TPC-Journal-Vol 11-Issue-4

490 The Professional Counselor | Volume 11, Issue 4 shared in groups. Participants in this study expressed comfort with knowing each other from a previous semester. However, it is also possible that students may have disclosed minimal personal information so as not to effect public perception of themselves or effect future professional relationships. Another area to expand on would be investigating counselors’ self-efficacy while facilitating online counseling groups. For example, exploring positive participation attributes that increase online groups’ participation from the leader’s perspective could be useful. This may allow researchers and practitioners to identify how group counseling can best be leveraged in an online environment. Conclusion The purpose of this study was to explore and compare first-year master’s-level counseling students’ experiences of participating and leading in both face-to-face and online formats of EGCT. In summary, students considered that the online format was challenging because it added a layer of learning to their fledgling group work skills beyond the face-to-face setting. Technological barriers that were outside the control of participants inhibited their participation, but on the other hand, the online groups served as a safe and supportive space for students to alleviate their stress and loneliness due to COVID-19. Regardless of the teaching environment, thoughtful and well-planned EGCT groups are essential for student development in this area, and skilled group leaders can manage group dynamics and model group counseling skills. COVID-19 has necessitated a focus on teletherapy and online counseling. The group counseling profession should be proactive in addressing this training need, as conducting online group counseling sessions is likely to continue to be a much-needed skill in a post-pandemic world. Conflict of Interest and Funding Disclosure The authors reported no conflict of interest or funding contributions for the development of this manuscript. References American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA code of ethics. default-document-library/2014-code-of-ethics-finaladdress.pdf?sfvrsn=96b532c_2 Amulya, D. S. L. (2020). An experiment with online group counseling during COVID 19. In L. S. S. Manickam (Ed.), COVID-19 pandemic: Challenges and responses of psychologists from India (pp. 182–197). Anthony, K. (2015). Training therapists to work effectively online and offline within digital culture. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 43(1), 36–42. Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. (2018). ACES guidelines for online learning – 2017. Association for Specialists in Group Work. (2007). Association for Specialists in Group Work: Best practice guidelines. Work_Best_Practice_Guidelines_2007_Revisions Barak, A., & Grohol, J. M. (2011). Current and future trends in internet-supported mental health interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 29(3),155–196.