How Does Group Therapy Work?
In group therapy, typically 6 to 12 people meet face-to-face with one or more trained group therapists to talk about what is troubling them. Members give feedback and support to each other by expressing their own feelings about what someone says or does. During group therapy, people begin to see that they are not alone. Many individuals feel they are unique because of their problems, and it is encouraging to hear that others have similar difficulties. These interactions offer group members an opportunity to learn more about the way they interact with others and to try out new ways of behaving. What makes the situation unique is that it is a safe and confidential place to talk. In order to join a group, members are required to agree not to disclose or discuss information from other group members outside the group.
What Do I Talk About in Group Therapy?
As a rule, you will talk about what brought you to the Counseling Center in the first place. Tell the group members what is bothering you or what you are struggling with. If you need support, let the group know. In addition, you will probably be most helped and satisfied if you talk about your feelings and perceptions. How much you talk about yourself depends upon what is comfortable for you. Group is not a place where people are forced to tell their most deep and innermost thoughts; you are ultimately the person responsible for how much you share. If you have any questions about what might or might not be helpful, you can always ask the group and/or group therapists.
Which group is best for me?
For these groups, you are welcome to attend any meeting that you are interested in without pre-screening, though you may be asked to contact the group leader in advance. These groups offer useful information and support for the topic discussed, and they are designed to discuss these topics generally. Required participation may range from minimal interaction with other group members to the expectation that members share their thoughts and feelings openly with the group, depending on the particular group. This type of group provides additional support, skills, or guidance, but is not considered as intimate as the support/therapy groups, since group members can change weekly. Examples of this type of group would be the Thrive at USD Support Group or LGBTQ & Allies Discussion group.
Consistent Membership Groups
For these groups, potential members are required to contact the group leader(s) in advance of joining the group and, in some cases, must complete a brief screening to be eligible. Once members are accepted and a certain number of group members have joined the group, the group will be “closed” to additional members and will start to meet weekly. This is not a drop-in group, so once you have joined the group, the goal is for you to continue to participate in the group until it ends (typically 6-10 meetings.) Also, once the group begins, no new members are able join until the group opens up again at a later time.
Since these groups require more interaction and feedback, the first few sessions usually focus on the establishment of trust. During this time, members work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Since the same members attend weekly and are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc. with one another, a high degree of intimacy is established in these kinds of groups with increased benefits. In other words, with increased member participation in the process comes increased growth and benefit from the group experience. Examples of this type of group would be the Helping Professionals Support Group or the Relationship Therapy Group.