. For instance, is the group trying to overcome addiction, anxiety, depression, etc.? Is it because the crowd wants to overcome grief? Then, you should also figure out how group counseling can be achieved.
When the goals and approaches are decided upon for group counseling, find out every member’s strengths to know who needs more assistance than others in the crowd. Furthermore, the group counseling expert should come up with challenges that everyone can benefit from. That’s the only way to ensure that the members are progressing well.
Therapeutic Activities for Counseling Sessions
One of the things that therapists do in therapy is to ask the members beforehand about their favorite music or genre, and then they play it in the background during the session. It is supposed to make the group feel more comfortable effortlessly.
In case they seem to have issues with meeting new people in the group, you may stick to one-on-one therapy. Some may even bring in an emotional support animal to assist the member further.
Of course, exercising is recommended by therapists as a therapeutic activity. The only way it can stress you out is if it’s all you do and overexert yourself.
Group counseling is a form of treatment in which various people with similar issues meet in a group to heal.
Roles And Responsibilities Of The Counselor In Group Counseling
One of the responsibilities of a counselor is getting rid of the group’s apprehension. In reality, many people who agree to join a session have doubts about the group’s helpfulness. If the counselor can remove their doubts, the session will flow smoothly.
The counselor should also be clear about the group and individual goals. It may not always be apparent initially, but the patients may talk about them when they are no longer apprehensive about the treatment.
Then, you also need to create rules that are specific to one party. The session cannot start without everyone agreeing on it. If there’s a rule that any of them doesn’t like, you should look for an alternative that’s ideal for all.
Moreover, the counselor needs to ensure that the patients interact positively with each other. Being civil does not cut, especially since they are all trying to improve their mental health, and they need to rely on one another throughout the treatment.
What are the therapist’s duties?
Group counselors have a broad range of duties and responsibilities. However, the most common ones include:
- Helping individuals deal with addiction and mild mental disorders
- Informing patients about genetic disorders
- Offering support to people with severe illnesses and their loved ones
What is the role of a group leader in counseling?
The group leader is not only supposed to facilitate during counseling; they are also expected to keep everyone positive and respectful to each other.
The Advantages Of Undergoing Group Counseling Sessions
The primary advantage of counseling is that you will never be lonely while trying to face your problems and deal with them. This is why it is recommended for people with depression and other mental disorders with depressive symptoms.
It also guarantees that you have more than one sounding board, not just the therapist. When you talk about your problems, everyone could pitch in and offer moral and emotional support. If you are lucky, they could even become your friends for life.
Some psychologists also suggest the treatment to folks with anxiety as it is an excellent way to be around new people and overcome your fears.
Types Of Treatment
- Psychotherapy: It is a type of talk therapy in which people learn how to be honest about their failures and celebrate their successes. It may be challenging to do either for people with mental health issues.
- Cognitive Therapy: Like in regular cognitive-behavioral therapy, the therapist helps individuals assess what’s wrong with their way of thinking and help them change it. This way, their behavior can improve.
- Dynamic Therapy: In this form of therapy, the patients look for their common issues and figure out how they can resolve them. Experts claim that this cohesiveness can make them work better with each other.
- Relapse Prevention: It is an after-care program that counselors suggest to recovering addicts. They teach the patients how to cope with their urges to try addictive substances and control their moods to avoid even thinking about it.
- Mutual Self-Help: This treatment type is often started by a person who had mental health issues in the past and looked for others with similar problems. One example of it is Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Network Therapy: It is a type of therapy that requires a recovering individual’s loved ones to share their journey with them. This is supposed to prevent the person from relapsing.
The Goals Of Group Counseling
- Process Goals: These goals are connected to why you are doing the treatment. For instance, do you want to overcome addiction, stress, depression, anxiety, etc.?
- Outcome Goals: These are the things you wish to achieve in life during or after group counseling. For instance, do you want to get a new job after sorting out your mental disorder?
The Issues In Group Counseling
The primary issue in group counseling is trust. Some people trust counselors and the system itself better than others. If the mental health professional is not quick to realize that one of the patients is not happy with their process, it may affect therapy’s effectiveness.
An individual’s fears can also get in the way of success. If the counselor cannot handle or at least notice it early, counseling will most likely become ineffective.
Furthermore, someone needs to be comfortable enough to talk about their issues in a group setting. The problem is that not everyone can feel that way after the first or second session. In case that does not happen, then there is no way for the treatment to work.
Disadvantages Of Group Counseling
- Lack of Comfortability: Just like in one-on-one counseling, you need to determine your comfort level with the process and the people you do it with. If you do not feel awkward or too weirded out by them, you may continue with it. But if you are not comfortable at all, look for another group.
- Lack of Trust: Trust is essential in any form of treatment. If the patient does not trust the counselor or the other people they do therapy with, it will not succeed.
- Interpersonal Conflicts: success gets jeopardized when patients with clashing personalities meet. Their opinions may always be the opposite, and they cannot find anything to agree upon.
- Perceived Rejection: People who assume that the other patients or the counselor will reject them cannot find success in the treatment process. Only when they get over that perceived rejection that the process may work.
- Loss of Privacy: One of the biggest reasons people want to see a licensed counselor is to keep the sessions confidential. If they find themselves in a group setting, they may not achieve their privacy loss goals.
- Social Phobia: People who fear talking in public may not benefit from the treatment as well.
Types Of Group Counseling
- Psychoeducational Group Therapy: This type enables the therapist to treat their patients as students and educate them about their issues and the possible ways to resolve them. Thus, they can all act in a civilized manner and without being too friendly with each other.
- Process-Oriented Group Therapy: In this group therapy type, the therapist takes the backseat and lets the patients direct how the session will go. They only step up if the conversation goes too off-topic. Otherwise, they blend in with the group and act as a facilitator.
Can group counseling be harmful?
Yes, group counseling can technically be harmful, considering every session is unique. If you end up doing a faulty program, you may come out worse than ever.
What happens in a group counseling session?
During a session, you will see one or two therapists in the room. The more patients attend the session; the more therapists will be there. Then, you may need to meet with them at least once a week.
Ten years later, my life is more hectic than ever. Apart from being a psychologist and counselor, I am also a wife, a mom of three kids, and a lifestyle blogger. I barely have time to do anything else, frankly speaking – not even shopping at the mall like I always did in the past. Despite that, I often make time for the group counseling activities that my friends and I conduct four times a year in different parts of the globe.
While I couldn’t always be out there with my friends, I help by making arrangements with the communities and finding out what other parties could bring to help them. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had not been able to travel and provide therapy to more people in person. We could offer online therapy, which is especially vital at this time but does not reach as many people as therapy does. Still, with the vaccines rolling out slowly but surely, we are all optimistic that we could go out again to provide therapy to more communities.