Your Group Therapy Experience

Make the most of your group therapy experience by following these suggestions:

Attend regularly

In joining group therapy, you’ve made a commitment to the other group members as well as to yourself.

Make the group part of your life

Don’t think of group therapy as something that just happens once a week that you can forget about when you’re not there. Between sessions, think about what happened in group, about how you felt during and after group; try to figure out why you had those feelings.

Take responsibility for your group

It’s your group, so if it’s not moving in the direction you want, say so.

Participate actively

You’ll make more progress if you get actively involved in the group discussions.

Experiment with new forms of behavior

Until you begin to act differently, you won’t change.

Take emotional risks

Group therapy is structured to be safe and supportive, so you can feel comfortable taking risks.

Be as honest and open as possible

Allow other group members to get to know who you really are.

Speak in the first person

This makes what you say much more personal and powerful.

Accept responsibility for your own experience

Also allow others to be responsible for theirs. Don’t foster dependency by assuming responsibility for others in the group.

Listen attentively

If you’re formulating your response while someone else is speaking, you aren’t really hearing what’s being said.

Differentiate between thoughts and feelings

When you say “I feel that…”, or “I feel like…”, you’re moving away from expressing thoughts to expressing feelings.

Speak directly

Speak to individuals in the group rather than about them to others. Be honest and direct with your feelings in the present moment, especially your feelings toward other group members and the therapists.

Be spontaneous

We often wait our turn to speak, trying to be polite, or we think about what we want to say for so long that the moment to say it has passed. Courteous assertiveness helps you stay involved and engaged.

Avoid giving advice

Also avoid giving suggestions or trying to solve other member’s problems for them. And definitely avoid blaming and judging others: it defeats the safe and supportive setting the group creates.

Be respectful

Even when you don’t agree with a person’s perspective, position, or behavior.

Ask for feedback

Ask for feedback when you need it. Be ready for it. Seek clarification, and avoid becoming defensive or making excuses: remember, criticism is often constructive and beneficial.

Confidentiality

All groups are private and confidential; that is, what members disclose in sessions is not shared outside of the group. The meaning and importance of confidentiality are reviewed with group members at the first meeting and every time a new member joins the group. Please note, too, that no one will force you to do anything in group therapy. You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. You do not have to share what you are not ready to disclose. Just listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you can be helpful. When you feel safe enough to share what is troubling you, a group will likely be very helpful and affirming.