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Critical Incidents in Group Counseling

Critical Incidents in Group Counseling Chapter 28: The Rescuer Background: * Joe has worked as a counselor for 2 years at a liberal arts college leading a support group for freshmen dealing with college transition issues. * Joe’s new job is with a private practice counseling firm * The firm has asked Joe to lead a 10-week closed group for male clients in the process of divorce. He will be supervised by a Licensed Professional Counselor at the firm. Figure [ 1 ]: Rescuing more often has to do with the rescuers discomfort than with assisting the group member in question. It prevents the rescuer from looking into himself and facing his own issues. Incident: The group was assembled and screened prior to Joe’s employment * From the screening notes Joe learned that the group is made up of six men in their thirties who were married for more than 7 years * The men also held college degrees and wanted to be in the group * Session 1: Getting to know you; discussion of group norms; decision to use an open format with no chosen topics by the group leader (this is a bit alarming for Joe who has never led a group without topics); Joe has decided to learn from this experience with the help of his supervisor * Session 2: Each member gives his reason for being in the group; the men discuss facts of their relationships * Joe detects some resistance but the men seemed to be connecting as the session continued * Joe is aware that this is the initial stage of the group and has hope for deepening the focus in future sessions * Session 3: Members focus and began to explore feelings about relationships; they share coping strategies; there was no apparent conflict; Joe is happy that the session is going well: * Group member David discloses his difficulty in being alone; * He is having a hard time sharing with his family about the divorce; * He feels isolated (no one at his side); * Joe takes the opportunity to do some linking – asks men if they can identify with David’s feelings of isolation – his intention is to generate discussion; * Calvin admits similar feelings and shares how family members have cut ties with him; he expresses that his wife has full custody of his son; he’s only allowed to see the boy one weekend per month; his parents’ religious beliefs against divorce have caused them to alienate him and label him a failure; he is visibly shaken and in tears; finally he admits that he doesn’t know what to do. Joe is pleased to see somber faces in the group members; * Steven sits next to Calvin and reaches over to pat him on the shoulder, “It’s alright,” he said. “You’ll get through this fine. ” * “Yeah,” replied David, “I’m sure your wife will calm down and let you talk to your son more. She’s just angry right now. ” He added, “And your parents are your parents. They’ll love you no matter what. Just give it some time, Calvin. ” * “I agree,” says Damien. “Don’t cry, I know it will work out. ” * Joe is feeling good that the session went well; the men are sharing and showing compassion for each other. He asked members to share their personal struggles with isolation until the end of the session.

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