When is Group Counseling the Best Answer?

Counselors can work with groups of strangers or friends. Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

With increased attention and focus on counseling for teens and schools, more adults are becoming curious about the benefits of counseling. However, generational taboos and fears of counseling are getting in the way. These stigmas may keep older individuals from achieving the peace of mind and clarity that can come from therapy.

The prospect of sitting alone with a counselor is a common barrier. People imagine a TV-esque confession and breakdown in a private session. Or, perhaps worse to some, they imagine a sense of embarrassment when their friends find out.

Luckily this fear can easily be worked around.

Many adults find comfort in an alternative, less invasive and more supportive approach: group counseling.

Group counseling offers several benefits to individuals and existing groups, families, clubs, and co-workers.


What does group counseling offer?

  1. A group setting helps break the barrier to participate in counseling at all. Learning that a peer, especially a trusted peer or loved one, is joining the group can be encouraging. This works to get some people involved. Conversely, some people might find themselves more comfortable in a setting with a group of strangers. This is often the case for people dealing with addictions or embarrassing situations. Either way, the group can offer support to show up.


  1. A group encourages participation in conversation and counseling. The presence of other, supportive people can help get a quiet person off the sideline. People in a group can often encourage participation in a way that an individual counselor may not be able to. For instance, a second person in the group might supportively nudge someone who looked like they were about to share as the counselor checked her notes. Additionally, some person in the group might share and demonstrate vulnerability, opening the group to become more involved.


  1. Groups can help move the conversation forward. It is the reason that we have multiple people over for a party: one of them is bound to say something interesting and move things right along. This happens frequently in a group counseling setting too. One person points out a detail or shares an experience that can trigger a memory or prompt a breakthrough.


  1. Groups are economical. Although group counseling rates are often higher than individual rates, this is reduced when distributed among multiple participants. Often, one or more of the participants can have qualifying insurance, making the experience even more affordable. However, even if insurance does not cover the counseling, the distributed cost is more manageable for all.


  1. Groups of friends and acquaintances can reinforce the counseling session outside of the session itself. For instance, if a group of friends or classmates encounter the same questions and concerns in counseling, they are likely to reference that in conversation. Over lunch, while watching TV, or referencing a shared book, the ideas and work can be reviewed. This can accelerate progress.


  1. Longstanding groups in grief, addiction, or other targeted areas can also be quite effective can help speed recovery. Because some members of the group have been through the specific stages of the recovery process, they are well equipped to help. They can spot symptoms of specific problems. Additionally, they can provide a personal perspective for newer group members, offering them a guide and a roadmap to the journey to wellness.
Group counseling can happen in formal or informal settings. Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

How can you arrange group counseling?

There are two approaches to group counseling.

The first, most common approach to joining group counseling is calling a counselor or group that focuses on a particular need. For instance, some focus on grief, others on depression, and others on particular addictions such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. Any counselor or therapist should be able to give you contact information for specific groups in your area. Psychology Today offers a search tool for your specific group therapy needs.

A second option is family counseling. This is often initiated by a therapist or counselor who notes serious issues with an individual that are rooted in the larger family. This may be going ongoing or periodic sessions as needed to more the primary participant along.

An option growing in popularity is boutique or self-planned group counseling. This is often prompted by one or more friends who want to unlock their most productive selves. In other cases, a friend group who is concerned about one of their members might create a supportive situation where they can discuss sensitive issues with an expert present. Still others might like a professional perspective as they discuss literature that deals with sensitive issues.


Try group counseling

The supportive environment in group counseling has helped many people break through troubling blocks, or better understand complex situations.


If you live in the Orlando area, you can arrange group counseling with Sakina Issa. Visit her page and get in touch with her today to find out how she can help you and your group break through difficult topics and roadblocks.

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