The structure and composition of a group is an essential element of a group therapy as it determines the effectiveness of the laid guidelines and policies directed towards the achievement of the team objectives. Unlike an individual therapy session, a group therapy involves some two or more persons who have faced different challenges hence the need for sharing experiences in the presence or absence of a professional but with a motive gaining emotional support. Since a group is composed of several people having a common objective, there is a need for its management hence proper structure for the efficiency of its operation.
Logically, a group is typically viewed more of an institution and therefore required to have specific guidelines that streamline its activities towards the achievement of its goals. This paper, therefore, provides an in-depth research of a group therapy highlighting the goals and objectives, the group format, group leadership and the counseling theory. Also, it focuses on the ethical group practices and outlines a clear summary of diversity integration within the group.
Group Goals and Objectives
In many cases, the aims of an individual and group therapy tend to be the same. However, therapists may take advantage of diversity and achieve similar objectives using a unique approach. In this case, the group is composed of 10 individuals having common and differentiated psychological problems. The group goals and objectives include;
To offer emotional support through accurate and proper feedback
In a group set-up, there is a presence of the therapist and the group members. In a circumstance that an individual shares his or her challenges to all the existing parties, it offers room for extensive feedback hence critical in achieving the objective. Notably, the discussion is part of the group activities and therefore, the feedback provided may be an important information from the specialist or an individual within the group who may have experienced a similar challenge and overcome it. The objective is to teach an individual to find different ways of adjusting to solve the challenge whenever it arises.
To assist individuals in determining their respective maladaptive behavior
Within a group, individuals are given an opportunity to speak to others and be listened. This process gives every member a chance to identify his or her behavior. Also, there is a room of making comparisons based on the concerns raised by different individuals hence identifying the means of becoming adaptive and dealing with the behavior. The group therapy, therefore, enables one to identify and understand his or her behavior.
To provide a supportive environment
The motive of the group therapy is not only to offer an opportunity to receive ideas and feedback from members but also a platform to offer support (Burlingame, McClendon, & Alonso, 2011). The issues discussed are always confidential and therefore, the moment one opens up and shares the hidden information that is personal, makes him, or she feels a sense of belonging to a specific group. It reduces the effect of isolation and discrimination attitude hence making one more supported.
Access to a therapy group is important for an individual since it assists in the personal growth and strengthening social capital besides the health management. In reaching the desired number of individuals, certain basic and essential factors are worth considering. These include; age, frequency and duration, nature of membership, residence and daily work plan of the members. The motive is to ensure that those who are willing to form part of the group are regular attendants for purposes of meeting effectiveness in goal achievements. The aspects formed the basis of recruitment, and the member who meets the above criteria are to be considered. Since it is an activity geared towards a healthy lifestyle, the extra members are to form a separate group as the professionals are accessible.
Selected members are to belong to a specific age set and occupy a given locality where they could meet twice a week, that is, on Tuesday and Friday. In every sitting, the members are to take a maximum of 2hours. The entire forum is to be structured in a way that it offers room for at least three members to share their experiences while others discuss and provides feedback that may help the individuals handle their experiences. Also, it should provide an opportunity for the therapist to point out issues observed and to give a clear and accurate view on how the members are to handle the shared experiences.
The membership of the group is open, allowing freedom of entry and exit provided the maximum number of 10 members is not exceeded. The motive behind the open membership plan is to be able to free members who feel to have gained maximum support and needs to exit to feel free and give room for others who are willing but lacks the opportunity.
Group Leadership and Counseling Theory
Within the group set-up, members are to select their representative whose duty is to communicate with the therapist and share the information with the rest of the members. In other words, it is a co-leadership style whereby, the therapist is the primary instructor while the chosen member only shares information upon request or any communication from the therapist. It is the most convenient as the therapist may never be available at all times to attend sittings but may give instructions on the activities to undertake on certain specific meetings. Even though it is a co-leadership style, the role played by the therapist is dominant and over shadows that of the representative member.
In conjunction with the mode of leadership, the group members should apply the cognitive behavioral therapy approach to finding solutions to their issues. The major focus of the theory is the self-defeating ideas or beliefs that the group members manage to point out from one another. At this juncture, the therapist should use the leadership mandate and directs all the team members to make use of the behavioral techniques especially that of visualizations as well as home works to arouse thinking, feeling and even behavior.
Conceivably, cognitive therapy is important as it influences the behavior of the individuals in a group differently and this assists in making comparisons reflecting the objective of emotional support and a better understanding of the maladaptive behavior (Gladding, & Newsome, 2010). The act of feeling and thinking are the major aspects of cognitive theory and pillars determining an individual's behavior hence making it suitable for a group set-up. The role of leadership is of greater value at this point as the specialist is charged with the responsibility of giving out assignments and activities which are suitable in arousing the feelings of the members. Furthermore, for the good of the entire group, it is prudent for the members to share and provide sufficient feedback based on the individual understanding of the behavior and experience.
Ethical Group Practices
A Proper code of conduct is essential in any institution dealing with personal details of the clients. In a group therapy, the aspect of confidentiality should be embraced by all members of the group including the therapist. All sorts of information discussed among the members should remain amongst them and not be passed to any non-member.
The therapist should perform his or her responsibility with dignity, professionalism, and uniqueness required by group members (American School Counselor Association, 2012). As a leader, it is the duty of group therapist to ensure that confidentiality is maintained and members are protected from unethical acts or public abuse.
Summary of Diversity Integration
One of the major benefits of engaging in a group therapy is diversity aspect. Members of the group are all differentiated not just from the background perspective but the challenges that they might have faced in life (Lee, 2014). This conception makes individuals grow since they are exposed to a more extensive experience hence the knowledge.
On a different note, diversity may be viewed in the sense that, all the involved members belong in different areas of specialization. In their midst is an expert whose input is also of greater impact to the members. In the long run, the entire conception of diversity is bound to breed knowledge and experience capable of influencing individuals to behave in a certain way.
In conclusion, therapy group management is imperative as it ensures the well-being of all the members of the group. It is significant in the provision of emotional and environmental support and also identification and understanding of individual maladaptive behavior. While making such a group, aspects of age, frequency, and duration, membership, as well as residence, must be considered. Also, proper leadership and application of cognitive behavioral therapy are imperative. Finally, the aspect of ethics on the side of the members and the therapist should never be over looked.
American School Counselor Association. (2012). ASCA national model: A framework for school counseling programs. American School Counselor Association.
Burlingame, G. M., McClendon, D. T., & Alonso, J. (2011). Cohesion in group therapy.
Gladding, S. T., & Newsome, D. W. (2010). Clinical mental health counseling in community and agency settings (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.
Lee, C. C. (Ed.). (2014). Multicultural issues in counseling: New approaches to diversity. John Wiley & Sons.
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