Group counselling is not as good as individual counselling.
In fact, addressing your concerns in a group counselling format can often help in ways that individual counselling cannot. For example, it provides an opportunity to receive support and to learn skills and coping strategies from a number of people who share many of your challenges and concerns. It is also an opportunity to practice new skills and to get immediate feedback from both the facilitator and other participants. .As well, because groups meet on a weekly basis they can offer more continuity than individual counselling. If the recommendation of group counselling is made to you, it is based on the belief that it is an effective way of helping you.
I have so much trouble talking to people; I'll never be comfortable in a group.
Lots of people are anxious about being able to communicate in group. However, in most cases, with support and encouragement, people become more comfortable and open within a few sessions. It is also important to remember that group offers an opportunity to begin taking some risks in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
I will be forced to tell my deepest thoughts, feelings, and secrets to the group
You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to disclose what is troubling them, a group can be very helpful and affirming. You can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you.
What I share won't be kept confidential
Confidentiality is always a condition of group membership and is discussed openly in the first session. In every group, members and facilitators actively develop guidelines around privacy and confidentiality.
Group counselling will take longer than individual because I will have to share the time with others
Actually, group counselling is often more efficient than individual. Plus, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen carefully to others. You will probably find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. For these reasons, the group process can often accelerate individual change.
I’m afraid that I’ll be negatively judged by other group members
It is very important that group members feel safe and counsellors are there to help develop and ensure a supportive environment. One of the benefits of group counselling is the opportunity to receive feedback from others. It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group can offer. This will be done in a respectful way, so that you can hear the feedback and make use of it.
(This text was adapted from that developed by Jack Corazzini, Virginia Commonwealth University)