Group therapy is one of the many different forms of help that is offered in
The first few sessions of a group usually focus on the establishment of trust. During this time, members usually work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group. Groups experience difficulty when a person either holds out from making this commitment or reneges on the contract.
What makes the group therapy situation unique is that it is a closed and safe system. People who join groups are requested to keep the content of the group sessions confidential. What people talk about or disclose in groups must remain among the members of the group. It is not appropriate for a group member to disclose events or group membership of the group to an outside person.
Why Does Group Therapy Work?
There are a number of reasons why group therapy works. First, when people come into a group and interact freely with other group members, they usually re-create those difficulties that brought them to group therapy in the first place. Under the skilled direction of a group facilitator, the group is able to give support, offer alternatives, or gently confront the person in such a way that the difficulty becomes resolved and alternative behaviors are learned. Second, the group allows a person to develop new social techniques or ways of relating to people. Third, during group therapy, people begin to see that they are not alone and can be helped. Many times people feel unique in their problems. It is encouraging to hear that other people have a similar difficulty or have already worked through a problem that deeply disturbs another group member. Fourth, in a climate of trust, people feel free to care about and help each other. Through helping others, one also learns about, and helps oneself. There is no judging of one's own experience against another's. In this supportive environment everyone's experience is important. In many instances group counseling is more effective than individual counseling.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of coming to a group is the awareness that you are not alone. Other people have similar feelings. A group provides the opportunity to see others solving their problems; as a result, this helps mobilize one's own motivation to strive for self improvement with hope and renewed energy.
In a college setting, very personal topics are often not talked about with roommates or with significant friends, even boyfriends, girlfriends or sorority and fraternity brothers and sisters. Many issues have never been addressed with parents because perhaps they were part of the problem. The Counseling Center groups offer a totally confidential environment in which to explore these important topics. Group members share impressions in honest and caring ways. This feedback helps to increase self knowledge and encourages members to try out new behaviors in a place of safety and support.
What Do I Talk About?
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. In addition, you will probably be most helped and satisfied if you talk about your feelings. Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties. When feelings are unexpressed, anger or guilt often becomes depression. The psychological safety of the group permits the expression of those feelings which are often very difficult to express outside the group.
When we talk about revealing our feelings, we are talking about self-disclosure. Self disclosure is an important part of group therapy and relates very much to how well people get helped. How much you talk about yourself depends upon what you are comfortable with. Group is not a place where people are forced to tell their most deep and innermost thoughts. You are ultimately the person responsible for how much you share. The appropriate disclosures will be those that relate directly to your present difficulty. If you have any questions about what might or might not be helpful, you can always ask the group.
1. If you are going to miss a session, please notify the leader ahead of group time.
you have decided that you have gained as much as possible from the group or that
the group isn't the most appropriate treatment vehicle for you, then we ask that
you come to the group and say goodbye.
a feeling and acting on it are two different actions. You can talk about any
feeling in the group. Acting out these feelings, however, is not acceptable.
This is true whether the feelings are acted upon oneself or another person.
sessions are CONFIDENTIAL. Group members, like the leader(s), are bound
ethically not to disclose the contents or membership of group sessions.
We hope the group experience is a good one for you. If you have any questions about the group, please raise them with the group leader(s) during the consultation interview or during the group meetings.
Last Modified: October 21, 2009