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Group Leadership Skills

Group Leadership Skills
Interpersonal Process in Group Counseling and Therapy

Second Edition

Group Counseling

November 2017 | 604 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Group Leadership Skills is a practical, comprehensive guide that helps readers navigate and effectively lead groups. Drawing on extensive teaching and clinical experience, authors Mei-whei Chen and Christopher Rybak discuss how therapists can bring about change in group settings using a well-developed organizing framework that utilizes interpersonal processes. The text covers group counseling from beginning to end, including setting up a group, running the first session, facilitating the opening and closing of each session, working with tension and conflict, and addressing advanced skills and development for group leaders. The Second Edition expands on group leadership knowledge with content on such topics as solution-focused therapy, strengths-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and compassion-focused therapy.

1. Theories and Assumptions
Sullivan's Interpersonal Theory  
Experiential Theory  
Object Relations Theory  
Family Systems Theory  
Brief Therapy  
Strengths-Based Therapy  
Interpersonal Neurobiology  
Underlying Assumptions  
Keys to Success in Leading Today's Groups  
2. On Becoming a Group Leader
The Development of a Leader  
Ideal Qualities of an Effective Group Leader  
The Five Phrases of Group Leader Development  
Three Models of Co-Leadership Practice  
Seven Principles of Co-Leadership Practice  
Cultivating Your Inner Leader  
Starting a Journey to Your Own Inner Peace  
3. Types of Groups and How to Start One from Scratch
Ethical and Professional Guidelines  
Types of Groups Not Facilitated by Credential Professionals  
Types of Groups Led by Credentialed Professionals  
Starting a Group from Scratch (I): Program Planning  
Starting a Group from Scratch (II): Pre-Group Orientation  
Starting a Group from Scratch (III): Criteria for Member Selection  
Starting a Group from Scratch (IV): Screening Interview  
Cases in Point: Screening Interview Notes  
4. Fundamental Skills for Group Facilitation and Intervention
Group Facilitation and Intervention  
Leader as an Observer-Participant  
Basic Principles of Facilitation and Intervention  
Basic Facilitation Skills (I): How to Open a Group Session  
Basic Facilitation Skills (II): How to Increase Group Mutual Engagement  
Basic Intervention Techniques (I): Blocking and Redirecting  
Basic Intervention Techniques (II): Refocusing and Correcting  
Basic Facilitation Skills (III): Closing a Group Session  
Chapter 5. The First Session and the Forming Stage
Leadership and the Forming Stage  
Leadership Skills for the First Session  
Special Considerations for the First Session  
Reflections on the First Session  
An Overview of the Flow and Time Frame of the First Session  
6. Leading Structured Group Sessions
Mandated Groups: How to Make Them Work  
I. Structured Exercises for Mandated Groups  
II. Structured Exercises for Psychoeducational Groups  
III. Structured Exercises for Counseling Groups  
Misuse of Structured Exercises  
How to Conduct Structured Exercises  
How to Process After Structured Exercises  
Other Considerations During Processing  
Various Examples of Structured Communication Exercises  
Cases in Point: Participant Reflection on Structured Exercises  
An Overview of the Flow and Time Frame of a Structured Session  
7. Semi-Structured: Working on Agenda Items
Features of Semi-Structured Groups  
Getting Agenda Contrasts  
Towards a More Personal Level of Self-Disclosure  
Facilitating a Safe and Supportive Group Interaction  
Facilitating Giving There-And-Then Feedback  
Intervention Techniques  
Cases in Point  
An Overview of the Session Flow and Time Frame  
8. Unstructured Groups - Basic Level
Features of Unstructured Groups  
Leadership Principles of Unstructured Groups  
Easing Members into Self-Disclosure by Working on Multiple Member Concerns  
Methods of Working on Multiple Member Concerns Simultaneously  
Low-Intensity Here-And-Now Disclosure  
Baby Steps Toward the Here-And-Now Feedback  
Making Meanings Out of Difficult Life Experiences  
Intervention Techniques for Unstructured Groups - Basic Level  
A Case in Point  
An Overview of the Flow and Time Frame of a Basic Level Unstructured Session  
9. Working with Unspoken Tension and Open Conflict
The Transition Stage & Member Dissatisfaction  
Culture/Diversity Factors and the Unspoken Tension  
Options for Managing Unspoken Tension  
Member Negative Transference to the Leader  
Methods of Handling Negative Member Transference  
Leaders' Own Countertransference & How to Handle It  
Guidelines for Leader Self-Disclosure  
The Paradox of Open Conflicts  
Seven Steps of Conflict Resolution  
The Group Leader's Self Care  
Cases in Point  
10. Taking Risks in Communication  
The Norming Stage of the Group  
Intimacy, Cohesiveness & High-Quality Communication  
Self-Disclosure and How to Deepen It  
Feedback and How to Maximize Its Power  
Intermediate Steps Toward the Here-And-Now  
Leader Participation in Here-And-Now Feedback and Impact Disclosure  
Seven Principles of Constructive Confrontation  
How to Deal with Poor Confrontation  
Group Members' Reflection on Confrontation  
Coaching Members to Request and Receive Feedback  
Cases in Point  
11. Advanced Steps into the Here-And-Now
The Working Stage and Unstructured Groups - Advanced Level  
The Here-And-Now Method and the Process Level of Communication  
The Here-And-Now Method: The Two Tiers  
Key to the Here-And-Now Method: Zigzagging the Hot-Seat  
The Principles of Engaging the First Tier: Stimulating Group Effects  
Behavioral Markers for Group Effect Stimulation  
(I) Medium-Intensity Stimulation: Members Setting Here-And-Now Session Goals  
(II) High-Intensity Stimulation: Revealing In-Group Perceptions  
(III) Even Higher-Intensity Stimulation: Hypothetical Role Enactment  
(IV) Highest-Intensity Stimulation: Hypothetical Grading  
An Overview of an Unstructured Session with Here-And-Now Focus  
12. Process Illumination in the Here-And-Now: Tier II
Process Illumination and Change  
Process Illumination and Change  
Ways to Recognize Group Processes  
Tips for Process Illumination  
The Five Components of Process Illumination: The Leader's Course of Action  
Process Illumination Technique (I): Go After Reactivity Markers  
Process Illumination Technique (II): Uncovering Hidden Meanings  
Process Illumination Technique (III): Make the Invisible Visible  
Process Illumination Technique (IV): Explore the Meanings of Behaviors Engaged by "Dyads," "Triads," or "The Group as a Whole"  
Process Illumination Technique (V): Link Here-And-Now to There-And-Then  
A Case in Point  
13. Psychodrama for Unresolved Pain
The Power of Psychodrama in Therapy  
Basic Concepts of Psychodrama Applicable to Group Practice  
Maximizing Group's Healing Power with Psychodrama Techniques  
A Detailed Case  
14. Skills of Termination: Completing the Cycle
Dealing with Uncommon Termination  
The Termination Stage of a Typical Closed Group  
Seven Principles of Termination  
Skills for Ending the Group  
Evaluation of the Group Experience  
Examples of Looking-Back Letters  
15. Reflective Practice in Group Counseling
Leader's Reflective Practice  
Member's Reflective Practice  
Applying Reflective Journaling in Group Counseling  
Leaders' Narrative Session Notes  
Using Therapeutic Language in Narrative Session Notes  

“Chen and Rybak’s updated edition provides a valuable resource for students struggling to master the complexities of group work. The text’s examples, scenarios, and prompts for reflection will provide much-needed opportunities for applying group work concepts to practice, and encourage readers to engage in life-long professional development as group practitioners.”

Tracy A. Marschall
University of Indianapolis

“The first edition of Chen and Rybak was invaluable for my master’s level counseling students, and given the great attention that the authors have paid to suggestions for revisions, I am confident that students and faculty of group counseling will find the second edition even more valuable in moving students comfortably into working with groups.”

Charles Timothy Dickey
Creighton University

“The authors of this textbook provide both a comprehensive and practical understanding of the group counseling process for both entry level group leaders and seasoned group leaders. Special attention is used to describe the various types of challenges one face with working with individuals in a group setting.  Most impressively, the authors provide an opportunity for entry level counselors to consider their role as the group leader and assessment of personal and professional growth.”

Tracey M. Dunca
New Jersey City University

“This text revision expands on previous available materials, is accessible to undergraduate and graduate students, and has practical examples to illuminate the concepts.”

Jack Flight
Dominican University

“In Group Leadership Skills, Chen and Rybak provide a thoughtful, nuanced, and honest look into the interpersonal relationship world of group counseling and therapy. They weave the skills new group leaders need in order to be successful throughout very real situations that occur in group work. Group work teachers who create, or want to create, inter- and intrapersonal learning within their classrooms and in their students will find this book a delight. The writing style and the content foster the responsibility of the group leader to be the healthy professional there to guide members to healthy change. This book will challenge students not only to work on their skills as leaders and their understanding of group work, but also on their personal growth and ‘self as instrument.’”

Karen Lindstrom Bremer
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Key features


  • New research, concepts, and cases give the text a more modern, straightforward, and relevant approach to learning group leadership skills.
  • Leadership skills from several theoretical foundations include solution-focused therapy, strength-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and interpersonal neurobiology.
  • “Here-and-now” leadership skills over four chapters suit varying stages of member readiness and includes the first, intermediate, and most advanced steps.


  • Unique coverage includes practical “how to” guidance, including how to lead structured groups, unstructured or process groups, psychoeducational groups, and mandated groups.
  • In-depth case studies, examples of leader responses, and group member journal entries provide insider views of internal processes and dynamics.
  • A road map and useful toolkit help readers at different levels run various types of groups.
  • Coverage of advanced techniques help those more experienced reach their highest potential with conflict resolutions skills, psychodrama techniques, and more.
  • Chapters reflect the natural progression of a group and can be used alongside an experiential group component.

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ISBN: 9781506349305