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The Therapeutic Principles of Group Counseling


People learn about themselves much faster when they interact and share experiences, worries, and feelings. The therapeutic principles of the group counseling conversion stage have characteristics such as struggle with group control, resistance, anxiety, the establishment of trust within the group, challenges posed to the group leader, and emergence of defensive mechanisms among others (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010).

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Anxiety is a major characteristic of group psychotherapy’s transition stage. Anxiety among group members and the counselor may emerge in an attempt to enhance cohesiveness and address sensitive issues such as drug addiction, failure to manage anger, and family woes. Nervousness hinders the effective progress of the counseling process. Anxiety within the group and at an individual level causes distraction and suspicion thus leading to a lot of inefficiency in the group transition period (Ezquerro, 2010).

Establishing trust

The characteristic of establishing trust is based on the fact that counseling can only constructively take place if there is mutual trust and understanding amongst the persons concerned (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). Mistrust in the transition stage of a group hinders effective impartation of information, the realization of hope, development of ideal socialization techniques, universality, and altruism.

Defensiveness and reluctant behavior

In therapeutic counseling, defensiveness is conduct that keeps a person or people from interacting, consulting, sharing problems, painful experiences and feelings. This attribute emerges in the transition stage of a group due to rejection, mockery, or a feeling of being perceived to be abnormal based on predefined parameters.


According to Gilbert (2009), resistance is the rejection of emptiness and failure by a person to acknowledge the fact that a given sense of direction is fundamental. While to conceptualize and cope with an individual’s trepidation in a group is a vital goal of group counseling, failure to do that during a group’s transition period could be devastating to all the concerned persons, groups, and the counselors.

Struggles with control

Group rivalry and competition is a key characteristic in the transition stage of group therapy. The struggles in the group could also lead to unwarranted confrontation among the group members, lack of cooperation, and constant challenges to the leader’s suggestions and work plans (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). Subsequently, failure to adhere to a psychotherapist’s instructions during the transition period could complicate the counseling process as this is an indicator of lack of commitment to change (Ezquerro, 2010).


Conflict is unavoidable in a group setting. According to M. Corey, G. Corey, and C. Corey (2010), avoidance of conflict in a group’s transition stage is risky. This characteristic is eminent in cases where poor group coordination and redundant conflict management strategies are in existence. This challenge is connected to the fact that group dynamics could compel group members to develop defense mechanisms in an attempt to ensure that they are all perceived as being non bipartisan.

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Management of the transition stage characteristics

There are a number of ways in which the characteristics of the transition stage of a group can be managed. I would manage anxiety and establishment of trust by enhancing transparency, reinforcing the importance of communication, and by being very objective when addressing sensitive issues. I would also see myself making proper psychological preparedness for disappointment and shock of what the new changes would bring forth to the group members by slowly exposing the members to the reality of the matter. In order for me to establish trust and eliminate resistance, I would be empathetic. I would also practice self disclosure by formulating goals and action plans that would ensure that the group understands the progress of the transition period and the possible disappointments that would likely to be faced (Ezquerro, 2010; Gilbert, 2009).

I would recognize and effectively communicate any form of negative perceptions and feelings that may emerge in the group. Rather than compromise on key issues that would complicate the transition period, I would endeavor to learn how best to confront the group members in a constructive manner. On the members’ resistance to the new way of doing things, I would respect the individuals’ resistance and continue to cooperate with them. Additionally, I would embrace a liberal approach by constantly working with the group members so as to enhance harmony and make the members understand that the success of every individual is a mutual responsibility (Ezquerro, 2010).

As a leader, I would model a direct and an all inclusive style of leadership that would address problems such as hostile behavior, storytelling, dependency, time wastage, gossiping, monopolistic behaviors, intellectualization, and lack of participation. I would also emphasize on behavior change by encouraging individuals to recognize and freely express negative feelings, encourage them to be independent and teach them the best ways in which to face others positively. Furthermore, I would make a paradigm shift in the management and perception of therapeutic groups by being aware of my values, enhancing my personality, and modeling the best way forward.


Group transition stage involves recognition of the fact that change is inevitable and hence the need to initiate transition, plan for change, and focus on leaving the familiar old behaviors. It also involves experiencing initial excitement, being astonished and shocked of the new reality, and accepting change as a normal way of life.


Corey, M.S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2010). Groups: Process and Practice (8th ed Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Ezquerro, A. (2010). Cohesion and coherency in group analysis. Group Analysis, 43, USA: Cengage Learning.

Gilbert, P. (2009). Compassion-focused therapy: distinctive features. CBT Distinctive Features Series.USA: Taylor & Francis.

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