Group Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy in which a small number of people meet together, weekly, under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another.
Most of us have been and are members of many groups, including our family of origin, friend groups, sports teams, work groups and many other formal and informal groups. We grow and develop in these environments and, depending on the quality of our initial group experiences, we can develop relational patterns that range from healthy to destructive. As we grow older and move farther away from our families of origin, we often find ourselves in hauntingly familiar roles, which can be mysterious, perplexing and often painful. It can be confusing when you were labeled as the “pushover,” in your family as a child and still find yourself having a hard time saying, “No” to anyone in your family…even as an adult, and then to have the same dynamics happen at work. How does this happen? Why do we find ourselves in similar roles, with family, work and friends…especially when they are painful?
These are important questions to ask ourselves. Individual therapy can help you identify patterns, develop coping skills and strategies to navigate through tricky relationships. However, I believe that individual psychotherapy has limitations. One major limitation is that therapists are limited to the client’s report of his/her thoughts, feelings and behaviors of every situation. Frankly, when we are in familiar patterns that are loaded with emotion, it limits our ability to be objective reporters, so our therapist gets only a portion of the details.
At Mind Body Co-op, we think of group psychotherapy as the “lab” portion of your psychological recovery. Group therapy helps people learn about themselves and others and begins the process of improving interpersonal relationships. Additionally, group is very effective in helping group members understand their relationship with shame, resentment, anxiety, depression, co-dependency and so much more. As a group psychotherapist, with time, I can begin to see the dynamics that are at play in the group, between and among the group members, in a rich and dynamically different way, than self-report in individual therapy and then seize the moment to process and understand the dynamic as a group. As a member of a group, you will find that you can experience yourself in action, engaging other members in old, familiar ways. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, you can experience the response (to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors) from others, which is very likely different than what you may have predicted the response to be.
What if you have been holding back and not showing others who you really are, and then find out in group that people actually like you more when you are fully authentic?
What if you have been keeping family secrets for years because of fear of your family disowning you, and/or the judgements of others? After disclosing the secrets in group, you find that the group members are grateful for your transparency and are not holding onto judgements? What if they still value you and want you to remain a part of the group?
These are just two examples of how group can provide opportunities for a reparative experience, wherein a group member can begin to make mental repairs to an old psychological wound. Additionally, group members can examine their own beliefs and how that impacts their style of engagement with others, practice new ways of relating to others and experience some interpersonal and relational success that can be translated to relationships outside of group.
If you are interested or know someone how wants to explore group psychotherapy, contact Mind Body Co-op. We offer 20 groups per week that include many general process groups, as well as, theme oriented groups, including Trauma Recovery, DBT, Eating Disorder Recovery, Supervision/Consultation, Professional Development, Somatic Experiencing, Chronic Pain Relief, Reiki and NIA.