3 Chief Functions of Group Counseling

Yet, though the welfare of every member of a school’s pupil population is the major concern of its guidance personnel, it must be remembered that successful functioning of a programme of services involves the guidance of parents and of members of the school staff, as well as of the young people themselves.

The achievement of self-understanding; and understanding of others is the ultimate objective of all guidance-pointed activities. Those persons who are the recipients of help from others in managing their affairs certainly need to gain these understandings.

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Unless parents, teachers, and counsellors also posses the same understanding attitudes, it is difficult for them to provide effective assistance. In this chapter, we shall consider the purposes and operation of programmes intended to offer guidance services to the various kinds of groups.

2. Group Leadership:

To be a stimulating and effective group leader a person must (a) have creative imagination, (b) be willing to devote time and thought to the activity, and (c) possess the ability to encourage leadership from among the members of the group.

Whatever is attempted in the way of guidance through group activity should focus on the vital interests of the participants. This is a fundamental principle that should be adhered to strictly.

Whether the group consists of school pupils, teachers, parents, other community members, or a business or industrial group, its guidance objectives probably will include one or more of the following:

1. Dissemination of helpful information,

2. Solution of common problems,

3. Gaining of an understanding of the group’s general attitudes and points of view, or

4. Analysis and reconciliation of differing interests, policies, or points of view.

Leadership in a group situation can be more direct if the purpose to be served is that of giving information. Of course, individual interests and needs still are of primary importance.

Those who are supposed to benefit from the information which they receive must recognise the value of the information to themselves.

A more indirect leadership approach is needed when the topic under consideration deals with the personal interests, attitudes, or problems of the group.

This form of leadership often is difficult to achieve. For the most part, the discussion consists of a give- and-take among the members of the group.

A successful group leader listens with courtesy and interest to the comments of any member of the group, aids in the clarification of ideas, brings about harmony in group thinking and planning, and encourages the less vocal members to express their ideas.

It also is the responsibility of a group leader to initiate and guide the organisation of a group activity according to individually expressed interest.

It may be necessary for him to summarise ideas expressed by others, but his remarks are brief and to the point. Perhaps, most important is the leader’s ability to accept objectively and expressed disagreement with own ideas, suggestions, or points of view.

3. The Group Situation as a Supplement to Individual Counselling:

Programmes of guidance in group situations that are related to the specific functions of the guidance services of an institution should be planned and sponsored by the members of the guidance staff.

Although counselling represents a personal relationship between the counsellor and the counselee, time can be saved, and perhaps better results achieved, if the counselling is conducted with small groups of individuals whose problems or questions are similar.

The question of one member of the group may stimulate the thinking of another, or the shy and retiring person may be motivated by the group situation to ask questions or to seek help more easily than he would in a face-to-face conference with a counsellor.

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