Group Counseling Term Paper

Pages: 17 (4344 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 14  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Psychology

Group Counseling

This work explores group counseling and examines what group counseling actually is and what the purpose of group counseling is. Secondly, this work examines ethics in counseling and specifically those ethics of the Christian counselor in maintaining Biblical principles in counseling and what the ethical requirements of the Christian counselor are. Findings in this work include the important and key role of the group leader or facilitator in keeping the interactions and communications positive in order to avoid harm to group members.


This work will first compare/contrast views on what current literature states on group counseling in what it is and what it is not within professional view of group counseling. Attention will be given to ethical considerations including how professional codes of ethics are congruent or incongruent with biblical principles of group counseling. Specifically related will be the function of this information to the current understanding of the writer of how a therapist will function in the role of group counselor. Additionally this work will include how this will affect the therapist and the implications for decisions regarding educational training and preparation as well as the setting and context of where and how counseling will take place, the type of clients that will be worked with and how the writer views this in affecting personal, family and church life.


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The method of research conducted in this work is of a qualitative nature through an extensive review of academic and professional peer-reviewed literature in this subject area.


AACC - American Association of Christian Counselors

ASGW - Association for Specialists in Group Work


TOPIC: Term Paper on Group Counseling Assignment

The work of Stockton, Morran and Krieger (2004) states, in the work entitled: "Research and Best Practices for Training Group Leaders" that group counseling and psychotherapy originated in 1905 with Joseph Pratt, a physician, who "used a group of 'class' format to assist patients with tuberculosis. Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, groups emerged as an increasingly popular mode of intervention in psychotherapy and counseling settings." (Stockton, Morran, and Krieger, 2004) Group methods are popular in use today "across a wide variety of settings to assist clients who present with a diverse range of goals and concerns," (Stockton, Morran and Krieger, 2004) Group counseling is an approach to treatment that is considered to have the same relevant effectiveness as individual counseling. There are various methods used in the group counseling therapy and there are very few studies to provide solid evidence of the direction the group leader should take however, preliminary findings do state that positive interaction with the group leader and the members of the group is vital to successful intervention. Group counseling is known to have benefits including:

1) Learning to communicate more comfortably and effectively;

2) Identification and exploration of inner feelings;

3) Gaining feedback from others;

4) Learning to express oneself and act on one's own behalf;

5) Being honest with self and others;

6) Gaining sensitivity to the ways that others communicate;

7) Learning about intimacy; and (8) Experimentation with new ways of relating. (What is Group Counseling, 2007)


The work of Riva, Wachtel and Lasky entitled: "Effective Leadership in Group Counseling and Psychotherapy" published in the Handbook of Group Counseling and Psychotherapy (2004) states that group counseling and psychotherapy "has been consistently been found to be effective with a broad range of problem areas and clients." Stated to be an essential component in the effectiveness of therapeutic groups is "the leadership."(Riva, Wachtel and Lasky, 2004) the group leader's role is a vital one "in both the dynamics of the group and the outcomes of its members." (Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky, 2004) There is much yet unknown about effective facilitation of group counseling leadership yet, "several leadership characteristics and behaviors are correlated with group effectiveness." (Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky, 2004) it is related that "The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (1997) set as a criterion the need for group counselors to 'select group members whose needs and goals are compatible with the goals of the group, who will not impeded the group process, and whose well-being will not be jeopardized by the group experience." (Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky, 2004) the selection methods are "highly subjective and based on leader intuition." (Corey and Corey, 1997; as cited in Riva, Wachtel and Lasky, 2004) in a national survey of 75 group leaders, it is related that these leaders "almost exclusively used clinical judgment to determine whether the client possessed some specific behavior or characteristic that would be beneficial for group membership." (Riva, Wachtel and Lasky, 2004) it is related that the procedure most commonly used for making the decision of who would participate in and was appropriate for this participation in a group "was whether the person fit the specific group theme." (Riva, Wachtel and Lasky, 2004) Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky (2004) state that: "In other words, rather than selecting members because of specific personality characteristics that would increase the likelihood for them and other group members of having a successful group experience, a person with an eating disorder would be referred to an eating-disorder group." (Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky, 2004) Additionally related by Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky is that there are two areas that have received attention and support in "the selection of criteria literature" which are the:

1) Interpersonal; and 2) Intrapersonal characteristics of potential group members. (Riva, Wachtel and Lasky, 2004)

Pre-group preparation is held by many practitioners to be a vital part of the development of cohesion within a group and is also associated with satisfaction among the group members as well as decreasing the risk that members will drop out of the group. This preparation can be utilized for addressing procedural information and in assisting group members understand the manner in which the group will function. This is especially critical when the group consists of a combination of members who have never taken part in group counseling. While there is not a standard model for group preparation, the work of Riva, Wachtel and Lasky (2004) suggests a four-step model as follows:

One - Identify needs, expectations, and commitment of client;

Two - Challenge any myths or misconceptions;

Three - Convey information; and Four - Screen the individual for 'group fit'.

The work of Burlingam, Furhriman and Johnson (2001) provide a description for pre-group preparation "as one of their six empirically supported principles regarding the therapeutic relationship." (Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky,2004) Burlingame, Furhriman, and Johnson 20010 state the "pregroup preparation sets treatment expectations, defines group rules and instructs member in appropriate roles and skills needed for effective group participation and group cohesion." (as cited in Riva, Wachtel, and Lasky, 2004) Also highlighted in the work of Riva, Wachtel and Lasky (2004) is the fact that research greatly supports the perspective of group leaders being "crucial in the development of a positive group climate and that for group members, a supportive relationship with the leader is necessary for client change." The reason cited for this is that when members of a group hold a "favorable view of their leaders" these individuals are much more likely to make progress of a substantial nature.

Riva, Wachtel and Lasky (2004) report the work of Dies (1994) who reviewed 135 studies and states conclusion that: "Group members favor and seem to benefit more from a positive style of intervention, and that as leaders become more actively negative, they increase the possibility that the participants will not only be dissatisfied, but also potentially harmed by the group experience." (as cited in Riva, Wachtel and Lasky, 2004) the use of structure by the leaders is another aspect of group counseling noted in the work of Riva, Wachtel and Lasky who state that: "...structure is conveyed when the group leader discusses the norms of the group. Some typical norms include the importance of attendance and what member should do if they're unable to attend, how communication occurs and clear norms about confidentiality and its limits." (2004) Group leaders also help to structure the group through introduction of group themes and through providing intervention in communications that are of a destructive nature between members in the group. The group leader further holds to light the positive interactions, which take place and provides a sense of safeness in assisting members gain and understanding regarding their behaviors and their actions. The work of James P. Trotzer (2004) entitled: "Conducting a Group: Guidelines for Choosing and Using Activities" states that "Structured group activities have many labels but are distinguished from leadership skills, functions, or roles by characteristics that make them entities unto themselves, with specific traits that define their nature." While some refer to tem as "procedures, techniques, human relations, or communication activities, exercises and even catalysts...the traits that offer a working definition of the nature of these are as follows:

1) Group activities have specific instructions and parameters that give group members a format and focus… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Group Counseling" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Group Counseling.  (2007, October 7).  Retrieved August 3, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Group Counseling."  7 October 2007.  Web.  3 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Group Counseling."  October 7, 2007.  Accessed August 3, 2021.