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The main aim of group therapy is to empower individuals emotionally so that they are in a position to manage personal problems in the most effective manner. Group therapy involves various types of groups with different theoretical orientations that last for various aims. It defers with individual therapy because it provides a number of relationships that aid in the growth of individuals. Patients in the group therapy hope to reduce their sufferings so that their lives are improved. People with a similar problem or concern are usually placed in the same group so that they can share their mutual feelings but heterogeneous groups may also exist. These people include bulimic individuals, raped women, alcoholics and drug addicts. However there are some people who are not supposed to be placed in the group therapy until they stabilize their emotional conditions and behaviors such as the suicidal and psychotic. The remedial approach applied depends on the group’s focus as well as the counselor’s orientation.
As a group counselor, I would put hope and inspiration to the group members and make sure that those in despair as well as the new members get encouraged by the positive outcomes of the other people. Besides, I would make sure that there is interpersonal relationship among the group members since most of the people who enter the group therapy feel isolated and this proves to be a stumbling block for the interaction process. It is essential for the group members to understand the special benefit of group therapy. The patients need to appreciate and even realize great relief that comes with problem sharing as this proves that they are not really alone. As a counselor, it is essential to increase the member’s knowledge by making them understand a common problem. The members should be given explicit instruction on their problems. I would ensure that every member leaves the group with more knowledge on a particular condition than when he or she entered because they can also assist others on the same. Moreover, the atmosphere of trust and acceptance should be created so that the group members feel free to support each other. In addition the group counselor should be in a position to know when the group is ready to disband.
As a group counselor, I would set rules and regulations at the beginning such as maintaining secrecy of the discussions made in the group and limiting social contact with members who do not belong to that group. Groups function well when the members are assisted in the process of self- discovery. I should also be ready to give direction whenever the group gets off- track as well as giving the group members a chance to set their agenda.
Reinforcing a positive behavior by complimenting a member in the group builds encouragement in the group. It is necessary for a group counselor to interview the individuals before joining the group to make sure that there is a good fit between the individual ‘s needs and the group. After the interview, the individuals are given guidelines as well as group rules that the group focuses on. As an effective group counselor, I would support the individuals in the group so that they reduce the sense of isolation. This is because some individual members in the group maybe emotionally fragile or be unable to tolerate the harsh comments from other members thus increasing the chances of dropping out from the group which may be a disappointment to the group leader. Other members may experience problems in communicating as a group thus needs support from the leader.
The group members should discuss their issues openly and honestly for assistance. They should give feedback to each other and express their feelings on other people’s ideas. They should also be ready to interact with their members so that they get the opportunity to try out new methods of behaving. The members are supposed to keep secret anything discussed in the group. Besides, they are supposed to establish levels of trust so that they can be honest and open by committing themselves fully to the group. Each group member should be ready to reveal his or her feelings because most people experience difficulties due to unexpressed feelings. Therefore, self disclosure affects how much an individual can be assisted. Another role of the group is to ask helpful questions. Besides, the members should also be very keen to listen to their fellow members so as to get ideas which might be very helpful to them. By listening to others, members realize that they have similar problems and they are able to learn more about themselves.
According to the psychodynamic approach, unaware psychological forces determine the behaviors as well as thoughts of individuals. This therapy aims at assisting the group members to become aware of their unconscious needs and similar concerns to all the group members. To achieve the targeted goals, there has to be a relationship between the counselor and the group members as well as among the group members themselves so that they understand themselves well and their relationships. So, the main developmental task as well as the key goal of this therapy is the individual’s self awareness and proper understanding of how the past influences the present behavior. Basically, this therapy enables a client to scrutinize unsettled conflicts that result from past problematic relationships.
Psychoanalytic Adlerian Relationship-Oriented Approach
Psychoanalytic theory helps people understand the existence of inner forces outside one’s awareness that directs the behaviors of a person. Besides, the theory enables people understand what personality is as well as how the mind is divided. The conscious part of the mind contains everything that a person is aware of and includes part of the memory while the unconscious part of the mind reserves the feelings and thoughts that are outside the conscious awareness. Complex human behaviors are created by three elements of personality namely Id, ego and super ego. So the main goal of this therapy is to enable the client to understand his or her conscious and unconscious mind. It can be applied in a diverse client population in a group setting by making the individuals understand that personality cannot exist without its elements. The main concept in this therapy is to make the individuals know that the Id is a personality component that exists from birth and is usually unconscious.
It is driven by pleasure and calls for immediate satisfaction of all the desires and wants. Anxiety and tension results if the needs are not satisfied immediately. The main disadvantage of the id element is that it cannot be satisfied always because if people allow themselves to be driven by pleasure then there can be a lot of theft cases. Ego is another personality element that the group therapy should be made to understand. Normally, it deals with reality and originates from the id. Its reality principle makes it operate by satisfying the desires of the id in a realistic and acceptable manner. It aids in weighing the costs as well as benefits before acting or abandoning impulses. The main advantage of this element is to release tension that is built by unmet impulses. Superego is the last element that aids in personality development. It is the personality aspect that holds all the internalized moral standards that are obtained from the parents and the society. It gives the guidelines to make judgments and helps in perfecting as well as civilizing people’s behaviors. It works very hard so as to ensure that all unacceptable urges of the id are suppressed and at the same time encourages the ego to act only on the idealistic standards (Irvin, 1995).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy aims at assisting individuals change how they think as well as their behaviors. The changes make the client feel much better than before.CBT talks about how individuals feel about themselves, the world as well as other people. Secondly, it deals with the things that affect the feelings and thoughts of other people. The talks done in CBT focuses on the current problems and difficulties related to the group members thus becoming very effective. It does not deal with the past symptoms and its main goal is usually to improve the client’s current state of mind. Its developmental task is to assist in solving different types of problems such as depression, bulimia, stress and many other disorders. Besides, it aims at making sense of severe problems by simplifying them so that a connection can be seen.
CBT is a very effective therapy to use especially for the depressed and anxious people. Its main technique of dealing with problems has got various parts such as the situation which involves the problem itself or the event. The other parts are thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. All of these parts are interrelated since when somebody thinks about a certain problem, it can affect him or her physically as well as emotionally. The approach can be used when dealing with diverse client populations because the counselor assists the individuals in looking at their thoughts, feelings as well as behaviors so as to determine whether they are realistic or helpful. Importantly, the counselor is able to help the client modify thoughts and behaviors that are unhelpful.
Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy
Rational emotive behavioral therapy is commonly used in group therapy to make the individuals understand that anger is not caused by the activities taking place in the lives of the individuals. Rather depression and stress are usually caused by the inner beliefs that are held by many people, “men are disturbed not by events but by the views which they take of them” (Panman &Sandra, 2001). A client is able to know that every person cannot get what he or she wishes to have since everybody desires to be happy always, get along with others, be educated, get a good job with a good pay and enjoy the leisure time. The main goal of this therapy is to help people know that happiness can be blocked by so many things and people should react with a helpful and healthy manner. Another goal of this therapy is to assist people in changing their irrational beliefs into rational beliefs. The counselor can assist the client in changing the beliefs by disputing his or her irrational beliefs. Although it is hard to eliminate completely thoughts on irrational beliefs, it is possible to reduce the duration and frequency of irrational beliefs.
Existential person-Centered Gestalt Cognitive Behavioral Approach
Person centered behavioral approach assist a counselor to deal with a diverse client population in a group setting because it supports the idea of approaching people in different ways so as to enable them grow and come out of the problems they might have. This therapy incorporates the concept empathy, which is very essential in different therapeutic listening. This makes the counselor to get into the world of the client so that he or she can feel accepted and understood. It also creates a good relationship between the client and the counselor. The counselor appreciates the situation of the client by understanding the client’s issues emotionally throughout the whole of the session. This can also be done by listening actively to what the client is saying as well paying attention. Eye contact is also essential as well as reflection.
These two concepts help in giving the client time to examine both his thoughts and feelings. This therapy has got another quality of genuineness. This is the method of being open to one’s experiences without shutting any of them. The main aim of this quality is to enable the client benefit from the openness. It also requires self knowledge which cannot be obtained unless one undergoes a deep and full therapy. The therapy has got another method that makes the client feel accepted in a less threatening way. This creates trust thus enabling the client to narrate his or her own experiences and their own feelings without any fear. Therefore, the methods applied in this therapy make a group therapy to be effective.
Person –centered approach work in different levels as well as in cross-cultural groups. The main goals of this approach are self esteem and openness. The therapy aims at transforming the client to become a person with a better understanding and to have more positive relationships with other people. The client is this approach finds out the main direction of the therapy while the counselor heightens the client’s insight as well as understanding of oneself by clarifying questions informally. Unconditional positive regard is another main concept used in this approach. This enables the group counselor to accept the client regardless of who he or she is without disapproving certain feelings or characteristics. The counselor shows this attitude to the client by listening without any interruption or judgment.
The client will be positively influenced when the psychoanalytic, person- centered and CBT theories are combined. The psychoanalytic theory will enable the client know what personality concept entails. Person centered approach has got roles that are clearly stated in the psychoanalytic approach as well as in the CBT. Similar roles that exist include therapy taking place in an environment that is fully supportive especially where a close relationship exists between the counselor and the client. The three theories also call the group members ‘clients’ instead of patients so as to do away with the traditional hierarchical relationship between the client and the therapist.
One of the differences between person centered and psychoanalytic theories is that psychoanalytic approach focuses on aggressive tendencies that drive the behavior of human beings. It also defines human nature as inherently good. Person centered approach, unlike the other two theories, focuses on personal growth and self actualization. It defines how self actualization is achieved and how individuals tend to be concerned with others and become dependable.
The three approaches are the main therapy theories because they base the success of the group considering the attitude of the counselor rather than his or her skills or training.Unlike other theories such as the psychodynamic approach, CBT deals with current symptoms and issues. So, when it is combined with the person centered as well as the psychoanalytic approach, it produces remarkable results. Aspects found in the person centered theory include empathy, congruence and positive regard works well when they are incorporated with the current issues that are usually addressed in the CBT theory.
Personality concept discussed in the psychoanalytic theory may become problematic because the client may not be in a position to clearly understand the main differences between id, ego and superego since they are inherent. It may require more time and clarifications. On the other hand, the concept may be very helpful if it is understood by the client. Significantly, the concept leads to effectiveness when used together with the qualities in the person centered approach; empathy, genuineness and openness. Personality concept also becomes effective when incorporated with the feelings and thoughts concepts discussed in the CBT theory. Empathy enables the counselor to understand clearly the personality of the client thus making the counselor to assist the client in the right way. Genuineness is also another factor that aids in understanding of oneself.
Combining the three approaches work best because the client is able to share hostile, abnormal and painful feelings without the fear that he or she might be rejected by the counselor. The idea of CBT dealing with the current situations may not work out well because after incorporating the three approaches, the counselor may require to know about the client’s past life and background. This is because the past must be looked at so as to comprehend how the past experiences affect the current situation of the client.
The first thing a group counselor should do is to determine the number of times he should meet his clients and the time that should be taken for each session. It is also necessary for the counselor to make sure that the members get acquainted with each other during the initial stages. Roles and responsibilities should also be well communicated to the group members. In the first two or three sessions, the counselor is able to know whether the client is comfortable with the therapies intended to be used. Also, the first sessions usually involves many questions on the client’s background as well as past experiences so as to know how they influence the current situation.
At this point, the counselor is able to know how to incorporate the different approaches so that they yield better results. During the working stage, the members are usually free to make an attempt in solving their problems. They should also evaluate their own work and discuss various topics by making decisions by use of rational behavior. In the mature stage, conflicts can be resolved when they occur and it is necessary to accept the differences of other people without placing any judgment. The termination stage is when the group summarizes and evaluates its experiences by exploring both the negative and positive feelings on that experience. In this stage, communication is very essential for effectiveness.
The approaches enable the client to break the problem into different parts so that the counselor assists in identifying the client’s individual pattern of thoughts as well as emotions (Hales &Robert, 1995). Combining the three approaches instills hope to the client since different concepts such as personality, emotions and empathy are combined. This is very essential since the three approaches have a common therapeutic goal of maintaining the clients’ faith and hope in the therapeutic modality. Besides, the incorporation aids in building universality which surpasses the client’s feelings of uniqueness.
After intertwining the three theories, the psychoanalytic theory enables the group members to communicate effectively since the theory enables the group members to focus on the interpretation of the dreams as well as the counselor turning the experiences into conscious and healthy experiences. Besides, the client is able to communicate using the proper ego state in every situation. Person centered approach helps the clients to show their feelings towards each other as well as appreciating one’s feelings without putting any kind of judgment. Thus the client is able to accept his feelings and gains self confidence therefore making him able to communicate effectively.CBT focuses on expression and awareness of somebody and emphasizes on how to solve the daily problems.
Group therapy is highly affected by the attitude of the leader. For it to be effective, the group leader must have a positive attitude and be determined to assist the client. It has got so many advantages since it is cost effective as compared to individual therapy. The group members also get encouraged when they hear their fellow members talk openly about their problems thus making them decrease the feeling of uniqueness. The client is also able to learn more on problem solving techniques from the other members or from the group counselor.
Besides, the client becomes able to understand, challenge and identify with many people. However group therapy may have some of the disadvantages such as violation of confidentiality. Secondly, some of the clients may feel shy to communicate their problems thus end up not being assisted. Another disadvantage of group therapy is that it may not end up being beneficial if the leader conducts it as an individual therapy.