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Group counseling is where people benefit from experiences that they share together in a group. It is a form of therapy where people meet in order to address the problems that they are facing as individuals. These individuals then share their problems in order to look for solutions.
According to gestalt theoretical approach, people involved in the group counseling are assisted to be aware of what they are currently working on; the way in which they are doing it; and activities which they can engage in to facilitate a change to their lives, as well as other peoples’ lives. Group counseling makes people develop skills and increase their confidence.
The group of people involved also becomes empathetic and supportive to one another to address the challenges they are facing in life. Group counseling is commonly used in schools, colleges and universities, mental health clinics, and other human service agencies. Normally, group counseling is aimed at focusing on a certain issue such as stress management.
The manager of the group counseling is a therapist who manages the group, but all members make their contributions that are taken into consideration. This is because they are part of the group and that they share the same issues. Gestalt theoretical approach makes an individual believe to be a potential health person with all material that can be used to give satisfaction in life (Corey, 2012).
In group counseling, the leader should be able to reach everyone, both at individual and group levels. This makes every group member feel comfortable and confident while sharing or addressing a certain problem.
Some ethical issues involved in group counseling
There are major issues that should be done in group counseling that demonstrate ethics and enhance continuation and strength of the group. These issues are helpful to individual members of the group.
Demonstration of respect and honesty to all members of the group from the leaders is one key issue which promotes cooperation. Anyone leaving the group must have a concrete reason and should do so after issuing a notification to the group.
Another key ethical issue is that the responsibilities of each group member should be emphasized by the leaders. Some of these responsibilities are openness in the group, being able to provide feedbacks, punctuality and regularity in attending whenever there is a meeting held. Finally, the group members should observe confidentiality in the group with issues that are shared by friends (Ehly & Dustin, 1989).
Gestalt approach in group counseling
In accordance to gestalt theory, the members are taught on how to accept themselves in the way they are as well as giving value to themselves. Gestalt theoretical approach applied in group counseling has been proved to be one of the most effective in situations where time is a limiting factor.
It is majorly applied in different situations among individuals from all walks of life. Group counseling provides opportunities to these groups of people for experimenting with ideas, behaviors or personality quirks (Woldt & Toman, 2005).
Counseling techniques using gestalt theory
In gestalt theory, there are various techniques that are used in order to achieve the objectives of the counseling group. The leader of the group should use certain techniques that create awareness within the group. One of them is making observations within the group.
One of the major counseling techniques is the empty chair technique. This involves the client addressing an empty chair as though there was a person sitting on it. This technique focuses on assisting a client to explore him or herself. It is made use of by therapists in order to assist patients in self adjustment.
The use of unfinished business is a technique whereby anything that concerns about the past is not expressed during counseling. This is where things like rage, hatred, pain, anxiety, grief, guilt, and abandonment, as well as resentment are not expressed.
This is because they take the client to deep thought or increased stress. This may make the counseling session difficult such that the client cannot express herself to share out his or her problems.
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The other counseling technique is the exaggeration technique. In this case, counselors involved in counseling session exaggerates mannerism of the client or asks the client to exaggerate mannerism in order to make the client aware of true feelings (Ash, 1995).
Challenges and opportunities in group counseling
Challenges in group counseling occur both to the client and the counselor. There are several challenges that arise in group counseling. One of the major challenges faced by counselors is the failure of the client to open up to speak his or her problem.
The openness of the client during a counseling session depends on the counseling technique used and the level of experience of the counselor. For example, beginners may face a lot of challenges because they may not have enough experience to handle different types of clients (Gazda, 1978).
Also, the technique used determines whether the client will open up or not. Counselors should have different ways to approach clients so as to encourage them to share their problems. This will enable them get their solutions. This creates difficultness in the counseling session as the counselor will not be able to know how to handle the client.
Some of these are; unaware assumptions, attitudes and beliefs created on other group members including the group leaders. Another challenge in counseling is insufficiency of knowledge by the counselor.
This limits counseling in that the client may not be able to get solutions to his or her problems hence goes back with the same problem. In this case, counselors should ensure that they have adequate knowledge in counseling so as to help clients.
Other challenges include time limitation, where the counseling session may be too short for the counselor to carry out effective counseling. Lack of privacy and confidentiality with the counselor may discourage clients from sharing their problems.
Lack of respect between the counselor and the client may lead to ineffective counseling. This is common with male counselors who may be handling female clients. The counselor may use ways to console the client which may be unethical and hence may make the client lose confidence with the counselor of vice versa (Houston, 2003).
On the other hand, counseling has enhanced several opportunities in the society. For example, counseling done by professional has improved from performing to active provision of education and mental health care to clients who possess different capabilities.
Counseling has aided in the provision of respect for human dignity and diversity in most of the professional activities. Counseling has also provided employment opportunities because it has now become a profession (Corey, 2012).
From the discussion, it can be concluded that counseling is a critical aspect of life that assists individuals who undergo several problems. The problems that arise in counseling should be addressed so as to assist individuals in the society.
Educators also should give enough knowledge to the counselors to avoid insufficiency in counseling sessions. It is also important to address some of the ethical issues to be practiced during counseling to avoid the clients losing confidence.
Ash, M.G. (1995). Gestalt psychology in German culture, 1890-1967: Holism and the quest for objectivity. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Corey, G. (2012). Theory & practice of group counseling. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
Ehly, S.W. & Dustin, E.R. (1989). Individual and group counseling in schools. New York: Guilford Press.
Gazda, G.M. (1978). Group counseling: A developmental approach. Boston [u.a.: Allyn and Bacon.
Houston, G. (2003). Brief Gestalt therapy. London: SAGE.
Woldt, A.L. & Toman, S.M. (2005). Gestalt therapy: History, theory, and practice. Thousand Oaks: Calif.