Group counseling is an informal type of counseling in which a small group of individuals meet regularly, discuss, and explore issues with the entire group and each other. Group counseling aims to provide students with a comfortable and safe place to work out their issues and concerns with other students. A good example of group counseling can be found at a summer camp where all the children get together for two weeks each summer. It is much different from weekly meetings where adults share their concerns over dinner. A good group can help the struggling teenager make progress toward his or her goals, but it takes effort and commitment on the part of both parties.
During the process of working through a difficult time, it is often beneficial for members of the group to be able to discuss their feelings and experiences. Group counseling provides a venue through which such discussions can take place. The process is also much less formal than individual counseling. This can be very helpful for those who are already struggling and need more structure.
Group counseling can take many forms. The counselor works with one group of individuals to identify their issues, concerns, and fears during group sessions. Each session is aimed at helping the individual to discover how he or she can best express and manage those concerns and fears. The counselor then provides homework assignments, develops role-play for students to engage in, gives support for the individual as he or she deals with setbacks, and facilitates group discussions.
There are professional counselors who have a background in group therapy. They generally receive their training by participating in a short course that introduces them to the concept of group therapy. Then they complete an internship at a local therapeutic clinic or hospitals. Many of these professionals also have past experience in a similar role at a local hospital. Thus, most professional counselors have worked with individuals who are undergoing a number of treatment options, including psychotherapy.
Those who find themselves struggling with anxiety, depression, loss of employment, relationship problems, or other life stresses are prime candidates for this type of counseling. Most people who attend group therapy feel refreshed and renewed after the experience. The individuals come to the meetings with the realization that they do not have to go through these struggles alone. They also understand that they do not have to continue to struggle while others go on without lifting a finger. For these reasons, there is often a feeling of relief when a counselor assists someone in a group situation.
Sometimes, individual therapy may not be enough. In cases where group sessions simply are not effective, professional counselors may recommend a one-on-one counseling option. These sessions are often more flexible than the group session and are more effective if the individual is willing to work on interpersonal skills. Professional counselors are skilled at working with depressed individuals to help them develop coping strategies. If your child or loved one needs counseling in these areas, a professional counselor may recommend an individual therapy session.