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How To Train Effective Facilitators for Group Counseling?

Why Learning Group Dynamics?

The power of group dynamics ever fascinates its witnesses, even those who are most seasoned. No matter how many times you sit in a group, you cannot help but be captured by the ever surprising richness, complexity, and forces at work within each group session.  Each group and each session seem to have a life or personality of their own that commands unfaltering respect and appreciation. To work within a group, one must enter it with utter openness, curiosity, willingness, humility, and a sense of awe - with an attitude that can be called a Zen mind, or a beginner's mind.  It is with and toward this attitude that we aim our work in training and teaching group counseling and therapy.


The Anxiety of Leading a Group

Many therapists and counselors are inexperienced in group work and feel like they lack the skills and competency to run a group. Many new counselors and therapists feel ill-equipped for direct group contact. The mere thought of leading a group is often overwhelming to new group facilitators. This sense of anxiety and inadequacy is realistically based on the reality that group dynamics are often fast-moving complex, and elusive. This is part of the nature of any group.

The Needs in Group Counseling Training

It does take a specially designed course work and training modality to prepare the helping professionals trainees to tackle the intricacies inherent in each group session and to help group members reach their desired change. Many beginning counselors and therapists thirst for practical instruction and training that will provide specific guidelines to help them meet the challenge of clinical practice in group settings.

Chris and Mei have been involved in providing group counseling training for over a decade.  Based on our lengthy experiences in training and skills building, we have designed a training model and published it into a textbook, entitled "Group Leadership Skills: Interpersonal Process in Group Counseling and Therapy."  This textbook has been written to meet the thirst for practical instruction.

A Framework Designed for Group Counseling Training

The textbook, "Group Leadership Skills," provides an organizing framework to help counselor trainees bring about client change in the real life of group setting within a relatively brief period of time. This framework is a well-developed one that utilize interpersonal process, a centrall force in groups, as an active change agent. The methods are practical and will help to orient new group leaders regarding where they are going in various group sessions and why they proceed in certain sessions with certain intervention strategies and techniques. These methods are derived from an integration of Sullivan's Interpersonal theory, object relations theory, family system theory, experiential theory, and brief therapy.  Since the methods are practical, they can be easily applied to various group setting and treatment plans.  The text contains a wealth of examples, case studies, techniques, and creative ways of conducting groups. It is an instructional and practical model that can be a rare find.

A Practical Guide for Training Group Facilitators

As previously mentioned, this textbook is an outgrowth of our years of teaching and training group leaders regarding how to use focused interventions in group work. The approach presented in this book is active, interactive, experiential, and integrative. When we teach, we encourage trainees to get in the "driver's seat" and experience what running actual group sessions feels like. Over an extended period of time (approximately three months), trainees personally experience the whole spectrum of group dynamics, from the forming stage, to the storming (transition) stage, to the normal stage, to the working stage, and finally the termination stage. Each skill in the book is based on actual observations of what group facilitators need in life sessions in order to tackle the ever fluid, ever intricate group dynamics.

The book is intended as a guide to group practice; it is not meant to provide definitive answers to each and every situation that a group leader will encounter.  It does, however, provide guidelines that will be helpful to any trainees in group counseling who wish to gain a sense of competency in group leadership.

"I have been reading your book on group leadership, because I am using it in a class I will teach at Argosy this fall. It is an excellent text; complete, full of great ideas, etc. I'm glad I decided to use it, and will use it again."   ~ Dr. Jeff Edwards, Northeastern Illinois University

"I really love this book! It is so applicable! Not only does it teach you the theory of groups, but it also gives you the step-by-step guides to actually running a group. What I especially like is that for each concept, there are examples of things you might actually say to facilitate in a group setting. Whether you're in graduate school or already practicing leading groups, you are definitely going to want to own this book."   ~ Happi Bills

Click on reviews to read more reviews by those who have used this book as their group leadership textbook.