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Counselling Group Training

Group Dynamics and Workshop Design

Therapist Group Training

GDW-400 Group Dynamics and Workshop Design

The course in a nutshell:
Discussion Topics: The processes and working stages relating to four categories of groups including: task groups, psycho-educational groups (also called workshops or seminars), support groups, and counselling groups; the uses for various types of group counselling in community agencies as well as private practice.
Skills: You will learn to identify the stages of group dynamics and use appropriate techniques for each stage. You will practice leading or co-leading; or participate in at least one type of group. By understanding when and why to apply the appropriate techniques, students will be prepared to develop their own style in facilitating group work. In addition you will learn the concepts involved in the proposal, design and presentation of psycho-educational workshops.

Course Content:

Dealing with the complexity of group dynamics, as well as with the individual goals of the participants, make group leadership a challenging and rewarding experience.

On-line delivery of the Group Dynamics and Workshop Design (GDW-400) course provides students with applied k nowledge related to four distinct categories of groups:

  1. Task groups
  2. Support groups
  3. Counselling groups
  4. Psycho-educational groups (also called workshops or seminars)

(A fifth category, “psychotherapy groups”, is not within the scope of practice of entry-level counsellors, and therefore will not be covered in this course.)

Each category of group represents a different theme or agenda, goals, and expectations. Group leaders employ differing theories and techniques according to the purpose of the group. For example:

  1. Organizers and facilitators of psycho-educational workshops must have the ability to research the topic, present the information and integrate relevant inter-active exercises in a way that allows participants to learn new information while experiencing a new awareness of behavior, thoughts and/or emotions.
  2. Leaders of support groups must facilitate interaction amongst group members who share a common theme. The goal of the leader is to encourage trust, and the open sharing of experience in order to enhance feelings by members that others share the same problem. This feeling of mutual support leads to greater self-awareness and personal growth.
  3. Leaders of counselling groups must interpret and facilitate interaction amongst group members in order to promote changes in interpersonal styles of communication. The group experience becomes a microcosm for the group members’ experiences in the real world.
  4. Group organizers who facilitate groups such as task forces, committees, and planning and community organizational groups may need to be skilled in systems, goal assessment, training, consultation, and program evaluation.

Topics covered in this course include:

  1. The differences and similarities between psycho-educational workshops, support groups, tasks groups, and counselling groups.
  2. Theories and techniques used in each type of group.
  3. Rules and procedures to insure confidentiality, safety of members and consistency of group process.
  4. Indicators of the initial stage, transition stage, working stage and final stage of group work.
  5. Ethical and legal implications when working with groups.
  6. Elements that make up a psycho-educational workshop proposal, from the planning stage, to writing the proposal, promoting and marketing, designing the content and outcome measures.
  7. Recognition of clinical limitations and the need for referrals.
  8. Self-care for counsellors working with groups.
  9. The counsellor’s personal feelings, fears, and expectations when faced with leading and participating in a group.


What you will learn:

Utilizing video demonstrations of actual group sessions, you will be introduced to group techniques based on standard theories of group process. You will learn to recognize the four stages through which groups evolve: initial, transition, working, and final stages. In addition you will learn which techniques are most suited to each stage. By understanding when and why to apply the appropriate techniques, you will be prepared to develop your own style in facilitating group work

Your level of proficiency and competence with the skills introduced in this course will deepen as you proceed through the program. Upon graduation from the Diploma or Certificate program, you may include the following skills as part of your Professional Portfolio:

  1. 1. The ability to design a psycho-educational workshop and write a formal proposal to include:
    • Research and planning,
    • Promoting and marketing,
    • Designing interactive exercises
    • Implementing outcome measures.
  2. The ability to r ecognize dynamics and other indicators of the initial stage, transition stage, working stage and final stage of group work.
  3. The ability to apply appropriate techniques to facilitate each stage.
  4. The ability to build and maintain rapport with group members using counseling skills such as advanced empathy, and active listening, skills to deepen trust, deal with resistance, begin a session, set goals, diffuse intense emotions and end a session.
  5. The ability to pre-screen members who may not be suitable for group counselling such as those in crisis, suicidal, and/or with acute or chronic mental disorders.
  6. The ability to maintain cultural sensitivity in all types of group situations.
  7. Understanding the ethical and legal implications when working with groups.
  8. The ability to screen for suicide risk and apply a “no-harm contract”, and other safety protocols with all group members.
  9. The ability to set realistic goals for group participants pertaining to the scope of your training and practice.
  10. The ability to make necessary referrals.
  11. The ability to measure efficacy of treatment.
  12. The ability to maintain professional boundaries in accordance with ethical standards governing your role as a group facilitator.

(NOTE: The skill set you will learn in this course comprises areas of core competence required for the practice of professional counselling.)

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