John F. Kennedy University


Group Dynamics
Spring 2009

Dr. Steven A. Del Chiaro

Contact Information

Email:                            Phone: 408.874.7741

Office Hours: For this course, I will be available by appointment.

Office hours are “drop in” times and are on a first come, first served basis. If you cannot make these times, you can call, e-mail, or see me after class to set an appointment.  I want to be available to you.  During office hours we can discuss questions about the course, psychology as a career, or topics of interest to you.  Please understand that I, just like you, have a busy schedule, but will do my best to be available.

If you send me an e-mail, I will usually get back to you within 24 hours and I will always respond to let you know that I have received your message.  As a general rule, if you do not hear from me, chances are I did not get the message, so you need to re-send it. 

Course Description
This course is designed as an introduction to the use of groups in counseling practice. Its chief purpose is to help students become more effective group leaders, whether leading a therapy or a training group, and to be able to influence the process of groups in which they are members. To this end, students will participate on several levels of involvement: (1) Principles, theories, concepts, and techniques of group leadership will be investigated; (2) Group dynamics will be discussed and observed in external groups and in the class interaction; (3) Students will lead a group session with a co-leader; (4) Students will be group members and will NOT be asked to self-disclose.

This course is designed to assist the student to gain a better background of understanding regarding the objectives, procedures, and experimental climate of group counseling.

Group Membership:
Group membership is a prerequisite to good group leadership. To the extent that one is able to be genuine and non-defensive as a member, so to, can that person intervene on the group process as a leader to provide a developmental atmosphere. Group skills cannot be learned simply as abstract theory and technique alone, but must be acquired as experiential and intuitive knowledge as well. Active involvement in this course is, therefore, a requirement. The purpose of a counseling group has been described as follows: increase people's knowledge of themselves and others, help them clarify the changes they most want to make in their lives, and give them some of the tools necessary to make these changes. By interacting with others in a trusting and accepting environment, participants are given the opportunity to experiment with novel behavior and to receive honest feedback from others concerning the effects of their behavior. As a result, individuals learn how they appear to others (Corey & Corey, 1997, p. 10).

Bottom Line:
Becoming an effective practitioner involves not only declarative knowledge (knowing that) gained from texts and lectures, but it also must include procedural knowledge (knowing how) gained from personal experience and practice. In order to know how groups function and how to manage them, you must be involved in the experience, both as a group member and as a group leader.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. To become aware of the various theories of group counseling and begin to formulate an individual theory of counseling;
  2. To understand group counseling methods, including group counselor orientations and behaviors, appropriate selection criteria and methods, and methods of evaluation of effectiveness;
  3. To understand how diversity of group members and leaders can influence the group counseling experience;
  4. To understand the principles of group dynamics including stages of development, process components, member roles, and therapeutic factors;
  5. To know the professional preparation standards for group leaders and the requirements of any appropriate credentialing bodies;
  6. To understand the professional role, functions and professional identity of group counselors;
  7. To understand group leadership styles and approaches and know characteristics of various group leaders and leadership styles;
  8. To be aware of ethical standards of ACA, APA, APS, ASGW and related entities and their application to the ethical, moral, spiritual, and legal considerations of the professional group counselor;
  9. To understand the research findings regarding the strengths and limitations of group counseling;

Required Texts:

Theory and practice of group counseling / Gerald Corey.  --  7th ed.  Belmont, CA : Thomson Brooks/Cole, c2008 Theory and Practice of Group Counseling (7th ed., 2008)
Manual for Theory and Practice of Group Counseling
The Corey text comes with some ancillaries that should help you learn more about group counseling.  There is an E-study center web site for the text that provides practice tests, additional study aids, and extensive web links.
Access to the web site is available at: Enter the text name and click on link to student resources.

Student Responsibilities

Syllabus Policy:
The course syllabus presented in this document will be followed as closely as possible. However, the course syllabus, schedule, policies, and procedures are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor or in the event of extenuating circumstances. This includes the tentative dates listed. Possible changes will be announced in advance by the instructor as if possible. Since such announcements are typically made during class, it is the student’s responsibility to clarify any of these changes that may have been made when the student is absent.

Although you will be responsible for all of the material in the assigned readings, some of the information may not be covered in class. Therefore, if there is material that is unclear to you it is highly recommended that you discuss this material with me at an appropriate time (e.g., during office hours). It is your responsibility to read the syllabus and ask questions about it so that you have a clear understanding of the expectations. If you are unclear about any of the requirements/expectations, then please set up a time to speak with me. I will be grading as though you have a clear understanding of the course requirements and material.

Diversity Statement:
Consistent with the mission of John F. Kennedy University, I welcome persons of differing backgrounds and experiences including but not limited to age, disability and health status, ethnicity and race, family structure, geographic region, language, religious/spiritual and secular beliefs, resident status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, and socioeconomic status.

It is my goal to foster an environment in which diversity is recognized and embraced and every person is treated with dignity, respect, and justice. I hope that your academic experience in this course and at John F. Kennedy University will provide the opportunity to gain knowledge and experiences necessary to thrive in a diverse, global environment.


This course involves extensive use of the Internet for student research and assigned readings. All students are required to have access to the Internet via some means as well as an active/current e-mail address.  If you do not have a computer or access to the Internet, you can use the computers in the computer lab on campus.

American Psychological Association
American Counseling Association
National Association of Social Workers
California Association for Marriage and Family Therapist
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists
Association for Specialists in Group Work
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Society of Group Psychopathology and Psychodrama
Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy APA Division 49
APA Diagnostic Classification

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Abnormal, Clinical, and Counseling Resources


Weekly Topics, Activities and Assignments: (Tentative Schedule- subject to modification)

Meeting 1 Topic  Chapter(s)
Review Syllabus and Expectations Intro to group work 1
Meeting 2    
Group Leadership Group Leadership Quiz 1 due 2
Meeting 3    
Ethics Ethical and Professional Issues 3
Meeting 4    
Group Development Early Stages Quiz 2 due 4
   (WKBK 4 - 5)  
Meeting 5    
Group Development Late Stages Quiz 3 Due 5
Meeting 6 Exam 1/ Workbook Check
Study Guide
Meeting 7  Chapter 6 Psychoanalysis  
Meeting 8 Quiz 4  
  Chapter 8 Psychodrama  
Meeting 9 Quiz 5  
  Chapter 9 Existential  WK
Meeting 10 Quiz 6  
  Chapter 11 Gestalt  
Meeting 11 Chapters 13 and 16.  CBT and Solution Focused
Project Due/ Workbook Check

There will be six quizzes this quarter.  Quizzes can be found on the website and brought the day of class.

Exams will be multiple-choice, short-answer and fill in.  The tests will have questions from the text, lectures and videos.  Each exam will be given during the lecture period, and you will have the class period to complete the exam. 

Research Paper:
You will be required to write a paper on a group theory of your choice.  You must describe the theory, advantages and disadvantages, etc.  In addition you must have two empirical articles showing effectiveness of the particular method.  The paper will be five pages, not including a cover page and reference page.

Plagiarism is the presentation of words, ideas or views of someone else as if they were one’s own. Plagiarism is intellectual dishonesty and, as such, is a serious academic offense. The potential penalties range from an unsatisfactory grade in the course (an ‘F” or ‘no credit’), a letter of sanction placed in the student’s permanent academic file, or even dismissal from the university. Plagiarism includes:

bulletpassing off another’s written work as your own
bulletfailing to give credit to your sources for the ideas, information, and words you have borrowed from them
bulletnot quoting when you use another’s exact  words
bulletnot  changing the wording or sentence structure significantly enough when you paraphrase a source

Incomplete Policy
An Incomplete (I) grade is given only to a student who has maintained satisfactory attendance and work throughout most of the course but, due to extraordinary circumstances, is unable to complete the required work by the end of the quarter. The granting of an ”I” grade is at the discretion of the instructor and must be approved by the dean. It is the student’s responsibility to provide an incomplete grade form and to request an “I” from the instructor in writing prior to the last class meeting, stating briefly but specifically the reasons for the request. The due date to complete work is determined by the instructor but may not exceed two quarters.

Disability Accommodations
If you need accommodations for this class due to a documented disability, please see Lisa Noshay-Petro in the Office of Disability Services for Students (ODS) in Room S220, 925.969.3447, All students who need accommodations should meet with the ODS early in the quarter, and utilize the support services they offer. Accommodations cannot be made until students are registered with the ODS, and have received an Accommodation letter. All information is kept confidential.

Academic Support Center (ASC)
The ASC provides once a week session in instruction in writing, study skills, and APA citation style. Appointments can be held in person or via phone, fax or email. Students who are registered with the Office of Disability Services are entitled to 2 appointments per week. All ASC services are free to registered students, faculty, and staff. Students can make an appointment by calling 925.969.3530 or emailing

Structure for Assignments

  1. Your papers need be organized - you should be developing a central idea in each section and the reader should be able to follow the logic of your argument.  Each paragraph should have a coherent theme and paragraphs should follow each other in an organized manner. Read over your papers to be sure that there is a logical order to them. 
  1. Watch for grammatical errors, particularly sentence fragments and run-on sentences. More than five spelling or grammatical errors will result in points deducted from final grades.  More than ten will result in a zero (0).  I encourage you to have your paper proof read.
  1. Your papers will be typewritten, double-spaced, one-inch margins, using Times New Roman (or VERY similar) font.
  1. On a sheet attached to the front of all your papers, type the Title of your paper. In addition you must include Name, Course, Course Number, Semester/Year, and Due Date.
  1. Citations/references included in your paper are to be done according to APA style as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 4th Edition, which is available in the library, the campus bookstore, and on-line. 

Grading will be based on the sum of the following: 

  1. Six quizzes worth 20 points.
  2. Completion of the student Manual worth 80 points.
  3. Two exams worth 100 points each.
  4. Research paper worth 100 points.


The grade scale is as follows:

A = 94 – 100% C+ = 77 – 79%  
A- = 90 – 93% C = 73 – 76%  
B+ = 87 – 89% C- = 70 – 72%  
B = 83 – 86% D+ = 67 – 69%  
B- = 80 – 82% D = 60 – 66%  
                  F     =    0 – 59%


            Atkinson, D.R. & Hackett, G. (1995).  Counseling diverse groups.  Dubuque, IA: Brown and Benchmark.

            Bion, W.R. (1959).  Experiences in groups and other papers.  London: Tavistock Publications.  (Published in U.S.A. by Basic Books, Inc., New York).

            Borriello, J.F. (1991).  Social systems approach to group psychotherapy.  In H. Bernard, Klein, b. & Singer, D. (Eds.) Handbook of contemporary group psychotherapy.  NY:International Universities Press.

Brabender, V. (2002). Introduction to group therapy. New York: Wiley & Sons, Inc.     Corey, G., & Corey, M. (2006).  I never knew I had a choice, 8th edition.  Belmont, CA:Thompson Brooks/Cole.

            Corey, G. (1990).  Manual for theory and practice of group counseling (Third Edition). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

            Corey, M. S., Corey G. & Corey C. (2006). Groups process and practice. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

            Coyne, R. K., Crowell, J. L. & Newmeyer, M. D.  (2008).  Group techniques.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson.

            Donigan, J., & Malnati, R. (1997). Systemic group therapy.  Pacific Grove, CA:Brooks/Cole.

            Gazda, G.M. (1984).  Group counseling: A developmental approach (Third Edition).  Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

            Gladding, S. T. (2008). Groups a counseling specialty. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

            Hansen, J.C., Warner, R.W., & Smith, E.M. (1980).  Group counseling: theory and process (Second Edition).  Chicago: Rand McNally.

            Jacobs, E.E., Harvill, R.L., & Masson, R.L. (2009).  Group counseling: strategies and skills.  Belmont, CA: Thomson.

            Johnson, D. W. & Johnson, F. P. (2009).  Joining together.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

            Lakin, M. (1985).  The helping group.  Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

            Levine, J.M. & Moreland, R.L. (1990).  Progress in small group research.  In M.R. Rosenzweig, & L.W. Porter (Eds.), Annual review of psychology (pp. 585-634).  Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.

            Mahrer, A.R. (1988).  Discovery-oriented psychotherapy research.  American Psychologist, 43, 694-702.