Even if we don’t currently run small groups in our high school, we can probably determine a few benefits of small group counseling in our school’s setting. It can be stressful and frustrating to try to get counseling small groups on the calendar because of our limited time and required responsibilities. Let’s take the time to acknowledge that the benefits of small group counseling can outweigh the stressors of NOT running them.
Small groups can seem unnecessary or even frivolous compared to the other things on our plates. However, we should celebrate when we actually do get to run some tier two programming in our schools to help students develop the skills they need to thrive through small group counseling.
Once we’ve identified students, decided on our plans for the actual groups, and shown up to do the work, we get to revel in the student growth! There is so much to be proud of when all is said and done.
(If you need more convincing to get small groups up and going in the first place), here are a few.)
Check out these 4 benefits of small group counseling in high schools.
Benefits of Small Group Counseling #1- You get to know students on a deeper level
Sure– you probably do a lot of classroom lessons to address the greater needs of the school. You will quickly learn that there are students who need that next tier of intervention for some more concentrated help with a specific skill or certain area.
When you pinpoint the right students for more intervention and begin getting to see them weekly in a small group setting, you will get to know these students and their needs on a much deeper level. I have always loved the relationships formed with students in a smaller setting like this.
In a small group, there is more time and space to share than in a classroom lesson. Trust is built in this safe space, and the growth that can happen is inspiring! Through activities and intentional conversation, stronger relationships are built that will truly benefit your counselor/student relationships as time goes on!
Benefits of Small Group Counseling #2- Students connect with each other over a common goal or need
Situations are normalized when students come together and work through something. There is so much value and power in a small group setting when a student realizes they’re not alone, or they’re not the only one who has had a certain experience. Students can challenge each other on their perspectives and grow in unique ways.
One of the huge benefits of small group counseling (and one that I hear from high school counselors time and time again) is when students are able to grow TOGETHER in a small group setting as they are making connections with their peers. They suddenly realize they’re not alone, and their feelings are validated. Students can be filled with hope and connection from their experience in a successful and memorable counseling small group.
They’ll love coming to the group each week, and you’ll wonder how you ever struggled with student buy-in!
Benefits of Small Group Counseling #3- It’s an effective use of your time.
High school group counseling is a valuable way to reach more students on that deeper level than more surface-level classroom lessons. It is tempting to think this is going to take up a lot of your time “for no reason,” but the time spent pays back dividends!
If these students can be served in a group together, the time they will come to see you for one-on-one help for the same skills will be cut down. Instead of seeing tons of students individually for the same issue, group them together in a smaller setting to help them learn from each other as you facilitate the activities and watch the growth happen.
As an added bonus, you’ll be able to show off your accomplishments to your administrators and staff with all of the student growth you’ll measure through collecting data! (Check out this spreadsheet to collect easy small group data!)
Congratulations! You are now doing your job more efficiently!
Benefits of Small Group Counseling #4- You’ll feel like you’re actually doing counseling!
How many times as a high school counselor have you looked at the stacks of papers on your desk or the piles of transcripts that need to be audited and wonder why no one told you about all of the paperwork? Get back to the roots of why you started this career in the first place… to work with students!
My bucket is filled entirely after a small group session with students where we laugh and grow together. I love how rewarding this aspect of the job is! I’d say this is THE TOP benefit of all of the benefits of small group counseling for me.
Looking to learn more than just the benefits of small group counseling? I have so many other blog posts and podcasts on small groups! If you’re all in and looking for next steps, listen to this podcast all about “3 Ideas for Starting High School Counseling Small Groups from Scratch” or read about “7 Tips for Running Small Groups at the High School Level.”
There’s also a High School Counseling Conversations podcast episode on THIS topic around the benefits of small group counseling! Check it out here.
Need some group counseling topics for high school students? Check out my High School Counseling Small Group Bundle for a discounted deal on my group counseling activities for high school students!