Psychotherapy Process Groups

Psychotherapy process groups are typically unstructured. There isn't a specific topic for each group session. There will be the opportunity for a brief check-in at the start of the group, but after this check-in, it is the group members’ responsibility to bring any issues to the group that they feel are important. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members' contributions bring up for them.


What Can I Expect From Being In A Therapy Group?

The first few sessions of a psychotherapy group usually focus on the establishment of trust. During this time, group members work towards establishing a level of trust that allows them to communicate openly and honestly. In a climate of trust, people feel free to care about and help each other. New members are often amazed at how much their contributions help other members. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group as evidenced by their consistent attendance and their attempts to engage authentically, genuinely, and openly with one another.

During the group meeting time, members are responsible for talking about what is troubling them. Discussion flows according to what members would like to talk about. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members' contributions bring up for them. Group members and the group therapist may serve as models for effective communication, offer problem-solving strategies, and promote self-acceptance.

Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties and distress in their lives. Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment is an important part of group therapy and strongly affects how much you will be helped. The climate of trust provided by the group promotes an environment where members feel safe to share their struggles and work collaboratively to understand one another.

As individuals begin interacting freely with other group members, they usually re-experience or recreate some of the interpersonal difficulties that brought them to the group in the first place. Many of the reasons people seek help with personal issues usually stem from difficulties in their relationships with others. Within the context of a safe, supportive therapeutic atmosphere, the group is able to point out troublesome interpersonal patterns by providing feedback and support and offering alternatives, and in such a way that the difficulty becomes resolved. As individuals increase their self-awareness, develop new ways of relating to people, and learn new adaptive behaviors, they make progress towards their personal goals that brought them to the group.


What Is The Role Of The Group Therapist?

The group therapists will facilitate, promote, and monitor individual and group growth and change. During the initial sessions, therapists focus on establishing norms and creating an atmosphere of trust and safety so that group members will feel a sense of security in self-disclosure. As the group proceeds, therapists may direct the therapy as necessary, provide feedback and support, and help individuals identify themes which block personal growth. In an effort to increase interpersonal growth, therapists may also share observations regarding relational dynamics, group dynamics, communication patterns, and possible underlying feelings and meanings behind issues being dealt with or avoided. Therapists will also work to strike a balance within the group so no one is dominating and no one goes unheard. Members are encouraged to request assistance as needed during group sessions, and to openly share your reactions and thoughts concerning the group therapist's role and interventions during group.

Content created by and used with the permission of Maria Aguirre, Ph.D.

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