Group counseling offers a real opportunity to solve today’s problems. It allows practitioners to work with a large number of clients, which is now an undeniable advantage in managed care. Moreover, group processes have their learning benefits. Group counseling may be a method of choice for many populations. In general, counseling groups have a specific focus that can be educational, professional, social, or personal.
Group work emphasizes interpersonal communication of conscious thoughts, emotions, and actions within the present time. Consulting groups are often problem-oriented, and their members primarily determine content and goals. Group members generally do not need extensive personality restructuring, and their interests are usually related to developmental tasks throughout their lives. Group counseling is typically growth-oriented because it focuses on discovering the inner resources of power. Participants may face situational crises and temporary conflicts, wrestle with personal or interpersonal issues, experience life-changing problems, or attempt to revaluate their self-defeating behavior. This group provides the compassion and support needed to build an atmosphere of trust that leads to the exchange and exploration of these issues.
Team members are helped to develop existing interpersonal problem-solving skills to better cope with future problems of similar nature. Group counselors use oral and non-verbal skills and structured practice. The role of the group counselor is to “facilitate interaction among the members, help them learn from one another, assist them in establishing personal goals, and encourage them to translate their insights into concrete plans that involve taking action outside of the group” (Corey, 2016, p. 5). The group counselor serves primarily by teaching participants to focus on the present and to identify issues that the group would like to discuss.
Groups can be used for therapeutic or educational purposes or a combination of both. Corey (2014) claims that group therapy “offers another pathway for self-awareness” (p. 71). Some groups focus primarily on helping people make fundamental changes in the way they think, feel, and behave. Training groups help participants acquire specific coping skills. Groups have special advantages in school counseling.
The school’s special groups are designed to solve students’ educational, professional, personal, or social problems. In a school setting, counselors usually form various groups, for example, “a career exploration group, a self-esteem group, a group for children of divorce, a group for acting-out children, a group aimed at teaching interpersonal skills, or a personal growth group” (Corey, 2016, p. 4). Elementary school counselors are currently creating psychological education groups as well as therapy groups. At the high school level, the group aims to help students recover from drug rehabilitation, crime victims, personal crises, or traumas. The real benefit of therapy at school is that one can reach out to many students before asking for treatment counseling for more serious mental health problems.
One of the reasons the group approach has gained popularity is that it is often more effective than the individual course. This effect stems from the fact that group members gain understanding and practice new skills in daily interactions within and outside the group. Besides, group members benefit from feedback and ideas from practitioners as well as other group members. The group offers many modeling opportunities, and participants can learn how to deal with the problem by observing others experiencing similar issues. Group counseling especially helps develop social interest. Moreover, group sessions provide “a sense of belonging, social connectedness, and community” (Corey, 2017, p. 118). The main therapeutic factor is altruism which is aimed at supporting and helping others in the group.
Corey, G. (2014). Becoming a helper (7th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Corey, G. (2016). Theory and practice of group counseling (9th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.