What is Process Group Therapy?
Group consists of five to ten people meeting together with the guidance of one or two specially trained therapists. The therapist serves to keep the discussion safe and useful, as well as being a source of support and problem-solving. Sometimes membership involves a shared experience (e.g., pet loss, women, anxiety, etc.), other times membership is much broader. There is generally no set topic, instead members decide what they want to discuss.
Before participating, each person meets with the group therapist to determine if the group is a good fit given the potential member’s goals. Each member promises to honor the group rules including confidentiality.
What are Group meetings like?
Meetings generally last 90 minutes and are held weekly. Group members work to express themselves, their problems, feelings, ideas and reactions, as freely and honestly as possible. Such exploration gives members what they need to understand and support each other. Members not only get support and understanding for themselves and their struggles, but also become sources of support and help for other members.
How does Group help?
Support: Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but regularly talking and listening to others can help you feel understood and less alone. In this way, group becomes a powerful and consistently available support network. Many people experience difficulties, but few speak openly about them to people they don't know well. Oftentimes, you may feel like you are the only one struggling — but you're not. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they're going through, and realize you're not alone or that you are not as different as you thought.
Problem-solving: The group acts as a sounding board and builds hope that life's problems can be dealt with. Members help you come up with specific ideas for facing a difficult situation or life challenge, and hold you accountable along the way. People have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other people tackle problems and make positive changes, you can discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns.
Get along better with others: We live and interact with people every day. Sometimes these interactions and relationships can be rewarding, and sometimes they can leave us confused or frustrated. Group provides opportunities to understand one’s own patterns of thought and behavior as well as those of others, and to see how these patterns interact with one another to create closeness or conflict. It also creates opportunities to try out new ways of interacting without fear of rejection, because everyone in the group is collaboratively working on changing.
Helping others helps you: Altruism and meaning-making can help us cope during stressful times. Giving support and feedback to others can leave you feeling good about your ability to contribute.
It Works!: Extensive research supports Group as effective for a wide variety of problems. Moreover, group has some benefits that individual therapy cannot provide. Imagine getting support from not just one person, but five to seven other people as well. Imagine the possibilities for problem-solving when you have many heads working on the solution. When it comes to practicing new ways of interacting with others, think how much more confident you will be when you get feedback from not just the therapist, but from several of your peers as well. If you stop and think about it, each of us has been raised in group environments, either through our families, schools, organized activities, or work. In these environments, we grow and develop as well as get hurt and lose our ability to trust others. It makes sense then that creating a safe space where people can come together could be the ideal place to change and heal.
What if I’m uncomfortable discussing my problems in front of others?
It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a Group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of interest and trust in the other members. People often find that Group provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems -- in a private, safe setting.
If someone is in Group, do they also need individual therapy?
It depends on the individual. Sometimes Group is used as the main or only approach. This usually occurs after someone has done some individual therapy and is ready to make changes in a broader arena. Other times, it’s used in conjunction with individual therapy. Often people find that working simultaneously in both Group and individual therapy stimulates growth in mutually complementary ways. And members may see two different therapists for individual and Group. In such cases, it’s generally a good idea for the two therapists to communicate with each other periodically for the member’s benefit.
How do I join?
Call or use the contact tab to set up a free phone consultation with one of our therapists. From there, you will attend 2-3 group preparatory meetings, which last about 45 minutes and cost $50 per meeting.
Process Group Therapy FAQ
For information about DBT Skills Classes, please visit the Dialectical Behavior Therapy tab.