In group counseling approximately 6-12 individuals meet face-to-face with a trained group therapist. Group counseling is a shared therapeutic experience which includes the presence of others who are working through similar issues. The focus can be on interpersonal relationships or on particular concerns shared by the group members, and is offered to help people reach a myriad of different therapeutic goals.
When people come into a group setting and interact freely with other members, they usually recreate those difficulties that brought them together in the first place. Under the direction of the therapist, the group is able to give support, offer alternatives, and comfort members in such a way that these difficulties become resolved and alternative behaviors are learned. This allows members to develop new ways of relating to people, and during group counseling, people begin to see that they are not alone and that there is hope and help. It is comforting to hear that other people have a similar difficulty, or have already worked through a problem.
Another reason for the success of group counseling is that people feel free to care about each other because of the climate of trust in a group. The psychological safety of the group will allow the expression of feelings which are often difficult to express outside their sessions. People might begin to ask for the support they need and be encouraged to tell people what is expected of them.
Types of Groups
Groups are usually divided into two types, either “psychoeducational” or “process oriented.”
Essentially, a psychoeducational group is focused on providing information about specific topics in order to give additional resources or information. These kinds of groups are generally more structured; members will be provided with specific topics or modules to discuss and explore. The intention is to provide more information about the topic, which is often identified in the name of the group.
Process Oriented group
Here, the focus is on the experience of being in the group, itself, as the healing opportunity. For example, the process of expressing thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the group, “in the here and now” can be the very vehicle by which change is discovered.
When to Consider Group Therapy
People choose to join group therapy to supplement primary therapy, to give additional support, or as the sole component of healing work. No matter what is addressed in therapy, group therapy allows the opportunity to share healing and experiences with other members. Many attending group therapy report that it as a way to know that they “are not alone” and that there are others, with similar experiences, who are supportive of them.
What actually happens in each group depends on who attends, what is being discussed, and any specific “modalities” the therapist uses in group. No matter what is addressed, change occurs as the group moves through various stages of development. The relationships, interactions, worked through conflicts, and discussions, offer many opportunities for growth, change, and restoration.
The criteria for joining a group depends on the intention of the group, what subject matter is to be addressed, and who would benefit the most from attending. Group guidelines, including confidentiality will likely be shared with all members at the beginning of the group or in an individual meeting with the group leader.
Source: DRB Alternatives, Inc. www.drbalternatives.com