Human beings learn about themselves very quickly when they are forced to share their feelings with others, especially if the others are in a similar position. The utilization of this fact is a therapy called group counseling. Also known as group psychotherapy or group therapy, group counseling is a type of psychotherapy where one or more therapists treat a group of small clients.
First, let’s better understand psychotherapy, as group counseling is concerned. Psychotherapy is the personal counseling with a psychotherapist, or in the case of group counseling, the therapist. It is aimed to aid clients or patients with problems associated with living.
Group counseling, then, focuses on the group of clients and attempting to benefit from sharing their experiences. Group counseling usually tries to fix a particular issue, such as anger management or addiction to alcohol. Counseling is usually led by a therapist, but it is encouraged in a group counseling session that all members of the group contribute in some way. For a person dealing with an issue, it is likely that they will experience some form of isolation, whether intentional or unintentional. Sharing their experiences in a group, where the other members are experiencing the same issue and isolation, combats that problem, eventually leading to the solving of the issues; at the very least, clients can use the counseling to overcome the isolation, and the problems that may come with it.
Irvin Yalom was partially responsible for the continued development of group counseling after WWII. He came up with 12 therapeutic principles that describe the different factors of counseling that can positively affect the clients. The rest of this article focuses on listing and describing the 7 main counseling factors:
Universality describes the shared experiences among clients. It helps the clients overcome their sense of isolation, validate their experiences, and raise self-esteem.
Group counseling is a place where members are able to help each other. This improves their own self-esteem and develop better coping styles and interpersonal skills.
3. Instillation of hope
Counseling in a group of mixed members can help newer members and long time members maintain hope while they are still struggling.
Cohesiveness is often referred to as the most therapeutic factor from which all of the other factors flow. Humans have an instinctive need to belong in groups, and some personal development can only occur in interpersonal relationships. Cohesiveness bring belonging, acceptance, and validation to the counseling process
5. Corrective recapitulation of the primary family experience
Clients will often unconsciously identify other members of the group as their own immediate family. The counseling can then help the client overcome unhelpful patterns in their relationships.
6. Self Understanding/Interpersonal learning
Members of group counseling may achieve a bigger level of self-awareness through interactions. They may also achieve greater levels of insight about what stems one’s problems through counseling.
Catharsis is defined as the experience of relief from emotional distress by expressing emotion. Counseling can help the client overcome his or her shame and guilt by telling their story.
Counselor Network Writer