Frequently Asked Questions About Group Therapy
Will I have to tell my deepest and darkest secrets to the group?
No one in group is forced to disclose anything that they are not comfortable with, and in fact some thoughts, feeling or emotions are so personal that keeping them to oneself may be more beneficial than disclosing them to a group. Group members learn to identify their personal boundaries and respectfully communicate those boundaries to one another. They disclose personal information, over time and in a way that feels comfortable.2
What if I don't feel like talking in the group?
Some people fear that they won't have anything to say or won't know how to respond to others in a group. Many people feel anxious about being in and sharing with a group. These are valid concerns, and we try hard in group to encourage members to share at their own pace and in a way that feels comfortable for them. Participation includes more than talking; we observe, reflect, and listen as well. Most people report that they start to feel more comfortable sharing in group within the first session or two, feeling trusted and safe.2
What type of therapy is best?
Individual and group counseling have different benefits and help people in different ways, and research studies have shown that group participants are equally if not more satisfied than people who participate in individual therapy. While neither form is inherently better than the other, there are some struggles that are better suited for a group interaction, such as developing communication skills, getting interpersonal feedback, obtaining social support, and understanding relationship patterns.2
Will it be like group therapy on TV?
Television and movies are made for entertainment, so therapy situations may appear overly dramatized, including intense confrontations, judgmental responses, and ineffective group leaders. We strive to make group therapy a healthy and beneficial experience for all and adhere to the highest ethical standards, using evidence-based treatments.
What if the other people in group judge me?
It is very important that group members feel safe and group leaders are there to create a safe environment for all involved. We understand that feedback is often difficult to hear, from leaders and members alike. As group members come to trust the group, they generally experience feedback, and even confrontation - as if it were coming from a good friend. One of the benefits of group counseling is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment. It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group can offer. This will be done in a respectful, gentle way, so that you can hear it and make use of it.3
Will I get enough out of group if I have to share the time with others?
Groups operate in such a way that many people are working on their own concerns at the same time. When two or three (or even more) people interact, they are all often learning about themselves and their life experiences from the interaction. One function of a group is to help create a space where all of the individuals are safe and attempt to learn how to meet their own needs. 2
Isn't it overwhelming to hear about everyone else's problems?
Coming into a group setting can understandably feel overwhelming, when one's own life circumstances may seem unmanageable. Many group participants, however, have described hearing about the experiences of other members as extremely helpful. Focusing on the life experiences of others helps them to feel less alone in their own struggles, as well as helps them to understand their own difficulties from a different perspective. Many find a sense of relief in knowing that others struggle with similar issues or emotions.2
Are my peers really capable of helping me?
Although the group leaders will help to define the structure of a group, provide guidance, and help establish a sense of safety, the bulk of the work done in the group is by the participants.
They support, challenge, and come to care for one another in a way that deepens over time, facilitating changes that come about for the participants in their personal lives as well as in the group.2
2Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"
3Adapted from Loyola University, "Common misperceptions about group counseling and how to respond"