Another semester of graduate school will soon be behind me. This semester has been a little more challenging than the others. New professors and intense reading marked this spring. It has created within me a readiness to spend some time on other matters of importance to me.
One of the classes which ended up being one of the best I have taken is entitled Group Counseling. During this time, we spent the first half of the semester learning theory and stages of group counseling. The last half was spent in an actual group counseling sessions. Taking turns spreading our wings to establish goals, lead the group, and reflect on it in a written format was the focus. So what you may ask?
Well, to answer this question, I say it was a transforming experience. To lay a personal goal before a group of acquaintances (some close friends) is nerve wracking and takes courage. For an introvert by nature, I did not relish sharing much of myself with people I barely knew. Yet, under the leadership of the professor and confidence in our own abilities, we developed a level of trust in which we could become vulnerable and help each with our goals.
I have led many small groups in my time in ministry, but unfortunately it is not often that I can say it was a transforming experience. Why would that be? I believe the answer lies in vulnerability. No one want to get hurt or to have their views stomped upon. Yet this is the key to transformation. Laying before others your personal goals and trusting the group will help you along the journey takes time. It is difficult to let down the walls, especially with people we only know somewhat in passing (as the case of in group counseling). The fear and intimidation is great; but taking the risk to explore the possibilities it affords is so worth it. Vulnerability and transformation go together. It is the moment in which I believe we are open to looking at life with a fresh set of eyes.
As we concluded our group counseling this week, we all realized we had grown in healthy ways. Some of realized a different goal during our time together, others of us made baby steps but have the motivation to continue on. Realizing the potential and power of the group counseling experience has made me believe in its effectiveness and transforming nature.
I highly recommend it!