What is Group?
It’s common for people to be a little apprehensive about group therapy. There are many misconceptions about group and what participating in a therapy group looks like. Therapy groups come in many shapes, sizes, and approaches, but in general, groups vary between 6-10 members, with one or more therapists present to help lead the group. While the group format may at first seem intimidating, groups also bring unique advantages and opportunities for learning. Research tells us that group therapy is just as effective as individual therapy and that for some problems group therapy may be the preferred treatment.
At the Weber State University Counseling and Psychological Services Center, we have several groups that can benefit you in a number of ways. Some of our groups, such as the ADHD group, are a little bit like a class. The counselor shares information with the group members, while members speak about their own experience and practice new skills during the session. Other groups, such as the Interpersonal Process group, are less structured. Much like individual therapy, people come to the group with different issues to discuss, and the focus of the group can change week to week. In these groups the therapist acts as a facilitator, helping members share with one another and providing feedback, direction, and support as needed. Members improve not only from the interventions of the therapist but also from observing others in the group and receiving feedback from group members.
- Unique Benefits of Group Therapy -
- Opportunity to receive support from peers
- Increased ability to connect with others in a genuine way
- Greater self-acceptance and a reduction in self-criticism
- Ability to recognize you are not alone in the issues you struggle with
- Opportunity to learn about how others perceive you in interpersonal relationships
- Improved skills in identifying feelings and self-disclosure
- Increased access to diverse perspectives and solutions
- Common Misconceptions About Group Therapy -
I’ll be forced to talk about all my deepest fears and insecurities.
You will never be forced to share in group. In fact, you may benefit simply from observing others in group as they work through difficult issues and considering how their situation might apply to you. In group we foster a supportive environment. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share what is troubling them, a group can be very affirming and helpful. You do not need to share what you are not ready to disclose.
I won’t get the same “face time” in group therapy as in individual therapy, so it will be less helpful.
Group actually presents unique opportunities for learning and insight that you may not encounter in individual therapy. As you listen to other members sharing their experiences, you may find you share much in common with them. In other instances, group members may bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but that you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself. Additionally, group provides the unique opportunity to access multiple perspectives and sources of feedback.
I will be attacked or judged in the group.
Group leaders focus on creating a safe and affirming environment in group. One of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive genuine feedback from others in a supportive environment. Group leaders will encourage feedback that balances statements of support and challenge. At times, feedback will be given that may gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others. This will be done in a respectful, gentle way, so that you can hear it and make use of it.
Group therapy is second-best to individual therapy.
While individual and group therapy are different, both are effective in different ways. We recommend group therapy when it is the most effective method to help you. Your intake counselor can discuss with you why group therapy would be effective for you.
- Common Questions -
What if another member of the group is my friend or classmate?
You are not expected to participate in a group with someone that you already know or are not comfortable with. Please inform the group if you know someone else in the group. We will work with you to find the best solution for your level of safety and comfort.
What if my problems are bigger (or smaller) than the other members? I won’t fit in.
Group isn’t about comparing our problems. It is about finding a place to connect and seeing that we are not alone in our struggles. It provides an opportunity to learn how to both give and receive support. Group may provide a place for you to experience caring for yourself and others, without having to compare experiences.
How do I know the other group members won’t talk about me outside of group?
In group we begin with a conversation about confidentiality and the importance of keeping disclosures in the group circle. Although we cannot control the behavior of each member outside of group, we work to ensure everyone understands expectations about confidentiality and agrees to maintain it.
What if we don’t get to talk about my stuff? There can’t be enough time for everyone.
It is typical for your amount of “face time” to vary from week to week. In order to facilitate participation, members are given a chance to check-in at the beginning of each group and are encouraged to ask for time when they need it. Though this may sound intimidating, groups strive to provide a supportive environment where it’s safe to try out new behavior. The more you push yourself to do things that may feel uncomfortable, the greater your growth and learning will be.
Does group therapy count in my 12 sessions allowed per year?
No, you may attend as many sessions of as many groups as you would like.