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Techniques for Group Leaders in Counseling Stages

The group leader plays a vital role in counseling sessions where the group is transitioning from one stage to another and overcoming any resistance that might arise. The techniques used at each level are crucial for building a positive group dynamic and grappling with the challenges associated with group counseling. In this paper, I will discuss various techniques employed by the group leader to facilitate the transition from one stage to another during the forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning stages, as well as strategies for overcoming resistance.

The forming stage involves members establishing norms of a new group, developing identification with others, and promoting cohesiveness. Trust-building techniques, defensiveness reduction techniques, and encouragement to participate in the activities are some of the methods that leaders use in their groups (Valasquez et al., 2015). This can include introducing icebreakers, like members introducing themselves or others, so as to create a connection among them. Members should be asked to describe themselves using as few words as possible to encourage self-reflection. Check-ins and checkouts give an opportunity for members to express concerns or expectations. The leading counselor would adopt a positive attitude while discussing goals and encouraging participation from colleagues so that they can establish a trusting foundation.

Storming is characterized by increased conflicts, frustration, anger, and anxiety among members of the grouping (Corey et al., 2018). As such, during this stage, there is a need to acknowledge that conflict may reoccur and leaders should address power struggles within it. Defensive defense gives responses to authority challenges in relation to facilitation, which are included in techniques involving dealing with conflicts constructively. Acknowledgment of conflicting opinions without attempting too hard is very important (Valasquez et al., 2015). Conflicts should, therefore, not be allowed but rather managed by checking them openly.

In the norming phase, support acceptance unity among group members increases significantly (Yalom & Leszcz, 2020). The leader reinforces positive behaviors that contribute to trust and cohesion. This means that sub-grouping should be avoided at all costs, with the leader challenging any tendencies that may interfere with the overall progress of the group. The collective potential is emphasized by the group leader, pushing it toward the performing stage (Corey et al., 2018). Dysfunctional dynamics like excessive conflict or inappropriate self-disclosure are identified and dealt with accordingly.

The next stage of performance focuses on individual goals. Once in a while, members take up leadership roles when they start becoming active participants as opposed to passive ones. Models for appropriate confrontation techniques are provided by leaders and comments about how the whole process has been conducted within the group. In all likelihood, facilitators often experience some regression into previous stage dynamics (Valasquez et al., 2015). By actively summarizing this group experience, effective and ineffective processes can be underscored by a leader (Yalom & Leszcz, 2020). Strategies for maintaining progress outside the group are reviewed so as to empower members to begin applying what they have learned independently.

On adjourning, it implies that anxiety levels will have increased among members who also feel ambivalent about ending their groups’ journey. It involves acknowledging these feelings and helping others through closure procedures (Corey et al., 2018). These techniques include affirming individual and group accomplishments, reviewing strategies for maintaining progress, and summarizing the entire experience in relation to the remaining parts of this paper (Yalom & Leszcz, 2020). Therapists use the last word to each other to allow them to bid farewell. Therefore, there could be referral plans after-care planning where one is very sure about what happens post-group support from each member’s end. During this phase, the leading counselor needs to affirm every member’s advancement because it reinforces the positive outcomes of their collective efforts.

However, the borders between stages are often blurred during transition periods, and this implies that the group leader should be flexible. Thus, the leader adjusts to activities based on what is happening in group dynamics as well as individual requirements, thereby allowing for a flexible and responsive approach to counseling within groups. Overemphasis on open communication and conflict resolution methods coupled with acceptance of progress can help break resistance and make group counseling successful.


Yalom, I. D., & Leszcz, M. (2020). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic books. 6th edition.

Corey, M. S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2018). Groups: Process and practice. Cengage Learning.

Velasquez, M. M., Crouch, C., Stephens, N. S., & DiClemente, C. C. (2015). Group treatment for substance abuse: A stages-of-change therapy manual. Guilford Publications.


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