When is there a need for Group Therapy?
In his book, Creating Love, John Bradshaw says “that depending upon the skill of the therapist,group therapy has greater potential for demystification – restoring the interpersonal bridge. The group therapist must have good boundaries, create an environment of safety, and let the group be responsible for itself.”
When people experience repeated difficulty and disappointment in relationships, the prolonged frustration can result in mood swings. Much as the person might wish to be different, the damaging pattern repeats itself and the individual may not have any understanding about how to cope with or modify the situation. Others experience difficulty assessing and changing their views of themselves and accurately perceiving their interactions with others. Depression, anxiety, anger, and low self esteem are just some of the repercussions.
We are raised in group environments or systems (family, school, etc.) This becomes our template for behaving and relating to others. If there are distortions in our early systems, we may learn faulty patterns that can be problematic for years to come. Group therapy provides a useful and safe laboratory to learn from others how they experience us. As we understand these patterns of thought and behavior we are more able to make changes. This self reflective loop affords us an opportunity rarely encountered in our usual system experience. Observing others and their manner also provides alternatives for us to consider employing ourselves.
Group Therapy can be a forum for:
• psycho-education – learning new skills such as conflict resolution, authenticity & intimacy
• support – adjusting to new roles during our adult life cycle such as parenthood, divorce or retirement.
• change – our beliefs, thoughts, feelings can prevent us from attaining what is in our best interest. Initiating & maintaining personal relationships, improving workplace performance and co-worker relationships, anxiety, depression, and self-image can all be significantly improved.
• medical problems, addiction disorders
Advantages of Group Therapy
With the facilitation of the group process, 6-8 people meet to address their emotional concerns. Others can often see attitudes and behavior patterns that are limiting and that may be difficult if not impossible to see ourselves. When the participants share personal feelings, ideas and dilemmas with one another the resulting exchanges heighten awareness of our own patterns increasing opportunities for change. Change is often uncomfortable; occasionally group therapy will be as well. However, in this safe laboratory, you will quickly learn you are not alone due to the support. The initial uneasiness about the first group meeting quickly subsides as you observe that you are free to speak about your concerns. In addition to reducing isolation, stifled emotions are freed as puzzling experiences become understood. Learn that conflict can be positive.
Your Role in the Group
It is normal for you to have questions or concerns about a group setting. Initially you may feel uneasy or embarrassed, but interest and trust soon develops.
This is a collaborative process shared by all members. Your responsibility is to honestly express ideas, feelings, reactions. Understanding others, will help you understand and express yourself. This opportunity helps you learn about your patterns of thought and behavior as well as that of others. We live and interact with people every day. You will likely learn how you are different as well as similar to others. As the group works on a shared problem together you will gain new perspectives on your situation.
The therapist is trained to be aware of behavior patterns, life scripting belief systems, and wounded emotional sensitivity through questioning, interaction and using “the self” as an instrument to experience. Through understanding complex patterns the therapist can facilitate the untangling of confusing feelings, distorted perceptions and self-defeating behaviors.
Cost & Length of Treatment
Most insurance plans that cover individual care also cover group care.
Cost is almost always less than an individual or private session. Group is not a “cheap” form of therapy; it is a different modality that is the treatment of choice for some conditions.
Length of treatment is not necessarily longer than individual therapy. Many transition from individual sessions to group, while others combine care. The multitude of perspectives gained in group treatment can, in some instances, accelerate progress.