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Group Counseling: Change in Relationships Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2021

Theoretical Foundation

The process of managing change in group counseling is intricate and often complicated due to the differences in participants’ perception. Whether being affected by their cultural values, their predisposition toward the change in question, or any other sociocultural factor, the participants’ further behavior is quite hard to control unless a powerful impetus for homogenous change is introduced. Since the authors focus primarily on the observation of interactions within a group, a set of different theoretical frameworks is used in the study. Specifically, the Integrative Approach is deployed to study the communication between the participants since the Coreys strive to scrutinize the dynamics of relationships within a very diverse team (Johnson, 2015).

In addition, the Coreys encourage self-disclosure and create the environment in which the participants would feel more inclined toward sharing crucial information about their personal life and what ultimately constitutes their identity. The observed strategy has a profound effect on the participants due to the adoption of the Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2018, p. 10).

Similarly, the Coreys study the nature of the change that occurs in participants through the analysis of the alterations in their cognitive and emotional perceptions. The specified analysis is possible due to the use of the Thinking, Feeling, and Behaving Model (TFBM), which allows one to explore the affective and emotional domain of the participants (Corey et al., 2018, p. 11). By asking the group members questions appealing to their feelings and emotions, as well as encouraging them to analyze their cognitive processes, the Coreys invite the participants to engage in a metacognitive process. Thus, the power of a group, which implies that participants can discuss their interpersonal difficulties, at the same time observing these difficulties emerge and evolve, reveals itself.

Group Dynamics

Corey offers a rather intricate system of exploring the group dynamics and encouraging the participants to address their issues by developing healthier behaviors. During the initial stage, Corey promotes the idea of trust and cooperation among the team members by encouraging openness and honesty. The first step made on the way to enhancing cooperation within the group might seem as unexpected and even unorthodox since Corey encourages the team members to define the issues that make them feel uncomfortable at present (Johnson, 2015). On the one hand, the specified step may invite a certain atmosphere of awkwardness into the group. As one of the members puts it, “It hurt to hear, but I appreciate the honesty” (Johnson, 2015). However, on the other hand, the honesty of the team members clears any misunderstandings and establishes a very clear setting in which the participants feel inclined to hare their emotional experiences. Therefore, the video shows that it is crucial for a counselor to be supportive and promote the sense of honesty and openness among the team members.

Unlike the Initial Stage, where the participants are only starting to reconcile with their psychological issues, the Transition Stage involves dealing with resistance to change. At the specified point of handling their personal issues, the participants are not as self-conscious about their feelings and emotions as they used to be at the Initial Stage since they acknowledge them. The observed phenomenon signifies a positive trend in the attitudes of the team members since it is indicative of their inclination to alter their behaviors. As Corey et al. (2018) explain it, “The goal of this stage is to create a safe and trusting climate that encourages members to take risks” (p. 225). By taking the challenge to alter their traditional behaviors and observe the outcomes, the participants showed their understanding of the significance of change, yet they are still wary of the possible negative consequences. According to the explanation provided by one of the participants, she could not force herself to alter her behavior and attitudes drastically since she was afraid that it would “hurt” (Johnson, 2015). The other team member referred to the identified stage as “surrounding yourself with a big wall” (Johnson, 2015). At the specified stage, the team members are being accustomed to the idea of letting themselves be weak, which is another crucial step toward healing.

Although the Transitional Stage was rather lengthy in the specified video due to the need for the participants to reconcile with their personal issues, the transfer to the Working Stage was, nevertheless, seamless and natural. As the video shows, the participants should develop the ability to confront their personal problems at the specified point and acknowledge them openly. The identified stage requires the extensive support of a counselor since conflicts and misunderstandings are common during the Working Stage. The transfer to the specified step of the therapy was marked by a rapid increase in the depth, range, and scale of the emotional responses produced by the team members. Thus, the team members would be finally relieved of the weight of the emotional issues that they had been articulating during the previous stages of the therapy.

As its name suggests, the Final Stage implied observing the change and controlling it. Since the participants had already developed particular behaviors and learned healthy strategies for coping with inter- and intrapersonal conflicts, it was crucial to enable them to apply the newly learned skills to real-life experiences. Therefore, there was a direct connection between the previous stages and the specified one, which created a continuity of change within the group in question. In addition, according to the Coreys, it was crucial to analyze family issues when helping the participants to handle the conflict constructively: “One thing that always comes up is dealing with parents” (Johnson, 2015). Therefore, the Final Stage could be seen as the attempt to promote closure on a much deeper personal level that requires delving deep into one’s family issues and the impact that the latter have had on the development of specific behaviors in the team members. As a result, the Final Stage was connected directly to the previous three due to the continuity of the themes and the focus on developing the required behaviors, yet it also expanded the idea of group collaboration.

Particularly, the dynamics of the group interaction was shifted to creating and maintaining the connection between personal and group-related concerns. The participants managed not only to see the cause-and-effect link between their family relationships, their behaviors, and the group communication choices, but also to control and shape the specified dynamics and behaviors. Thus, while being a part of their personal development, family issues no longer defined the choices that the group participants made when communicating and collaborating with each other. At the specified stage, the role of the counselor was restricted to assisting the participants in determining the family-related factors that shaped their behaviors and learning to control the family-related influences to maintain healthy workplace communication. Thus, the counseling process observed in the video was evidently representative of the essential stages of counseling as outlined by Corey et al. (2018, p. 107). With the assistance and guidance of the counselors, the participants managed to identify the essential impediments to the effective management of conflicts within their group, thus leading to the final alteration in their behaviors.

Therapeutic Foundation

Dr. Corey and Corey used a range of therapeutic strategies that helped the group participants to identify their issues, recognize the necessity to change, and create new behavioral strategies that would allow them to manage workplace issues constructively. By reinforcing the impact of the identified factors, Dr. Corey and Corey ensured the homogeneity of the participants’ progress. Particularly, because of the differences in perceptions, sociocultural backgrounds, and other factors determining the team members’ readiness to change, the counselors could have failed to encourage the development of all participants. Thus, strategies for maintaining the continuity of the process, at the same time addressing individual specifics of each participant was crucial. Herein lied the importance of using the factors that provided the therapeutic foundation for the successful transition to the Final Stage. Particularly, the elements of the therapy such as self-disclosure, feedback, confrontation, willingness to risk and to trust, the catharsis, and the cognitive component deserve to be mentioned as the cornerstones for the reconciliation between the participants.

Self-disclosure has had a tremendous impact on the participants’ ability to engage in a meaningful conversation and address the communicational problems that they developed. Particularly, the atmosphere of openness created at the very start of the therapy contributed to introducing the participants to the concept of sincerity and openness that were instrumental in sharing experiences and addressing the key concern. Moreover, the suggested approach helped the group members to engage in self-reflection while conversing with one another. Although determining the value of self-disclosure was not equal for all participants, it helped the counselors to establish the environment in which mutual trust and openness could become possible. It was also important that the participants share not only their beliefs and experiences but also what Corey et al. (2018) referred to as the “ongoing persistent reactions toward other members and the leader” (p. 243). The specified tendency allowed the participants to observe their interactions evolve and, thus develop a better understanding of the effects that changes in their behaviors and attitudes have on their communication and conflict management. Therefore, the focus on self-disclosure within the group served as the platform for promoting healthy relationships and assisting the team members in viewing each other as people with unique personalities, weaknesses, and needs that have to be respected.

In addition, the self-disclosure of the leaders played an important role in accommodating the participants and helping them to feel comfortable in the environment of the group. While Dr. Corey and Corey’s involvement was not linked directly to the conflict that the participants were trying to resolve, it did prompt the active sharing of feelings and emotions among the group members. By asking questions to the group, the counselors ensured the continuous flow of the conversation and at the same time kept it natural. It would have been very easy to leave the participants talking about their emotions and experiences to the point where the discussion would have deviated into a very personal territory. However, Dr. Corey and Corey managed to retain the focus of the therapy on the issues that pertained to the interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts observed among the participants. The specified approach toward disclosure can be seen as striking a perfect balance between promoting sincerity and openness and steering the communication in the required direction.

Processing the feedback was another element of the therapy that turned out to play a crucial role in the creation of a positive outcome. The participants provided an extensive amount of information to be used for developing a profound understanding of their needs and current concerns. Therefore, it was the combination of self-disclosure and the delivery of feedback that defined the further choice of therapeutic strategies used by the counselors. It is noteworthy that the feedback within the group is almost inexistent until the participants reach the third stage, which invites them to reconcile with their personal conflicts and search for the solution.

Some prerequisites of feedback emerge once the members of the team arrive at the Initial Stage and Resistance Stage, when the team members cautiously state their agenda and develop a response toward the intervention. However, it is not until the Transitional Stage that they provide positive feedback that can be used for building a coherent strategy for managing their interpersonal conflict. The observed phenomenon aligns with the expectations set by the Coreys since they state explicitly that honesty and sensitivity are crucial for providing proper feedback: “Like self-disclosure, group leaders need to teach participants how to give and receive feedback” (Corey et al., 2018, p. 247). Therefore, it is the atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding that encourages the delivery of feedback. Given the initially cold and rather restrained attitude with which the participants approached the initial stage, it was inevitable that the counselor had to wait until the Transitional Stage to obtain feedback from the team members.

In the same way, it took time to promote the willingness to risk trust as the crucial component of a successful therapy. Nevertheless, as soon as the group members realized that they would not face the aggression that they would expect in their daily environment, the propensity toward trusting each other became evident. The observed phenomenon was essential to the success of the therapy since it showed the people’s readiness to develop a coherent dialogue and address the challenges that they face when communicating with others. It was the mutual trust that encouraged the group members to explain how their opponents’ treatment, behaviors, and remarks affected them personally. The increase in the levels of trust and the readiness to risk could be observed once the participants started disclosing their emotions and feelings, which they feared to be met with dismissal from the others.

The catharsis occurred at the end of the working Stage, when the reasons for the conflict to occur between the participants were finally identified, and when the team members showed their readiness to change. To be more exact, the observed phenomenon could be termed as the emotional catharsis since all team members had to reconcile with their feelings and accept the emotions of the others. Thus, in the context of the therapy setting, the catharsis implied the point at which the group members relieved themselves of the emotional weight that they had been carrying. The recognition of the flaws in their behaviors and the identification of the strategies that they needed to consider in the future became the revelation that produced a cathartic experience. The cognitive component, in turn, was present at each stage since the participants were encouraged to approach the therapy from a cognitive perspective since its very beginning.

Characteristics and Functions

Leadership skills play a crucial role in managing conflicts within a diverse group, which the video under analysis exemplifies. By using an elaborate set of leadership strategies, Dr. Corey and Corey build the environment in which the participants can act as not only passive followers of the proposed strategies and behaviors but also the active agents of change. By using the principles of the Transformational Leadership technique, the Coreys encourage the group members to reevaluate their behaviors and attitudes, at the same time motivating them to alter their behaviors.

In addition, one can determine the presence of the Coleadership Model in the approach that the counselors use to encourage change in the group members. According to the definition provided by the authors, the Coleadership Model is the framework that allows counselors to work as a team (Corey et al., 2018, pp. 54-55). The specified approach has a range of benefits, including the opportunity to empower the participants to make decisions regarding changes in their behaviors and attitudes, as well as engage in a meta-cognitive analysis (Corey et al., 2018, p. 54). During the therapy, one could observe the situation in which Dr. Cotey and Corey encouraged the participants to ask themselves the question of how they felt and what made them feel that particular way. As a result, these subtle nudges in the direction of a profound self-analysis made the people involved to not only define but also rationalize their feelings and emotions, thus creating prerequisites for the efficient management of the problem.

Furthermore, the use of the proposed theoretical framework sparked the active discussion of the relationships between the participants within the group. Furthermore, the nature of the discussion incorporated both the rational and emotional nature, which made the further communication productive and rich with emotional changes in the relationships’ dynamics. The resulting breakthrough that one could observe, including one of the participants crying, showed that the levels of openness reached their pinnacle in the specified environment (Goodrich & Luke, 2015, p. 81). At this point, the significance of the leadership strategy known as the active listening must be recognized. Dr. Corey and Corey never intervene in the communication process directly; instead, they prefer to engage in the active listening process by encouraging the team members with verbal and nonverbal strategies. The former include affirmative statements that address the participants emotions and appeal directly to their feelings.

However, it is remarkable that Dr. Corey and Corey decided to take the idea of coleadership to its extreme and build the setting in which every participant is provided with an opportunity to lead at some point of the discussion. Consequently, all of the participants were enabled to “make constructive suggestions about each other’s style, and the process of exchanging perceptions can enhance their ability to function effectively as coleaders” (Corey et al., 2018, p. 55). Indeed, when considering the aspects of the group that made it special and allowed its members to be particularly productive in their management of inner conflicts and personal confrontations was their ability to analyze their issues independently. While the counselors provided the participants with a certain amount of guidance, there as an evident propensity toward independent thinking and critical analysis among the team members.

The use of the coleadership principles did not impede the process of assisting the group members in identifying their issues and resolving them. For instance, by taking the active part in the management of the counseling process, neither of the participants seemed to have difficulties handling the new role. The leaders used linking as one of the leadership tools that could prompt the further communication and the active information sharing among the group members. Specifically, Dr. Corey and Corey. For example, when one of the group members bursts into tears during the Working Stage, the other one attempts at reconciling by acknowledging her emotions and at the same time making the connection to her own feelings and anxieties (Johnson, 2015). As a result, the conversation starts revolving around the issue of personal worth and the public perception of one’s image. Consequently, the issues that the two participants in question render become emotionally relatable to all people involved.

Despite the fact that all team members have a vast array of personal problems to overcome, the use of the coleadership principles as the cornerstone for the therapy seems quite legitimate in the specified scenario. By deploying the specified leadership framework, Dr. Corey and Corey create the foundation for healing and the further development of new behaviors among the participants. To support the specified change, Dr. Corey and Corey also deploy the principles of empathizing with their patients. During one of the most emotional scenes of the therapy, Dr. Corey reached out to the person sharing her personal issues and claimed that she was proud of her, affirming her statement with a nonverbal gesture (particularly, Dr. Corey touched the patient on her hand lightly). The specified decision allowed creating the atmosphere of mutual trust and openness between the counselor and the participant, as well as providing an example for the rest of the group members to express their feelings.

Dr. Corey and Corey also make a very efficient use of the technique known as questioning. Serving as the means of encouraging patients to share their ideas and thoughts, the specified tool became the primary method of promoting honesty and transparency within the group. Because of the initial hesitation among the participants to share their deeply emotional experiences, it was critical to ask them questions that would prompt the further conversation. Thus, the use of the specified technique should be justified by the rise in the levels of honesty and trust among the participants. The proposed strategy provided an unobtrusive way of inviting the team members to share their emotional experiences, thus making the conversation meaningful.

Finally, the technique known as supporting must be listed among the essential strategies used by the counselors. Dr. Corey and Corey deploy the concept of supporting to help the participants to overcome some of the most difficult hindrances on their way to building trust and cooperation within the group. Because of the emotional strain that most of the participants experienced, it was crucial to offer them support and assistance. Using the principles of coleadership and encouraging the active participation among the group members, Dr. Corey and Corey created the foundation of promoting the relationships based on openness and trust. The specified process was enhanced by using the leadership elements such as questioning, support, empathy, and other techniques, the authors manage to engage the participants in the process of personal growth. Furthermore, the group members experience the necessity to alter their behaviors as well.

Culturally Relevant Strategies

Apart from prompting the general process of interacting within the group, Dr. Corey and Corey utilized several approaches toward appealing to the participants’ cultures and beliefs. As a result, the idea of cooperation was planted comparatively fast within the specified group. The appeal to the culture-related characteristics and background of each participant was essential to the positive outcome of the therapy since it helped build a stronger connection between the group members. In addition to developing a profound knowledge of their peers’ motivations, fears, and needs, the group members were given a chance to eradicate the prejudices that prevented them from building social relationships.

In the video in question, Dr. Corey and Corey demonstrated excellent cultural awareness by showing a great understanding of and care for the diverse demographic with which they had to deal. For instance, the issue of race was mentioned several times during the therapy, with one of the participants pointing to it as one of the factors leading to strenuous relationships between her and her peers. The genuine respect that Dr. Corey and Core showed for every single member of the group helped the participants relax and stop perceiving the environment of the counseling session as alien and potentially threatening to their identity. The observed change in the attitudes among the participants indicated that the authors utilized culturally relevant strategies successfully to promote the active communication and relieve the tension between the team members.

Group Counseling Technique

The focus on nonedefensiveness as the primary technique for managing the interpersonal conflict addressed during the session was an admittedly reasonable step for Dr. Corey and Corey to make. Because of the resistance and prejudices that the participants had built by the time that the session was started, the promotion of a compromise and cooperation as the platform for the further management of the conflict was essential. Without the specified technique, an open dialogue would have been impossible. Even though the application of the specified approach meant for the participants to expose their vulnerabilities to one another, it proved to be extraordinarily efficient in bringing these people together and helping them share their experiences and feelings. As a result, the participants received a powerful impetus for improving their communication skills and reconsidering their behaviors by building a coherent cross-cultural communication strategy. By using the newly acquired information and skills, the participants can manage other workplace issues, including cross-cultural conflicts. Specifically, the team members can now use their new skills to develop negotiation and conflict management techniques based on the concepts of compromise and cooperation. Thus, the participants can take the specified learning to the outside world.

The focus on spontaneity and the creation of a natural environment was another technique that Dr. Corey and Corey used when approaching the participants. Because of the eight of the issues that the specified demographic was facing, it was critical to relieve them of their stress as much as possible and build a friendly and open setting that invited them to participate, communicate, and cooperate. Thus, the counseling process resulted in a complete success, providing all participants with the closure that they needed and helping them to change their behaviors to communicate and cooperate effectively.

References

Corey, M. S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2018). Groups: Process and practice (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Goodrich, K., & Luke, M. (2015). Group counseling with LGBTQI persons across the life span. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Johnson, L. (2015). Evolution of a group. Web.

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