Group therapy

Group therapy can be highly effective, and can even provide many benefits that individual therapy cannot. Depending on the nature of your concern, group therapy may be the ideal choice for receiving support and working toward change.

Counseling Services offers a variety of therapy groups. Some are more unstructured and members share and explore their feelings and perceptions, while others are structured and more focused on learning or developing new skills. Depending on the particular group, it may contain anywhere from four to twelve members and either one or two therapists.

Types of group therapy

In therapy groups, the emphasis is on change: changing problematic behaviors, attitudes, and emotions. Participants explore personal problems and concerns with a group of persons who have had similar experiences. Discussion includes both present issues and troubling past events, along with the negative consequences of those events. Therapy groups are safe, confidential, and supportive environments to work through problems, heal old hurts, express emotions, learn more about yourself, receive feedback on how others perceive you, and acquire more effective interpersonal behaviors.

In psychoeducational groups, the emphasis is on education and skill development. Participants engage in semi-structured discussions and exercises, role-play, and giving and receiving feedback, with the group leader functioning as a teacher, trainer, and facilitator. The focus is on acquiring information, learning new skills, and refining existing skills pertaining to a specific topic. Psychoeducational groups usually meet weekly for four-to-eight weeks, depending on the topic.

Scheduling group therapy

If you are currently meeting with a counselor at Counseling Services, you may speak with them about your interest in group therapy. If you are not a current client with Counseling Services, we ask that you call our office at (775) 784-4648 to schedule an Initial Consultation on the day you'd like to come in. At your Initial Consultation, a counselor will talk with you about the concerns you'd like to address, whether any of our current groups might be a good fit for your needs, and may then refer you to group.

Group therapy frequently asked questions

  • If I am in a group, how much personal information do I have to share?

    You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. No one will force you to reveal your deepest, most personal thoughts. Most people find that as they gradually feel safe enough to share what is troubling them, a group can be very helpful and affirming. However, you can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you.

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"

  • 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.

    Adapted from Loyola University, "Common misperceptions about group counseling and how to respond"

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"

  • 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.

    Adapted from DePaul University Counseling Services, "Myths about group counseling"