[Solved] What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using different counseling theories as appropriate in each session rather than sticking with one theory throughout the group experience?

Summary Chapter+answer
Chapter 2

Sessions

I only lead closed groups, meaning that members do not rotate in and out of the group. It is important to set ahead of time how many sessions a closed group will have and how long each session will last. As stated in the preface, my groups have eleven sessions. Each group session lasts 90 – 120 minutes. In the first session, we discuss the personal goals of the participants; in sessions two through ten we work on the personal goals and in the final session we share what we have learned and how we’ll take our learning into the future outside of the group.

Session 1

Individual goals are important to keep the group from floundering. Without goals, members may have difficulty progressing in the group (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010, p. 147). In session one, each member of the group is expected to share what her personal goal or goals are. The goal(s) must be realistic, attainable, concrete, measureable and congruent with the group goals. As each group member shares her goal(s), I coach her in stating the goal(s) in a way that meets the above criteria. I ask questions such as, “How will you

Recognize that others have similar problems and feelings.

Clarify values and decide whether and how to modify them.

Become both independent and interdependent.

Find better ways to resolve problems.

Become more open and honest with selected others.

Learn a balance between support and challenge.

Learn how to ask others for what one wants.

Become sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.

Provide others with helpful feedback.

By the end of the first session, each member should have a goal that is realistic, attainable, concrete, measureable and congruent with the group goals. If a member does not have a goal, this is the first item of business in the second session. I close this session, as I do every session, by being certain that everyone is okay with what has transpired in the group and that there is no unfinished business. I remind the members about confidentiality.

Sessions 2 – 10

I use a number of different theories in these sessions, depending on the situation. In the following paragraphs, I’ll share the theories that I use and how I might use them. I’ll put the name of the theory in bold print so they’ll be easily recognizable. I begin sessions 2 – 10 by

asking if anyone has anything to report to the group, particularly pertaining to any insight they received this week that came as a result of last week’s session or of any progress they made on their goal this week. I close each session by being certain that everyone is okay with what has transpired in the group and that there is no unfinished business. I remind the members about confidentiality.

I may use Adlerian theory if a group member is struggling with inferiority or if they are struggling with family issues. I might have them recall early childhood experiences and then look for a theme or connection between these memories and to consider if their early childhood influences the present problem especially related to the person’s style of life. I ask her to consider how this style of life will hinder or help her in reaching her goal. I might also have her do a family sculpting to gain a better understanding of how her family functioned and to gain a perspective of relationships between family members. As the member shares, I encourage others to respond to what is shared by giving feedback, sharing similar experiences, or challenging the thinking of the speaker. Group members are often amazed at how childhood experiences affect how they respond to situations presently. They are able to see

how being in the here-and-now doesn’t deny the past but connects it to the present.

I may use Gestalt Therapy to bring a member back to the present if she has regressed to the past; or to help a member resolve a conflict between two alternatives, or to help a member do inner child work. I may use the empty chair technique or repeating something over and over until insight is gained or exaggerating a behavior. Anytime a member needs insight into resolving her problem, I am likely to use Gestalt therapy. I encourage others to respond to what is being shared by giving feedback, sharing similar experiences, asking questions, or challenging the speaker. Some members become aware that they are out of touch with the here-and-now and cannot express what they are presently experiencing. I work with these members asking them to share what they are thinking about being in this place, with these people, in this encounter with me, right now. I ask them to pay attention to their emotions and to share these as they are aware of them. I also ask them to notice any body sensations and to share these as they become aware of them. I point out any unconscious behaviors they might be doing and encourage them to pay attention to these and learn what the behaviors are telling or showing them. In this session, group members begin to learn the difference between here-and-now and

there-and-then. They begin to see the relevance of the present and why focusing on it is more powerful and beneficial than focusing on the past. They also gain an understanding of experiencing over against talking about an experience.

Person Centered Therapy is helpful when one is hurting emotionally and needs the group to not only hear the pain but to empathize with the hurting member and give her unconditional positive regard. I encourage others to respond to what is being shared by giving feedback and sharing similar experiences. I discourage challenging the speaker or giving advice. This may create difficulty for many members because they want to solve the problem, so they come up with all kinds of advice for the person who is struggling. I emphasize that each group member can work on empathy, attempting to make statements or ask questions that will help them better understand the experience of the speaker, rather than trying to solve the problem for the individual.

I use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, especially Ellis’ ABC model, when one’s beliefs are getting in the way of her reaching her goal. I remind her that any belief that does not create a positive outcome is irrational. The individual may have difficulty accepting that her belief is irrational. I encourage her to talk about

what she believes about the achieving of her goal and encourage the other group members to listen for irrational beliefs as do I. When someone hears an irrational belief they are encouraged to dispute it. Through this process of stating beliefs and having the irrational ones disputed, members are able to change beliefs about themselves, others and the achieving of their goals.

Reality Therapy is helpful when a member is having a difficult time achieving her goal perhaps due to a weak plan of action. I especially emphasize the WDEP method. I ask the member to use the WDEP method to analyze her goal and what she is doing to achieve it. Is her goal really what she wants to accomplish? If not, does it need to be altered in some way? Is she doing what she needs to be doing to accomplish the goal? If not, what does she need to do differently? Other group members are encouraged to assist in the tweaking of the goal or the plan of action.

Solution Focused Therapy is helpful when a member is discouraged that she isn’t making any progress or is having difficulty believing that she can accomplish her goal. I use the rating scale to help her see the progress she has made; or the exception question to help her see times in the past when she has succeeded; or the miracle question to help her gain a

clearer vision of how she will know when she has been successful. I encourage the other members to assist the one working by using the exception question and the miracle question and helping the member focus on her successes rather than her failures.

I use Narrative Therapy to encourage a member who is especially quiet to share a feel-good story about her life. After she shares the story I encourage group members to respond by sharing how the story touched them. This can encourage the quiet member to feel better about sharing in the future. Then I ask other members to share personal stories of their successes in childhood, adolescence and/or adulthood. I encourage the other members to ask them questions about these stories and to praise them for their accomplishments. I ask the one sharing to think about skills and strengths that she used to accomplish these successes and to talk about ways that she can use these strengths and skills to accomplish her goal. I encourage the other members to make suggestions of how she might use her strengths and skills.

Mindfulness Therapy can be helpful for one struggling with anxiety, depression or chronic pain. By paying attention to her present experience and noticing how it changes as she focuses on it, the person can realize that no sensation is permanent. This can give her

hope that she can achieve a state of calm or happiness instead of the anxiety or depression she is presently experiencing. I assist the member by leading her in the following mindfulness exercise: “I want you to get in a comfortable position and begin to relax. You may close your eyes or you may leave them open. It’s your choice. You might notice your breathing, feeling the air as you inhale and as you exhale. As you focus on your breathing, you can allow this focus to take you deeper into relaxation. Now you might scan your body to notice where your discomfort is located. Begin to focus on it. You are not trying to change it. You are merely noticing it. If your mind wanders, it’s okay. Gently nudge it back to focusing on the discomfort. As you continue to focus, notice what changes occur. Maybe the sensation of discomfort changes to a different sensation or maybe it intensifies or diminishes. You are not trying to control it. You are merely noticing it. If your mind wanders, it’s okay. Gently nudge it back to focus. Now I’m going to be quiet so that you can totally focus on the sensation.” After a couple of minutes, I close the exercise by saying, “You might shift your attention from the sensation to your breathing, noticing the air as you breathe it in and then as you exhale. Take three breaths, noticing the air coming in and going outand then you may bring your attention back to this room.”

After the exercise, we process what happened. As this member shares and others respond, we notice how the sensation changed and she did nothing but notice it. We talk about what ramifications this has for our lives and for our goals and how we can use this exercise in the future. If anyone has chronic pain, high blood pressure or some other physical symptom that they want to work on, depending on how much time we have, we might work. The group can participate by doing the exercise with the individual or by thinking positive thoughts for the person while she works.

Positive Psychology is useful if a member has a goal pertaining to becoming grateful, optimistic or self-confident. If someone has the goal of becoming more grateful, I’ll ask the member to think of three individuals toward whom she feels gratitude because of something the person did for her. I ask her to share about one of the individuals and to share a specific act of kindness from this person. Then I have her imagine how she might use the memory of this individual to help her achieve her goal. For example, she might hear this person giving her encouragement or see this person giving her the thumbs up. Other group members can make suggestions of how the person can use the

memory of this person. Also, the entire group might gather around this person and shout words of encouragement that the individual can take with her. If the person is working on optimism, I will ask her to share some of her pessimistic beliefs and then ask group members to point out how these can be changed to optimistic beliefs and still be as true as the pessimistic beliefs. If the person wants to become more self-confident, I will ask her to talk about her successes or I might have her sit in the center of the group and ask group members to share their positive beliefs about this person. I stress that they must be honest.

Session 11

I begin session 11 by asking if anyone has anything to report to the group, particularly pertaining to any insight they received this week that came as a result of last week’s session or progress they made on their goal this week.

In this final session the members share what they have learned about themselves, how they have reached their goals and how they will apply what they have gained through the group experience. I also allow time for the members to express any concerns they have and to answer any questions they have. I want them to leave the group feeling good about the experience and being pleased with what they accomplished.

Questions to Ponder

1. Answer the following questions related to your goal. How will you know when you have achieved your goal(s)? How will the group recognize when you have reached your goal(s)? What specific steps will you take in the group to meet your goal(s)? What are the possible stumbling blocks to your reaching your goal(s)? When you achieve your goal(s), what positive difference will it make in your life? How can the group help you reach your goal(s)?

2. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using different counseling theories as appropriate in each session rather than sticking with one theory throughout the group experience?

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