In counseling practice, group-based interventions are commonly used to promote behavior change. Understanding how interventions in groups facilitate change is critical to guiding intervention design and process evaluations. Group-based interventions face various challenges such as design features, facilitation techniques, group dynamics, inter-personal change processes, selective intra-personal change processes operating in groups, and finally contextual influences (Borek et al., 2019). Similar concepts were encountered in the practice, as facilitation remained the primary challenge. The key was to navigate various group dynamics and intervention design processes, which differ in groups rather than individually while also the need for addressing individual challenges.
At the core of facilitation is a process of helping people to explore, learn, and eventually change behavior. According to Borek and Abraham (2018), group-based counseling promotes behavior change by altering the perceptions, beliefs, and expectations of members which influence behavior patterns. The experience showed that the process of behavior change is a gradual one, encompassing the various stages-of-change which are part of therapy manuals. There are five distinct stages of change such as precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance in accordance with the transtheoretical model of behavior change (TTM).
The experience showed that the process is tedious and requires long-term commitment. Some of the things learned is that the theoretical frameworks can be helpful and provide guidance, but each situation differs, and individuals may require a difference in approaches. Furthermore, behavior change is rarely a stable process, being sometimes temporary while other times permanent, with consistency requiring significant modifications within an individual. Some of the major challenges encountered can be attributed to resistance to change, which is natural in all humans, making it difficult to enable and establish concrete changes in those who require it. Furthermore, there is also a consideration of relapse, which in the presented self-help scenarios included alcoholism and drug use are especially vulnerable to this. Since the behavior is a coping mechanism, in order to facilitate change, the individual’s perception and approach to coping with stress has to be modified towards a more beneficial behavior.
Going through the experience is vital for mental health professionals to understand the complexities and nuances of these issues of substance abuse and addiction that the clients are going through. The scenarios help to play out what strategies are effective, and which may not connect with individuals undergoing such issues. It offers a deeper understanding into the origins and causes of these behaviors, which in turn provides counselors with the ability to address the core of the issue, providing effective treatment.
Borek, A. J., & Abraham, C. (2018). How do small groups promote behaviour change? an integrative conceptual review of explanatory mechanisms. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 10(1), 30–61. Web.
Borek, A. J., Abraham, C., Greaves, C. J., Gillison, F., Tarrant, M., Morgan-Trimmer, S., McCabe, R., & Smith, J. R. (2019). Identifying change processes in group-based health behaviour-change interventions: development of the mechanisms of action in group-based interventions (MAGI) framework. Health Psychology Review, 13(3), 227–247. Web.