Group Experience in Counseling Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

A solid understanding of group experience is essential for effective group counseling. This lesson plan explores the phases of group experience using a video lesson. An activity exemplifies each phase in real time.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • list the stages of group experience
  • summarize the key characteristics of each stage of group experience


45 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.


Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.


  • Paper copies of the worksheet from the associated video lesson


  • Begin by asking students to think about the groups they are or have been a part of.
    • How do most groups form?
    • How do groups change over time?
  • Play the video lesson The Stages of the Group Experience in Counseling, pausing it at 2:36.
    • What is the first stage of the counseling group experience?
    • What happens in this early stage of group development?
    • Why is it important to develop a rationale for the group early on?
    • What does it mean to publicize the group?
    • How and why should potential members be screened or pre-trained?
    • Why are established rules and guidelines essential for a successful group?
  • Play the video lesson again and pause it at 4:49.
    • What is the second stage of the group experience?
    • When does this stage usually occur?
    • What happens in the storming period of group development?
    • Why is task processing an important step in this stage?
    • What is a scapegoat?
    • Why is norming important for evolving groups?
  • Play the video lesson. Pause it at 6:01.
    • What is the third stage of group development?
    • What are the hallmarks of this stage?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class.
    • What is the final stage of the group experience?
    • What are the goals of this stage?
    • What steps take place in this final stage of the group experience?
    • What is premature termination?
  • Review key facts about the group experience for students before continuing.
  • Distribute the worksheet to the class and allow students to work together in small groups to complete it.
  • When everyone has finished the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class in an open-discussion format.

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