Over twenty years ago, when I started in private practice it was a slow arduous process. Building a client base and attempting to set myself apart from other counselors took time and effort!
I stayed with it, I ate peanut butter sandwiches and Ramen noodles in the early days, but it was worth it.
One of the ways I supplemented my practice was by incorporating group work. Granted it’s not for everyone, but in my case, I found I was good at it! Group work would eventually become the primary source of income in my practice.
With groups you can combine 6-8 clients (depending on your group size) into one or two billable hours. The dynamic of group provides the participants the ability to see, hear and act out other perspectives on what typically are shared issues.
Working with adolescent boys (in age appropriate groups) one of the common responses they have is “I didn’t realize other boys were dealing with the same thing as me,” or “I realized I didn’t have it so bad after hearing what other boys were going through.” Many times, they have an immediate sense of relief and camaraderie.
Obviously the same happens with the men and women’s groups (for me, co-ed groups aren’t as effective as same gendered groups).
Group work is not for the faint of heart. When facilitating group, it’s important that the facilitator maintains control. What will kill a group is if it turns into an atmosphere of gripping or if one person is allowed to “always do the talking.” There are other subtle and passive aggressive ways clients can get control those are the slippery slopes that a facilitator must navigate; be prepared, BE ON or you’ll lose control quickly!
- Have an agenda or topic of discussion.
- With adults, they can determine “their issue;” typically someone has a topic/issue they want to work through.
- With the adolescents however, we go through very specific topics that are designed as processes and are in place (pre-planned) ahead of time.
- Have a good size group room that can hold 6-8 people comfortably.
As mentioned above I started in practice booking my day one session at a time. Today, I mainly do group work and supplement with individual sessions. More groups mean less “time” in the office and a better source of income.
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Clayton Lessor, PhD, LPC founded The Quest Project in 1996 and has since helped 2,000+ boys turn their life around to become the next Generation of Men. He is the author of two books, “Saving Our Sons-A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Boys for Success” and “Generation of Men-How to raise your son to be a healthy man among men.” Dr. Clay is an expert in childhood trauma and male adolescent development.