Process Groups for Counsellors
For counsellors in training, the journey ahead towards practicing as professionals is an exciting, but arduous one. All kinds of struggles will come up, evoking positive and negative emotions that are sometimes hard to process. To this end, process groups – also known as experiential groups – are vehicles to help with self-discovery, self-awareness, and support. However, process groups are thwart with challenges. This article explores the purpose of a process group, what it entails, the difficulties it can pose, and some suggestions on how to deal with these inevitable but worthwhile challenges.
The Purpose of Process Groups
Process groups for trainee counsellors usually comprise about 6-8 trainees, with one or two licensed therapists as facilitators. This is a closed group – meaning no one else is allowed to join the group – with a relatively few number of individuals. One of the main reasons why it is necessary to adopt this particular structure has to do with the fact that a closed group makes it easier to contain, and work with, the unfolding dynamics that develop between and among participants. In turn, this will enhance the value of the group as a means for self-exploration and learning for the participants. Process groups meet at regular intervals, which could be once a week or every two or four weeks. The major purpose for such meetings is for trainee counsellors to find out “more about who they are and what they would like to change in their personal lives and relationships with others.”
The significance of process groups lies in the opportunity trainees have for self-discovery and self-growth. Through the sessions, they are inevitably exposed to different and evolving perspectives about themselves, other people, and the nature of the counselling profession. In the confidential confines of the process group environment, they receive support when facing personal challenges, negative and positive feedback, and the safe assurance that whatever transpires among group members will remain private.
Although these kinds of groups prove to be extremely challenging for participants, they offer trainees a valuable chance “to deepen their level of self-awareness and to learn how they relate to others.” Part of the growing self-awareness members experience involves gaining more insight into their own inner dynamics and how these manifest in the outer world in relationships with others.
In my next blog, I will be explaining how process groups function.
1. Reeves, D. (MGPGP, LPC, CGP). What is a Psychotherapy Process-Oriented Group? Good Therapy. Weblog [Online] Available from: http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/therapy-group/ [Accessed 27th January 2014]
2. The University of Wisconsin-Madison. About Process Groups. [Online] Available from: http://www.uhs.wisc.edu/services/counseling/group-counseling/process.shtml [Accessed 27th January 2014]