Counseling for wellness: A case study of wellness counseling groups



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This dissertation outlined a need within the research for investigating issues salient in the lives of the aging population, and the need for identifying an understanding of the use of a wellness counseling model with the aging population. The content of the group counseling sessions within this study utilized the Wheel of Wellness model for counseling. As the aging population continues to expand, it in increasingly important that the counseling field continues to explore new treatment models and continues to work to understand the various issues that may be important to this population.
The literature review in this dissertation focused on the developmental aspects of aging that are experienced and the use of group counseling with the aging population. The methods section of this qualitative study utilized grounded theory (Glaser, 1998), and was a case study format. A group of adults over 65 took part in 12 weekly group counseling sessions implementing a wellness model of counseling, specifically the Wheel of Wellness. The sessions were recorded using audio equipment and then analyzed using thematic coding procedures and NVIVO 10 software to aid in the coding procedure.
Participants were also interviewed prior to the counseling experience to gauge understanding of the model and its components and to highlight initial interest in the model. In addition, each participant was interviewed following the groups to discuss their interest in the group process, counseling, and wellness. The counselor's experiences working with a wellness model and the aging population was also explored. Limitations of this study were also discussed. The results of the study indicated the following themes: Change and adaptations, family and traditions, loneliness and isolation, control over choices, healthcare needs, education, fear and loss, acceptance and growth, death and dying, community and support, spiritual connectivity, and the importance of humor. In conclusion, increased awareness of the thought, feeling, emotions, and behaviors of the aging population, as well as increased awareness of their reception to counseling and specific models of counseling such as wellness counseling, will promote advocacy and social justice within the population. In addition, such awareness may aid in helping counselors become more effective in working with the population, and will help counselor education programs in preparing counselors to work within this population. Group counseling using wellness as a counseling model appeared to be effective within this population, and allowed the group members to take an active interest in their treatment and to understand the relationships between various aspects of their lived experiences and their overall health and well-being. Future research should explore wellness counseling within the aging population in individual counseling and the circumplex relationship of the components of the Wheel of Wellness.