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Group Therapy Final reflection paper coun 590.edited

Final Reflection Paper
Lisa Rawlings
Group Process and Practice ~ COUN 590
Pillar College
Group Counseling Insights
Group counseling is counseling that takes place in a small group setting, regularly with
people who share and discuss similar issues, challenges, or experiences in a safe environment.
Members within the group explore and interact with one another and the group facilitator,
providing support, encouragement while challenging one another to explore different solutions.
During group sessions, members learn how their peers have responded in similar situations; this
can help them understand they are not alone, and they have a support system. “The group
provides the empathy and support necessary to create an atmosphere of trust that leads to sharing
and exploring these concerns. Group members are assisted in developing their existing skills in
dealing with interpersonal problems so that they will be better able to handle future problems of
a similar nature.” (Corey, G. 2016, p. 5).
Group counseling provides excellent value and can be utilized in many populations and
arenas, such as groups for children, adolescents, adults, aging, family, marriage, anger
management, conflict resolution, substance abuse, domestic violence, aging, grief, community,
multicultural, reentry, recovery, and so much more.
Positive Healthy Group Dynamics
There are many positive dynamics of group therapy that affect the progress and the
effectiveness of the group sessions. Preparation and formation take place in the first stage of the
group and is critical to the outcome. Establishing trust is a necessary component of a group;
without trust, members of the group will not benefit from the sessions. Trust provides a safe
place in which group members can express themselves without judgment. As members work
through the various stages, they come to a place of freedom to express themselves. This freedom
provides an opportunity for the members to explore new solutions and learn from one another. It
is a place where cohesion is fluid, and communication is open, members are free to interact
without reservation. They express a willingness to take risk and explore confrontation and
feedback from their peers.
Negative Unhealthy Group Dynamics:
Negative and unhealthy group dynamics can cause members to shut down, withdraw, or
become defensive. Conflicts within the group can be disruptive. It is the responsibility of the
facilitator to manage and remind the group of the purpose and importance of the meeting,
providing encouragement, while challenging the members to face and resolve conflicts that exist
within the group. As a facilitator, self-awareness is critical when dealing with the emotions of
others. We are there to help clients work through their feelings and not dump our beliefs on
them. "The therapist's feelings may become entangled in the therapeutic relationship,
obstructing, or even destroying objectivity. According to psychoanalytic theory,
countertransference consists of a therapist’s unconscious emotional responses to a client based
on the therapist’s own past, resulting in a distorted perception of the client’s behavior (Routan,
2014)” (Corey, G., 2016 p. 131). Although countertransference is often used as a powerful tool
to benefit the group, it must be managed properly. Otherwise, it will create an unhealthy
Therapeutic Factors Demonstrated by Group Members:
Over the past several weeks, our group sessions became increasingly cohesive and
productive. The group members demonstrated honesty, trust, self-disclosure while encouraging
and challenging one another to take a more in-depth look inside themselves. Through the
cohesiveness of the group, trust and acceptance were established; this is essential in the working
stage of group therapy. As time past members showed greater empathy and concern for each
other. This was demonstrated by understanding and expressing feelings of compassion, support,
prayers, and confrontation. “As people open themselves to others by showing their pain,
struggles, joy, excitement, and fears, they make it possible for others to care for them, and even
love them” (Corey, G., 2016.p 98).
Therapeutic factors demonstrated by the group members were intimacy, hope, caring
confrontation, and feedback. Members of the group were open and willing to take the risk by
sharing intimate parts of their lives and here-and-now reactions while taking active steps towards
change. It was gratifying to see and hear the effectiveness the sessions had on the group
members. Many of them shared how the sessions helped them in decision making, setting
boundaries, cutting ties, establishing communication with others, seeking family/marriage
counseling, and stepping into levels of confidence and self-awareness. It was apparent that they
practiced new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in their everyday situations.
Therapeutic Factors Demonstrated by the Facilitator
The facilitator/group leader possessed leadership skills that were very effective in
bringing the group through the various stages of therapy. She initially set the tone for the group,
stating expectations and modeling interpersonal honesty, respect, and spontaneity with a great
sense of humor. Always being psychologically and emotionally present and genuine, she
believed in the group process and possessed the skills to move the group forward. “To be
effective as a leader, you must be psychologically present in the group and be genuine. How can
you expect the participants to get involved and believe in the potential of your group if you do
not believe in what you are doing?” (Corey, G. 2016, p. 81). The facilitator modeled respect,
honesty, empathy, trust, interpersonal skills, listening skills, multicultural diversity, and cultural
competence while empowering the members to greater self-awareness.
Willingness to Discuss Self-Awareness & Self-Reflection:
Self-awareness is being able to take an honest look at oneself and question oneself.
Being self-aware is knowing and understanding your needs, motives, potentials, weaknesses,
inner conflicts, vulnerabilities, and strengths. In order to be an effective leader, one must first be
willing to take responsibility for the choices we make because of this awareness. “A higher
degree of self-awareness permits us to recognize that we can make choices for ourselves”
(Corey, G. 2016, p.230). There is newfound freedom that comes with self-awareness, freedom of
choice, freedom of identity, and uniqueness; there are also some fears and struggles that come
with it.
As I reflect on the group experience, I can see myself growing as a result of the group
interactions; I’m becoming more aware of my strengths and vulnerabilities, I’m learning to be
more of an active and sensitive listener. It's essential to not only hear what's being said but to
hear and understand the unspoken words of the client/group members. As we mature
psychologically and self-aware, we become better equipped to help our clients.
Willingness to Discuss Personal Growth
Our willingness to discuss our personal growth or the lack thereof comes from being selfaware, having a sense of identity, knowing who you are and what you’re capable of. As we take
an honest inventory of ourselves, we not only discover our strengths, but we are faced with areas
that require growth and development, such as our character, authenticity, presence, empathy,
courage, and self-care. Being in a group environment challenges you to come face-to-face with
these areas. To be a counselor who can effectively help clients develop self-awareness, you first
deal with your challenges and indiscretions. Part of the personal development of a counselor
consists of engaging in individual therapy. As Yalom stated in "The Gift of Therapy," “therapist
must work through their own neurotic issues; they must learn to accept feedback, discover their
own blind spots, and see themselves as others see them; they must appreciate their impact upon
others and learn how to provide accurate feedback. Self-exploration is a lifelong process.”
My Role As a Group Member
Reflecting on my role as a group member, I see myself as supportive, empathic, and
honest; while demonstrating an attitude of acceptance and willingness to be vulnerable. My
openness and self-awareness enabled me to self-disclose some intimate areas of my life that may
have been useful to members of the group. I found myself listening more tentatively to my
peers, that I may identify with them and have a deeper understanding and care of their situation. I
feel that by exhibiting self-disclosure, it helped my peers to become more open and vulnerable.
There was genuine intimacy within the group; members were willing to discover and face their
fears of vulnerability, acceptance, and rejection. “When members learn that others have similar
problems, they no longer feel isolated; identification with others eventually brings about
closeness, which enables the members to help one another work through fears related to
intimacy” (Corey, G., 2016 p. 99).
The Roles of the Group Members
During the group sessions, I found that initially, some members were reserved or
guarded, and others were ready to dive right in. This may be attributed to cultural effects,
factors, or personality traits. As the weeks went by, we all became more trusting and accepting of
one another. Intimacy was genuine, and freedom emerged within the group, allowing for caring
confrontation, self-disclosure, and feedback. The group leader created a climate of safety and
comfort; there was a cohesiveness among the members that set the stage for positive feedback.
We had become an effective working group as characterized in our text, demonstrating a hereand-now focus. We were able to talk with each other about what we were feeling during the
group sessions.
Overall Insight of the Group Experience
Overall, this group experience has been very enlightened. I have gained a more excellent
knowledge of why counselors/therapists are needed, why we must be trained and knowledgeable,
and why we must face and deal with our issues before we can help our clients. I have greater
respect for the profession and level of care for the clients that will come before me. Becoming a
competent counselor is a continual process, and I am excited about the journey that’s set before
Corey, G., (2016). Theory & Practice of Group Counseling, 9th edition: Boston, MA:
Cengage Learning
Yalom, I.D. (2002). The Gift of Therapy, New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers