Individual and group counseling are responsive services offered by the school counselor to students who face various challenges that warrant such special help. (Erford, 2015) Students are increasingly affected by a wide variety of personal and social dilemmas that they are not always equipped to process on their own. In these situations, school counselors are able to offer guidance through group and/or individual counseling.
Students who face family changes or endure traumatic violence as well as those who are impoverished serve as a few examples of students who would benefit from individual counseling. The end goal of this assistance is to promote the students’ personal and social growth as well as to foster their career goals and yield academic progress. (Erford, 2015) This type of counseling fits within the American School Counselor Association’s National Model under the category of “delivery.” (ASCA, 2012) Individual and group counseling are specific examples of how counselors, directly and indirectly, serve their students.
Factors that would assist in determining whether group or individual counseling would be most beneficial include the developmental characteristics of the student; their age, maturity level, and cognitive understanding all play a vital role in determining the type of intervention to be prescribed. (Erford, 2015) Listening to the student, if he/she self-referred, would provide considerable insight into which method of counseling would serve them best. Consideration of both cultural and personal morals and values is essential to determining the most effective form of counseling as well as parental involvement and consent, if necessary.
Knowledge of the student including their personal concerns and experiences would assist the placement of the child into the correct group as well. Often, counselors are able to draw on their personal relationship with the student and their knowledge of past issues (or lack thereof) in order to correctly place the student into an effective counseling program. Students that are experiencing academic or behavioral issues would most likely benefit more from group counseling than a student dealing with a family crisis or the loss of a close friend or family member. The latter would most benefit from individual counseling. (Hong & Rowell, 2013)
Lastly, a counselor should consult school policies and expectations with regard to individual and group counseling for students. Some schools may place restrictions on group counseling sessions that occur within the academic school day. Therefore it is very important to comply with the school’s demands.
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Erford, B.T. (2015). Transforming the School Counseling Profession. (4th ed.). Boston, MA: The Merrill
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