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Having gone through the academic ladder and achieved academic excellence, it is prudent to put education into practice. In this essay, the learner will project into the future, having successfully completed an M.A. in Counseling. It is time to create a developmentally appropriate counseling group. At the same time, the learner will give an overview of the population and its setting coupled with a rationale for the proposed group. This will be followed by a description of the planning process and the plan to adopt for the group. The next step will be outlying modalities for members’ selection, leadership style to adopt. Here will be consideration of how the program will be facilitated throughout the group stages and the phases. Measures will be next to consider so as to ensure that the group remains ethical, therapeutic, and effective. Finally, means of creating and maintaining group cohesion, culture building as well as shaping of norms will be discussed. The conclusion will be based on the discussion.
Overview of the Population and Setting and the Rationale for the Proposed Group
Having completed an M. A. in Counseling, the learner gets the dream job in the education sector. It has been a longing to work with school-going children, teachers, parents and the community at large. It is interesting to note that in the education sector, there is a cross-sectional consideration of people in different economic, social, and political classes since they all have a possibility of having children in school or they are pushing for policies in line with education system. In creating this group, there should be a consideration of legal as well as ethical issues as stipulated in the ACA Code of Ethics as well as ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counseling (Abell, 2005).
In this group that is to be set up, it shall consist of persons living in that community and who have different influences on different levels of their interaction in the community. For example, for the children, there is a consideration of how these children interact with each other in the school setting as well as outside the school setting.
Chope (2008) gives a good insight of the working group selection and raises some important questions that the counselors ought to ask during the issues addressing concerning group counseling. First, there should be a consideration of the match that exists between the counseling job being considered and personal interest. This question has already been addressed above. Secondly, there ought to be a consideration of both the ability and self-confidence of the counselor to perform the task (Chope, 2008) for which the graduate counselor finds it relatively easy since there is both a good education background and palpable expertise through experience in working in different capacities in the education sector.
Lastly, there should be an alignment of the mission, rules, and vision of the population (Chope, 2008) with a clear applicable counseling approach that is to be adopted. The process and application will be clear and consistent addressing this issue.
Planning Process and Plan for the Group
It has been argued for a long that planning fails when the concerned parties fail to plan for whatever undertakings they have to undertake (Anonymous). It is noted in Ralph (2005) that many organizations and institutions use famous and well known persons to give speeches and training to new protégés in an effort of making these people more marketable parse. However, instead of the learners in the session paying attention to little details, they tend to imitate what these famous people do instead of finding their footing on their course.
In the planning process, the learner will consider using and empowering the community to educate one another. In so doing, the community members are best placed to counsel one another since they have better understanding of most issues that ail the locality. Raising a group within the same community and equipping this group with the necessary tools and skills to address various disciplines within the community will be the major focus. Education will include services of other counselors within the department and/or otherwise that may be available for this noble work.
To ensure the success of the process, there shall be a division into small ‘cells’/groups during training for effectiveness. Instead of pumping the members with theories, practical approaches will mostly be used for better comprehensibility and in-depth understandability (Ralph, 2005). One thing that will be avoided is using the famous ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach since different people have different needs within the same setting (Ralph, 2005).
This means that their needs to be identification of individual and groups’ developmental level, supervisory synchronization with these levels’ needs, continuous monitoring and style adjustment (Ralph, 2005) and (Abell, 2005).
Member Selection, Leadership, Group Stage and Phases Facilitation
Selection of members is a crucial stage since the effectiveness and the progress of individuals and the group as a whole depend on the credentials of the person (Abell, 2005, p. 4, 6). First, there should be a consideration of the individual’s professional identity (Abell, 2005, p. 4). The main reason for this is that, since the group is meant to be in the education sector, some of these people might have undergone through some training in line with counseling. Second, there needs to be background checked on each member, their leadership profile, core competence, professionalism in organization, public/private interaction, social profile and adherence to norms (Abell, 2005, p. 4). In these selection criteria, there is an assurance that the individual selected is more likely to be accepted in the community as well as their likelihood of being easily teachable.
In terms of leadership, it is anticipated that each cell will have a leader. Categorization of who should fall, where it will be done is based on the level which individuals fall in based on CS ‘Contextual Supervision’ approach as proposed by Ralph (2005). After this is done, the leaders are to be taught the supervisory and managerial roles that they need to adopt for effectiveness in their roles and for them to achieve their groups’ developmental needs (Ralph, 2005). Using the CS approach, it has been identified that supervisors have a tendency of giving ‘supportive’ leadership approach but the CS approach gives a more refined way of leadership (Ralph, 2005). CS ensures that there is a determination of the degree of supportiveness, based on the task at hand and thus offering flexible response approaches and ability to change situations are based on this leadership behavior (Ralph, 2005).
CS mentoring learners form an individual point though applicable on large-scale too (Ralph, 2005). CS ensures that the protégés regularly change from one development level to another on specific issues that they focus on changing, so as to master these aspects and gain confidence knowing that they have professional competence in these areas (Ralph, 2005).
In general, there are eight teaching skills that need counseling to triads and interns (Ralph, 2005). Being new in the teaching profession, interns need to address their professional and personal attributes, instructional preparation, classroom management, response, teaching methodology implementation, presentation, oral questioning and pupils’ work evaluation (Ralph, 2005). When an individual attains the necessary skills, these skills are passed on to the group by having time to mentor others struggling with the same issue.
Ensuring Ethics, Therapeutic and Effectiveness of the Group
The effectiveness of the group is highly dependent, but not solely dependent on the present leadership and the behavior of the leaders (Ralph, 2005). Ralph (2005) reports that there is a possibility of leaders sharing or having a personality clash which causes ineffectiveness in the group as a whole. This becomes a challenge for the members who try to conceptualize what needs to be done and what is said as they might get mixed signals.
Some of the factors that might be causing this would be psychological, organizational or social for which sometimes the cultural difference brings a conflict too (Ralph, 2005). For effectiveness, the calls for the development of mentorship skills by the leader and address of the prevailing challenges. Instead of these factors being a challenge, upon better training, the leaders can use these factors for supervision and mentorship in their leadership styles (Ralph, 2005). This ensures that the group remains effective in its tasks performance.
During the selection process of the leaders there ought to be a consideration of the individual’s previous leadership style and their characteristics (Abell, 2005, p. 6). Abell (2005) notes that the group ethics is inconsistent with the counselor’s orientation and the behavioral approach that is given to the members (p. 6). This is mainly addressed by careful application of appropriate selection criteria that first scrutinize the individuals before bestowing leadership on them (Abell, 2005, p. 6).
In terms of therapeutic consistency, the leadership should allow them to be quite flexible in adjustment to life and to education such that they align themselves as per their newly acquired knowledge. This can be made possible by further classification of groups selection in terms of task groups, therapy groups and psycho-educational groups (Abell, 2005, p. 6).
Lastly, there should be a professional preparation that is given to the leaders following preparation standards that incorporate ethical, as well as legal considerations during the process (Abell, 2005, p. 6).
Creating and Maintaining Group Cohesion, Culture Building and Shaping Of Norms
To ensure that the group remains cohesive, several things have to fall into play. First, instead of the selection based on social and cultural backgrounds, integration of people from different social and cultural backgrounds to work together for a common goal ensures the appreciation of culture and bridges social differences (Abell, 2005, p. 6). This is because, people within these groups are able to interact on almost personal level and thus gain knowledge of other people’s beliefs, understanding, attitudes and acculturative experiences (Abell, 2005, p. 4).
Take for example, these groups will be interacting with people from different families, individuals, communities and social classes (Abell, 2005, p. 4).
For there to be embedment of the cultural practices in the groups, in so formed groups the new members who are recruited into these groups should be assisted and taught using CS approach through their experience in this counseling approach, they can later on pass the application to those who will later join the group. These cells should have names and be given the freedom to be creative in diverse ways that will engage in interaction like sports competitions and other social events which will ensure that their groups are communally identified.
It should be noted that despite all efforts being made to ensure that credible people are selected for counseling, it should be clear that there is still the possibility that some bad elements might crop up and it is up to the leaders and the counselor to demonstrate zero tolerance to unethical norms and social misdemeanors. This may be possible by constant assessment of individual groups’ performance and individuals’ contributions to the group based on the reports which are forwarded to the key counselor (Abell, 2005, p. 7). Assessment can be through the analysis of individual and group task response and support response (Ralph, 2005). This is then coupled with the assessment of their development levels that consist of assessment of the level of competence and assessment of the level of confidence (Ralph, 2005).
In conclusion, the learner made a selection of the dream population under which the learner, upon completion of an M. A. in Counseling would like to work with the education department. School setup was the best selection as it provided the best opportunity to interact with diverse people from different social, cultural and economic backgrounds, all in need of counseling services. There is a special emphasis that is laid to the triads and intern teachers who need to develop task-orientation approach through various levels of support that aids in attainment of a certain level of competence and confidence in their area of speciality. The selection criteria are thorough in that there is a consideration of an individual’s past leadership roles, academic performance, adherence to stipulated rules and regulations. Counseling groups will not be given to famous counselors but rather utilization of those who are ordinary persons and can easily identify with. The leadership approach that will mainly be adopted is the CS (Contextual Supervision) since it is more comprehensive in addressing issues in different areas and at different levels as proposed and refined by Ralph. To ensure ethics, therapeutics and effectiveness of the groups, they will be assessed by proper application of the CS supervisory approach that is both flexible and comprehensive for almost all fields of application.
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