The Use of Silence and Silencing in Group Counseling: Productive, Unproductive, and Misunderstood

Keywords: silence, Silencing, Group, Group Leadership Skills, Mindfulness


This research focuses upon the use and misuse of silence in group psychotherapy.  While many group counseling leadership skills are taught in counselor education programs, understanding the dynamics and use of silence as a therapeutic intervention has not been given the importance that we believe it warrants. This study focused upon the use and misuse of silence of three doctoral students in a CACREP accredited Counselor Education and Supervision program. The doctoral students were closely observed over a four-day residency as they facilitated experiential counseling groups with three groups of masters counseling students. Data collection utilized videotaping, debriefing questionnaires, individual interviews, and a focus group. The findings indicate that the doctoral students lacked understanding and skills in the use of silence. Recommendations are made to utilize meditative mindfulness as a method for students to develop their own inner awareness, and to include the use of silence in program curriculum.

Author Biographies

Jean Georgiou, New Jersey City University
Jean Georgiou, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, ACS is an assistant professor in the department of Counselor Education at New Jersey City University where she teaches Group Process, Group Theory and Practice, and Internship courses.  She also teaches a unique multicultural counseling course that incorporates an immersion experience with a traveling component.  In 2016, she and another professor took students to Japan and in the summer of 2018 will be taking students to Kenya.  On a recent mission trip to Kenya Dr. Georgiou was invited to assist in developing and implementing mental health services in a local Community Center in a rural area of Western Kenya.  Dr. Georgiou is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in Private Practice where she specializes in assisting those struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, Grief & Loss, sexuality issues, gender issues, and change of life and/or transitional issues.  She utilizes a cognitive behavioral model while integrating both eclectic and holistic strategies as she values the importance of treating the whole person.  In addition, Dr. Georgiou is an Approved Clinical Supervisor, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, certified in Disaster Mental Health by the American Red Cross, LGBTQ Safe Zone Ally, and has served as the Vice President of New Jersey Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling.  Her research interests include silence/silencing, graduate group work, multicultural issues, the development of a codependency scale (adult and children) and various areas of trauma work.
Jim Reynolds, Argosy University

Dr. Reynolds has been involved in the counseling field for over 35 years.  He holds a mental health counseling license in Florida, and an Approved Counselor Supervisor credential from NBCC.  He is currently a full-time professor in the College of Behavioral Sciences at Argosy University in Sarasota, FL.  His professional counseling career has spanned a variety of settings, including hospitals, residential facilities for treatment of substance abuse, outpatient programs, private practice, and is currently teaching a variety of graduate counseling courses in both masters and doctorate level CACREP accredited programs.  He frequently teaches group counseling to masters students, and advanced group counseling to doctorate students.  He has received advance group training at the Gestalt Institute in Florida.  Dr. Reynolds has also taught a variety of graduate research courses, including quantitative, statistic, qualitative, mixed-methods, and program evaluation.  He was the “subject matter expert” for the development of a doctoral level qualitative research course at Argosy University.  For the past 20 years Dr. Reynolds has been actively engaged in assisting doctoral students with their dissertation research.  He has chaired, or has been a dissertation committee member, on close to one thousand dissertations in his academic career.  He particularly enjoys qualitative research, and was chair of the dissertation research upon which this presentation is based.