Guidelines for Participation in Group Psychotherapy Services at the Rutgers Psychological Clinic
Group therapy has proven to be a highly effective and useful form of psychotherapy, especially when social support and interpersonal difficulties are being addressed.
Some Goals of Group Psychotherapy
Many individuals seeking therapy feel isolated and dissatisfied in their current life situations. Group therapy offers participants the opportunity to:
- Receive and offer support and feedback
- Improve interpersonal relationships and communication
- Experiment with new interpersonal behaviors
- Gain insight into one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by looking at relationship patterns inside and outside of group
- Gain insight into other people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- Improve self confidence, self image, and self esteem
- Undergo personal change inside the group that you can carry with you outside the group into your outside life
What you do in Group
Participants are encouraged to talk about any personal or relationship issues relevant to the problems and goals that led them to therapy. Participants are encouraged to offer support, to ask questions, to wonder about what was said and what was not said and to share associations and thoughts. Much emphasis will be placed on the relationship between members in each group session- the “here and now.” Members will often be encouraged to share their impressions of one another- their thoughts, fears, and positive feelings. The more we work in the “here and now” the more effective the group can be. The input from other members is often more important than the leader’s comments. Members work to establish a safe environment and a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly.
Members are also encouraged to limit interaction with other members outside the group therapy room so that everyone is included in interactions between members. If members choose to interact with other members outside of group they are asked to share that experience in the next group session so that it can be brought back into the group process to be explored.
Group members must maintain confidentiality to create a safe environment for the group process to take place and to develop trust within the group. If you wish to have a discussion with friends or loved ones about something related to group therapy you should only speak about your own experience, not about any other member’s experiences. Never mention any other member’s name or say anything that might inadvertently identify any group members.
Group therapy progresses best when each member values and respects the commitment and work of each participant. Regular attendance is a key part of that so we request you make it a priority in your schedule. Similarly, arriving on time to sessions is important. If you are not able to be at a group or you are going to be late you should inform the group of that well in advance. If you cannot inform the group in advance then you should call the group leaders to let them know before the group.
Although group therapy is generally very supportive, at times you may find it stressful or anxiety-provoking. Group therapy typically does not show immediate positive benefits to its participants. Because of this fact, participants sometimes find themselves wanting to leave therapy early on if it becomes stressful for them. We ask that you suspend your early judgment about whether group will be beneficial, and that you continue to attend and talk about the stresses involved and your doubts about group therapy.
There may be times when the group is the last place you want to be because of uncomfortable feelings. These are often the most helpful times for you to come to group. It is hard to come to group when some of the difficulties that you have had in life express themselves in the group. Don’t be discouraged by this. It is in fact a great opportunity. You can work on the areas of your life that concern you the most when they are happening in group.
Adapted from the Information and Guidelines of Group Therapy by Irvin D. Yalom and Molyn Leszcz . In The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy (5th edition) Pg. 567-571.