Ethics in Group Psychotherapy: Group Development Paper

Group counselling is a special area within the therapy practices, where activities and guidelines often substantially differ from those of an individual counselling. The activities undertaken heavily depend on social characteristics of the group proposed for the therapy course, such as their age, gender, race, social class and other factors of influence. So, generally, does the goal of a therapy trajectory established within the group development proposal.

Purpose and Goals of the Group

Adolescent females with history of mental health issues where chosen as the target group for this development paper, with the self-esteem increase serving as the goal of the group. Adolescence is one of the most important and the most volatile periods in a person’s life, when they are the most vulnerable to the opinion that other people have on them. This is particularly true for teenage girls who are the biggest risk groups for such mental illnesses as depression, anxiety or eating disorder. Existing research on the topic suggests that these disorders have strong links to a low self-esteem and an overall negative self-perception. As both teenagers and women, a group with a greater level of social pressure applied to them, teenage girls are particularly susceptible to these disorders. The group therapy might help them to become more confident in themselves, improving their self-image and, by extension, benefiting their mental health.

The group participation eligibility criteria include a female gender identity, age range between 13 and 19, and a history of mental health issues or display of symptoms characteristic for mental health issues. The participants below the age of 17 would have to provide parental consent forms, while the participants aged 17 and above would have to sign their own consent forms, indicating their familiarity with the therapy session structure. The sessions would last for an hour and a half at a time, and be scheduled on a weekly basis for a total of 14 weeks. The group would meet in a rented facility at one of the largest district schools. The main challenge would lie in establishing a partnership with said institution, so it is important that the organizer contacts the facility in advance to make all the necessary arrangements.

Theory and Style of Leadership

Every group requires a leader, and it is hard to find a more controversial and divisive topic in group management then the most efficient leadership approach and style. The five main leadership styles in modern therapy include participative approach, laissez-faire approach, autocratic approach, transactional approach and transformational approach. Considering the age demographic of the participants and the aim of the group counseling course discussed, this group will operate under a participatory leader.

The participatory leader delivers a democratic, supportive, and interactive environment for the group members throughout the therapy activities. The input of every team member is to be considered and valued throughout the counseling process. The leader’s main responsibilities would include communication facilitation and the management of potential conflict between the participants. They would lead by example, participating in the assigned activities themselves when applicable, and ensuring low level of barriers when it is not.

Group Structures

Group members would be expected to follow the set of rules concerning their behavior during the sessions, both individually and with each other. Mobile phones and other electronic communicational devices on hand should be switched off throughout the sessions to avoid involuntary distractions. The participants would be expected to attend every session without breaks or interruptions to achieve an outcome as designed. No interruption, speaking out of turn or any insults are allowed within the group to ensure that every member feels welcome and comfortable to share their experiences. It is vital that confidentiality is enforced and pre-established, since the topics to be discussed during the counseling are of a sensitive and personal variety. All of the outlined rules will be part of a consent form the participants sign to ensure their awareness of and agreement with them.

The group in question is of a psychoeducational variety, with a week-to-week topic format. Accounting for the introductory meeting and a closing meeting, ten topics are to be discussed during the sessions. The list of topics is made with a consideration of the most relevant psychological techniques to tackle self-esteem and self-perception issues. It includes, in chronological order, invisible self model of wellness, personal values compass, self-acceptance, cognitive diffusion & rumination, positive thinking, mindfulness, body image, identity formation, goals development and support networks. Each session would consist of an educational lecture block, the experience sharing circle, a task of the week and a feedback session.

First meeting would focus on the introduction of the group members to the therapy structure and each other. The participants will be able to share information about themselves, and ask a therapist the questions they might have. The therapist, in turn, would ensure they are fully fit for the group work ahead through a set of final profiling questions. The questions are chosen as to assess the level of interest in therapy and the current level of self-esteem. No mental health histories are to be discussed privately or asked from anyone during sessions without their desire to share, whether by a therapist or by other group members.

Forms and Group Flyer

Hello, and welcome to the self-esteem increase counselling program. Everyone here is simultaneously unique and similar to one another. You share unifying struggles at school, family and personal lives, which are perceived as normal for your age. Nevertheless, the management of said experiences is an emotionally taxing and otherwise complicated experience. As young adults, you have the capacity to change the ways in which your daily life unfolds by shifting the perspective you take on yourselves. This group and this program are here to aid you in this transformation through a set of approved practices, exercises and feedback sessions. And in the end of the course, perhaps, you will be able to look at yourselves differently.

Evaluation Criteria and Client’s Evaluation

How useful has the session been to you? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
How satisfied are you with the educational material delivery? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
How satisfied are you with the way group discussion occurred? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
How satisfied are you with the exercise part of the session? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Do you have any questions regarding the topic of this weeks’ session? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
How excited do you feel for the next session? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
How likely are you to share your experience on this session with your social circle? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Ethical Considerations

From an ethical standpoint, the therapist that would undertake the group is faced with an additional responsibility of working with minors. Additionally, the standard ethical considerations of working in groups also do apply with the case of this therapy course (Woods & Ruzek, 2018). The ethical concerns typical for a group counselling setting include:

  1. training and qualifications of group leaders;
  2. co-facilitation issues;
  3. group membership issues;
  4. confidentiality;
  5. facilitator internal values and biases;
  6. the cases of group intervention;
  7.  dual roles; and
  8. issues surrounding consultation, referral, and termination.

Potential for Critical Incidents

Given the type and social characteristics of the chosen group, clashes and interpersonal conflicts might emerge during the discussion of sensitive topics, such as values and body image. The therapist must be equipped to handle the crisis situation while maintaining their role as a participatory leader. No insults and confidentiality members are allowed for group members, with the breach of rules resulting first in a warning, and then an obligation to leave. However, considering the vulnerability of participants and the leadership style chose, the therapist must use their communication and facilitation skills to prevent the conflict in the first place.

Closure and Aftercare

Considering the emotional vulnerability of the target group, as well as the emotionally impactful topics discussed within the sessions, the program would need to end on a positive, warm note. A possibility for a post-group meeting is to be announced, with an attendance encouraged but not mandatory. The participants will be asked for their overall feedback, with them identifying which aspects of counseling they found the most and the least helpful of all. Finally, an opportunity should be left for every participant to discuss their feelings on the course with a therapist in private, after the final session is over.


Overall, the program is developed to increase the self-esteem and improve the self-perception of teenage girls. The topics and activities are selected according to the goal and age demographic. A therapist will be selected in accordance with their credentials and experience of working with said age demographic of participants. The feedback from participants will be taken into consideration after every session to ensure the smooth course of the therapy.


Woods, J., & Ruzek, N. (2018). Ethics in group psychotherapy. In M. D. Ribeiro, J. M. Gross, & M. M. Turner (Eds.), The college counselor’s guide to group psychotherapy (pp. 83–100). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Ethics in Group Psychotherapy: Group Development Paper." December 1, 2022.

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PsychologyWriting. "Ethics in Group Psychotherapy: Group Development Paper." December 1, 2022.