Just What is Group Therapy?
In group therapy, 5-10 people meet face-to-face with one or more trained group therapists and talk about what is troubling them. Members also give feedback to each other by expressing their own feelings about what someone says or does. This interaction gives group members an opportunity to try out new ways of behaving and to learn more about the way they interact with others. What makes the situation unique is that it is a closed and safe system. The content of the group sessions is confidential; what members talk about or disclose is not discussed outside the group.
The first few sessions of a group usually focus on the establishment of trust and formation of group norms decided on by the group. During this time, members work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. It is not unusual to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of trust and interest in the group.
Why Does Group Therapy Work?
When people come into a group and interact freely with other group members, they usually recreate those difficulties that brought them to group therapy in the first place. Under the skilled direction of a group therapist, the group is able to give support, offer alternatives, or gently confront the person. In this way the difficulty becomes resolved, alternative behaviors are learned, and the person develops new social techniques or ways of relating to people. During group therapy, people begin to see that they are not alone. Many people feel that they are unique because of their problems, and it is encouraging to hear that other people have similar difficulties. In the climate of trust provided by the group, people feel free to care about and help each other.
What do I talk about when I am in group therapy?
Talk about what brought you to the Counseling Center in the first place. Tell the group members what is bothering you. If you need support, let the group know. If you think you need confrontation, let them know this also. It is important to tell people what you expect of them.
Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties. Revealing your feelings - - self-disclosure - - is an important part of group and affects how much you will be helped. While the “psychological safety” of the group permits you to express feelings that are often very difficult to express outside the group, you will not be forced to tell your most deep and personal thoughts. The appropriate disclosures will be those that relate directly to your present difficulty. How much you talk about yourself depends upon what you are comfortable with. You are ultimately the person responsible for how much you share. If you have any questions about what might or might not be helpful, you can always ask the group.
What are the ground rules for my participation in the group? There are six basic rules.
Regular attendance and commitment to the group is important. If you are going to miss a session, please contact the group leader.
Once group meeting times have been set by the group leaders, then you are asked to adhere to those times.
Having a feeling and acting on it are two different actions. Acting out your feelings is not acceptable in the group whether you act them out upon yourself or another member of the group. The way we most respect ourselves and others is by experiencing feelings and then allowing ourselves to talk about them.
It is your responsibility to talk about your reasons for being in the group. No one is going to force members to talk or reveal difficult material. It is up to each member to do so on their own.
The group sessions are confidential. You, other members, and the group leaders are bound ethically and legally not to disclose the contents of the group sessions.
If you decide that you have gained as much as possible from the group or that it isn't’t the most appropriate treatment method for you, we ask that you come to the group and say goodbye.
We hope the group experience is a good one for you. If you should have any questions and want to talk to the group leader (s), please feel free to do so. Please see Fall 2014 Groups for listing of current semester groups.