Group counseling is a highly effective means of addressing personal concerns. You can participate in both group and individual counseling or group counseling alone. Group counseling is particularly beneficial if you:
- Are concerned about how you relate to other people
- Feel isolated, depressed or anxious
- Experience discomfort in social situations
- Lack intimacy in relationships
- Have family of origin difficulties
- Are dissatisfied with your friendships or romantic relationships
- Have poor self-esteem or lack self-confidence
What is group counseling?
- Typically, a group consists of 5 to 10 people who meet face to face with one or more group counselors to discuss a common concern.
- Group participants obtain immediate, genuine feedback from other group members and counselors, allowing an increase in your awareness of yourself and identification of aspects of your life you want to change.
- Group sessions are confidential: what is discussed in group may not be disclosed or discussed outside the group.
- Many groups last 8-10 weeks while others continue from one term to the next.
- You can stay in group for as long as you and the group leaders feel it is beneficial for you.
Why does group counseling work?
Group members and counselors can:
- Offer support, solutions or alternatives to each other
- Help you see that you are not alone in your problems
- Help you resolve your difficulties, learn alternative ways of responding, and develop new ways of relating to others
What does a typical group session look like?
Groups vary in session format.
- Structured or semi-structured
- Similar to workshops and focused on a particular topic
- Sessions may consist of brief lectures by the group leaders, group discussions, and experiential activities
- Process or personal exploration groups
- No specific topic for each group session
- As a group member, you bring any issues to the group you feel are important
- The primary focus of therapy in the group is on the interactions among you and other group members
- Members give each other feedback on their interpersonal styles and identify ways in which they feel more connected to one another
Do I have to reveal all my deepest secrets and feelings to the group?
- No. You alone decide how much you want to share.
- Most group members tend to share more about themselves when they feel safe in the group.
- Members often report getting more out of group when they decide to share more about themselves.
What role do the group leaders play?
- Guide and facilitate self-exploration
- Give feedback and support
- Provide comments on interpersonal issues in the group
- Encourage group cohesion
Some leaders take an active role throughout the duration of the group while others tend to give group members more responsibility for self-exploration.
In structured groups, group leaders take a more active role than in process groups by providing instruction on specific topics related to the group theme.