The Power of Small Groups: Unlocking the Benefits at the High School Level [Episode 61]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

Between the endless paperwork, phone calls, emails, and some more paperwork, there may be days when you feel like you don’t actually get to ‘do counseling’. But there’s one thing that always fills my bucket and reminds me why I love this job so much, and that’s small groups.

There are so many benefits of small groups at the high school level. Hosting small group sessions provides a safe and supportive space for students where they can develop social and emotional skills, talk about their goals, and build relationships with peers. You get the opportunity to know your students on a much deeper level than you ever could in classroom lessons. 

If you haven’t quite bought into small groups yet, I have four big benefits of small groups to share with you today, and I’m confident that they will convince you to get on board. Let’s get back to the reason that we all started this career in the first place; to work with students and make a long-lasting impact!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • Why small groups are the solution to helping students who need additional interventions
  • How small groups build next-level trust between you and your students
  • The ways that students can grow and learn from their peers within small groups
  • Various indicators that your groups are a “success”, beyond traditional data
  • A reminder that small group counseling is an effective use of your time.
  • Advocating for your groups with data collection (grab this resource to make this process even easier!)
  • The momentum and excitement that builds when you run small groups and can see the direct impact they are having on students

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

You’re listening to Episode 61 of High School Counseling Conversations. If you came to my live workshop last month, I discussed small groups in the third strategy to kick your year off. And I found myself talking and talking and talking. And everyone in the chat was talking and talking and talking. With a ton of interaction from all of you.

I figured we could do a few more episodes on small groups over here on the podcast. This month inside the Clique Collaborative, we’re going to deep dive into troubleshooting small groups at the high school level. So if you missed the deadline to join our membership, just be sure to put your name on the waitlist, so that when doors open in August, you’re the first to know that it’s coming.

I’ll link that waitlist in the show notes. But it’s also click If you want to put yourself on the waitlist for the high school counseling membership. If you’re a small group skeptic, let’s just say maybe you’re not a believer yet, then this episode is for you. I’m going to sell you on the benefits of small groups at the high school level so that you’re on board by the time we get to the end of this episode. Let’s get to it.

High School Counseling Conversations is a podcast where we talk about exactly that. A casual potpourri of school counseling topics intended to grow us as school counselors, but also give us space to enjoy each other’s company. I’m Lauren from Counselor Clique, and I’m sharing my experiences and perspectives as a high school counselor. No topic is off limits. And I’m certain we’ll cover it all.

I’m your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job. Whether you’re just getting your feet wet as an intern, or you’re nearing retirement, you’ll feel like you’re just popping in to catch up with your school counseling bestie. Let’s go.

I’ve got four big ideas for you. File these away in your overflowing counselor brain. Here’s the first one. You get to know your students on a deeper level. This is my first benefit that I want to tell you about for small group counseling. Sure, you probably do a lot of classroom lessons to address the greater needs of your school, you’ll quickly learn that there are students who need that next tier of intervention for some more concentrated help with a specific skill or a certain area.

Maybe you wish that there were more ways that you could connect with those students and see them to make a more meaningful impact on that select group of students. Enter your solution, small groups. When you pinpoint the right students for more intervention and get to start seeing them weekly in a small group setting even just for a short period of time, you’ll get to know these students and their needs on a much deeper level.

I’ve always loved the relationship form with these students in a smaller setting like this. And then I love after the group finishes when you get to see these students around school and touch base with them, and they have this like secret communicative style that maybe they don’t want to say they were in your small group, but like they know that counselor and it’s a fun connection to have throughout the school day.

In a small group, there’s more time and space to share than in a classroom lesson. Sometimes classrooms are the thing that you need for a certain topic to reach a certain population or to achieve a certain goal. But maybe your needs with your students go further than that.

Trust is built in the safety of small groups and the growth that can happen there is absolutely inspiring. Through the activities, the intentional conversation stronger relationships are built that will truly benefit your counselor student relationships as time goes on.

Here’s my second benefit of small groups that I want to highlight for you. Students connect with each other over a common goal or a common need. Situations are normalized when students come together and work through something. There’s so much value and power in a small group setting when a student realizes that they’re not alone, or they’re not the only one who has had this certain experience.

They can challenge each other on their perspectives and grow in unique ways. These students end up learning from each other and teaching each other things that you would have never been able to, not because you’re not an amazing counselor, I know that you are, it’s just because there’s something special about those peer relationships and the influence they can have on each other.

One of the huge benefits of small group counseling and one that I hear from high school counselors time and time again, is that when students are able to grow together in a small group setting, they’re making those valuable connections with their peers.

Their feelings are validated. Students are filled with hope and connection from their experience. In a successful and memorable counseling small group. I say successful, assuming that you’re going to come out on the other end and find at least some small win from your whole group.

The whole thing in its entirety might not prove to be successful. Maybe you don’t have data that comes out on the other side showing how amazing this group was. I know that you’ll find small wins, especially in the relational aspects of hosting a small group in your high school.

I think there’s so much to celebrate when students find that level of connection with peers. And with now you a trusted adult in the school, which maybe they didn’t have before. They’ll love coming to group each week and you’ll wonder how you ever struggled with student buy in.

If you’re wondering how to get to didn’t buy it in the first place. Good. We’re talking about that next week on the podcast. In the meantime, I will link to a blog post about that exact topic.

This episode is brought to you by Going Merry. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard this 1,000,001 times. What scholarships can I get? With a huge caseload, I know that you want to help your students, but you can’t possibly give a personalized answer to each one of them. Until Going Merry came along.

Are you ready for the scholarship solution of your dreams? Going Mary is a vetted scholarship search tool that curates Perfect Fit scholarships for your students. After they sign up for a free account. They can filter scholarships by deadline, award amount and time to complete. High school counselor should also sign up for their free account for financial aid checklists, lesson plans and handouts.

You’ll be able to see all of your student scholarship progress so that you can gently nudge them, ahem, encourage them to finish those applications. All while you’re collecting relevant insights like the data driven counselor that you are. Counselors, what are you waiting for? Sign up for your free Going Merry counselor account today by going to Now back to the show.

Moving into benefit number three of small group counseling, small group counseling is an effective use of your time. Repeat that back to yourself. This is not a waste of time. It’s meaningful and it’s effective. High school group counseling is a valuable way to reach more students on that deeper level than the surface level classroom lessons.

I know that sounds maybe silly to say that at surface level, but you’re just going that much deeper. When you get students in a smaller setting. It’s tempting to think it’s going to take up a lot of your time for no reason. But the time you spend pays back dividends. If these students are served in a small group together, the time they will come to see you for that one on one help all for the same skills that they need help with 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 then watch the growth happen. They all need to work on something similar, so they all need a more focused space to practice and reinforce those skills.

As an added bonus, you’ll be able to show off your accomplishments to your administrators and your staff with all of the student growth that you’ll measure through collecting data. I’ll link an easy data collection tool for small groups in the show notes. It’s the perfect complement to any small group you’re already running or already have curriculum for. And you can use it over and over again to collect, organize and summarize your data. Congratulations, you’re now doing your job more efficiently, and you have the data to show your impact from it.

To me the last benefit of small groups is the most obvious but the most important as well. The fourth benefit of small group counseling at the high school level, you’ll feel like you’re actually doing counseling. How many times as a high school counselor, have you looked at those stacks of papers on your desk or the piles of transcripts and 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. It’s time to be an advocate for the role we want, but we don’t make time for small groups put you in the greatest position to love your job. While defining your role as a school counselor. You get to say what matters most, and I know that that students.

Personally, 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 the benefits of small group counseling for me. And the more that you do it, the more momentum you get and the more you want to do small groups the more you want to sacrifice time on your calendar to interact with students in this way.

Are you 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 about three ideas for starting high school counseling small groups from scratch, or read about seven tips for running small groups at the high school level. I’ll link both of those in the show notes.

Lastly, if you need some group counseling topics or curriculum ideas for high school students, check out my high school counseling small group bundle for a discounted deal on all of my group counseling activities for high school students. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of high school counseling conversations. All of the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at Be sure to hit follow or subscribe wherever you listened to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram, send me a DM at counselor click that C L I Q U E. Thanks so much for hanging out with me. I’ll see you next time.

Connect with Lauren:

Cheers + Happy Listening!

Like what you’re hearing? Follow and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps other high school counseling friends find it!

Can’t contain your excitement? Share the pod! Tell a friend! Your word-of-mouth referrals mean the world to me!


Share it:


You might also like...