What Is Group Counseling And How Can It Help Communities?

When faced with a difficult situation, our emotional loads truly get lighter when we have a supportive community. If you are struggling with a problem in life, the guidance of a counselor may help you cope. But, there are many forms of counseling, and there is no one right way to heal. You must know what works best for you, especially when you are not at your best.

Group counseling can be for anyone going through a tough time or simply wanting to grow. It is not just for people who have issues. If you are a team or community with a common goal or task in hand, you may also form a group. 

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Group sessions can be for people suffering from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, panic disorder, among other conditions. It can help people with medical conditions such as chronic pain, obesity, and cancer. It is for anyone who is processing difficult emotions such as grief, loss, sadness, and anger. If you have difficulties in social situations, group counseling may also help.

Attending Group Counseling

Group therapy is not limited to psychotherapy. There are different types of groups depending on your needs. One of its main characteristics is that it has at least one skilled or trained facilitator in managing a group counseling session. Groups in counseling usually meet once a week for an hour or two.

Technically speaking, a group is composed of at least three people. However, small groups are usually composed of about five members. Large groups can have as many as fifteen attendees or more. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Small groups have fewer members, which means each individual receives more focus and attention. If you feel uncomfortable with groups of people, it is better to start small. On the other hand, more members mean more output and ideas. More people mean more perspectives from other people. This might help you handle your problems better.

You may also choose between an open or closed group, depending on what is available and preferable for you. In a closed group, you work with the same people for a specific number of sessions. It allows members to feel comfortable around each other and recognize their growth as time passes. The downside, however, is that you may need to wait for a cycle to finish before you can join another closed group.

In an open group, you are welcome to attend any scheduled session. You meet new people each session, but this may take a series of constant adjustments. An open or closed group may be the best fit, depending on its type and purpose.

Types Of Group Counseling

There are different ways to conduct group counseling. Each also has its treatment model, which will guide how the facilitator will manage the sessions.

Psycho-educational groups are for people with specific conditions such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and phobias. The focus is on educating its members about the condition. It uses treatment models in psychology to teach members how to cope with their condition. 

Skills development groups are quite similar, which may also incorporate psycho-educational strategies. Its main focus is on introducing and improving the specific skills a person may need to cope with their condition. This will help strengthen their behavioral and cognitive response, especially in harmful situations.

Cognitive-behavioral groups utilize the techniques of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps members realize that their automatic thoughts and feelings heavily influence their behaviors and the outcome of a situation. With this in mind, cognitive-behavioral groups focus on restructuring an individual’s beliefs. It begins with identifying our triggers and harmful thoughts. We must consciously work on how we can redirect our behaviors into more positive ones.

Interpersonal process groups rely on psychodynamic approaches, helping individuals recognize their early life experiences influencing their present personality and behaviors. Once members realize their subconscious beliefs, they strengthen their dynamics as a group.

Support groups are for people going through similar experiences. They come together to help each other cope with significant life-changing events. It can be the loss of a loved one or the diagnosis of a severe illness. Members receive unconditional acceptance as they reflect on their thoughts and behaviors.

Group Counseling To Help Individuals And Communities

There are many benefits of joining a group therapy. It is normal to have apprehensions at first, especially since you will open up to people you have just met. However, you will be surprised at how you can eventually build trust and support in just a short amount of time.

Confidentiality is a basic rule in group counseling. Once you develop honest and open communication with your group, you will feel more secure sharing your personal stories. Your group counseling can be a safe space to express and process intense and uncomfortable emotions. This form of catharsis can help us become better individuals outside group therapy.

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Studies show that group counseling is effective for different types of conditions, including depression. However, you should not feel limited to group counseling whenever you need help. You may attend individual counseling sessions to complement your group therapy. You may also go to different group counseling since each session may target a specific need.

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The Positive Outcomes Of Group Therapy

The support and acceptance you will receive in a group can positively influence your recovery. It gives universality as you spend time with people who are going through the same experience. This lessens the feelings of isolation and loneliness as individuals share information and offer advice. 

When you help other people recover, it also brings about a sense of fulfillment through altruism. This can build a person’s self-esteem and confidence, as they also receive support and reassurance from others. You will also feel a form of self-reliance as you gain control over your emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Group counseling is not just about support, but it also helps us learn our negative thoughts and behaviors through constructive feedback. It can strengthen our social relationships and how we interact with others. Facilitators and other members can also be our models for becoming better as a person.

When members work together towards a common goal, it can help them realize their progress day by day. People heal differently at their own pace. Seeing how others recover may instill a sense of hope and purpose, especially during difficult times.

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