Group counseling is a type of counseling where a small group of clients meet on a regular basis, sometimes weekly, or occasionally a few times a week, to talk and discuss problems with each other. This form of counseling is available to meet a wide variety of needs, from addiction counseling, to therapy-related issues, social anxieties, and a variety of other topics. How often the group meets is usually based on the type of counseling needed.
Why are substance abuse group counseling sessions effective?
This form of counseling can be extremely beneficial for patients because it provides a safe place to share experiences and hear contributions and feedback from other group members who have similar experiences.
Similarly to individual counseling, these meetings are led by a group therapist, and the same standards of confidentiality and ethical boundaries apply. Additionally, members are screened by facilitators to make sure they’re well suited for group counseling work.
One of the main theories behind group counseling is the idea that dealing with specific issues might feel isolating, and that being able to share struggles and successes in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental place with others who have experienced the same struggles accelerates the recovery process. This type of scenario works well for drug and alcohol addiction.
How group counseling sessions work
There are different types of group counseling sessions, some of which are highly organized, with attendees doing specific activities together and sharing the results, while others are more freeform, where group members share current issues related to the group’s purpose, led by the group’s therapist. For example, a group member could share a recent experience and the other members would be encouraged to provide feedback and problem solve together.
In this way, group counseling allows individuals to explore their addiction issues more in-depth, and from a variety of other perspectives, than they would with one-on-one counseling. The group setting also closely resembles work, social and familial gatherings, which can provide an added sense of safety, and aid members in understanding how they are seen by others, and in what ways they convey who they are, or who they would like to be.
The group therapist leads the group and individual members through each session and encourages members to reach a solution without imposing or directing them towards a specific outcome. This allows group members to work together to come to their own conclusions, learn for themselves, and solve their own issues without being led towards a particular idea.
What are the benefits?
Group counseling is generally less expensive than individual therapy, and the experiences that members have are usually multiplied for every person in the group. This is due to the dynamics of multiple experiences, insights and reflections, and the diversity of the feedback that they receive compared to individual counseling.