Providing a safe and confidential space to explore your feelings within an accepting, nurturing and supportive group setting.
It can at first seem incredibly daunting to be in a room full of what appears to be strangers; with the expectancy of sharing your most personal and intimate thoughts, feelings and experiences with people you know nothing about.
However many people find the group offers them an immense source of support as they come to realise that they are not alone with their problems; and there is nothing more debilitating than loneliness.
People discover their strengths as they find they can help, as well as be helped, by others.
Each group member can learn from the number of different perspectives and personal experiences available within the group.
Over time, greater awareness of oneself and others develop through group interaction. All these things can provide the basis for long-term change in how one thinks, feels and behaves in life.
So why is group therapy so helpful?
1. Group therapy helps you realise that you’re not alone.
Many clients enter therapy with the disquieting thought that they are unique in their wretchedness, that they alone have certain frightening or unacceptable problems, thoughts, impulses and fantasies.
While it’s true that each of us is unique and may have unique circumstances, none of us is alone in our struggles.
Group therapy aims to reduce feelings of isolation and alienation. It increases the sense that “we’re all in this together,” and normalises suffering as a fundamental part of being human.
2. Group therapy facilitates giving and receiving support.
One misconception about group therapy is that members take turns receiving individual therapy from the therapist while others observe.
However, group members are actually encouraged to turn to each other for support, feedback and connection, instead of getting all of that from the therapist.
For example: one member feels isolated and lonely, and doesn’t know how to make friends.
The group supports him/her by listening when he/she talks and engaging with her the entire session, which by itself decreases his/her sense of isolation. The members also share their own experiences as well a sharing how they’ve navigated loneliness or overcome isolation, offering hope, inspiration, encouragement, and sometimes suggestions.
3. Group therapy helps you find your “voice.”
To find your own unique voice can be defined as “becoming aware of your own feelings and needs and expressing them.” In a group setting, members are strongly encouraged to notice how they’re feeling throughout the session and to talk about it openly.
Many people don’t know how they are feeling when they are interacting with other people, because it can be challenging to be self-connected when connecting with others as well.
4. Group therapy helps you relate to others (and yourself) in healthier ways.
Often people don’t understand why their relationships aren’t working. However in the safe atmosphere of group therapy, members can get honest feedback from others who care about them to one degree or another.
Groups provide the opportunity to see just how people relate to others in the moment, and how they relate to themselves.
In group therapy members also are encouraged to try other ways of relating. For instance, instead of asking someone a question, you explain why you’re asking them that question. Instead of just giving advice, you share what’s motivating you to give that advice.
5. Group therapy provides a safety net.
In group therapy we look to achieve an "Authentic Connection,” some members struggle with being authentic and speaking up for themselves in their lives. They practice these skills in the group, and as they do, their confidence for practising them outside the group grows.
They’re also able to carry the groups’ support with them between sessions, making it easier to take risks. For example if you know you can report back to a group of people who care about you and will listen to your experience, you tend to feel braver. Knowing someone will catch you if you fall emboldens you to leap. The group becomes the net.
In addition to strengthening your relationships skills, reducing isolation and finding your voice, group therapy also is especially valuable for individuals dealing with depression, social anxiety and life transitions.
But group therapy isn’t for everyone at every stage of life. It takes strength and some recognition of the needs of others to function well in a group, not be destroyed by it, and not destroy others.
Often it’s most helpful to attend both group and individual therapy. That way, people can talk about what comes up for them in the group with one’s individual therapist.
If you are an individual who would like to attend group therapy; speak with your GP and have a look at what services are available in your area.
Alternatively have a look on our page to see what groups OPEN BOOK COUNSELLING is running in your area. If there are no groups in your area; please get in contact with us to discuss setting one up.
If you are an organisation and would like to have group therapy sessions for your service users; please get in contact to discuss further and enquire about our competitive and charitable rates.