I often hear “Group therapy! No, no, no… I can’t do that. It’s not for me.” And then it’s followed by a list of all the reasons why clients don’t want to do group. They don’t do “people-ing”, it’s hard for them to share their stories with others, no one can understand what they are going through, it’s just too anxiety provoking…. The list is endless. And what I know is that we live in community, we thrive in community, we can explore and heal in community. I’m not going to lie; it can be super scary to put ourselves out there, to begin developing trust in others, or just to do something different. Even reading this you may feel a twinge of anxiety. But, “scary” and “in community” is where the magic happens.
What is group therapy?
So let me share a little about what group psychotherapy is and why it’s worth working to get past your initial hesitancy. Let’s start off with what is group therapy. Well, it’s a small number of people (it can range for the type of group, but I like to keep the number around 7-9 individuals) who meet regularly for therapy. The group is facilitated by someone who is specially trained in this type of therapy. There are few terms that can help you understand the types of groups that exist. An “open group” means that a new person can join the group at any time. A “closed group” mean that all members begin and end the group at the same time. There are also different ways a group can run or the content that is shared. There can be groups that form around a specific topic, support groups, or even process groups-where there isn’t a particular topic or structure and the focus is more on the interaction between members.
So, what’s this magic I mentioned above? What makes group therapy helpful? First, sharing our experiences with others and hearing the experiences of others helps to remind us that we are not alone. While our stories might be a bit different, we all know what it’s like to be human. Everyone can relate to feeling sad, disappointed, fearful, insecure, grief…. Second, group also affords us a place to get support as well as give it. Having a team of people to support us, challenge us, and encourage us helps create the perfect environment to grow. And who doesn’t feel good when we’ve been able to a support to someone else in doing the same.
If your interest is peaked yet… let me tell you more. Another benefit is that group can be a more affordable therapy option, but this does not mean that it’s not as good. If fact, for many it can be a more powerful treatment option especially for those who struggle with relating to others in their lives. Group is a microcosm of our lives. What happens in group often is what happens in many areas of our lives. The interactions in group are often similar, if not exactly same, to how we interact with others. In group, we can begin to see and explore those patterns, break the old, familiar habits of interacting with others and try out new, healthier ways of relating that better serve us and our relationships all while in a safe environment that is moderated by a professional. After practicing and gaining greater confidence in new healthier ways of relating to others, we can be can then apply what we’ve learned to our ‘real’ lives. These are just a few of the many benefits to group. Sounds magical, right?
If you’d like to learn more about what group options are currently available or if you’d be a good fit with any of the current offerings, click here to book a consultation.
Anyone interested in joining a group must complete an intake appointment prior to being able to join.