One of my greatest frustrations is group work. As a college student, high school student, and even an elementary school student I remember lamenting with my friends about group work, to which we were very averse. “Someone always does all the work and the rest of the group members get the credit.” “I can’t stand my group. None of us get a long.” “Group work is ridiculous. We will never work in groups in real life. We will only work by ourselves.” Such were some of the comments said by either myself or others. Today, it amazes me how wrong we were and that all along our teachers were right.
It seems that ever since I’ve entered the workforce, I have been the member of a team or a group. And truthfully, I am not the best team member. I just cannot seem to find that perfect balance between super controlling group leader and ultimate group slacker. Some people find their place comfortably in the middle, whereas I usually find myself one of the extreme ends. It surprises me, as I’m sure it might many of my peers, that I find myself enjoying group counseling, both as a participant and group leader.
As I begin to delve in to the finer points of leading a group I am amazed at the amount of planning group leaders put into organizing the group, from the location of the group meeting to the arrangement of the seating. I am also enjoying our weekly group counseling sessions as a class because it allows me and my classmates to discuss issues surrounding our current and future endeavors in counseling.
Participating as a member of a group has been relatively stress-free so far. I think acting as the leader of a group counseling session will be somewhat stressful for me. While all the members in my group are respectful and kind, I am beginning to feel the growing pains of becoming a counselor. As I’m sure everyone feels as when they begin any new career, there is always some amount of anxiety and worry. My fear in group counseling is how to handle a difficult group member or members. I’ve never been a very assertive individual and while that may not be the most appropriate way to handle difficult group members I am clueless as to how handle them at all.
All my fears and anxieties aside, I can tell that counseling is what I want to do as a career. Compared to other areas in which I’ve worked, counseling is the one that I feel most comfortable in, paradoxically, even when I’m feeling rather uncomfortable.
Hayley Wilson is a counselor-in-training at Florida Atlantic University. Her areas of interest include military service members and PTSD, substance abuse, and coffee.