Group Therapy Fact Sheet

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is one of the many forms of treatment offered in the Student Counseling Center. In group therapy, approximately 10 people meet face-to-face with trained group therapists. Interaction between group members is encouraged and provides each person an opportunity to learn more about the way they interact with others, and to try out new ways of behaving. Group members give feedback to each other by expressing their feelings about what someone says or does.

Why does group therapy work?

One advantage of group therapy is that people begin to see that they are not alone. Many people feel they are unique because of their problems, and it is encouraging to hear that other people have similar difficulties. In the climate of trust provided by the group, people feel free to care about and help each other.

Another benefit of group therapy is that group members have the opportunity to learn a great deal about how they come across to each other. You will be encouraged to challenge yourself, to look at your reactions, and to understand more fully who you are as a social being and as an individual. Group therapy provides a special opportunity for you to learn about your interpersonal style, try on new behaviors, and get honest and direct feedback about how you are coming across.

What do I talk about when I am in group therapy?

Talk about what brought you to the counseling center in the first place. Tell the group members what is bothering you. If you need support, let the group know. If you think you need confrontation, let them know this also. It is very important to tell people what you expect of them. Some types of groups focus on a particular problem that you might be experiencing, while others are more general in nature. Groups will sometimes focus on providing information and education, but all groups provide an excellent opportunity for interpersonal growth.

Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties. Revealing your feelings - self-disclosure - is an important part of group and affects how much you will be helped. How much you talk about yourself depends upon what you are comfortable with. Group is not a place where people are forced to tell their most deep and innermost thoughts. You are ultimately responsible for how much you share. As you experience trust and security in the group, you will feel freer to take risks. You need to determine how active and involved you want to be. Being active means expressing your reactions to what another person is saying or doing, sharing your concerns, listening to another person, asking for clarification when you don't understand, giving support and comfort, and seeking support for yourself. It's unrealistic to expect yourself to be verbally active during every session. Sometimes you may feel more reflective than active and prefer to listen and to consider new dimensions of your personality.

Common misperceptions about group therapy:

"Individual therapy is better than group therapy."
If you have been referred to group therapy it is because your intake counselor believes that it is the best way to address your concerns. People are not just put into group therapy because we want to save time or because we don't have space in individual therapy. Experience has shown that group therapy can often be even more effective for many issues.

"I have trouble talking to people; I'll never be able to talk to a group of people."
Most people are anxious about being able to talk in a group. Most people find that within a few sessions, they do begin to talk in the group. Group members remember what it is like to be new to the group, so you will most likely get a lot of support.

"Group therapy will take longer than individual therapy because I have to share the time with others."
Actually, group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions where you say little but listen to others. You'll find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern you can learn about yourself.

What are the ground rules for my participation in group?

If group is to be effective, your commitment to the following is essential:

  • If you are going to miss a group, please let one of the group leaders know.
  • You are asked to arrive on time for group.
  • Having a feeling and acting on it are two different things. Acting out your feelings is not acceptable whether you act out upon yourself or another member of the group. It is important to experience feelings by allowing ourselves to talk about them.
  • It is your responsibility to talk about your reasons for being in group.
  • The Group Sessions are confidential. All group members must sign a a group confidentiality agreement. Group leaders are bound ethically and legally not to disclose the contents of group sessions. The content of group sessions is confidential; what members talk about in group must remain among the members of the group. It is not appropriate for a group member to disclose events of the group to an outside person.
  • If you decide that you have gained as much as possible from the group or that it isn't the most appropriate treatment method for you, we ask that you come to the group and say good-bye
  • Group work needs to be done during group time. Therefore, we ask that you not socialize with other group members.
  • We want you to benefit from group therapy. In order to maximize the potential of the group to help you, we ask that you commit to attend at least seven sessions.