At Redeemer Counseling Services (RCS), Renewal Groups combine gospel-centered, biblical truth with some of the best tools from counseling psychology. Each Renewal Group is made up of six to eight people and a professional counselor focusing on a particular area of healing and growth. The counselor guides the group through regular times of sharing, interaction and learning.
Group counseling is a powerful counseling approach that can be a vital complement to individual counseling and other resources for care. Those who have experienced it affirm the following benefits.
- Greater understanding of one’s thinking, emotional and behavioral patterns is facilitated through insights that come from learning with other people.
- Awareness that one is not alone. Hearing other people’s stories reminds us that our struggles are not as different as we think.
- The opportunity to support and encourage others in their journeys. Group members experience the blessing of giving as well as receiving.
Other helpful benefits of a counseling group:
Learning key concepts and skills related to the area of growth. Participants are required to complete exercises every week, which expands and reinforces what is learned in the group meetings.
- Accountability: The structure and context of each group fosters accountability.
- Trust: Most groups begin and end with the same set of members. This builds trust and deeper relationships.
- Safety and confidentiality: Established group guidelines are reinforced.
For common questions regarding Renewal Groups, please see our frequently asked questions.
Why are our counseling groups called Renewal Groups?
Our groups are not just clinical therapy groups. They combine a gospel-centered approach with some of the best insights and tools from counseling psychology. Therefore, there is an element of biblical discipleship involved in the group experience. The theme of renewal reflects the power of new life offered in the gospel.
Note: Although our groups will be interacting with biblical and theological insights, they are open to all clients, no matter where clients are in their spiritual journey.
How is group counseling different from support groups?
Group counseling is similar to support groups in that it provides a context of support for participants who may feel alone in their struggles. In addition to that, however, group counseling is guided by a professional counselor. The counselor engages the sharing and interactions among members to an extent that is often not possible in peer-run support groups. Group counseling can also be more intensive, providing training for specific insights and skills.
Should group members also be receiving individual counseling?
It depends on the individual. Sometimes group counseling is the primary treatment approach. At other times, group counseling is complemented by individual therapy. Many people find that working in both group and individual counseling stimulates mutually beneficial growth.
You may consult with your counselor about engaging in group counseling. If you register for a Renewal Group, the registration form will include questions that allow the staff to help you discern whether or not a group counseling experience is appropriate for you at this time.
What kinds of people participate in Renewal Groups?
Group counseling can benefit many different people. Each group has a particular area of focus, so members can expect to find others going through similar struggles. Yet the strength of group counseling is in the mix of unique stories and perspectives. Members can also be at various phases of healing and growth. Some may be just beginning the process, while others may be joining after experiencing other forms of care.
What if I’m uncomfortable discussing my problems in front of others?
It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop interest and trust. Over and over we hear people share how “walking through the door” was the hardest part, but once the meeting began, they were glad they came.
Most clients find that group counseling provides a great deal of relief because it offers them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems in a private, confidential setting.
What kind of commitment do I need to make?
We ask all members to commit to attending all meetings of the group cycle before registering. We also ask members to commit to completing the required readings and exercises. This is so that every member can both gain the most from the group, as well as fully participate in the meetings.
What is the cost of Renewal Groups?
Members are required to pay in advance a monthly fee of $200 (the cost of each group therapy session is $50 per person) and missed sessions are not reimbursed. Regular attendance impacts the dynamics of the group, so we ask that every member make a commitment to attend all meetings in the group cycle as specified in our Group Guidelines. Please keep in mind that this is a common fee for counseling groups and these fees are designed to be more affordable than individual therapy (at RCS, the fee is $175 for one 50-minute session of individual therapy). For some groups, scholarships may be available. Please see the specific group for more information.
Can I cancel my registration and leave a group after I have registered or after the cycle has begun?
We ask members to register only if they are certain they will be able to participate in the full cycle. This often means clearing up one’s schedule in order to fully engage in this season of healing and growth. A refund for the monthly prepayment can be reimbursed only in exceptional circumstances, such as an unexpected illness or a death in the family.
Because love seeks to build up (1 Corinthians 8:1), we ask all group members to commit to these guidelines below:
- We commit to attend all meetings for the duration of the group cycle. We understand that regular attendance impacts the dynamics of my group, encourages my fellow group members, and deepens the unity and shared purpose in recovery.
- We encourage each other to be open, honest and truthful. Yet, we are also sensitive to how our words impact others. We avoid graphic descriptions that may cause others to stumble.
- We honor the time we have together and allow everyone a turn to share. We allow our counselor to guide our sharing and discussion.
- We give each other the grace and space to fully process our emotions and thoughts. We do not interrupt each other, nor advise others on how they should feel.
- We keep our sharing focused on our own personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. We do not criticize or condemn others.
- We will allow safe group conversation, yet we give each other feedback as long as it reflects our own experiences. We ask questions with sensitivity. We begin our feedback with “I,” and not with “you.” We do not try to fix others; and we do not get locked in debates that exclude others.
- We firmly seek to protect the group members’ confidentiality. Who I see here, what is said here, when I leave here, stays here! This means that: We commit not to gossip. Gossip involves taking someone’s personal information that does not concern you and sharing it with those who are not part of the problem or part of the solution. This includes sharing with a spouse or close friends. The group counselor has the right to firmly address any violation of this commitment to confidentiality. Group members may be dismissed from the group if there is a violation.
NOTE: There is one exception to this confidentiality commitment. If anyone discloses feelings or actions that indicate he/she is a possible danger to themselves or others, we are mandated by law to report that danger in order to ensure safety. Also, the staff must report to the proper authorities any disclosure of past or current unreported child or elder abuse. These exceptions are made explicit to all group members.
*Some of the material above is adapted from the American Group Psychotherapy Association.