Group Counseling: Complete Guide to Group Counseling Sessions [2021]

Are you interested in group counseling? Are you looking for a safe space to vent, share, and learn as you improve your mental health? Do you know anyone who can benefit from group counseling? Are you looking for information on how group counseling works? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have come to the right place.

My name is Sean Galla. I have been facilitating men’s support groups, including counseling sessions, for more than 10 years. For the longest time, it was believed that it is a show of weakness if a man seeks help. Group counseling work to ensure men, just as women, regardless of age, orientation, or occupation, can get the help they need as they navigate through life. Whether you are looking for career advancement advice, general health support, or social support, participating in group counseling can be all the help you need.

In this article, you will get all the information you need for counseling. Here is everything you need to know about group counseling. 

Sean Galla

Written by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

What Is Group Counseling?

Group counseling can be defined as counseling services or a form of psychotherapy consisting of a small group of people who meet regularly to interact, explore and discuss different issues about like with each other in the presence of a clinician, facilitator, or group leader. Contrary to popular belief, counseling can be for anyone other than students. The group experience gives people a safe place to work through common issues and address emotional concerns including eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and different social situations. By participating in counseling sessions, members gain insight into their thought processes and behaviors as they get suggestions and advice from other members.

Anyone who experiences issues with interpersonal relationships can benefit from attending group counseling. This is because these groups provide an avenue to interact with other people as part of the counseling experience. These groups, unlike individual counseling, can comprise of young men and women or graduate students of different age groups, or older men and women in different age groups. The difference in age groups can offer different perspectives on different issues as part of creating a wholesome learning experience.

People who take part in group counseling gain in many ways. In these groups, it is possible to:

  • Receive and give support
  • Gain an understanding of different problems while exploring possible solutions
  • Practice interpersonal skills in a safe space
  • Learn more about yourself by learning how others see you
  • Improve your observations and feedback skills
  • Enhance your problem-solving skills
  • Improve your expressiveness emotionally
  • Minimize social isolation
  • Develop your communications skills.

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Group Counseling

How Group Counseling Works

In a group set up, counseling takes place through peer-to-peer aid in a counseling center in the presence of a group facilitator. Members of the group are expected to listen to each other as they openly express through thoughts and feelings on different issues. This interaction gives the members a chance to improve their understanding of themselves and the others around them, learn new ways of doing things, and learn effective ways to interact with the world and people around them.

The issues discussed in counseling are completely confidential, and members are expected to commit to confidentiality to be part of the group. While members can talk about their issues with people outside the group, they cannot discuss issues disclosed by other members to people outside the group.

When people are allowed to interact with each other in a group setting freely, they recreate the same interaction patterns outside the group. This gives the members a unique opportunity to create meaningful changes in how they interact with the people around them and boost their self-acceptance. With help from group leaders, members of group therapy learn how their behavior affects other people.

The group is a safe place for members to experiment with satisfying and different ways of treating themselves or the people around them. Most people feel as though they are weird and strange and thus think some aspects of who they are may be unacceptable to the world. Group counseling connects you with other people who also battle with their emotions and thoughts. This shifts the focus from looking at yourself as defective to learning how to live your life richly and fully.

What to Talk About in Group Counseling

When you decide to take part in counseling, it is easy to get overwhelmed when deciding what to talk about in the group. Simply put, you can talk about the issues that brought you to the group. This is a free space where you can tell the group members about your greatest fear, your insecurities, worries, and concerns.

Feel free to talk about the issues that affect your self-identity and let the groups know the kind of support you want from them. Let them know if you feel that you need to get specific feedback on a habit that has a negative impact on your life.

It is important for you to learn to tell the group members what kind of help you need. Inability to express feelings is a significant reason people fail to get the help they need from group counseling. Self-disclosure and revealing your feelings play an important role in how effective counseling will be for you.  

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Group Counseling Expectations of Group Members

As you start your group therapy experience, you need to consider a few expectations.

Attendance

Regular attendance of group sessions is important for your healing and self-improvement journey. You need to commit to drop-in counseling sessions regularly. Some groups start with an eight-week commitment to attend sessions for the first eight weeks without fail. If there is a reason to miss a meeting, it is important to communicate with the facilitator or counselor beforehand.

Confidentiality

As was mentioned above, members in a counseling group are sworn to confidentiality of the issues discussed in the group. The privacy notice does not allow you to discuss issues about the group outside the group setup. This is the only way to foster a strong relationship built on trust and accountability.

Expressing your feelings

The topics discussed in counseling can often invoke strong reactions. Members are expected to express their feelings verbally and not physically.

types of group counseling

Individual responsibility

As a member, you must take responsibility for your individual therapy and what you want to achieve from group counseling goals. You need to commit to sharing and learning since no one is forced to talk or share in the group. It is up to you to reveal your issues to the group on your own.

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Benefits of Group Therapy

There are numerous benefits associated with group counseling.

It gives you a sense of belonging.

Being part of a counseling group makes you know that you are not alone, and your issues are not unique to just you. Taking part in counseling makes you realize that others are experiencing similar challenges. It also gives you ideas and tips on how to navigate different issues.   

You get a sounding board.

One of the most challenging things about life, especially for men, is finding people you can confide in without fear of judgment or ridicule. A counseling group provides a safe environment to talk about anything and everything while getting constructive feedback from the other members.

Group therapy can propel you forward.

Hearing from other people about how they have overcome similar difficulties can be encouraging. Through shared experiences, you will meet people who will provide you with different perspectives on different issues. You can use this advice to better your life and move ahead. This contributes greatly to personal growth and development.

Group counseling promotes social skills.

While it is normal to feel anxious or nervous about your first counseling session, you will often experience relief once the group meetings begin and you get acquainted with the other members. A group setup is a perfect place to horn your social skills and address your social anxiety issues. With time, you will feel comfortable speaking to the group and replicate this feeling and ability in the world.

You become more self-aware.

Taking part in group counseling is one of the best ways to get a better understanding of yourself. By learning how others see you and your take on issues, you become more aware of who you are and the toxic traits you need to shed.

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Finding Counseling Sessions

Benefits of Group Counseling

Most counseling sessions take place in-person at preset locations. You can find group session information online or from your local community center.

Online group counseling has gained popularity in the recent past, especially this covid-19 period. Online meetups enable people to get the help they need from any part of the world. This makes counseling convenient and accessible, no matter where you are.

Being in a group with people from different parts of the world gives you a global understanding and perspective of issues shared in the group. If you are interested in an online counseling program, mensgroup.com is an online support group for men that offer counseling virtually.

Mensgroup

Men’s Group is a supportive network made up of men who are ready and willing to help others like them through shared life experiences. Mensgroup uses different group activities and processes like sharing stories and reading to create a bond amongst the members. Mensgroup.com group counseling session equips you with resources that make you a better man and ensure you lead a better, more fulfilling life.

Conclusion

Joining and attending a counseling group is scary at first, but it should not be. To ease you into the process, you can join an online counseling forum. Taking part in group activities in counseling is the best way to understand how the group works while connecting with the members. If you are a man interested in joining a counseling group, mensgroup.com is perfect for meeting like-minded men who will listen and offer advice with no judgment.

*Sources:
1. GROUP COUNSELING
2. Power in numbers: Research is pinpointing the factors that make group therapy successful
3. Evidence-Based Practice in Group Psychotherapy
4. Group counseling: A silver lining in the psychological management of disaster trauma
5. Awareness: The Effect of Group Counseling on Awareness and Acceptance of Self and Others

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