Author Oh, Deborah
Title Exploring professional growth in novice co-facilitators in group counselling
Institute Thesis (M.A.) (Applied Psychology) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Year 2010
Supervisor D'Rozario, Vilma
Call no. BF636.6 Oh

This qualitative inquiry describes the personal experiences of 28 master’s level counsellors-in-training who participated in an experiential support group as an integral part of their group dynamics and counselling module. This study explored how co-facilitating an in-class support group, coupled with regular reflective practice and supervision can have a profound impact on the professional growth in novice co-facilitators in group counselling. Results from the present exploratory study would contribute to emerging research conducted on group counsellor education in Singapore.

A modified grounded theory was used to analyse 13 co-facilitators’ reflection papers, which were completed by co-facilitators as part of the graduate course requirement.

The results uncovered a rich model of novice group counsellor development and experiences in co-facilitating a support group through which aspects of the counsellor’s existing self interacted with current factors which supported and challenged the novice as they attempted to deal with the primary tasks and experiences of co-facilitation in group counselling.

The findings indicate that over the 3 main stages of development through which professional growth was experienced; planning stage, in-vivo support group experience, and evaluation stage; co-facilitators experienced high levels of apprehension and feelings of incompetence at the initial stage. These negative perceptions of self and apprehension were mitigated through extensive discussion pertaining to planning and evaluation, prior to, and after the support group experience with their respective co-facilitators. Participants indicated that reflective practice, the co-facilitator relationship itself and supervision contributed to the varying levels of professional growth experienced.

In an effort to bridge experiential training and counsellor practice, implications for educating trainee counsellors are provided. Additionally, the limitations from the current study, and recommendations for future studies pertaining to group counsellor training are provided. If successful, such training methodologies can be piloted on a larger scale, and offered to a greater population of helping professionals in various settings, so as to further bridge the gap in group counselling within the counselling profession, and provide more opportunities for specialized training.