What Is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a series of therapy sessions that usually include five to ten students and one or two group leaders. Students in the group are encouraged to talk about what is bothering them and provide others with feedback and support. Members control what they share with others in the group. Through the course of group therapy, members become better able to express their feelings about others. This form of therapy gives members opportunities to try new ways of interacting with others in a safe environment.
What Is the Format?
The exact format of group therapy depends on the purpose of the particular group you join. The group may meet for only a few weeks or a full semester. Some groups have a specific focus area (e.g., diminishing social anxiety) while others are directed at more general topics, such as interpersonal relating.
Sessions meet regularly for an hour per week. It is important for each member to attend the full length of each session. Generally, the first few group sessions are important for group members to get to know each other better and establish trust. This will allow each member to open up more freely and talk about themselves and their difficulties.
Why Group Therapy?
Group therapy gives members the chance to hear from others with similar problems. Instead of feeling isolated because of seemingly unique problems, members realize that some of their peers deal with similar difficulties. This allows members to learn from and care for each other.
Group therapy also provides students with a safe place to interact and explore possibilities. In group students tend to recreate life situations that happen outside of group, including the difficulties that brought them to the counseling center. Since the group leader is skilled in helping group members learn how to give support and offer alternatives, individuals can learn ways of interacting that lead to better outcomes.
Is it Confidential?
Yes, all group members are expected to keep the information shared during group sessions confidential. Although group members can decide how to interact with each other outside of group, it is important that all group members agree to keep confidentiality about group topics. The group leader will discuss this with each member during the pre-group meeting and it will be stressed again at the beginning of group therapy.
How Much Do I Have to Talk in Group?
This is up to you. All group members are encouraged to talk about their troubles during group sessions. Since everyone agrees to respect each other, you should not be frightened of saying the “wrong” thing. If you are unsure of the appropriateness of a topic, ask the other group members what they think.
Won't I Be Nervous?
Some students find the first few sessions of group therapy to be anxiety-provoking- this is completely normal! Many students find that after the first few weeks of group their anxiety decreases and they feel more comfortable sharing in group.
Should I Have Individual Therapy, Too?
This depends on your situation. For certain types of problems, group therapy is a more effective form of treatment than individual therapy. However, it may be possible to be enrolled in group and individual therapy simultaneously, depending on your particular needs. This may be an important issue to discuss with the group facilitator or in a group session.
How Do I Join a Group?
If you are already involved in counseling at the Counseling Center, talk to your therapist about group therapy. If you are not in counseling, you can set up a first appointment
with a therapist at Counseling & Psychological Services to talk about this option. This consultation session does not commit you to group therapy, it just gives you a chance to talk more about it.
If you decide that you would like to explore this option more seriously, the therapist will help you schedule a pre-group meeting with a group facilitator. The pre-group meeting gives you and the group leader the opportunity to discuss the group in more detail and answer any questions you may have.