In group therapy approximately 6-10 individuals meet face-to-face with a trained group therapist. During the group meeting time, members decide more-or-less what they want to talk about. During this time, members are encouraged to give feedback to others. Feedback includes expressing your own feelings about what someone says or does. Interactions between group members are highly encouraged and provide each person with an opportunity to try out new ways of behaving; it also provides members with an opportunity for learning more about the way they interact with others. It is a safe environment in which members work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group members make a commitment to the group and are instructed that the content of the group sessions are confidential. It is not appropriate for group members to disclose events of the group to an outside person.
Often, an individual therapy client may be encouraged to join a group to further explore the issues that come up in individual therapy. This does not mean that the details of therapy need to be shared in the group, but the new ways of interacting explored in therapy can be tested in the group. Other group members can also offer perspectives and interactional styles that differ from the individual therapist, further enriching the therapy experience.
WHY IS GROUP THERAPY HELPFUL?
1. 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 the first place. Under the direction of the group therapist, the group is able to give support, offer alternatives, and comfort members in such a way that these difficulties become resolved and alternative behaviors are learned.
2. The group allows a person to test and develop new ways of relating to people.
3. During group therapy, members begin to see that they are not alone and that there is hope and help. It is comforting to hear that other people have a similar difficulty, or have already worked through a problem that deeply disturbs another group member.
4. Another reason for the success of group therapy is that people feel free to care about each other because of the climate of trust in a group.
As the group members begin to feel more comfortable, they will be able to speak more freely. The psychological safety of the group will allow the expression of those feelings which are often difficult to express outside of group. Members begin to ask for the support they need.
In a group, you probably will be most helped and satisfied if you talk about your feelings. It is important to keep in mind that you are the one who determines how much you disclose in a group. You will not be forced to tell your deepest and innermost thoughts.