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A Sample Group Counseling Project Proposal

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    A group Counseling Project Proposal – sample INTRODUCTION What is Group Counseling? Purpose of the group counseling varies from group to group. It can be therapeutic, educational, or helping people to make fundamental changes in their way of thinking, feeling and behaving (Corey, 2004, p. 7). Group counseling/therapy has the advantage of being more effective than individual therapy because, it more closely stimulates social interactions and interpersonal communication patterns than does individual counseling (Kottler, 2004, p. 260).

    The techniques and strategies use in group counseling are to help resolve members’ interpersonal conflict, promote greater self-awareness and insight, and help them work to eliminate their self-defeating behaviours. The members in the group counseling setting often are peers and the group provides a microcosm of the society in some ways that clients deal daily (Sharf, 2004, p. 21). Counseling Groups for Adolescents Except for infancy, more changes occur during adolescence than during any other time of life. As a saying goes, adolescents are “neither fish nor fowl” (Rathus, 2004, p. 09). That means adolescents are neither children nor adults. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood – a period bounded by puberty and the assumption of adult responsibilities. They undergo biological, physical, emotional and cognitive changes. Adolescence is a time of storm and stress in which conflicts, distress, mood swings, and aggressive tendencies are common. They strive to become independent from their parents that results arguments and withdrawal from parents. Due to all these reasons, adolescents face critical challenges at this stage of life.

    These changes haunt them and make them lonely. They need to take key decisions for their future. Therefore, they have a need for expressing conflicting feelings, values, self-doubts, in order to understand and accept themselves. Family issues such as parental gap and separation of parents make them feel that no one is there for them, listens to them, cares about them and nobody understands them. Group counseling interventions help large numbers of students identified by their teachers and parents as having personal, social and interpersonal issues, as well as academic difficulties.

    Group work with adolescents is a challenging and important area to reduce their problems during adolescence. About this proposal This proposal outlines the details of the counseling group I would like to conduct at the Public Secondary Boy’s School, in order to enhance self-esteem and develop positive self-image of the adolescent male students in the school. As a counselor with specialized education, knowledge and practical experience in psychology and counseling, the community center I work at, and I personally have witnessed the increasing need for conducting a counseling group for the adolescent students.

    The proposal provides a brief description on the five general areas – rationale, objectives, practical considerations, procedures and evaluation. These areas will include the type of group, goals for the group – that is what members will gain from participating in it, the need for such a group, basic assumptions underlying this project, purpose of the group, objectives, the procedures and the outcome. The location, time and duration of the group, ground rules and techniques use in the process and how the group members will be prepared for the group experience will be highlighted.

    Selective screening and evaluative tools for the group participants will be provided and measured by myself and another professional assistant. About the Centre The “City Community Centre” is a volunteer based counseling and psychotherapeutic non-profitable organization established in 2008. It is designed to serve the community in reducing psychological, social, interpersonal and intrapersonal problems and enhance interpersonal communication, personal growth and personality, to become fully functioning individuals. It also provides counseling and psychotherapy for those who suffer from psychological disorders and problems.

    The Centre has conducted more than fifty group-counseling programs in twenty schools in this community, both public and private, during the last four years. It also has conducted a variety of group counseling programs for the families, youth, college students, teacher training institutes, army, senior citizens and tourist resorts. Individual counseling service is also proceeding on a daily basis. RATIONALE The following are a brief description of the type of group, the target population, basic purposes of the group, rationale for this group, requirements to join the group, and the theoretical approaches.

    Type of Group: This proposal is aimed to conduct a short- term, “personal-growth type group”. Population: The counseling group will be conducted for the adolescent male students of the Public Secondary Boy’s School. This is achieved through realistic goal setting by the group members with the guidance of the group leader. Purpose: The purpose of this group is to facilitate personal growth by enhancing self-esteem and developing a positive self-image, so that the members will gain self-awareness of their own feelings, personal values and needs.

    They also will increase self-understanding and self-acceptance for better functioning and leading a better life in the future. Rational for the Group: The need for conducting a group counseling program for adolescents is crucial because they are in a very critical stage in their life. Group couselling for this particular group will help them to increase their personal growth by enhancing their self-esteem and self-image. They also will overcome or reduce the problems they face during this stage of life, by participating in the group interaction, expressing their concerns and getting the opportunity of being heard and understood.

    Requirements: This program requirement includes grade 10 students (adolescents) who would like to participate voluntarily. A screening and selection procedure will be administered in order to select the most suitable members who will benefit from this specific program. This screening procedure is also to avoid human bias and provide ethical guideline in selecting group members. Theoretical Approaches: Carl Rogers’ person-centered approach, the humanistic approach of Abraham Maslow and the Gestalt counseling approach by Fritz

    Perls’ will be used as theoretical approaches for the proposed group. The leader will be present as a facilitator to provide support when required. (The details of the counseling techniques and the goals of these approaches will be elaborated under “Techniques”). OBJECTIVES The goals, objectives, assumptions of the counseling group, who the group leader is and her qualifications are discussed at this stage. Goals: Improving self-esteem and developing positive self-image in order to enhance personal growth are the main goals of this counseling group.

    Objectives: At the end of participation and completion of this program, adolescents will be able to see the personal and unique self of each individual and it will provide a positive influence on them about how they feel about the self and others, their perception of self and others and how they live in everyday life. It will help them to develop an adequately realistic self-image to enhance their emotional and psychological makeup in order to influence their personality in determining their actions and achievements in all areas of life.

    Basic Assumptions: The most basic assumption about counseling group is that there are often discrepancies among the participants’ hopes, goals, interests and expectations and even between the leader and the members. Coalitions are formed on the basis of these common interests and backgrounds (Kottler, 2004. P. 247). Another assumption is that the leader is not a participant of the group but a trained expert who will develop an atmosphere of trust. Member discomfort is often associated with change.

    Much of the growth occurs through observation, identification, modeling, imitation and other processes that are not found in individual sessions. Members’ concerns are learned through peer struggle and groups provide many opportunities for realistic rehearsal of new behaviours. Working on interpersonal conflicts is ideal in groups. Leader: Ms. Aminath Bisa Qualifications: BSc. in Psychology and Counselling, Dip. in Counselling. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS Members: This is a heterogeneous group with members of grade 10 male students who voluntarily participate in a counseling group program.

    Group Size: Maximum 10 members. Length of Group: Five weeks. Frequency and Duration of Meetings: Twice a week for one hour. Each Monday and Friday from 2:30pm to 3:30pm is ideal as the students scheduled time table hours finish at 2:00pm, so that they could have a half an hour break before starting the group counseling session, also attending for other scheduled times will be inconvenient for the students due to distance travelling. (Any requirement of adjusting the time and days of meetings will be discussed with the school administration).

    Place for Group Meetings: Public Secondary Boy’s School Audio-Visual Room because, the room is sound proof so that the clients confidential disclosure will be maintained as well as audio-visual facilities are available at an arm’s distance for the convenience of using them when necessary. The same types of locations were used previously for conducting successful groups. Voluntary/Involuntary Group: A voluntary membership is required. A group composed of members joined by their own choice is highly motivated and active in their participation because they have interest in enhancing their self-esteem, self image and self-awareness.

    Open/closed Group: It will be a closed group consists of 10 members – which means new members are not to be added into the group during the 5 weeks of this group counseling program. A closed group is preferable because it provides cohesion among the group members as the entire group will remain as a unit until the termination date. PREGROUP SESSION Prior to the pregroup session, a half-day pre-awareness program on group counseling will be conducted for the school administrators, parents and students prior to the pre-group session.

    The date and time of this program will be arranged with the consultation of the school administration. At the end of this program an application form will be given to students who are interested in participating in a counseling group. After submitting the applications, a pregroup session will be conducted (on another day) prior to the initial session. During this session, recruitments and screening will take place to prepare members for the group, to inform what to expect and to help them get ready for the first meeting.

    Printed information will be provided to those interested, in order to avoid misunderstanding the purpose and functioning of the group. Screening and Selecting Group Members: A two hour screening process will be provided for the interested candidates to participate, including an individual session, a psychological test (to measure self-esteem level), a discussion and an opportunity to clarify information from the leader. This screening session is to select and prepare the interested candidates for the initial counseling session.

    A standard questionnaire developed by Rosenberg (1965), with some modifications of the scale points’ that is on the average of 10 1-to-5 rating items (where higher scores mean higher self-esteem) will be provided to measure the self-esteem level of the pregroup members. After scoring, an interview will be conducted with each prospective member with the purpose of screening and finding out which members are compatible with the established needs and goals of the group. This private session between the candidate and the leader provides opportunity to deal therapeutically with those who are not included in the group.

    Those who may have negative impact from the group, who is likely to impede the group process and whose well-being will be jeopardized by the group will not be included. Candidates who will benefit from the group experience and who are motivated to enhance their self-esteem and positive self-image will be selected. Enough information about the group including the intended nature of the group will be provided for the members during the discussion, to make a better-informed decision about whether or not to enter the group. During this session, members can interview the group leader by asking questions concerning any aspect of the group.

    These procedures are appropriate, realistic and practical for the given population and it is very important for both the participants and the leader. PROCEDURES Some specific procedures are very important in the formation of a group and during the counseling process. Therefore, therapeutic procedures and techniques including the ground rules will be explained here. Ground Rules: The ground rules are some of the ethical standards that will be established within the group in order to avoid unnecessary hazards. Some of the ground rules are:- 1.

    Confidentiality – Group members and the group leader(s) shall maintain the confidentiality of any of the group activity or information including the self-disclosure of the members and the leader. Disclosure of any information outside the group, about another member, the leader or the group is strictly prohibited. Open discussions of feelings, thoughts, behaviours and needs are important in a counseling group as a therapeutic tool and to build trust within the group. Members who disclose the information outside the group will be expulsed from the group. 2.

    Punctuality – Group members must present on time regularly for all the group sessions. Absence of punctuality will interrupt the group process and achieving the expected outcome. Members’ continued lateness and absence without prior permission will be terminated from the counseling group. 3. Information – Any information disclosed within the group shall not be used against any member even in case of having an interpersonal conflict between or among members outside the group. 4. Respect – Members shall maintain the respect and dignity of the other members and shall protect the rights of the other members whatsoever.

    Physical harm or threats, intimidation, coercion and undue peer pressure is strictly prohibited. 5. Focus – Members shall focus on here-and-now in order to bring about therapeutic values. Arguments, gossiping, including political and philosophical discussions are prohibited. 6. Criticism – Constructive criticism within the group is allowed but members shall not hurt feelings of others members for any reason. 7. Relationship – The leader(s) encourage a professional therapeutic relationship. The members shall not expect any intimate relationship with the leader, including becoming a friend, sexual partner, or colleague.

    Note: Ground rules will be restated when required, during the group process till termination. Techniques: Specialized techniques for group counseling will be used during the process of this program. Such techniques include general counseling techniques, psycho-education, techniques of person centered approach, humanistic approach and reality therapy techniques. These techniques will be used for exploration of feelings, needs, behahiours and thoughts of the members in order to enhance their self-esteem and self-image.

    These techniques will not be used to solve problems because this counseling group is focused on personal growth of the adolescent participants. An overview of some common counseling group leadership skills expanded by Corey will be used (Corey, 2000; Kottler, 2004, p. 258). Some of them are:- Active listening: This is to attend verbal and nonverbal communications that arise in sessions in order to build trust, facilitate deeper exploration and encourage greater self-disclosure. Paraphrasing: To let the group members feel that they have been heard and understood accurately.

    Summarizing: To help members take stock of where they are and to help greater focus and direction to how things proceed. Questioning: To draw out detailed additional information for further understanding of the situation. Interpreting: To offer alternative explanation in order to expand members’ perceptions and understanding. Confronting: This skill will be taught to the members. It helps members to look at themselves and discrepancies in their behaviours. Supporting: To provide encouragement as it is needed and to make members feel safe in the group.

    Facilitating: To promote open communication among members and direct them to talk to one another. Giving Feedback: To get members give feedback to each other, so that they will hear honest reactions as to how they are perceived. Linking: To make connections between group members in building further cohesion and shared intimacy. The skills described are absolutely critical to help groups proceed effectively. Members will be given the chance to use these skills among themselves, so that they will become aware of perceiving themselves in a more positive manner as well as their interpersonal communication skills will also get improved.

    In addition to these skills, group members’ and the leaders’ intuition and creativity will be used to go with the flow and respond quickly to the ever-changing circumstances. Psycho-Education: This counseling technique will be used to make the members aware of the physical, psychological, behavioural, cognitive and emotional changes they go through during adolescence and to normalize them providing some intellect as these changes do not occur only for them. Person-Centered Therapy: Techniques in person-centered therapy are very humanistic.

    They make the individuals feel listened, understood, accepted and appreciated by someone. They include empathy, genuineness, unconditional positive regard, and acceptance. Empathy – the group leader understands the client from a unique perspective. Therefore accurate communication of the feelings and meanings of the members’ statements and concerns will facilitate the deeper exploration of how the members look at themselves (their self-image about themselves). It encourages the members to determine how they have been internalizing the unrealistic opinion of others about themselves and their own opinion about hemselves in a self-blaming and self-labeling manner. Genuineness – This real, genuine, integrated and authentic way of expressing feelings and attitude of the leader facilitates honest communication with the members, so that it helps the members express anger, frustration, liking, attraction, concern, boredom annoyance and a range of other feelings congruently. Unconditional positive regard – Members are valued and genuinely cared disregard of their actions and behaviours. Therefore, they will realize that there are significant others who care them in a non possessive manner, without any demand on them.

    Acceptance – Members will feel free to have feelings, experience and recognition without risking of losing the acceptance of the leader and the other members. They will neither feel blamed nor offended because the leader will communicate through their behaviours, not through the person as a whole. They will also realize that their behaviours or other developmental milestones result how they feel about themselves (negative self-image, negative self-esteem), not that they are bad, unwanted human beings.

    Acceptance also will develop their personality to have a sense of true self, intuition and trust in themselves and others. Humanistic Approach: Abraham Maslow’s theories of motivation is used as a technique in group counseling to understand the perception of the world by the group members, their experiences, and goals in order to understand their behaviour. This technique also will help to find out what motivates individuals or what holds them back. Understanding the motivational needs of an individual will help understand the behavior and development of that individual.

    Understanding the hierarchy of motivational needs will allow members to understand where they are on the pyramid. This understanding will facilitate reduction of tension; motivation to go to a higher level of functioning that will lead personal growth, develop wholeness and will develop positive self-esteem. Techniques of Gestalt Counselling: The basic goal of Gestalt counseling is to facilitate self-awareness and understanding of what the members are experiencing and doing. It also stresses the role of personal responsibility in the development of awareness and experiencing of feelings.

    Unfinished business from the past is brought into the present and the impasse it represents is dealt with therapeutically (Kottler, 2004, p. 133). Gestalt counseling techniques include hot seat, resentment expression, double chairing and owning the projection. Hot Seat: In using this technique, individual members will be challenged to be the “here-and-now” self at all times. They will require answering questions of “how and what”, with complete honesty and sincerity. These questions will be asked in a way that will generate a lot of reflection and exploration.

    In doing so, members will become aware of “how” they feel and look at themselves and “what” lead them to feel this way. Resentment Expression: This is to express resentments that may be converted to guilt, if unexpressed. Members are asked to make a list of all the things which they consciously feel guilty. These feelings will be converted to a list of resentments because in exploring and expressing the resentments help members become unstuck and work through unfinished business. Double Chairing: This technique will be used to help members to experience the opposite pole of the self.

    The purpose of this empty chair method is to increase the awareness of feelings, resentments, fears, and issues from each pole of the individual’s experience (Kottler, 2004, p. 136). Therefore, the negative self-image and the low self-esteem will be experienced as positive self-image and greater self-esteem. Owning the Projection: This exercise is to encourage group members to apply their projections to themselves to demonstrate how they sometimes avoid their negatively perceived qualities and traits by putting them onto others.

    All the above mentioned techniques will go simultaneously most of the time. Also the personal qualities of the leader play an important role in bringing about a healing environment. The final result will be building self-esteem and positive self-image; passion for the adolescence life and adulthood; develop self-awareness; have a sense of self-control; be non-judgmental to self and others and develop self confidence and less defensive. In overall, this group counseling program will lead to positive personal growth. Risks:

    There was no legal dilemma faced during or after any of the counseling program so far. The City Community Centre assures full support in any event of lawsuit as confidentiality is the cornerstone of these group counseling programs. In any case of the need of consent from the parents will be obtained if necessary. The group counseling leader(s) will provide referral, if any student requires further psychotherapeutic support. There may be a risk of a group member disclosing the confidential group information outside of the group.

    In such a case necessary action will be taken accordingly. The counseling group leader assures of having a safe climate for all the members who participate in this group. A written informed consent will be obtained from all the members and the ground rules will be followed strictly. Overview of Planned Sessions: As mentioned earlier, this group will have ten sessions, apart from the pregroup session. These ten sessions will be proceeded under five main stages – the initial stage, transition stage, working stage and the termination stage and the evaluation stage.

    In the first and second session, introductions are made, the purpose is determined, ground rules are established and trust issues are initially explored with the help of general counseling techniques and person centered techniques. During the third and fourth session, members concerns with regard to their self esteem and self-image (the goal of this program) will be explored and a therapeutic relationship will be built in the light of person centered and humanistic counseling techniques. Normally this is the transition period where members are between the periods of getting to know each other as well as getting down to some serious work.

    Psycho-education and Gestalt counseling techniques will be used during the fifth, sixth and seventh session to focus on deeper issues and to interact in new ways. Since this is the working stage, members work on specific issues, confront inconsistencies, and explore issues using Gestalt techniques. Therefore, individual members will be attended, alternative ways of thinking, felling and behaving will be explored and facilitated and hope will be instilled and maintained leading to positive outcome.

    During the eighth and ninth session, the members will be assisted in transferring what they have learned to use to the outside environments. The importance of the cognitive work will be stressed and members will be asked to assess what they have learned, how they have learned it and what they will do to apply them after the group ends. Members will be assisted to develop a conceptual framework that will help them to understand, integrate and remember what they have learned in the group. Ways of dealing with the anxiety the members may get by the separation of the group also will be discussed.

    Finally, members will be ready to terminate the counseling group. The last session will be focused on evaluation, outcome and the follow up (if necessary). Though, the techniques are given in a sequential manner stage by stage, most of the time they will be occurring simultaneously. But specific techniques to bring about change will be established according the procedure and the betterment of the members. EVALUATION At the end of every other session, the various aspects of the members’ perception, thinking, feeling and behaving will be assessed as a tool of evaluation.

    The leadership abilities, the usefulness of the group and the facilitating skills of the leader also will be evaluated by completing a questionnaire. At the end of the counseling group, the same or similar standard test for measuring self-esteem level of the members will be used to find out the improvement of the members. The outcome of the group will be discussed among the members to give them a chance to gain a more realistic view of the impact the group have had on them. Some time will be provided for the members to convey their ideas and opinions about the group, the leader and about themselves and their achievements in the group.

    Short individual sessions will be held within the session to review how well they have accomplished heir personal goals. ***************** Bibliography Corey, G. (2004). Theory and Practice of Group Counselling. California: Brooks/Cole – Thomson. Kottler, J. A. (2004). Introduction to Therapeutic Counselling, Voices From the Firld. California: Brooks/Cole – Thomson. Rathus, S. A. (2004). Psychology – Concepts and Connections (7th ed. ). New York, USA. Rosenberg. (1965). http://www. yorku. ca/rokada/psyctest/rosenbrg. pdf .

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