In my latest reading of Michele Bachmann’s Core of Conviction: My Story, I enjoyed reading about Bachmann’s family and how Bachmann has shopped at thrift stories (and she thinks that the government should be more thrifty in its spending—-which I agree with, as long as cuts in spending are focused on waste rather than money that the poor need to survive). What I want to focus on in this post, however, is something that Michele says about her husband Marcus’ practice of therapy on page 91:
“So what would Marcus do in a typical counseling session?…He would gather a small group of seekers into a circle of seven or eight—-seekers of relief from, say, anger or alcohol. Then he would begin the discussion by asking questions: ‘What’s a good response to anger?’ or ‘How do you handle a spouse who is drinking?’ And then, for the next half hour or so, Marcus would listen as each individual brought up his or her personal issues. Marcus knew he had to proceed in his counseling with patience and subtlety. As Paul said to the Corinthians, the goal is not to shame but to instruct, to counsel.”
It would be nice to be in a group like this: one that brings up a topic and discusses solutions, so that I have some practical wisdom to take home with me—-and all of this occurs in an atmosphere that doesn’t put people down. Unfortunately, many groups that I’ve been in are not like this. People either complain about the same problems over and over, or they monopolize the time with topics that have nothing to do with therapy, or they make fun of other group-members, or (in the case of some Asperger’s groups) the focus is more on advocacy rather than therapy. (And advocacy is important, but it would be nice for a group like that to concentrate on how to develop social skills, once in a while.)
What are your experiences in counseling groups? Do you find them helpful, or do you think there are things that they could do better?