Group counselling, or group therapy as it is sometimes called, is a form of therapy where a small group of patients meet regularly to talk, interact and discuss problems with each other. It provides beneficial advantages, where people can share experiences and contributions from other members in the group are considered valuable, since all the group share similar experiences. A group therapist, there are usually two, provides an anchor point in the group to allow members to share openly and safely.
Group counselling is no different to 1-2-1 counselling. Confidentiality and respect for all form part of the same clinical, ethical and professional boundaries.
One of the main principles behind group counselling is the idea that dealing with specific issues may cause isolation and a feeling that one is alone in facing one’s problems
Group counselling can help
Group counselling attempts to counteract this isolation by assembling people with similar issues to enforce that each individual’s issues are not singular to one person. Additionally, knowing other people with similar troubles can be comforting to each individual. These individuals may not have access in their family or friends to people with the same issues.
Group counselling can be highly organised, with people doing specific activities together and then sharing the results. Or it can be more freeform, where people share current issues related to the group’s purpose. For example, one person’s verbal contributions to a group may be discussed, validated and provoke problem solving by other members of the group. This interaction is then primarily led by the group therapist/s.
Studies have shown that both group and individual psychotherapy benefit about 85% of the patients that participate in them. Optimally, patients gain a better understanding of themselves, and perhaps a stronger set of interpersonal and coping skills through the Group Counselling process. Some patients may continue therapy after group sessions end, either individually or in another group setting.
Group counselling can offer a unique environment in which to learn about and experience both self and others.
We all live in groups for much of our lives and working together with others can provide valuable insights into characteristic patterns of thinking and relating in a group setting.
The group experience gives individuals an opportunity to explore their issues in more depth, in a setting which closely resembles work, study, social and family groupings.
A professionally trained counsellor acts as ‘the facilitator’, helping the group, and individual members to learn, and find a solution or reach a consensus, without imposing or dictating an outcome. The facilitator works to empower individual members of the group to learn for themselves. Or find their own answers to problems without control or manipulation.
Some patients may not be able to tolerate aggressive or hostile comments from group members. Patients who have trouble communicating in group situations may be at risk of dropping out of group counselling. If no one comments on their silence, or makes an attempt to interact with them, they may begin to feel even more isolated and alone instead of identifying with the group. Therefore, the facilitator usually attempts to encourage silent members to participate early on in treatment.
The Clinical Services Manager and Group Therapist/s will discuss the suitability of clients for group work following initial assessments.
Group Counselling Contract
A ‘Group Counselling Contract’ is agreed by all members of the group which includes:
What you hear, see or say here stays within the group
Treat other members with the same respect as you would expect to receive
Take part in sessions, challenge yourself
All content within the group counselling sessions are confidential (Except where harm to self or others may occur)
Any additional agreed content to the contract
The end of long-term group counselling may cause feelings of grief, loss, abandonment, anger, or rejection in some members. The group therapist will attempt to foster a sense of closure by encouraging members to explore their feelings and use newly acquired coping techniques to deal with them. Working through this termination phase of group counselling is an important part of the treatment process. For further information on the group therapy process at Crisis Point, take a look at the group counselling FAQs page.
Feedback from previous group members
‘..it was very challenging and helped me to see things from an entirely different perspective..’
‘..I developed a high level of respect for all members of the group..’
‘..It has taught me about what i value, such as commitment and openness..’
‘..It has helped me in my relationship, my friendships and the contact with my family..’
‘..Fifteen weeks seemed a long time at the start, but by the end it was difficult to leave..’
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