Topic Area/Issue of the Focus of the Session
I attended a group counseling session held three weeks ago at the local mental health facility. It involved counseling young people exposed to substances prior to becoming frequent users. Most of the individuals were aged between 17 and 30. Also, most were in their first or second jobs. Others were fresh from colleges while others were taking courses in the local institutions—the group comprised of one female counselor (a professor in a state university) and 16 clients. The focus for the session was substance withdrawal to help the clients realize the importance and the process of abandoning the behavior.
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Modality and Theoretical Foundation
My analysis of the session is based on the Adlerian Theory. The counselor focused on achieving results within the shortest time possible (Adler, 2004). It is important to note that the session roughly followed the Adlerian method because the counselor used a direct, efficient, planned, focused, concise and purposeful approach limited by time (Adler, 2004).
Founded by Alfred Adler, the Adlerian theory is a psychodynamic approach that focuses on the social determinants of human behavior rather than biological aspects (Bitter & Corey, 2011). Also, the approach ignores the past origins of the behavior and focuses on its goals. Instead of analyzing the unconscious nature of human behavior, it emphasizes its purpose (Bitter & Corey, 2011).
Therefore, it uses a socioteleological approach that emphasizes the social forces that motivate people as they strive to achieve certain goals at a given time and place. According to this theory, people tend to create an idiosyncratic view of their lives, self, and others (Bitter & Corey, 2011). Then, they create short-term and long-term goals based on this view. Consequently, the goals motivate the people’s behavior and improve their development (Bitter & Corey, 2011).
Discussion of Group Stages
When attending the session, the counselor demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the group and group dynamics based on the Adlerian approach. The counselor attempted to investigate and interpret the problem in a therapeutic approach based on four major stages (Adler, 1996).
Stage 1. Development and maintenance of cohesive relationships
At the onset of the session, the counselor began by laying a strong and effective foundation for cohesiveness and connection (Adler, 2004). The counselor started by introducing herself, education, social and professional backgrounds. She revealed that she was once involved in substance abuse in her early years at the university. She also asked the clients to introduce themselves and their backgrounds.
Also, she established a democratic environment in which every person was allowed to ask the counselor any question within the context of the issue at hand. I realized that the purpose of this approach was to ensure that the counselor won the cooperation of every client to achieve effective group counseling. The counselor also focused on issues related to the cause and methods of abandoning substance abuse and the impacts of the substances on the social and sex life because the group was mainly interested in learning something in these areas. The counselor was applying an Adlerian approach in the session.
Stage 2. An exploration of the individual dynamics
This stage involves analysis and assessment. The counselor wanted to understand the lifestyles of the clients. The leader also wanted to understand how each person’s lifestyle was affecting the current functioning in life (Adler, 1996). She was emphasizing on the individuals within their social and cultural contexts, including life in school, work, home, neighborhood, and other areas (Adler, 2004).
She was driving the session by interacting with the clients, making sure that the environment was favorable to allow some social and cultural identity concepts to emerge. Initially, she described how her social and cultural background had affected her life and behavior when she was involved in substance abuse. She made sure her stories were funny and jovial. This created humor and attracted the clients to express their views of life and social and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, she was able to understand each of the client’s social and cultural contexts.
Stage 3. Insight and creation of awareness
In this stage, the counselor tried to drive the session in a manner that allowed the group to gain awareness and redirect their current goals and notions. She made sure that her story made them realize that their current ways of life were based on mistaken goals and notions (Adler, 2004). She made sure that each person thinks about his or her life and learns about “oneself.” She allowed the members to start a discussion with each other about these issues and their lives. She also allowed them to share their stories in her presence and when she was out of the room before resuming her session (Adler, 1996).
The leader allowed the group members to start interpreting their problems based on such questions as “Could it be that my peers influence my behavior?” or “I get the impression that I have been making the wrong moves and….” and others (Adler, 2004).
The current stage of the group
Currently, the group is in the fourth stage in Adlerian’s model. At this stage, every member is happily contributing to the discussion. For example, every member has become familiar with each other. They are also freely interacting with their colleague as well as the leader. At this stage, the leader has decided to involve the group to challenge the beliefs about their lives and the position of others.
She involves them in discussing their roles in their families, life, education, society, and the country in general. I have also seen that the members are freely giving specific examples of individuals who had succeeded in life while still involving themselves in the mistaken behaviors. For example, a 24-year old man has said that people like Barrack Obama have been involved in smoking marijuana but later succeeded in life. Another lady has insisted that the famous musician 50-Cent was once a substance addict and dealer but has reformed and succeeded in the industry.
Therefore, the leader is emphasizing using alternative beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to emulate the role models mentioned above. She is now using role models to encourage behavior change. Therefore, the group is in the fourth stage, where therapeutic aspects are being applied (Bitter & Corey, 2011).
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Critique of the leader’s methods
The leader’s model was effective because it not only allowed democracy but also allowed the members to review and rethink their lives and future based on the current situation. I realized that the counselor based her teaching on the whole person rather than the group. I conclude that Adlerian theory was applied because the leader used a holistic view of a person as an indivisible unit. She also used a teleological view of a person by looking at the direction of people and their desires to understand them. Also, the leader focused on the phenomenological approach in which the individual views, beliefs, conclusions, and perceptions are considered. Instead of looking at the people’s environment and heredity, she emphasized a creativity approach in which the client’s abilities to influence were considered (Adler, 2004).
Adler, A. (1996). The structure of neurosis. Individual Psychology, 52(4), 318-333.
Adler, A. (2004). Social interest: A challenge to mankind. New York, NY: Capricorn.
Bitter, J. R., & Corey, G. (2011). Adlerian group counseling. In G. Corey (Eds.), Theory and Practice of Group Counseling (pp. 165-187). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.