Group Therapy in Different Contexts

Subject: Other Medical Specialties
Pages: 5
Words: 1412
Reading time:
6 min


Based on Corey’s (2016) description of multicultural contexts, the sociocultural factors of an individual’s life have an impact on him or her. As a result, the needs and group therapy expectations of a Hispanic adolescent boy and African American older woman might differ. Two of the Micro training Associates’ videos demonstrate the specifics of group therapy in different contexts. DeLucia-Waack (2009) considers and shows the work with adolescents, and Sweeney and Myers (1990) discuss and illustrate the process of leading groups of elders. Furthermore, different settings are represented in the videos; for DeLucia-Waack (2009), school settings seem to be the appropriate descriptor, and for Sweeney and Myers (1990), urban settings are mentioned. The settings and diverse backgrounds of the participants make up the contexts of these groups, and in this paper, they are going to be compared. Specifically, the goals, techniques, and management of multicultural issues will be studied. The paper argues that a group’s needs, settings, and leaders’ perspectives tend to determine the ways in which therapy is customized.

Group Goals

Both videos dedicate a significant amount of time to the specific issues that are encountered by either older or younger individuals. For instance, younger people are more likely to talk about current problems with their parents, and older adults tend to discuss the difficulties that they have in interacting with their children. Furthermore, older adults can focus on the problems of aging, including, for instance, health concerns, and youngsters can discuss challenges that they have with their school-related activities (such as homework). Naturally, both groups share some anxieties; for instance, certain problems with negative and unhelpful thoughts and beliefs appear to be universal. However, it is apparent that the differences in experiences and needs affect group therapy, including its goals.

According to the videos, for youths, the general goal is to educate and prevent negative behaviors. DeLucia-Waack (2009) states that during group interventions, students are taught important social and self-management skills. On the other hand, older persons are described as experiencing isolation and loss of previously occupied roles both by Sweeney and Myers (1990) and other researchers (Gardiner, Geldenhuys, & Gott, 2018; Elias, Neville, & Scott, 2015). Since such feelings are likely to be common among older people, groups can help them to communicate with other individuals with similar concerns. This way, they can receive some support and learn how to cope with their problems by sharing their diverse experiences. Furthermore, since the feelings of isolation are expected to be associated with the lack of social interaction in everyday life, a group could be considered a compensating mechanism for this deficiency. In other words, since different groups of people have distinct problems and needs, which are associated, among other things, with the social context that they live in, the goals of therapy can vary.

In addition to that, leader-supported goals are also mentioned in the studied materials. Thus, Elinor Waters from the video by Sweeney and Myers (1990) states that for her, counseling is predominantly aimed at ensuring the autonomy of an individual. This example suggests that the characteristics of the leader might be a part of the group’s context that affects the therapy. On the other hand, while Elinor Waters points out that she maintains the independence goal for people of any age, she also states that the specifics of a group might affect the approaches that she uses to achieve it. In connection to that, it is reasonable to consider the changes in techniques associated with a group’s context.


Sufficient evidence is presented in the videos that older and younger people may benefit from different group therapy approaches. Thus, one of the videos claims that school students typically do not have time for intensive or long-term interventions. Moreover, according to DeLucia-Waack (2009), psychoeducational groups are more commonly used with this population since this method can help to satisfy their needs for instruction and skill learning. On the other hand, as pointed out by Sweeney and Myers (1990), older adults might need more interaction if they experience isolation, which is why this reasoning does not apply to them.

Individual techniques appear to be influenced by the groups’ context as well. The video by Sweeney and Myers (1990) contains the early recollections technique. This approach could be used with other populations, but it appears to be especially suited for adults and is applied to them (Gardiner et al., 2018; Elias et al., 2015). On the other hand, DeLucia-Waack (2009) reports attempting to make the therapy engaging and “funny”; for instance, the introduction is made “funnier” by discussing names rather than just providing them. Furthermore, DeLucia-Waack’s (2009) group activities are predominantly centered around metaphors and storytelling. This approach, as well as other imagination-focused interventions, is also relatively common for child and adolescent therapy (Hirschson, Fritz, & Kilian, 2018; McGuinty, Bird, Silva, Morrow, & Armstrong, 2018). Therefore, particular methods employed by a group leader depend on the needs of the participants.

Regarding the similarities, both videos consider emotion management and mismanagement; for adolescents, it is predominantly concerned with anger, and for older people, sadness is mostly mentioned. Also, both discussions touch upon cognitive restructuring or addressing negative and irrational beliefs. Furthermore, different groups involve key leadership activities, including needs assessment, planning, and establishing rapport. Crucial leadership skills also appear across groups; for instance, listening and questioning are directly mentioned by Elinor Waters, but they are also clearly practiced by DeLucia-Waack (2009). Therefore, similar techniques can be employed even in different contexts if they help to address common problems and needs of groups and individuals.

Multicultural and Diversity Issues

The topic of the management of multicultural groups is mentioned in the video by Sweeney and Myers (1990). Specifically, the discussion at the beginning of the video points out that diverse groups are a common occurrence. Elinor Waters mostly considers this fact from the perspective of a counselor who can relate to different individuals even in case she lacks their experiences, for instance, of being homosexual. This approach to the issues with a focus on self-reflection is not an uncommon solution for diversity management in group therapy (Chang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018; Corey, 2016; Midgett, Hausheer, & Doumas, 2016). Therefore, the video suggests that diversity is a significant aspect of work with elderly patients, recognizing the impact of varied contexts on individuals’ lives.

Moreover, health-related concerns are described as significant by Sweeney and Myers (1990). For instance, Jane Myers states that people with back, hip, or leg pains might need special sitting places and that lighting is important for people with poor eyesight. Tom Sweeny further highlights the value of an accessible and safe space; for example, throw rugs may be dangerous for people with balance problems, and wheelchairs need spacious rooms. In general, physical impairments may be a specific feature of older groups, and it needs to be taken into account as another diversity aspect that requires management due to the needs of the patients.

The video by DeLucia-Waack (2009) demonstrates that it is important to engage students and learn about their preferences while also getting feedback from them on the activities performed by a group leader. In addition, the discussions during the group’s meetings touch upon various perspectives and concerns of diverse groups, and there appears to be some coverage of the thoughts of people from different age groups. Thus, while this video does not appear to discuss the issues of multiculturalism and diversity very explicitly, certain approaches to managing them are present. Specifically, DeLucia-Waack (2009) is clearly receptive to diverse perspectives, which is important for a group leader (Chang-Caffaro & Caffaro, 2018; Corey, 2016; Midgett et al., 2016), and encourages the group members to develop a similar attitude, acknowledging that various contexts can affect individuals. In summary, both videos recognize diversity management as an important topic, but they consider different factors of diversity that appear more significant for their groups’ context.


The fact that the context and specifics of a group impact the goals, techniques and cultural sensitivity of therapy is supported by the videos and literature reviewed in this paper. The topic of the needs of different groups appears to be the prevalent one, but such needs are shown to be interconnected with the sociocultural context that the clients experience. In addition, certain choices seem to be affected by the preferences of the leaders. In general, the paper demonstrates that the approach to therapy may need to be adjusted depending on the context in which it takes place.


Chang-Caffaro, S., & Caffaro, J. (2018). Differences that make a difference: Diversity and the process group leader. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 68(4), 483-497.

Corey, G. (2016). Theory and practice of group counseling (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

DeLucia-Waack, J. (2009). Leading groups with adolescents. Web.

Elias, S., Neville, C., & Scott, T. (2015). The effectiveness of group reminiscence therapy for loneliness, anxiety and depression in older adults in long-term care: A systematic review. Geriatric Nursing, 36(5), 372-380.

Gardiner, C., Geldenhuys, G., & Gott, M. (2018). Interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people: An integrative review. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(2), 147-157.

Hirschson, S., Fritz, E., & Kilian, D. (2018). The tree of life as a metaphor for grief in AIDS-orphaned adolescents. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 40(1), 87-109.

McGuinty, E., Bird, B., Silva, J., Morrow, D., & Armstrong, D. (2018). Externalizing metaphors therapy and innovative moments: A four-session treatment group for anxiety. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 68(3), 428-457.

Midgett, A., Hausheer, R., & Doumas, D. (2016). Training counseling students to develop group leadership self-efficacy and multicultural competence through service learning. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 41(3), 262-282.

Sweeney, T, & Myers, J. (1990). Facing our future: Group procedures with older people. Web.