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Role of a counselor in dealing with families and with groups

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Counselling is an interactive process conjoining the counselee,who needs assistance and the counselor, who is trained and educated to give assistance. The function of a professional counselor is to render help and advice to any individuals for solving of their personal problems. The counseling service may be individual or group, depending on the purpose of the case. So, it may include sessions of both individual and group counseling. 

Family therapy : Family therapy began with the finding that many people who had showed marked improvement in individual therapy—often in institutional settings had a relapse when they returned home. 

Family based treatment approaches are designed to reduce high levels of criticism and family tension. Family therapy encourages change and development and the combined resolution of family conflicts and problems. The therapists aims is to engage the family in beneficial solutions, seeking constructive ways for family members to support each other through direct participation. 

Family therapy may begin with one family member being referred for treatment but family therapist often label this individual “the identified patient”, thus implying that all members of the family are “patients”. Family members meet as a group to discuss problems, family background and family relationship. These discussions and interactions helps the therapists find out the patterns of communication, power plays, techniques of control and reinforcement contingencies within the family. 

Family therapists may emphasize on psycho dynamics, that is to uncover the underlying motives and conflicts within the family and stimulate insight into them. Other family therapists may use humanistic- existential approaches and still others use a behavioral framework. Therapists using behavioral approaches to family therapy aim to assess and modify harmful reinforcement contingencies in the family. 

These therapists may also analyze and try to reconstruct undesirable modelling patterns. A special strength of many behavioral approaches is their emphasis on behavioral exchange. The behavior that each family member would like to see in others are pinpointed explicitly; that information is then used to enhance the rewards of family life for each member, not just the identified patient. 

Group therapy : Like family therapy, group therapy is intended to capture some of the essence of “real life” in a social context. It is sometimes a supplement to individual therapy, sometimes a substitute for it. 

Group therapies can help people open up areas of thought and feeling that were previously sealed off, enhance their personal growth and deepen their relationship. The aim is to support the individual in solving their emotional difficulties. The combination of past experiences and experiences outside the therapeutic group, with the interaction between group members and therapists, becomes the material through which the therapy is conducted. 

The groups usually consisting of about 5 to 15 people have one or two leaders, or trainers, as the therapist are sometimes called. The leaders generally try to create an atmosphere in which emotions and feelings are stressed. Group leaders must be highly skilled in dealing with the difficult interpersonal problems that can arise when so many people are responding all at once. They must be sensitive to the anxiety that can develop in some members and capable of protecting those who are fragile. 

People thinking about joining such a group should investigate to make sure that the group objectives fit their own and that the group is being conducted by competent leaders. 

Clinical psychologists have effectively used group therapy for many clinical problems, especially substance-abuse disorders. The methods used are mainly talking, psychodrama, constellation work.

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