What is group therapy?
Group therapy is a form of treatment that
allows participants to learn about themselves and their
relationships with others and address personal difficulties that
are often shared by some other members of the group. A
significant benefit of group therapy includes not feeling so
alone with your concerns since others in the group will likely
have experienced similar things. Also, the interactions members
have with each other in the group will parallel interactions
they have with people outside of the group. This allows members
to learn about their reactions and practice taking risks with
new strategies for interacting with others in the safe
environment of the group. These insights and new ways of
interacting can then be transferred to relationships outside of
the group with the aim of improving them.
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How does group therapy work?
In group therapy, 8-10 members meet with
two trained group leaders for 1 ½ hours each week. Members are
asked to commit to attending group for a minimum of 8 sessions.
This is to allow the time to establish trusting relationships
and to develop them to the point of working through issues that
might emerge such as difficulty being assertive, being
vulnerable, or sharing deep feelings. Learning in the group
occurs through participation. However, members can also learn
about themselves by listening and observing the interactions of
others. No one is forced to discuss issues they are not ready
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Is there a structured format in group
There is no agenda. It is up to group
members to determine what they want to work on each week. Often
there is continuity from week to week related to the topics
raised. The co-leaders work with the group to facilitate
meaningful interaction and attend to identified problems or
areas of dissatisfaction in the member’s lives. Also,
co-leaders and members too, over time, begin to address issues,
feelings and dynamics that come up among members in the group in
the here and now. This is a very powerful means of learning
about you and about changing patterns of behavior that are not
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Can I be in individual and group
counseling at the same time?
Group therapy is often the ideal form of
therapy for college students since a primary focus of group is
on relationships and understanding and managing feelings. These
are common issues for students. Group therapy alone can be a
sufficient means of dealing with these issues. At the
Counseling Center individual therapy is rarely recommended at
the same time as group therapy because there is a risk of
confusion and not fully committing to the therapeutic work in
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What are the expectations regarding my
participation in group therapy?
There are a number of rules or expectations
that leaders ask members to commit to prior to joining a therapy
group. This is to ensure the group’s safety and effectiveness
in addressing the concerns of all of the members.
- Members are asked to commit to a
minimum of 8 sessions to allow enough time to get to know
others in the group and effectively use the group to work on
- The group sessions are confidential.
Everything discussed in group must stay in group. This also
means that you cannot discuss what happens in group with
other group members outside of group.
- Attend all group sessions unless an
absence is unavoidable.
- The group starts and ends on time. If
you are going to be unavoidably late, please let the group
leaders know in advance.
- If you are going to miss a session,
please let the group know in advance or the leaders know as
soon as possible.
- Talking about your feelings in group
is important. Acting on those feelings is unacceptable.
- It is your responsibility to
participate in group. Active involvement can be helpful as
can listening. Now one will force you to talk about things
you do not want to discuss.
- Dating or special friendships with
others in the group is prohibited while you are in group.
- If you have decided you have met your
goals in group therapy or that group is just not for you,
please let the group know. It is important to provide
enough notice to the group to be able to say goodbye.
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