Frequently Asked Questions About Group Counseling

Many people assumed that being a psychologist and counselor meant that I always dealt with heavy or boring stuff. I could not blame them for thinking that way, considering my job description technically included helping my clients identify their mental disorders and guide them away from them safely. However, they did not know that having such a mentally and emotionally taxing job meant that I had to get a little R&R as often as I could.

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Ever since I was in college, I had been a part of a group of psychologists who would meet four times a year to do something fun and meaningful. For instance, when we went hiking and planting on a mountain, there was a time that illegal loggers and campers left with more trash than trees. Then, we would set up clean-up drives at the beach, donations for orphanages and charities, and even marathons for a cause.

Nevertheless, the most memorable ones were the group counseling sessions that we would provide in remote or impoverished communities. In those places, people had never even seen a psychologist or counselor. Some of them might have known deep inside that they needed mental help, but they did not have a way to ask for it.

Our process was to coordinate with the leaders, administrators, or local government units at least a couple of months before our trip. We would ask them to let their people know about our intentions and that there would be booths for different issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, stress, etc. There was never a community that declined our offer, so we were happy about that. We eventually ventured out to international regions, prisons, and other areas that needed mental help the most.

1. How do you 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 you are all there in the first place. For instance, is it to overcome addiction, anxiety, depression, etc.? Is it because you want to overcome grief? Then, you should also figure out how it can be achieved.

When the goals and approaches are decided upon, find out every patient’s strengths to know who needs more assistance than others. Furthermore, the counselor should come up with challenges that everyone can benefit from. That’s the only way to ensure that the patients are progressing well.

2. What are some therapeutic activities? 

One of the things that therapists do is ask the patient beforehand regarding their favorite music or genre, and then they play it in the background during the session. It is supposed to make the patient comfortable effortlessly.

In case they seem to have issues with meeting new people, you may stick to one-on-one therapy. Some may even bring in an emotional support animal to assist the patient 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.

3. What is group counseling? 

 Group counseling is a form of counseling in which various people with similar issues meet to heal.

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4. What are the roles and responsibilities of the Counsellor in group work? 

 One of the responsibilities of a counselor in group work is getting rid of someone’s apprehension. In reality, many people who agree to join a group counseling session have doubts about its 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 group. 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 counseling.

5. What are the duties and responsibilities of a counselor? 

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

6. 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. 

7. What are the advantages of group counseling? 

 The primary advantage of group counseling is that you will never be lonely while trying to face your problems and deal with them. This is why it is recommended to people with depression and other mental disorders with depressive symptoms.

Group counseling also guarantees that you have more than one sounding board, not just the therapist. When you talk about your problems, everyone can pitch in and offer moral and emotional support. If you are lucky, they may even become your friends for life.

Some psychologists also suggest group counseling to folks with anxiety as it is an excellent way to be around new people and overcome your fears.

8. What are the types of group Counselling? 

  • Psychotherapy Group: 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 Group: 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 Group Therapy: In this form of group counseling, 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 Group: 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 Group: This group counseling 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 group counseling that requires a recovering individual’s loved ones to share their journey with them. This is supposed to prevent the person from relapsing.
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9. What are the goals of group Counselling? 

  • Process Goals: These goals are connected to why you are doing group counseling. 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?

10. What are some 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 group counseling’s effectiveness.

An individual’s fears can also get in the way of group counseling success. If the counselor cannot handle or at least notice it early, group 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 counseling to work.

11. What are two types of group therapy? 

  • 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.
  • ProcessOriented 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.

12. What are the disadvantages of group Counselling? 

  • Lack of Comfortability: Just like in one-on-one counseling, you need to determine your comfortability 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 counseling. If the patient does not trust the counselor or the other people they do therapy with, it will not succeed.
  • Interpersonal Conflicts: Group counseling 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 group counseling. 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 group counseling as well. 

13. Can group therapy be harmful? 

 Yes, group therapy can technically be harmful, considering every group therapy is unique. If you end up doing a faulty program, you may come out worse than ever.

14. What happens in a group therapy session?

During a group therapy 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.

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Remember that every group therapy is unique, which means that it only tackles one issue. For instance, if it is about overcoming a loved one’s loss, you cannot expect them to address your social anxiety, depression, and other issues. And at the beginning of the session, you will all agree upon shared goals while working on individual ones.

You are also expected to share as much as possible when you do therapy. Though you may feel shy at first, everyone will ideally help you get over it. This way, you can increase the success rate of the process.

Final Thoughts

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 cannot always be out there with my friends, I help by making arrangements with the communities and finding out what other groups could bring to help them. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had not been able to travel and provide group counseling to more people in person. We can offer online counseling, which is especially vital at this time but does not reach as many people as group counseling does. Still, with the vaccines rolling out slowly but surely, we are all optimistic that we can go out again to provide the latter to more communities.