Counseling has become a widespread method to help people of different backgrounds to handle the issues they encounter. One of the reasons for this popularity is the effectiveness of this approach. For instance, Worrall et al. (2018) stated that the benefits of support groups were outlined by numerous researchers who had implemented studies based on sound methodology. The type of support groups did not correlate with their effectiveness, so both open and closed groups were proper platforms for assisting clients (Wright, Brown, Thase, & Basco, 2017). This paper dwells upon the differences and similarities between these two kinds of support groups.
The paper is based on the results of the interview with a therapist who has worked with the two sorts of groups. Kevin Watkins, a counselor, working at the Morning Star Mission, assists people of different ages and backgrounds. The interviewee believes that support groups are helpful and instrumental in reaching the established goals. K. Watkins stressed that “each group has its own objectives based on the needs of people and the peculiarities of the format” (personal communication, 2020). The basic difference between the two formats is the ability to accept new participants. In closed groups, no new participants can be added while open groups, as the name suggests, are open for people to join at any time (Worrall et al., 2018). Both groups have certain benefits and shortcomings that are related to people’s readiness to share their concerns freely. Closed groups are characterized by an intimate atmosphere where people start trusting each other and developing the relationships that help them cope with their issues. In open groups, some participants may feel reluctant to be completely sincere as the groups are flexible and may contain new members.
The interviewee mentioned that he preferred working in closed support groups. K. Watkins noted, “group members are more relaxed and collaborative, which is critical for their prompt progress” (personal communication, 2020). According to this professional, closed groups are easier to manage and control the course of changes. It is easier to set goals and make sure they can be achieved within the necessary time limit. One of the major challenges to address when handling closed groups is the need to focus on the existing group culture and avoid conformity. The counselor added, “those guys try to make alliances and change the agenda, which is not always helpful or appropriate” (personal communication, 2020). The benefit of open groups is the associated diversity and flexibility in the group culture. However, it can be difficult to make sure that the immediate and other needs of the group and its members are addressed properly.
Irrespective of the format, the interviewee uses cognitive behavior approach. This counseling theory implies the focus on the way people perceive situations and the world around them, as well as their behavior, and the way they behave (Wright et al., 2017). The review of past experiences and behaviors enables group members and the counselor to establish certain goals, as well as specific strategies to attain them. The interviewee emphasized that this approach is appropriate for different groups and people of different backgrounds.
On balance, it is necessary to note that open and closed support groups have advantages and some shortcomings. However, each of them can be effective when addressing particular issues and helping certain groups. For some sensitive issues and vulnerable groups, the closed type can be preferable. As for the theoretical paradigm that can be employed, a cognitive behavior approach is a proper option. This framework enables the counselor to assist people in understanding the reasons for their emotional states and their behaviors. The development of an effective behavioral pattern and proactive perspective is also instrumental in making groups and individuals attain the established goals.
Watkins, K. Personal communication, 2020.
Worrall, H., Schweizer, R., Marks, E., Yuan, L., Lloyd, C., & Ramjan, R. (2018). The effectiveness of support groups: A literature review. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 22(2), 85-93. Web.
Wright, J., Brown, G., Thase, M., & Basco, M. (2017). Learning cognitive-behavior therapy: An illustrated guide (2nd ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Pub.