You are required to choose a group counseling topic you would like to research and for which you will develop a six-week group framework plan. The instructor must approve your topic in advance.
Sample topics could include:
1. Grief Counseling
Your counseling plan needs to specify the population for whom the group is tailored. You also need to include relevant research regarding effective small group intervention plans for this topic and population. You will then design (in outline form) a 6-week, small group counseling plan based on this research. You are required to submit the assignment in written form. Your written paper needs to follow the outline form below. Please make sure you address each point in the outline.
Instructions: The outline of this group counseling plan will include the following sections:
a. Is this topic more appropriate for small or large group? Highlight why individual counseling wasn’t chosen.
b. What is your specific population of focus for this group? (e.g., court mandated clients, children who have lost a loved one, adolescents with school difficulties, couples, etc.)
II. Characteristics of Group Leaders
a. What group leader characteristics are necessary for successful group facilitation?
b. How does the type and formulation of the group impact your group leader selection and facilitation?
III. Culturally Relevant Strategies for Designing and Facilitating Groups
a. How do cultural and diversity factors impact development and facilitation of your group?
b. What steps have you taken to insure these strategies are in place?
a. What does the research suggest as effective interventions for this population?
b. What does the research show was ineffective for working with this population?
V. Group Counseling Plan
a. Clearly outline at least 6 sessions for the group
b. Include the following for each session:
i. Objectives for each session
ii. Materials needed for each session
iii. Step-by-step instructions for leading the lessons, including process questions the leader should ask with the activities
iv. Any additional materials (e.g., worksheets, handouts) the leader will need
a. In addition to the group, what (if anything) should the counselor do to ensure that the client’s needs are met in this topic area?
b. What would you recommend to counselors planning to lead this group?
a. APA style is required
b. At least 5 professional references must be used (no websites or self-help books)
A rubric for this assignment can be found attached to this assignment. Students must receive at least a 70% to receive a passing grade. A student who scores less than 70% of the grade on the KPI assignment must complete an Individual Remediation Plan with the instructor. Failure to successfully remediate the KPI assignment will result in an F (Fail) grade in the course.
Example from Professor how to format.
Parenting Education Group
Parents continue to face unique challenges associated with raising their families. Parents may have difficulty coping with a child’s personality traits; they may struggle with having to shift parenting strategies as their child reaches a new developmental milestone; they may be a dual-career family and feel they do not have enough time for children or their significant other; they may have to manage coparenting, whether living together or apart; and couples may have to adjust expectations in accordance with life changes such as having a baby and becoming parents.
a) Is this topic more appropriate for small or large group? Highlight why individual counseling wasn’t chosen.
The Parenting Education Group is ideal for a maximum of 8 people “A group of this size is big enough to give ample opportunity for interaction and small enough for everyone to be involved and to feel a sense of the “group” (Corey, 2016).
The idea is that during a session everyone would have the opportunity to participate and share their own experience as parents but still have time to gain insight and learn effective parenting techniques. Having a relatively small number of participants might help to avoid turning the group into a “playground social interaction” among parents, where a lot of common experiences are shared but little learning is happening.
I believe a small group is more adequate for a Parenting Education Group than individual counseling because participants can learn from other parent’s experiences and at the same time feel “normal” as they go through the same challenges.
b) What is your specific population of focus for this group?
For this group, participants must be a father or mother to a child who is no older than 10 years old. Children should not suffer from any mental illness or physical disability.
2. Characteristics of Group Leaders
a) What group leader characteristics are necessary for successful group facilitation?
In this particular case it is important that the group leader has some experience with kids. The leader can be a parent himself or work with children in any way that will give him or her exposure to common problems and challenges that grownups encounter in their daily interactions with children. “The leader should also have the ability to establish solid relationships with others in the group in order to ensure some level of openness from the participants” (Corey, 2016).
Other important traits in a Group Leader:
· Non-defensiveness in coping with criticism
· Sense of humor
· Goodwill, genuineness and caring.
b) How does the type and formulation of the group impact your group leader selection and facilitation?
The leader must be selected on the grounds of his experience working and dealing with children and his ability to explain and teach how to enhance the relationship between parents and their children. The leader must show empathy and understanding, must be able to talk openly about the challenges he/she encounters while dealing with children.
3. Culturally Relevant Strategies for Designing and Facilitating Groups
a) How do cultural and diversity factors impact development and facilitation of your group?
It is important to understand the cultural background of parents that will be attending this group. If we are aware of the environment where this group will take place it will be easier to understand their values, beliefs and behaviors. Will this group be conformed by members of a certain school, church or community? If this is the case, it is probable that the group will be somehow more homogeneous which will reduce diversity. If the group is offered for members that have nothing in common among them, the leader will certainly have to have a multicultural perspective in addressing the group.
When the subject is closely related to family and upbringing, each individual brings his particular cultural learning with them, which might enrich the group experience but might also create some tension. Examples of this can be how each family deals with punishment, some families might consider physical punishment a good and accepted option while others might view it as extreme and unacceptable.
It is for this reason that when designing both the content and the type of facilitation the leader will be using, it is important to have some previous knowledge about each participant’s background.
b) What steps have you taken to insure these strategies are in place?
In order to ensure each participant’s cultural background is understood and taken into account when designing the development and type of facilitation, the leader would need to work closely on the screening and selection procedure.
Attracting group members that are interested in enhancing their parental skills and that will be committed to the process. The brochure should include who is this group oriented to, the goals, number of sessions, location, name and background of the leader and topics to be addressed.
Screening and selecting participants
Conduct individual interviews during which the leader should consider the following issues:
· Group members whose needs and goals are compatible with the goals of the group
· Diversity “you may want to put together a group of individuals who share common experiences but also are different in a number of respects. If member composition is carefully considered and balanced, members have opportunities both to connect with and to learn from each other” (Corey, 2016).
· Likelihood that a candidate will benefit from a group experience.
· The degree to which a candidate wants to make changes and is willing to expend the necessary effort.
Conduct an orientation session to both inform and screen group members.
a) What does the research suggest as effective interventions for this population?
Research has shown that in order to enhance families and child/parent relationships, parents should work on:
· Self management techniques
· Improving parent/child attachment
· Behavioral techniques for the day-to-day activities
· Improving the child’s self-esteem
· Understanding child perspective
· Reducing aggressive behavior
· Language use
In order to achieve these goals the following approaches have been proven to be effective:
· Psychoanalytic therapy based on insight, unconscious motivation and personality.
· Behavior Therapy: eliminate maladaptive behaviors and replace them with more constructive patterns. During this process, the behavior in need of improvement needs to be selected, second the chosen behavior must be measurable and third, when change sin behavior are observed it is necessary to ask whose behavior has changed (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007).
· Cognitive Therapy: correct faulty thinking, incorrect inferences on the basis of incorrect or inadequate information, and failing to distinguish between fantasy and reality.
b) What does the research show was ineffective for working with this population?
Any aggressive behavior such as physical or psychological punishment has proven to be not only ineffective to improve child behavior but also counterproductive.
5. Group Counseling Plan
Session 1: Understanding and accepting your child
Objectives: Accept your child for who he is. We all might have ideas of the child we wanted to have and it might not always coincide with the child we have. We might have wanted easier, more obedient and complying children and we might have more active, self opinionated and independent children instead. Try to see the positive aspects of his/her personality. Embrace the gifts that they do have and try to manage the behaviors that might bring you here today. Change the “glasses” with which you scrutinize your child, be more accepting and empathetic with him. Show him your love and respect even in difficult moments. Your child gains self-esteem from the way he feels loved and accepted by YOU!
Materials: The following questions will be distributed among participants and each should answer the questions individually. Once all the questions have been answered the group leader will ask parents to engage in a discussion.
· Can I legitimately say that I accept my daughter for who she is?
· Do I tell her?
· Do I regularly communicate to my son his unique identity?
· Have I ever felt as distant from him?
· Have I ever spoken hurtful, angry words that left my child wounded? If so, have I mended the offenses?
Since this is the first session the leader would open the discussion by asking each parent to present himself/herself and present their child in a positive and loving way, explaining only their positive traits. No negative remarks will be accepted about any child.
Step 1: The group leader will explain the importance of the way we view and think about our children but also the way we talk about them with others. We usually tell others thing like: “ Peter never follows my directions, he is so uncooperative”, “Peter has such a bad temper, he is always crying”.
Step 2: The group leader explains how these statements hurt our children self-esteem and how we need to improve the way we refer to them and the way we see them.
Step 3: The group leader will give each parent the above questions and the group will discuss the answers.
Step 4: The group leader will offer some techniques to work on acceptance and show acceptance to a child.
Session 2: Peaceful Parents
Objectives: “Being peaceful and in control is a parent’s responsibility. Parents who succeed are calmer and more connected to their kid. They are more joyful and in control which produces better behaved kids” (Markham, 2012).
Switching views by working on self-management and self-control rather than on controlling the kid. Managing own emotions and actions is what allows parents to feel peaceful.
Materials: List and identify the triggers to your anger and what could you do to calm down.
Step 1: Identify your anger. The first step to managing your anger is to notice the early signs. It’s really important to know and say that you’re angry, even if it’s just to yourself.
Step 2: Try to calm down. Once you notice the early signs of anger try taking a big breath, doing something that soothes you, put some music, go outside, ask for help, go somewhere quiet for a moment.
Step 3: Reflect on the situation. If you feel you’ve calmed down, it might be a good idea to reflect back on the situation, and think about what has just happened. ‘How important is this? Why was I so upset about it?’ ‘Do I need to do something about this, or can I just let it go?’
Keep in mind that feeling angry is totally normal and it is unrealistic not to feel upset or angry, it is OK to feel angry – it’s just not OK to yell or to treat a kid in an aggressive way.
If you could not control yourself, say sorry for yelling or losing your temper. This shows your children that it’s OK to feel angry sometimes. The important thing is to find healthy ways of handling anger.
Session 3: Connecting
Objective: Are you really connecting with your child? What does it mean to connect with your child? It means to be attached, to respond to a child’s needs, to create a strong bond where the child knows he is taken care of. Relationships, and especially strong ones, are created by daily interactions.
Materials: Role-play a busy mother who is checking her phone and preparing dinner as her son tells her something important that happened today at school. She answers with simple “aha”, “oh, that’s great” but is hardly paying attention.
Step 1: Explain the notion of connecting and what it means. Give examples and explain how our busy daily lives can prevent us from making these kind of necessary connections. Present the child perspective, how does a child feel when he is not actively listened, when there is lack of connection with his/her parents.
Step 2: Ask participants to name 2 activities per week where they connect with their child. It can be during dinner or bath time, it can be a board game or a walk around the park. Ask participants to list what things are preventing them to connect with their child.
Session 4: Managing your child behavior
Objective: Give specific behavioral tools to better manage a child’s behavior. Explain and model techniques that could be put in place by any parent.
Materials: no specific material for this session.
Some of the techniques that will be explored are:
Step 1: Tantrums: don’t try to make your child understand his wrongdoing while he is in the tantrum. Wait for a calmer moment to talk about what happened. Give examples of acceptable ways to react to situations that upset him. Remain as calm as possible during the tantrum and make sure he knows you understand why he is upset.
Step 2: Following directions: get the child attention, talk in a soft voice and repeat only once, if the behavior is not achieved give a consequence.
Step 3: Rewards: provide rewards for small things, in an unexpected way. Praise your child for every little thing he does right. Build a rewards system that will help them succeed.
Session 5: Listening to your child
Objective: Learn how to really listen and acknowledge the child’s inner pain, and give a chance to talk more about what is troubling the child. “By doing so, parents will see their kids begin to feel less upset, less confused and more able to cope with their feelings and problems. Kids can help themselves if they have a listening ear and en empathic response.” (Faber and Mazlish, 1980).
Material: The following exercise shows that children make statements that often lead to an automatic denial from their parents. Please read each statement and write down what you think a parent might say if he were denying his child’s feelings.
CHILD: I don’t like the new baby.
PARENT: (denying the feeling)
CHILD: I had a dumb birthday party. (After you went “all out”)
PARENT: (denying the feeling)
CHILD: I hate my coach! Just because I was one minute late he kicked me off the team.
PARENT: (denying the feeling)
Step by Step:
Step 1: Discuss what it means to listen to your child and acknowledge and accept their feelings.
Step 2: Give examples
Step 3: Ask parent how often do they really listen and validate their child’s feelings?
Step 4: Get in groups of 2, start a conversation and practice the following instructions:
· Listen with full attention.
· Acknowledge their feelings with a word – “Oh” …”Mmmm” … “I see”.
· Give their feelings a name.
· Give them their wishes in fantasy.
Session 6: Putting it all together
Objective: During this session the leader will conduct a brief review of all the topics that were discussed and at the same time will help members consolidate learning and deal with unfinished issues. Discussion will revolve around how the members will be applying their new behaviors in daily life.
Participants will answer the following questions:
· What will be the first thing you will put in practice?
· What are a few things you’ve learned that you’d most want to remember?
· As you put in practice some of the things we’ve been talking about during these sessions, have you seen any changes in your child or in your relationship with him?
Step 1: Shortly reviewing all the material that was discussed during the 8 sessions.
Step 2: Explain what should participants expect in the future.
Step 3: Talk about putting in practice and not expecting perfection.
Step 4: Discuss the importance of seeking for help if one feels he is unable to manage a situation. Ask them not to wait until their relationship with their son or daughter has deteriorated to a point where communication is inexistent or dysfunctional.
Step 5: Ask participants to write a contract outlining the steps that members agree to take to increase their chances of successfully meeting their goals when the group ends.
I would recommend the counselor to concentrate more on the changes of attitude and behaviors of the parents instead of the children. I would make sure sessions are more about how parents perceive and influence their child that in the specific maladaptive behavior of the kid. Session 4 is specifically focus on behavioral tactics that are aimed at children, but apart from that specific session, all behavioral modifications should be on the parent’s side. I would also recommend the counselor to make sure that participants are ready and eager to make changes in their behaviors and not in their children’s.
Cooper, J., Heron, T., and Heward, W. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. N. Jersey: Pearson.
Corey, M. S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2016). Groups: process and practice. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Faber, A and Mazlish, E. (1980). How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk. Rawson: Wade Publishers.
Markham, L. (2012). Peaceful parent, happy kids: how to stop yelling and start connecting. New York, NY: Perigee Book.