I would use the combination of techniques for creating a safe environment allowing effective participation of all group members who are free to determine the aim and the goals of the therapy. However, no specific techniques might be offered before the session since the group members might respond positively or negatively to one technique or another. My actual statement here would be: “The techniques that I use depend completely on the flow of the group session and the specific needs of the participants.”
Based on the guideline, I would introduce myself not only as a professional counselor but also as a person with his/ her own experiences who is eager to help. The group leader does not emphasize the goal definition, but it is important to mention that goals can be defined by the group members. I would not describe any specific procedures following a person-centered approach developed by Carl Rogers, which allows group members to become more congruent (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2018). My actual statement would be the following: “I welcome everyone at our group session. I am the group counselor, and my job is to help you to grow personally and resolve the issues you might struggle with. As a professional, I will follow the code of ethical conduct to provide confidential and equal treatment of every participant. I believe that spontaneous reactions are far more valuable than a planned procedure. As a person, I feel the need to support you and to respect your goals, trying to find solutions together on the way to a positive change”.
I do not entirely agree with the guideline of the group leader since it presents a rather vague perspective of therapy to the group members. While it is a good idea to earn trust avoiding any strict goals and procedures, some guidance is needed for effective counseling, as sessions are time-limited, and some issues might be unnoticed without precise planning. Describing my role in the group, I would avoid describing my professional duties. Instead, I would emphasize my involvement as the one of a person with his/ her own experience during the gradual process of self-development. My actual statement would go like this: “I am on my personal journey toward becoming an effective human being, so I understand and appreciate your efforts for self-growth. It is my role as a counselor to support the group and give its participants the freedom to express their concerns and to find solutions to the issues that might arise.”
The philosophy of the group leaders has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the guideline might be practical for building trust between group members and a counselor. On the other hand, the lack of precise information might raise concerns about the professional competence of the counselor. Moreover, some group members might be unable to act without strict guidance, which would undermine the therapeutic value of group counseling.
The theory of person-centered group therapy established by Carl Rogers can be related to the guideline. Based on the principle of “unconditional positive regard towards the group members,” the theory enables the members to reach their potential through the establishment of a climate of growth in the group (Berg et al, 2018, p. 28). The theory of Alfred Adler follows the principle of spontaneous interaction within the group, which encourages cooperation and social interest (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2018). The Adlerian theory can be applied to the guideline, as it underlines the importance of communication instead of strict planning. The theory of choice by William Glasser is active, directive, structured, and “focuses on doing and action plans” (Corey, 2016, p. 398). The author of the theory argues that the group members should be challenged by the leader to change through actions and thoughts and, thus, is in contrast with the guideline.
Berg, R. C., Landreth, G. L., & Fall K. A. (2018). Group counseling: Concepts and procedures (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Corey, G. (2016). Theory & practice of group counseling (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2018). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice: Skills, strategies, and techniques (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.