In this video, Ed Jacobs and Drs. Chris Schimmel from the West Virginia University talks about mistakes that are frequently made by various group counselors. According to Jacobs, one of the most important counseling mistakes is the absence of purpose (Jacobs & Schimmel, 2013). I agree with that statement, because, as a counselor, you should be clear about why you gather a certain group. Another thing noticed by Jacobs is that counselors should pay attention to the dynamics of the group. This statement is probably a bit confusing for me, as I cannot imagine what impact these dynamics might have on counseling sessions. Later in the video Drs. Chris Schimmel mentions how certain decisions like allowing kids to bring lunches during the classes might make it harder to regain their attention. While this might be true in some way, it has scientifically been proven that hungry kids are more likely to get distracted than fed kids (Sarasohn, 2011), so I would take that statement with a grain of salt. Jacobs also states that planning the counseling session is something a counselor should never omit.
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Deep, detailed planning of a session is a good way to keep the group interested, but there is still room for improvisation. Schimmel mentions that counselors should wisely distribute time between phases of a session. This is great advice, as depending on the session length, you should never have sessions with the warmup phase lasting for almost a third of the time dedicated to the session. Further discussion in the video is about the counselor’s ability to engage people. The ability to make people interested in one of the integral parts of counseling. As there are different classes, different approaches should be made to people to make them interested in sessions. The key to success in establishing contact with people is to set a positive tone during the beginning part of a counseling session. Also, one thing that I agree with Ed Jacobs is that as a counselor, you should never start the session with something like the list of rules. The way you introduce yourself is extremely important, as this may have an impact on how the group will react to you.
For instance, if you decide to appear funny, you might probably have a hard time trying to get serious responses from your group later on. On the other hand, a boring introduction to the group will most likely result in a boring session after. Jacobs also advises not to let someone from the group answer for too long. I see the reasoning behind it is that such an act is not a good sign of leadership, most likely because by doing that you kind of set the interests of that exact person above the others, and you never want to do that as a leader. This mistake sets grounds for another one displayed by many counselors – the inability to cut off members. To be a leader means knowing when to draw out people and when to cut off them (Jacobs, 1996). It is probably hard for some counselors because they do not want to hurt the feelings of others, but to become a respected leader, they will have to learn to deal with it.
Ed Jacobs and Drs. Chris Schimmel has provided us with valuable information about the common mistakes made during the group counseling sessions. Counselors will greatly benefit from learning things they should avoid doing, and, as a result, their sessions will become more productive. As for people who are unfamiliar with group counseling, the information in the video is still valuable and easily understandable as most of its principles derive from common sense.
Jacobs, E. (1996). Impact therapy and group counseling. Web.
Jacobs. E., & Schimmel, C. (2013). Group counseling common mistakes. [Video file]. Web.
Sarasohn, D. (2011). A growling stomach tends to distract from learning. Web.