In the first process recording, I was unsure of myself and nervous about how the group would go. As I noted, I felt as if I was out of my element. However, I felt that the group went well. I was able to discuss some serious issues related to recovery with group members, and I felt that, for a first meeting, it went well. However, as early as the second recording, I was already noticing changes in my tone of voice, my patience level, and my ability to know when to push a little bit harder and when to back off. For instance, in the first meeting, I pushed P a little when he said that he did not need anyone’s help other than his higher power’s (Customer last name, 2016), where in the second meeting, when it seemed that S was reluctant to discuss the topic of asking for help any more, I made the decision to give him some time and space and not press him for more details (Customer’s last name, 2017). I think that this shows that in only the course of a few meetings, I was learning to read my clients’ reactions, body language, and tone of voice, and to give them what they needed accordingly.
Another skill that I think that I improved on between the two recordings, and that I am continuing to improve on, is the ability to react to the clients according to their past personalities; not all of the clients are going to react the same way, for instance, and I am learning to know what it means when one client is withdrawn versus when another client is withdrawn. It is important for clients to know the best way to treat each client depending on their personalities, and for them to recognize that clients cannot be treated as interchangeable. I think of my clients as individuals, and I am learning to recognize their different behavioral cues.
While in the first recording, I made the decision to first talk to P, because I knew that she was usually happy to get a group started and could be counted on to be enthusiastic, by the second recording, I was not relying on specific clients to basically carry the momentum of the group, and was willing to try to draw out clients who were less likely to volunteer information. I was becoming more willing to put in the work on my own, and to help draw out clients who tended to be more reticent than others in group. These might very well be the clients who need the most help, simply because it is difficult for them to ask for help; it is, therefore, my job to try to draw them out.
While leading a group is not easy, I find it to be very rewarding, and I hope that as I continue to do it, I will gain more and better interviewing and helping skills. As a new intern, I realize that I do not know everything, but I am willing to learn, and I suppose that the best way to learn is to continue to practice. Learning how to read my clients’ moods and behaviors are a good start in what I hope to be my future counseling career, and I hope to continue to improve as I continue leading this group of recovering drug addicts. It is not easy, but if I want to really help the people who I am going to work with in the future, along with the people who I am interning with right now, I have to keep practicing my listening and speaking skills, and working on learning more about how to effectively counsel others.