Group Psychotherapy

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What is Group Psychotherapy and How Does It Work?

Group psychotherapy is a psychological intervention that uses discussion between a cohesive group of people as the primary healing force. Sharing psychological concerns with people of similar backgrounds, and getting their feedback and advice, can be a very helpful and cost - effective alternative or supplement to individual psychotherapy. This is because these peers are speaking from their own experience, with the honesty and depth that goes with sharing similar struggles. Another valuable contribution of group therapy is receiving multiple perspectives on a situation from people who have come to know you well - a version of the old saying that "two heads are better than one." Additionally, group psychotherapy works by focusing simultaneously on two different levels.

A) Content: the topics the group members choose to discuss.

B) Process: the way in which group members interact, which is representative of how they interact with others in the world.

Group Psychotherapy differs from a group of friends talking in several important ways.

1. The leader is a mental health professional trained in group therapy interventions, who serves as a facilitator with the primary goal of making the group a safe place for all members.

2. There are agreements of confidentiality and other group rules which are endorsed by all members before joining the group, which help achieve this sense of safety.

3. Members are encouraged to look at their own interpersonal styles, and get honest, helpful feedback from peers regarding how they interact with, and are perceived by others.

4. Group members have no prior history or connections with each other, so they are often more able to provide objective feedback about a situation than a friend can.

Other Practical Information

Group Psychotherapy Sessions are held on Tuesdays, from 7:30 - 8:45 p.m. Group promptly begins at 7:30.

Members are asked to make a commitment to the group for an 8 -week block of sessions at a time. Repeated blocks are permitted, with mutual agreement of the member and the leader.

The group fee is $40.00 per 75 minute session, payable at the end of each session unless alternative arrangements are made in advance. Receipts are provided.

Responses to Common Concerns about Group Psychotherapy

"I'm uncomfortable about sharing my problems in front of strangers."

This is a very common reaction when one first thinks about joining a group. Of course, the other group members are thinking the same thing. Sharing personal, often painful information can feel like a big risk - that is why such a strong emphasis is placed on the establishment of trust within the group. Members are not pushed to speak before they feel ready. However, most members find they have much in common with others, and soon feel comfortable sharing these similarities.

"What if other group members "blab" about my problems around town?"

The beauty of a group - wide confidentiality policy is that all members share a commitment to keep what's said (and even who's) in the room within the room. The bond that then develops between group members allows each participant the freedom to share information that he/she typically would not risk sharing. Confidentiality is taken very seriously, since each member benefits from the trust thus established.

"No - one will understand my problem."

Again, many people share this belief. However, it is surprising how often group members find that they share similar feelings and thoughts, and sometimes even very similar life circumstances. It can be quite therapeutic to discover you are not alone in living through some of these experiences, and that someone does, indeed, understand.