Sample Essay On Group Counselling Journal #2: Group Therapy
Metaphor for this session
I will choose two metaphors for this session. To describe my personal dynamic during the session, I would use the metaphor of a baby learning to walk. I have a difficult time showing emotions to people I don't know well. This can be not only a personal issue, but an issue that can affect my work as a counselor. Talking about my inner emotions and sharing tears with people to whom I am not related was not an easy task, but by the end, I felt liberated and relieved. My second metaphor for this session is a mirror, because it was as if every member of the group was holding a mirror into which you could peer and see your true self. In my opinion, this session went very well. Each person in the group shared worthwhile insights that furthered the discussion.
First part of the session
At the beginning, the leader (A) started by asking if she could lead the session for the whole week, as the second leader wasn't feeling well, and we all agreed (PVIM). As we went around the circle, almost everyone remarked that they were tired or not feeling well. I mentioned that I wasn't feeling well either, as I had been busy working on another project and have been deprived of sleep and rest for the last two weeks (NVIM). (A) asked if there was any feedback or unfinished business from the last session. (D) commented that she did not see any benefit from participating in the group (NPIM). (A) asked her to explain what she meant, and (D) elaborated that she thought that her participation in the group was undervalued (NVIM). (E) then talked about her experience of being in the group, and mentioned that group therapy has helped her deal with some personal issues. She gave a few examples of what she meant (PVIM, PPIM).
(A) then asked us to share our feelings and thoughts of being in the group. I began by mentioning what my personal feelings about group therapy are. I agreed with (E) that sometimes, it is difficult to open up a topic or begin talking about an issue related to (7) or (8). However, it is normal in a group therapy setting for members to be reticent, since we don't know each other well. (B) then reminded us that trust is very important in participating in a group session. (B) thinks that the level of trust held by each person is different. (A) remarked that she was dissatisfied after discussing her personal story with the group because she had hope to receive critical feedback rather than words of support.
(C) and (F) also shared their insights about group participation. (C) mentioned that sometimes she doesn't participate in the conversation when she believes she has nothing worthwhile to contribute. She also feels reluctant to share her personal stories. In contrast, (F) believes that sometimes she becomes too emotional during a session, but that afterwards she will spend time reflecting on what was said (NPIM). (A) then thanked the group for sharing their ideas, and thanked (D) especially for courageously voicing her concerns (PVIM).
The second part of the session
After we returned from break, (A) questioned whether anyone wanted to share a story or issue. We looked to each other in awkward silence for a few moments (PCM) (C) was the first to open up about her recent issue (VCM). As she began talking about her uncertainty about her academic journey, her eyes filled with tears (NPIM). (C) mentioned that she felt overwhelmed by her classes and expressed doubt as to whether her degree program was a good fit for her. She mentioned how it was difficult to see her peers succeed and advance through their classes when she is struggling to do so herself (NVIM, NPIM). ( C) also explained that as she is newly married, she is struggling to balance her academic and personal lives. (A) thanked her for sharing her story with the group and encouraged responses from the other members. I volunteered my point of view, that it is difficult to live with uncertainty. I related to her story with my experience of being an international student. I explained that, at times, I still feel uncertainty about my decision to move to Canada (VCM). I talked about the difficulty I experience as a non-native English speaker and the pressure it puts me under. (A) asked (C) how she felt after hearing my perspective. (C) mentined that she was prepared to face her challenges but she still felt uncertain about her path. She also mentioned that she doesn't fully have the support of her family and this puts her under strain (NVIM). This has lead to feelings of isolation and rejection for (C). (B) then mentioned that he felt he related to (C)'s story. There have also been moments in (B)'s life when he felt alone in facing difficulty. He spoke of how he lost his family's support after he decided to get married. (D) also participated in this conversation, mentioning how the program has made her feel overwhelmed. She spoke of a meeting with her supervisor in which she received harsh critical feedback (NPIM).
(A) closed the session by asking (C) to respond to what others had said. (C) remarked that she was very grateful to hear our thoughts and thanked the group for sharing their difficulties and support (PVIM, PPIM). At the end, (A) asked the group to give some feedback. (C) mentioned that she really appreciated the role that (A) played in facilitating the discussion, and that it had helped her to share her recent issue. I mentioned that the discussion at the beginning was very helpful and that it increased the quality of the session.
When (D) talked about her point of view about openness at the beginning of the session, it made me question how genuine I am with others. At the time, I was somewhat distracted by my own personal issues, and certain unpleasant images were intruding in my thoughts. I don't know what was causing this to happen. It may be because I keep this part of my life hidden, or because I feel shame to talk about personal issues with people I barely know. During the session I drew an analogy of opening up to a stranger as sharing the contents of your personal refrigerator; you offer up a piece of yourself. I remembered an Egyptian author who chose the phrase “walking naked in front of people.” It is a difficult task, and I think it is normal for people to be reserved in such a situation.
The level of my openness with the group brought two questions to mind:
What is the role that social background plays in creating the level of openness with others?
Who am I trying to protect (personal protection or social protection) by decreasing the level of my openness with others?
During the part of the session when (C) explained her feelings of being overwhelmed and uncertain, I began to have strong reactive feelings of empathy. After hearing (B)'s story about his rift with his family, I felt a knot in my stomach, and my hands started sweating. I began to think of my own parents and the struggles that we have faced together. I found that the decisions that my parents made 35 years ago still affect me to this day. My father met my mother while on a university trip to Lebanon. My father and mother were very different people. My father came from a conservative Muslim family that adhered to strict social rules. My mother came from a liberal Christian family that was more open-minded. The decision to marry caused a lot of drama with both familes, and my parents were left to face their difficulties on their own.
I was surprised when I found that I identified with (B)'s story. His story reopened deeply buried memories of rejection and unresolved family issues. This trigger has lead to some intense self-reflection.
The climate at the beginning of the session was very cold and seemed disconnected. I was not prepared for the session and felt my mind was out of the room. Gradually, I began to connect with the group and began to feel the space in the room. The second half of the session was emotionally intense, which increased my feeling of connection with the group. I felt that the room was getting smaller and we were all becoming closer together, especially as (B) talked about his story .
This session was different from previous sessions. At the beginning, when (D) discussed the level of openness in the group and how that affects the level of communication, I thought back to group norms. In this part of the session, everyone had a chance to give his or her opinion about the level of openness. I think the discussion at the beginning was very helpful and facilitated the discussion that followed.
Usually (C) is quiet in the group and reluctant to share her ideas. However, during this session she was able to talk freely about her story, and we were able to connect with her. Almost everyone had the chance to voice their own perspective, including (D). (D) was the second person who responded to (C)’s story, and it was my first time to see her cry. At that moment I realized how important our discussion at the beginning was.
Helpful/Non-helpful Leading Behaviour
I think (A) did a great job in leading the session. I particularly liked the way she encouraged us to share our thoughts and how she could identify our emotional responses. For example, when (C) was telling her story, (A) asked the group members to respond to her, but then she asked me directly if I had feelings I wanted to share. She had picked up on my emotional cues and realized that I was connecting with (C)'s story. This made me feel that (A) is a very talented group leader. As I do not easily share my emotions, I needed to have someone directly encourage me to share my feelings and thoughts.
When (A) asked us to give her feedback, (D) mentioned that she didn't enjoy her style of leadership. She mentioned that she liked the session and thought it went well, but she preferred a more natural style of leadership. All in All, I think (A) did a good job.
Stage and Function
For the first half of the session, I think the group went a bit back to the initial stage, when (D) mentioned the issue of not presenting issues that were highly rated, which affected the involvement in the group. We started discussing how can we increase the level of openness in the group and asked why we were not connecting to what had been shared. At that stage, there were a lot of feedback and thoughts. There was both agreement and disagreement Because this discussion was not about specific person in the group, I felt it took us to the initial stage to review our group norms.
I felt we moved to the working stage when (C) started exploring her problems. (A) was leading the group to be here-and-now by requesting some members to share their feelings. Also, the group was working collaboratively to provide support and feedback. I think that active working in the second half of the session was a result of the healthy discussion at the beginning of the session.
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