What is group therapy?
Group therapy comes in many forms. The groups that I run don't have a specific topical focus, but instead are intended to help members learn about how they interact and connect with others. Group members interact with me, my co-therapist, as well as other group members, and will be encouraged – but not forced – to share their own experiences and give feedback to others. With our support and guidance as therapists, members have the opportunity to try new ways of interacting. Ideally, a group consists of members of various ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, upbringings, and other characteristics that make us unique.
How can group be helpful to you?
Group therapy offers the opportunity to understand more about who you are and how you behave in relationships. Think of group as a "social laboratory" where the task is to focus on connections that form between you, other group members, and your therapist(s). The ways that you think, feel, and behave in the therapy group will invariably mimic some of the ways you experience relationships with other individuals and groups in your life. We explore these relationships in the "here-and-now" of the group, with the intent being for you to have more fulfilling relationships outside of the group.
To learn more, I suggest reading this well-written PDF by Zach Bryant, Ph.D: "Why Join An Interpersonal Therapy Group?"
Who should be in my therapy group?
I recommend group therapy for clients who are currently in individual therapy or have previously been in individual therapy. Usually, group members are composed of clients whom I see concurrently in individual therapy or who see another therapist.
If you are working with another therapist and are interested in the group experience, I welcome your call. I am open to collaborating with you and your current therapist to provide a therapeutic experience that is most helpful to you.
What are my groups like?
I run three therapy groups that meet on a weekly basis with as few as four and as many as eight members. I work with a co-therapist in each of my groups because together, we can share points of view, provide alternative interpretations and approaches, broaden our observations, and ultimately be more effective. Group members must sign a confidentiality agreement, which helps ensure safety in the group.
My co-led therapy groups are:
I will be forced to talk.
This myth is absolutely false. You control what you share with the group. I am aware that every member has different comfort levels with sharing, and will never put you in a position that forces you to share something you are not comfortable with. With that being said, people who benefit most from group tend to participate in group discussion more than those that do not benefit. The more you put into group, the more you will likely get out of it.
Group takes longer than individual therapy because there are other members.
Group often works just as quickly as individual therapy. It can be very helpful to hear about the experiences of others and realize how much you have in common with other members. Also, as one member is speaking in group you may realize that something they say directly applies to you as well.
I am shy so I will never be able to share my feelings with a group of people.
It is completely normal to feel nervous about group therapy. However, most group members begin to feel more comfortable sharing after a few sessions. Remember, other group members are often feeling the same way.
Group therapy is second-rate and just not as good as individual therapy.
Many research studies show that group therapy is just as effective as individual therapy (Barlow et al., 2004). Group therapy can often provide help in ways that individual therapy cannot. For example, you can get direct feedback from many members at one time and you can practice new skills in session.
What I discuss in group therapy will not be kept confidential.
Group members all commit to keeping group interactions confidential so that group provides a safe environment.