Leadership in Group Therapy


Group counseling attends to those that could benefit from a social group of individuals with common issues that have a desire to reach a common goal. Group therapy tends to be anywhere between five to fifteen people, with at least one health professional presiding over the group. Group therapy sessions are created to treat depression, PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety, or substance abuse disorders. These groups may target shyness, loneliness, self-esteem, or anger. The group can provide support through emotions and encouragement, accountability, and solutions to individual issues. In addition, group members will arise from different cultural backgrounds and can offer out of the box-style of thinking that may have not have been considered before ([No Title], n.d.). Group therapy is developed and carried out over a set amount of sessions and works itself through several stages of development before its conclusion Stages (Nick, n.d.).

Initial Stage

The Initial Stage of group therapy is one of the most important stages of group therapy and like all of the other stages has its purpose and functions. During this stage, confidentiality will be explained and its importance to the group, and how it should interact outside of the group. Trust is explained in conjunction with confidence and the importance of each member to trust that the other will not share the intimate knowledge learned during the group counseling session. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of group therapy and the hardest for each member to achieve. During this stage, expectations and what the outcome of therapy should be will be established by the leader. Expectations and outcomes of therapy are particularly important and must be explained in detail as best as possible by the leader. The leader will also need to explain to the group that they may not see the result right away, but if they continue to practice the skills learned during each session they will in the long term achieve the desired outcomes. In addition, the counselor must explain at this time that the work that they put into therapy will equate to the result that they experience, if members fail to participate that they may experience a poorer outcome and likely to relapse in their effort to change. Confrontation is an inevitable part of group therapy; individual members will have their values and opinion on how things should be done this can lead to hostility. A counselor must explain to the group that they must respect each person regardless of how they feel, each person is entitled to how they perceive the situation and how it should be handled. The leader will also have to express to the group the proper type of language that is acceptable to others, interactions that may form outside of the group, and how to appropriately address themselves with each other in a non-session setting. It is paramount to the group’s success that the leader assures that all understand the need for orderly conduct for the most successful outcomes of the group. Before the start of group therapy, the leader needs to ensure that each group member is an acceptable choice to participate in group counseling. Group members that are appointed by the court system may not be the best choice to link with members who have volunteered to participate in group therapy.

Transition Stage

The Transition Stage can be one of the most trying times for a counselor and their leadership skills are put to the test. During this stage, he is developing and finding his way forward. During this stage, hostility is at its highest. Members will become resistant to sharing and providing input. Others will become defensive and lash out at the group leader. Some members will be timid and unable to speak during group sessions. As for the group leader, this is when they experience the most verbal attacks. Group members will often target the counselor with their anger and questioning their abilities. Counselors will also be belittled by group members. This is often due to the frustration and adjustment to the new environment; this can be a nervous moment for group members causing anxiety. If the group is directed by the court system this can be the most ordain stage in group counseling due to the group’s lack of desire to present for counseling. Depending upon the group leader’s ability the group will learn to trust the counselor and understand that bringing in a negative aspect to the group is detrimental. During this stage, the counselor may have to consistently remind the group about appropriate language and interaction with each other.

Working Stage

The working stage of group therapy is often where the “work” gets done. In this stage the levels of conflict have reduced, group members have learned for the most part what proper behavior is within their group, and testing the limits of group members have ended. During this stage group, members make honest strides in expressing their thoughts and feelings. In turn, group members express themselves to information that is shared with guidance and advice in a tactful manner. Information that is shared by each member may stir other members to reflect upon their experience with what was shared and develop the conversation further and deeper thus aiding in trust and bonding with group members, who provide support to the member that had shared. During this stage, the group leader should be able to notice verbal and non-verbal cues of group members, using this to their advantage in pushing members to further share their emotions, feeling, and thoughts. During this stage group, members should feel they are in a non-judgmental environment and comfortable in sharing their inner feelings.

Final Stage

During the group stage, all group members should feel a sense of unity and have bounded with each other. Group members should feel safe and comfortable with each member and can share their feelings and emotions with others. During this stage, the therapy sessions are coming to a close and group members shift into a state of motion of reflection upon the group experience, the skills learned, and ultimately decide how they will use their newly acquired skills going forward. This stage may be filled with ascends of loss, due to the nearing separation of the group. The counselor should remind the group members what the expectations were and what the desired outcome should have been. Depending upon how the group performing together will determine how effective the outcome of therapy will be. Groups vary in their outcomes. Many have enriching experiences and use their newly acquired skills effectively. Other groups may have lesser experience and fail to realize their desired goals. In any case, the individual effort that is put into therapy will equate to the results realized by each group member.


Leadership is the ability of one to motivate and influence another to accomplish a task, goal, or outcome willingly. Not all leaders are the same and not all have equal capabilities. Very few people are born to lead and though many can be taught through experience it is always a challenging aspect when placed at the forefront of others. Leadership and management are not the same. One can be a great leader and one can be a great manager. Leadership is forward-thinking, how to move from one point to the next while rallying those around you due to your traits. Managers can equally be as successful as leaders, managers understand an organization’s rules, policies, or the ins and outs of a particular task/ goal. Managers are exceptionally good at what they do, (accounting, finance, Human Resources,) they have technical abilities that others do not question. In addition, they have good interpersonal skills that enable effective communication to accomplish the desired task/ goal. However, leaders separate themselves from mangers in the abilities to move a group or organization from one point to a future point through motivation, confidence, and natural characteristic skills. In group counseling, the leader needs to have an effective interpersonal skill that allows for effective communication with the group. These effective interpersonal skills can allow for the mitigation of hostility and poor behaviors. Leaders will need to have a well-rounded education that is up to date with new trends in therapeutic approaches that can challenge groups and individual thinking to change their thoughts and behaviors (Department of Communication, Indiana State University, 2016).

A leader is an essential part of group therapy. They are the facilitator of group interaction and promote positive behavior and interaction between group members. Leaders can inspire, spread joy, compassion, and kindness through personal traits. Leaders provide structure to the group and guide them through the therapeutic process. Each stage of group therapy is a natural process that all groups must navigate in order to reach their final goal and desired outcome. Group counseling can be one of the most effective forms of counseling if done correctly with properly screened group members. Group counseling can be a rewarding experience for each member and provide alternate views to one situation and outside resolutions to problems.


Department of Communication, Indiana State University. (2016, August 18). 8.5: Group Roles and Leadership. http://kell.indstate.edu/public-comm-intro/chapter/8-5-group-roles-and-leadership/

Nick. (n.d.). Group Therapy. Retrieved November 1, 2020, from https://www.liverehab.com/group-therapy/

[No title]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/topics/group-therapy

Skills and Role of the Group Therapist. (2011, April 27). https://www.aipc.net.au/articles/skills-and-role-of-the-group-therapist/

Published by stmd1980

Hi, and thank you for joining me on my new site. Here I want to take time to discuss different aspects of Mental Health that I have observed over the last 17 years. I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to discuss research, personal experience, and though the comment section have you the reader share your personal experience with mental health either yours or in a support role for your loved ones. Here on this form I will be targeting topic such as personality disorders, Autism, addiction, and other such aspect that effect many of us throughout the course of our lives. It is my hope through sharing information we can learn from each other.

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