This is the second part of the 5th practice domain, counseling (go to Part I Individual Counseling).
During group counseling, our client is the group as a whole, just as in couples counseling the client is the couple and not the individual members. However, we still have to consider individual differences when forming a group. Things to consider are:
- Group type
- Purpose of the group
- Group size
- Member selection criteria
- Group goals
- Behavioral ground rules for participating
- Criteria and methods for termination or graduation from group
Group counseling is an important part of treatment. It is very common that a counselor will facilitate in a group where some of her/his clients from individual counseling will participate. A competent counselor must know:
- Group methods appropriate to help the client achieve objectives.
- The effectiveness of various models and strategies for group counseling for populations with substance abuse problems and with members of multicultural backgrounds.
- How to accommodate individual needs within the group.
- How to apply confidentiality rules in group.
- Developmental processes affecting groups over time.
- Transition stages in therapeutic groups.
- How to effectively address resistant behaviors, transference issues, and countertransference issues within group.
- How to facilitate the entry on new members and the transition of exiting members.
Group counseling could be challenging at times, especially when the counselor does not have a clear idea of what her/his role is in group. In order to conduct group counseling effectively, without getting all our energy drained in the first 10 minutes of session, we must know:
- Leadership, facilitator, and counselor methods appropriate for each group type and therapeutic setting.
- Types and uses of power and authority in group counseling.
- When and how to use appropriate power.
Documentation is part of group counseling too. We must document measurable progress toward group and individual goals; know the concepts of process and content, in order to make appropriate process interventions.
We must be able to describe and summarize the client’s behavior within group. This will help us identify the client’s progress as well as issues and needs that may require a modification in the treatment plan.