These are individuals who have not been to G4 before and are perhaps nervous about the idea of joining our ministry because of the stigma that is attached to attending “group counseling.” Our goal is to make these individuals feel welcome and as though they have made the right choice in taking the tremendous step of courage walking through the door for the first time.
Introduce Yourself: Most often we see first time guest walk in a little bit slowly because they are nervous. They are looking around to check for some sign that they are in the correct place and are most often not carrying curriculum. When you see someone who seems nervous, introduce yourself, offering your name, and ask them if it is their first time.
Register Them: After introducing yourself, walk individuals over to our registration device (computer, iPad, etc.) and allow them to see our registration process. During this process, there are a few major areas that we always cover with each individual. During the process of registration, there are two major things that should be accomplished. First, a participant should identify which group they are hoping to join and second you should show each new participant our informed consent and cover the four areas listed below.
- Group Identification: Most individuals who come to our groups have a decent idea of which group they are hoping to participate in before they arrive. For these individuals, select the question that provides the drop-down menu on the registration and ask them to share with you which group they are hoping to attend. This will help you know which curriculum to grab for them later. For a small percentage of individuals, they come knowing they need help, but unaware of which group to attend. For help walking through that decision process with an individual, see Appendix A.
- Professional Level Care: For each of our participants we want to ensure that they understand that we desire to offer the highest level of peer support care possible, but our groups are not run by professional level counselors. Our group facilitators, much like many of you are lay leaders within the church and community.
- Does Not Replace Individual Care: We desire to help individuals work through topic specific struggles in their lives. For some participants we are not able to provide the entirety of their needed care. For this reason, we encourage participants who are involved in individual counseling to continue that service and add our groups as an additional part of a care team. Likewise, for those who are interested in beginning individual care as well as beginning to participate in a G4 group, as much as they are able to do both we would encourage them to do so.
- Uphold Confidentiality: One of the most important elements of any counseling ministry is the amount of trust that is built between the participants and the ministry leadership. Here at G4, only commit the what you can personally ensure, to do that well, you must acknowledge the nature of group ministries. Leadership does not share participants information, even with other Summit ministries, without permission from the participant and does everything possible to protect the information of those involved but because we are a group ministry, we cannot guarantee confidentiality because there are other participants in the room that we do not control. This is a generally accepted risk in all group ministries.
Give Them Curriculum: After you have explained the informed consent, give them time and space to fill out the registration form. It can be a nervous experience for them to fill out the forms while someone is standing over them. During this time, walk to the supply closet and retrieve their curriculum. Drop it off with them while they fill out the intake form and remain close incase questions arise. Curriculum does cost $5 but we do not demand that from them immediately, and typically collect that money from them later.
Have Them Sign-in: After giving them the curriculum, and having them finish the registration, including signing the informed consent, have them to sign-in on the paper forms on the G4 table. While signing in, each participant should make themselves a name-tag so that they can be known to other members of the group. This allows participants to be addressed by name as participants interact with one another.
Introduce Them to Their Group Leader: Until this point, the new participant has been your participant. At this point, you will hand the new participant off to one of their group leaders. This group leader should take the participant into the large group space and answer any remaining questions that have not been previously answered.