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Co-Leadership in Group Counseling

Updated on May 8, 2012

“Group membership is either homogeneous or heterogeneous. Homogeneous groups are composed of individuals who are similar, such as adolescent boys, single parents or individuals working with grief and loss issues. Heterogeneous groups are made up of people who differ in background, such as adults of various ages with varied careers. While homogeneous groups can concentrate on resolving one issue, their members may be limited experientially. In contrast, heterogeneous groups offer diverse but multi-focused membership. Effective group leaders screen potential members before accepting them. Screening allows leaders to select members and members to select leaders and groups. The ideal group size of eight to 12 allows members an opportunity to express themselves without forming into subgroups. In order to help dispel and overcome misconceptions about groups, leaders can utilize pre group interviews to identify fears related to upcoming groups.” (Effective group)

Co leadership is when the leader of the group has a partner or another person to lead the group alongside them. Co leadership involves shared equal power between two or more individuals to improve management aspects. Pros / Advantages of having co leadership in group counseling are that it presents a solid united front to the members, takes pressure off to know there is a back – up, excellent ideas emerge through discussion, twice as much can get done, and you build a lasting relationship. The two leaders provide better ability to observe group members and check reactions. They can also provide for division of labor, as when one of the leaders can concentrate on content and the other leader can look at process variables. Co-leadership can give each group member more individual attention. The two leaders can model communication and conflict resolution, provide diversity in theoretical orientation, interpersonal style, and cultural resources, provide more expertise, and provide different perspectives. Cons / Disadvantages of having co-leadership in group counseling are that decisions take longer to work out, you must be in constant communication, who prevails if there’s disagreement?, and conflict may arise. It is often not economically feasible to have two group leaders. Co-leaders do not always get to choose their partners and this can cause some conflict. Both co-leaders need to choose one theoretical theory.

Groups with two leaders can easily become over structured. If two leaders do not get along, it can be detrimental and even harmful to the group. Co-leaders might develop competition between themselves and this too is not good for the group. If co-leaders have different skill levels, one might try to lead the other. This can lead to coalitions with other group members or even in the marginalization of the more inexperienced leader. Group members might feel ganged up on if both leaders become adamant in getting across a therapeutic message. Co – leadership can be a good thing all in all when have a group therapy session but for a more full effect for most clients’ one on one or just one leader is good enough.


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