Group Counseling: Can offer enormous benefits through bringing people together. It offers valuable support as individuals help and learn from each other by sharing personal stories, emotions, ideas and practical solutions, as each person explores the challenges they are faced with.
These groups work best when members have similar kinds of issues, eg, loss of a spouse or child, loss of a job or career, loss of someone who had a particular kind of cancer, those who are recovering from the breakdown of a significant relationship or experiencing abuse.
When working with groups I start by interviewing those who apply to get an idea of the challenge that is facing each person, their needs and what goals they have. This helps me to match people up to create groups that offer optimum opportunity to all members to both receive and give the support that they need.
Groups usually run for 6 weeks, meeting weekly, and can have between 4 and 12 members depending on the the topics and who has applied. When a group has been formed I develop weekly content for the group to assist them exploring the individual circumstances surrounding their difficulty. This includes opportunities to meet and get to know each other; to share stories, to address problems, and to create/swap ideas and strategies to support recovery; as well as sharing progress with each other and giving and receiving support (practical and emotional). There will be some ‘homework’ offered to help people look at their individual needs and foster awareness of what avenues they might explore to strengthen their skills and abilities, to assist their recovery now and in the future when facing other challenges. Everyone is encouraged to make the most of the time they have with the group by doing the exercises and assignments that are offered, but everyone also has the right to pass on particular exercises if they really do not want to participate. There can be as much learning in choosing not to do something as there is in doing it.
Groups often continue to support each other beyond the life of the group – either as a group or through the individual friendships that form during the life of the group.