Experiential group therapy is an influential and exceptional growth process designed to facilitate healing and personal growth. This therapeutic group promotes recovery by impacting a person’s spiritual and emotional development. It is used to help people who had developed dependency on chemical substance for a long time besides that it is beneficial to survivors of sexual abuse and other addicts. This group is specifically designed for people who are ready to enrich and expand their recovery. It is also meant for people who want to break the vicious cycles that they had caged themselves into. The vicious cycles are very dangerous because of the emotional consequences like depression, loneliness, shame, despair, addiction, and anxiety. Therefore experiential group therapy is specifically designed for eliminating feelings of hopelessness and despair (Corey, Generald and Cindy, 2008:95).
For the purpose of complete training, students are usually incorporated or allowed to be part of such groups because there are many things which they get to learn from such gatherings. Some of the benefits that students get through such groups include unique experience which is very instrumental in helping one understand and know who they really are. Besides that students get to know how other people experience what they really are in terms of possessed interpersonal skills and strengths. On addition to that people get the opportunity to know how you utilize your strengths. Group members also get to know your interpersonal black spots and the way you continue to carry them on in your behavior patterns and how they hinder successful accomplishment of your individual goals. Basically experiential group therapies helps an individual experience something which is useful to his individual efforts. A student has the opportunity to fully understand who they are and the weaknesses and strengths they possess.
Many times people fail to work effectively because they really don’t know themselves and the potential within them. Therefore this experience helps one to greatly work at what they are good at as they try to manage their personal weaknesses. Besides that one has an opportunity to understand his actions and the way others think and feel about those actions. Interacting and working with experiential group therapies greatly helps one to develop and learn to trust others and oneself. On addition to that an individual is able to develop and nurture unique sense of who they really are and this is important because it makes one to feel worthwhile, empowered and whole. The fostered self knowledge helps one to relate well with other group members and all people in general. Personal experiences are usually shared in the group as a way of bringing healing. This helps many people to understand that they are not the only people feeling they way they do or going through difficult times.
Students are also able to acquire important listening skills which are very instrumental in helping other experiential group members. As students learn to nurture and develop self confidence, self acceptance and self respect they also develop instrumental listening skills which are instrumental for pursuing personal goals. For one to be an effective counselor or psychotherapist it is important for him to develop and nurture good listening skills because you can only understand and know what the client is trying to put across through attentive listing. On addition to that a student who has development listening skills is in a position to help a fellow student who is experiencing problems with understanding and getting what the patient is saying. Every profession cannot successful work on its own and that is the reason why practicing students should learn to be at par with each other if good work has to be done (McLeod, 2009: 210).
Experiential group therapy helps a student to fully develop oneself for instance by learning new alternative ways for solving incoming challenges. Experiences achieved in such groups helps one to get the right direction and autonomy need for becoming responsible towards self and other people. The main objectives of experiential group therapy are to solve specific behavior problems for instance poor interpersonal skills. Besides that it promotes emotional understanding of one self for instance personal strengths and weakness. On addition to that it seeks to improve personal perception, sense of adequacy and self confidence. It generally changes individual life styles. The life of a student is explored in two aspects for instance interpersonally and at an intrapersonal level. This exploration is aimed at identifying personal self sustaining behavior patterns which are necessary for a person’s well being. On addition to that exploration is also done with an objective of identifying self defeating behavioral patterns which promotes self sabotaging; a trend that promotes addiction, despair, self defeat and other unhealthy patterns.
Students have been able to develop life styles which are very healthy because of personal emotional honesty. Besides that they have gained deeper understanding of the behavioral choices that they make and the unseen goals which they are bound to. There is greater personal understanding and self responsibility that one acquires and experiences in experiential group therapy. Much change is enforced because of the acquired active learning experience. There are many unique dynamics which are employed in therapy groups. These dynamics are usually combined in transcending personal attitudes, patterns and beliefs during their lifetime. Other group members are usually instrumental in providing the needed backup and support because it is instrumental if one has to take risks. Proper relationships which are formed between group members are very instrumental in personal growth and development.
Alienation and isolation usually lead to depression and this depression can only be lifted when one feels a sense of belonging. Experiential group therapy usually develops this sense of belonging and as a result a member is comfortable to identify with the group in case of any hardship or personal difficulties. The feelings of hopelessness and despair usually vanish as a student experiences the development and growth of other students in the group and that is why core listening skills are very instrumental in bonding and sharing activities. The main aim of experiential learning is to enable a student incorporate their thinking, feelings and behavior into their ways of life. Experiential group enables a student to make new decisions and choices about the old former habits which were working against them and at the same time enforce new behavioral patterns which are in line with individual objectives and goals.
The new choices which one settles for helps in developing desired lifestyle which is as per the set goals. A student is also able to access his interaction abilities and general response through the experiential learning process. The opportunity for fully understanding who one is helps in personal assessment of the capabilities and qualities possessed. This is important because improvement can only occur when one really know what they have and what they don’t have. Once a person gets correct assessment of their interaction behavior they are able to fully concentrate on themselves and work at eliminating some of their aspects which are not desirable. The proper understanding of how we represent ourselves before people largely helps in modeling self and striving to give the best of what has been bestowed in us. This group helps one to understand why people respond to them they way they do. This is very important because a person is able to design and decide on the best way to respond. This will further help in reducing conflicts that may arise because of the way they respond to raised issues.
Basically people and especially students are greatly modeled and transformed by the experiences gained and shared in the therapy experiential group. The awareness of your interpersonal competence is very instrumental to personal growth and development. The opportunity for developing and acquiring other instrumental interpersonal skills is very essential in any area of life. Counseling, psychotherapy cannot be successful done with these skills and that is the reason it is difficult to help a patient with psychological issues without having proper knowledge of who you really are. It is difficult to help others better their lives when your life as a practitioner is in big mess.
There is so much trust between members and the facilitator of an experiential group theory because where trust is lacking people cannot open up. Successful practical active experiences occur because of trust. It is difficult for one to speak out what they are thinking and feeling if there is no trust. By the fact that the member of the group offer backup and needed support for taking risks into new areas that can positively influence a life then there must be strong dependence and trust between the specific members and group facilitator. A student also receives the chance of getting the feedback or response from other members of the group. Change can only be effected when you know how others respond to the things you say and do. An experiential group usually exists as individual social microcosm. This setting offers a suitable environment for growth and healing of its members.