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Copyright: 2012 Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors

Welcome to Edition 128 of Institute Inbrief. In group therapy, it is important to have a clear idea on how to resolve potential group problems before they arise. In this edition, we’ll start a 3-part article series on how to resolve potential group problems.
The first article explores a number of problems that can occur during the formation of the group, including problem behaviours that group members may choose to use within the group process.
Also in this edition:
-      Group Development Stages
-      Professional Development news
-      Blog and Twitter updates
-      Upcoming seminar dates
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The Diploma of Counselling is supported by a number of optional Advanced Study Majors. Advanced Study Majors allow you to study and gain advanced knowledge and skill in the specialised counselling area of your choice.
The Advanced Study Major Program involves the completion of one or more optional Advanced Study Majors in addition to the Diploma of Counselling. The Majors provide you with the opportunity to specialise in any of the following highly relevant fields of counselling:
-      Abuse Counselling
-      Career Counselling
-      Family Therapy
The Majors are specifically designed to provide you with a higher level of practical and theoretical knowledge in a specialised field of counselling. You are able to enrol into an Advanced Study Major at the time of your enrolment into the Diploma of Counselling, or at any subsequent time.
The advantage of early enrolment in an Advanced Study Major is that studies can be completed concurrently with your Diploma. There is also no limit on the number of Advanced Study Majors you can undertake.
The Advanced Study Majors can be completed either externally or face-to-face. Studying your ASM via the traditional external option follows a similar process as completing your studies for the Diploma. Students are sent a workbook and readings for the ASM and submit their assessment for marking.
Alternatively, students are also able to complete their ASM by attending a workshop. Many students enjoy the interactive, practical workshops because they are a refreshing change from the traditional external study method and provide the opportunity to meet other students. Students also have the flexibility to change into this mode of study even after selecting the external option.
For further information about the Diploma and the ASM Program, please contact your closest Student Support Centre or visit
Become a Counsellor or Expand On Your Qualifications with Australia's
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The Bachelor of Counselling is a careful blend of theory and practical application. Theory is learnt through user-friendly learning materials that have been carefully designed to make your studies as accessible and conducive to learning as possible.
The course and its subjects are structured to progressively develop your knowledge and skills from foundational, theoretical concepts through to more complex concepts and advanced skills and applications.
On completion, you will have...
-       The capacity to apply counselling theory and skills in an intentional and mindful manner.
-       The ability to evaluate and apply a variety of counselling models according to the needs of your client.
-       The ability to analyse counselling issues with consideration to broader social and cultural perspectives and will be equipped to make a natural transition into the role of Counsellor.
To register your interest for Semester 1 2011 – visit or click to download a full course prospectus.
Group Problem-Solving Strategies, Part 1
A number of problems can occur during the formation of the group and afterwards. Some of these difficulties involve group members while others are related to group processes. One of the best ways to handle group problems is to prevent them. Where prevention is not possible, the group members and the group therapist can work together to bring about resolution (Gladding, 2003).
Dealing with people problems
Despite careful screening, some group members display difficult behaviours early in the group processes. In dealing with people problems, group therapists are encouraged to avoid labelling individuals. Labelling simply stereotypes individuals into a certain behavioural range and therefore may not always be appropriate.
With this in mind, it is important not to stereotype group members into being a certain type of ‘problem’. Instead it is important to view the problem behaviour as a particular approach that the person has chosen to use, whereby the problem does not define the person, but rather it defines the behaviour the person has chosen to execute at that time. The person may be fully aware of their chosen behaviour or they may not.
Below is a list of problem behaviours that group members may choose to use within the group process. Each of the problem behaviours listed below are defined, and an overview of how to deal with each of them is also provided.
1.     Manipulating
2.     Resisting
3.     Monopolising
4.     Remaining silent
5.     Use of Sarcasm
6.     Excessive focus on others
1. Manipulating
Group members who choose to manipulate will often apply a subtle use of behaviours and feelings to get what they want. At the beginning of the group, someone who is manipulating will often struggle with the group therapist for control. The therapist should not allow this to occur otherwise either the group therapists function or the group will fail. Those who choose to manipulate will often have a lot of anger, bringing to the group unresolved issues focused around issues of control. For example, a manipulating group member may threaten to leave the group therapy if he or she is not given what they want.
Some of the strategies that a group therapist can use to deal with this problem behaviour is reframing (Gladding, 2003). Reframing involves the therapist conceptualising problems behaviours in a positive way. For example, if one group member is vigorously accusing the group of breaching confidentiality and using that as an excuse not to disclose, then the group therapist could reframe this behaviour by saying “sounds like what you want from this group is specific help in learning how to trust them”.
2. Resisting
Those who choose to resist do not participate in group exercises or tasks. For example, a resistant group member may refuse to share their experiences with the group as they may feel that it would not help their situation if they did choose to share. Resistance usually stems from distrust in the process of group therapy. It can also stem from distrust in the group members and/or the group therapist. When resistance is occurring, the group therapist can use an affirmation approach whereby they help resistant group members to build trust by encouraging them to participate in group activities but not insist that they do so. Another way of working through this behaviour is to confront and interpret in a reflective manner what is happening with this particular resistant client. 
3. Monopolising
Individuals who monopolise will usually dominate the conversation in a group and not allow other group members to verbally participate. Monopolising can often offer relief to other group members especially at the beginning stages of group therapy as they are able to focus attention onto the one monopolising and away from them selves. Hence in the early stages of group therapy, group members may encourage the monopolising behaviour. As the group progresses, monopolising does become a significant source of irritation and frustration for group members. Those who monopolise are usually dealing with underlying anxiety.
Group therapists can help members of the group who display this behaviour by helping them realise how their behaviour is hurting their interpersonal relationships and what actions they can apply instead. An effective technique to use is cutting off. As the name implies, cutting simply prevents the member from rambling on about themselves. By using this technique, the therapist helps to ensure that the group remains on task and that every member has equal opportunity to participate. For example, if the therapist notices that one group member tends to monopolise, the therapist can say “now we need to move on to the next person to ensure everyone has the opportunity to speak”.
4. Remaining Silent
Silent members are those individuals who may or may not become involved in a group. Members who are silent are often non assertive, shy, or deeply self reflective. If a group member remains silent throughout the group they may not benefit from the group process to the same degree as more active members. The best way for the therapist to ascertain the meaning of silence is to give the person a chance to respond.
To elicit a response and usher in participation with the rest of the group, a therapist can invite the person to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions. For example, the group therapist may ask “what do you think about what other members have been saying?” It is a fine balance of respecting the person’s desire to remain silent while also ensuring they have every opportunity to speak up if they want to. 
5. Use of Sarcasm
Those who may choose to use sarcasm often do so to mask their feelings through the use of clever language and humour. Sarcasm can deflect from confronting real issues. The therapist can help those caught up on using sarcasm to express feelings more openly and directly. The therapist must identify what is happening in the group member’s life by helping the group member explore their feelings authentically and openly.
6. Excessive focus on others
Those who focus excessively on others become self appointed “group leaders”. This behaviour is often exhibited by the member questioning others, offering advice and acting as if they do not have any problems. Therapists can help them overcome this “others focused” behaviour by teaching about the benefits of self disclosure and promoting a culture that encourages self disclosure. The therapist can use techniques that divert the focus back to the group member by asking questions like “if it was you, what would you do?”
Useful Procedures for the Beginning Stage of the Group
Each group is unique. As such, no one technique is appropriate for all aspects of a group as it begins. However, there are some universal procedures that seem to work well in most groups especially at the beginning stages. Gladding (2003) has outlined some of these, and include the following:
1.     Joining
2.     Linking
3.     Cutting Off
4.     Drawing Out
5.     Clarifying the Purpose
1. Joining
This is a process in which the group therapist connects with members of the group both psychologically and physically. This involves both the group therapist and group members making some effort to find out more about each other. The most common way of joining is through the use of icebreakers. Ice breakers are also called warm up activities and energizers.
Ice breakers aim to encourage connections through creating a positive atmosphere, helping people relax, breaking down any barriers, motivating to be engaged in the process and encouraging people think outside the box.
As one small example, Animal Sounds is an activity that can be used. In this activity everyone is blindfolded and then given an animal name. After being allocated an animal name each group member is asked to recognise the same animal allocated to another group member by the sound their respective animal makes. This helps to break down initial barriers as a consequence of the whole process of the exercise. 
2. Linking
Linking involves connecting people with others by pointing out to them what they have in common. Linking strengthens the bonds between individuals and the group as a whole. This technique should be employed through the life of group therapy but it is especially powerful at the beginning of the group. One example of linking involves the group therapist pointing out how two individuals are dealing with similar issues and may encourage them to “share” with each other about their experiences. Or it might involve finding out that two group members like the same type of music, live in the same suburb or share a similar interest or hobby.
3. Cutting Off
Cutting off is used to serve two purposes. Firstly, it is used to ensure new material is not introduced into the group too late into the session where the group would have inadequate time to deal with it adequately. For example, a group member may want to share some secret with the group 5 minutes before the end of the group session.
The Therapist will cut off this member by bringing the member’s focus to the limited amount of time that is left in the session and invite the member to bring up the secret information next time at the beginning of the next session. Secondly, it is used to keep members on track and prevent them from derailing off the task.
4. Drawing Out
Drawing out is the opposite of cutting off. This involves the therapist asking for more information, or encourages the group member to expand and clarify or to bring others in on the issues being raised and shared whereby they are asked their opinion, reaction, thoughts and feelings on it. This strategy encourages members to invest more of themselves in to the group as a well as helping them to recognise their feelings and thoughts.
This encourages greater connection between group members through active participation and self disclosure. One way to apply the strategy of drawing out might include the therapist saying something like, “we haven’t heard from you about this matter. Would you like to share your thoughts with us?”
5. Clarifying the Purpose
Sometimes members unintentionally bring up material that is not appropriate for a beginning session or for the overall purpose of the group. In such instances, the group therapist should clarify the purpose of the group with both the individual and the group as a whole.
The therapist might say something like, “I appreciate what you’re saying, but I’m not sure where you’re going with it, in the context of what we’re discussing... “. This can help the group to stay focused on tasks in order to achieve the desired group objectives.
In Part 2 (next edition) we’ll explore potential problems that can arise from the Storming and Norming stages of group development.
-       Gladding. G.T. (2003) Group Work: A Counselling Speciality (4th ed.).New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
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The Institute has a list of recommended textbooks and DVDs which can add great value to your learning journey - and the good news is that you can purchase them very easily. The AIPC bookstore will give YOU:
-      Discounted prices!
-      Easy ordering method!
-      Quality guarantee!
This fortnight's feature is...
Name: Counseling: Theory and Practice, 4th Edition
Author: George, Rickey & Cristiani, Therese
AIPC Price: $107.95
ISBN: 0-205-15252-X
The intent of this book is to present an overview of the foundations, theories and practices of counselling without emphasising a particular theoretical orientation and thereby gives the reader a well-balanced foundation for further study.
To order this book, simply contact your nearest Student Support Centre or the AIPC Head Office (1800 657 667).
Group Development Stages
Like all groups, therapeutic groups change and evolve over time. Knowledge of group development can help the group therapist distinguish if members reflect personal and individual or group developmental issues. Furthermore, knowledge of how members cope in the face of group developmental issues can aid the therapist in formulating specific interventions at those times (Bernard, Burlingame, Flores, Greene et al., 2008).
There are four major assumptions underpinning all models of group development. The first assumption is that groups develop in regular and observable patterns allowing for predictions of future group behaviour. Understanding the group’s developmental status may inform the therapist about the maturity of the group member’s interaction, while clarifying the path needing to be taken to encourage greater levels of growth and development as a group for members to benefit.
Click here to continue reading this article...
Other articles:
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Counsellor Camps
Date: 12-13 November 2010
Location: Radisson Resort, Palm Meadows Drive, Gold Coast - QLD
Counsellor Camps is a unique opportunity for counselling professionals including students, psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists, mental heath nurses and workers, social workers and anyone else working with people! Our aim is for participants to access a cost effective way to attain professional development, networking and burnout prevention through relaxation/retreat. It has been designed and created BY counsellors FOR counsellors.
Counsellor Camps is a two day professional development retreat to enhance a counselling professionals counselling and intervention skills as well as self care. Our workshop program for this event includes a range of experiential workshops lead by counselling professional and practicing facilitators in their field of expertise.
The program features a choice of small group experiential workshops as well as 15 minute massages and an hour’s yoga session for complete relaxation; all included in our cost effective conference fee. Our interactive, relevant and professionally facilitated workshops include a choice of:
-      Where did my mojo go?
-      Using mapping to enhance effectiveness
-      Effective note taking and report writing for counselling professionals
-      Being creative with Motivational Interviewing
-      Psychopharmacology basics for counselling professionals
-      Yoga (1 hour day 2 included in registration fee)
-      15 Minute massages throughout two day Camp
-      Assessing risk and dealing with the involuntary client
-      Putting CBT into everyday practice
-      Working with children
-      Working in a couples context
-      Using genograms in a family therapy context
-      Creating a memory box working with grief and loss
-      Group supervision: working with anxiety
-      Mindfulness relaxation throughout the two days
-      Conference Dinner at end of day one
Conference Fees:
Non-student earlybird on/before 20 October: $420.00
Non-Student after 20 October: $450.00
Student (counselling related) earlybird on/before 20 October: $370.00
Student after 20 October: $400.00
Non-student early bird on/before 20 October: $280.00
Non-Student after 20 October: $310.00
Student early bird on/before 20 October: $250.00
Student after 20 October: $280.00
Conference dinner: $70.00 per head
15 minute massage (15 minutes) included in conference fee
Yoga session (1 hour) included in two day conference
For more information:
Phone: 1800 44 99 87
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"There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there." 
~ Indira Gandhi 
Many students of the Diploma of Counselling attend seminars to complete the practical requirements of their course. Seminars provide an ideal opportunity to network with other students and liaise with qualified counselling professionals in conjunction with completing compulsory coursework.
Below are some of the seminars available for the remainder of 2010. To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre. To access the full list, visit:
Diploma of Counselling (CDA) Timetable
Northern Territory
The Counselling Process: 12/12
Communication Skills II: 27/11
Family Therapy: 14/11
Case Management: 18 & 19/12
South Australia
The Counselling Process: 27/11
Communication Skills I: 04/12
Communication Skills II: 05/12
Counselling Therapies I: 06 & 07/11
Counselling Therapies II: 20 & 21/11
Family Therapy: 14/11
Communication Skills I: 06/11, 11/12
Communication Skills II: 12/11, 16/12
Counselling Therapies II: 01 & 02/12
Legal & Ethical Frameworks: 09/12
Case Management: 06 & 07/12
Western Australia
Communication Skills I: 27/11
Communication Skills II: 28/11
Legal & Ethical Frameworks: 18/12
Family Therapy: 19/12
Case Management: 11 & 12/12
The Counselling Process: 28/11
Communication Skills I: 14/11
Communication Skills II: 05/12
Counselling Therapies I: 11 & 12/12
Counselling Therapies II: 18 & 19/12
The Counselling Process: 19/12
The Counselling Process: 27/11
Communication Skills I: 28/11
Communication Skills II: 04/12
Counselling Therapies I: 11 & 12/12
Counselling Therapies II: 20 & 21/11
Legal & Ethical Frameworks: 06/11
Family Therapy: 07/11
Case Management: 13 & 14/11
Sunshine Coast
The Counselling Process: 04/12
Communication Skills I: 13/11
Communication Skills II: 14/11
Legal & Ethical Frameworks: 11/12
Family Therapy: 20/12
Case Management: 20/12
Gold Coast
Communication Skills I: 13/11
Counselling Therapies II: 26 & 27/11
Legal & Ethical Frameworks: 10/12
Diploma of Professional Counselling (DPCD) Timetable
Northern Territory
Communication Skills I: 11/12
Communication Skills II: 13/11
Counselling Therapies I: 09 & 10/11
Counselling Therapies II: 20 & 21/11
Case Management: 04 & 05/12
Counselling Applications: 06/11
South Australia
Communication Skills I: 04/12
Communication Skills II: 05/12
The Counselling Process: 27/11
Counselling Therapies I: 06 & 07/11
Counselling Therapies II: 20 & 21/11
Advanced Counselling Techniques: 13/11
Counselling Applications: 28/11
Communication Skills I: 06/11, 11/12
Communication Skills II: 12/11, 16/12
The Counselling Process: 20/11, 16/12
Counselling Therapies I: 01 & 02/11
Counselling Therapies II: 01 & 02/12
Case Management: 06 & 07/12
Advanced Counselling Techniques: 29/11
Counselling Applications: 26/11
Western Australia
Communication Skills I: 27/11
Communication Skills II: 28/11
Case Management: 11 & 12/12
Communication Skills I: 04/12
Communication Skills II: 13/11
Counselling Therapies I: 20 & 21/11
Counselling Therapies II: 11 & 12/12
Advanced Counselling Techniques: 06/11
Counselling Applications: 27/11
Communication Skills I: 14/11
Communication Skills II: 05/12
Counselling Therapies I: 11 & 12/12
Case Management: 20 & 21/11
Advanced Counselling Techniques: 07/11
Counselling Applications: 28/11
Communication Skills I: 28/11
Communication Skills II: 04/12
The Counselling Process: 27/11
Counselling Therapies I: 11 & 12/12
Counselling Therapies II: 20 & 21/11
Case Management: 13 & 14/11
Advanced Counselling Techniques: 05/12
Sunshine Coast
Communication Skills I: 13/11
Communication Skills II: 14/11
The Counselling Process: 04/12
Case Management: 27 & 28/11
Counselling Applications: 11/12
Gold Coast
Communication Skills I: 13/11
Counselling Therapies II: 26 & 27/11
Important Note: Advertising of the dates above does not guarantee availability of places in the seminar. Please check availability with the respective Student Support Centre.
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