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Learn More About How Group Therapy Could Work for You

People seek psychotherapy for many different reasons. Many come because
they have problems establishing and maintaining close and gratifying
relationships. Often, they wish that they understood their relationships better and
that they could be honest about their positive and negative feelings with
someone. In return, they would like honest feedback. Group therapy sets up a
situation where this type of close, interpersonal exploration can occur.

There are a number of reasons why group therapy works:
1. When people come into a group and interact freely with other group members,
the difficulties that brought them to individual counseling are likely to come up in
the group setting as well. Under the direction of a group therapist(s), the group is
able to give support, offer alternatives, or gently confront the person in such a
way that the difficulty is resolved and alternative behaviors are learned.
2. Participating in group therapy allows an individual to develop new ways of
relating to people.
3. During group therapy, people begin to see that they are not alone and can be
helped. Many times people feel like their problems are very unique, and that
they are alone. It is encouraging to discover that others have similar difficulties
or have already worked through a problem that deeply disturbs another group
4. Within this climate of trust, people feel free to care about and help one

Inevitably, members will experience others in the group in ways similar to how
they experienced intimate others outside the group, or family members, while
growing up. All group members should be open to learning about themselves
and their relationships. To this end, all members must be committed to the goal
of expressing their thoughts and feelings as they occur within the group. The
way in which members can learn the most in a group is by being honest and
direct with their feelings at that moment, especially those feelings toward the
other group members and the therapist(s). Members’ thoughts and feelings in
the present are the database from which group psychotherapy flows. To foster
these goals, there are several rules which are important:

1. Members will make a commitment to attend the group regularly for at
least 4 sessions before making a decision about whether or not this is the
group for them. It takes a minimum of four weeks for members to feel
comfortable enough to begin to evaluate the usefulness of a particular
group. The course of therapy is expected to be longer than this.

2. Members agree to be present each week, to arrive on time, and remain
throughout the entire meeting. As a member, it is your responsibility to
notify the group leader in advance when it is absolutely necessary for you
to be away or to be late for a group.

3. Members will treat matters that occur in the group with utmost
confidentiality. That is, members agree to keep to themselves the names
and personal sharing of all group members.

4. Members have a commitment to share feelings, reactions, and
thoughts during group meetings as a way of increasing their
understanding of their own interpersonal dynamics. Talking about present
or “here and now” feelings is usually the most helpful way to solve

5. Members agree to work actively on the problems that brought them to
the group. At times this involves talking about important issues in one’s
life that cause difficulty in relating to others or in living life fully. At other
times it may entail choosing to listen supportively and to speak less.
Groups work best when all members have a share in the group time.

6. Members will notify the group in person if they are considering leaving
the group. It is important for everyone to have an opportunity to express
his/her feelings about the departure and to have enough time to explore
this fully.

7. Members agree to use relationships in the group therapeutically—not
socially. The group provides an opportunity for learning about one’s
problems in social relationships; it is not meant to be a gathering in which
people meet to make friends. If used in this manner, the group loses its
therapeutic effectiveness. However, if by chance members do meet
outside the group, then it is their responsibility to discuss that interaction
inside the group. Contact outside of group via social networking sites
(Facebook, Instagram, etc.), email and text messaging is strongly

(Adapted from University Counseling & Psychological Services – Lehigh