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TERMINATING GROUP COUNSELING


Many of the same skills necessary for termination of individual counseling relationships are necessary for terminating counseling groups. Group leaders must be aware of their own timeline for the group, communicate that timeline to group members and know when to initiate the termination stage. Very often groups will have a set number of sessions, so the conclusion of the counseling relationship can be anticipated. This, however, does not necessarily make the process of termination any easier on group members.
 
As in termination of individual counseling, there may be feelings of sadness or anxiety over the ending of the group. Participants often become reliant on the group for support and advice and can be fearful at the reality of that support being removed. Once termination has been introduced, members may pull back, or disengage themselves slightly from the process in an effort to protect themselves from the emotions surrounding termination.

Some of the things that group leaders can do to increase the chances of ending a group successfully include:
  • Reinforcing the progress that was made during the course of the group.
  • Offering suggestions to group members about ways in which they can successfully incorporate what they have learned into their daily lives.
  • Helping group participants brainstorm and anticipate problems that may arise when the group has concluded.
  • Allowing time for constructive feedback from group members. This includes feedback for the leader as well as feedback for other group members.
  • Assisting participants in processing their feelings about termination and helping them resolve any unfinished business.
  • Educating participants about additional resources that are available to them as supports once the group has ended.
  • Making oneself available should the need for individual counseling or consultation with group members arise.