Therapy is such a private thing, where sometimes we discuss and say things that have never been spoken about before; so why would we choose to do this in a group?
Sometimes the cost is what sways it for people, therapy is a gift to yourself, but for some, it is an expensive one, too expensive perhaps. Because you are sharing your time and your time with the therapist, the fee for a therapy group is usually considerably less than the individual session cost. In my case, my individual sessional fee is £50 but my therapy group fee is £35.
More Therapeutic Hours
Depending on the therapist, individual therapy is often 50 minutes - 1 hour in length, but depending on the size of the group, group therapy is often 2 hours plus; which means you get more therapeutic space per week.
Learn from Other Members
Being able to relate to other group members and applying their experiences to your own life, means you gain therapeutic value by proxy. There's this, but other group members also get to influence your therapeutic space i.e. when you are sharing or exploring something, because it is complicated or feels important perhaps, the other members can facilitate you with their thoughts and experiences too. Group therapy is a collaborative process...
Did you know this one was coming? Whilst it's highly possible that the only trained psychotherapist in the group will be the facilitator, they certainly will not be the only one who has therapeutic value to offer you. Sometimes, when exploring the meaning or origin of something, the process can feel quite lengthy until all the content of conversation fits for you; a group is useful here as each member may be attuned to something different, their thoughts and their reactions will therefore be different, and the outcome then, sometimes more timely and deep.
Commitment and Safety
Depending on how the group is managed, all members will sign an agreement on their commitment to the group and what this looks like i.e. a minimum number of sessions to attend each year or a membership agreement whereby all sessions are paid for whether you attend or not; like a gym membership. These arrangements are put in place to manage the safety of the group; to define the commitment to yourself and to the rest of the group thus ensuring it's consistency and sustainability. All members are explicitly explained expectations about confidentiality too.
Working in a group, you're able to know, feel and believe that you're not alone. Often people criticise themselves for not being 'normal' and this is very unhelpful. Normal changes per person, life, experience and skill set; normal as a whole, doesn't exist. A therapy group offers you the reassurance that you're not alone with your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and furthermore, you'll see that others in the group, there for therapy, are members of society just like you, functioning at varying degrees and that's OK.
If you struggle to connect with people, or with groups, if the timing is right, I recommend a therapy group!
In my experience, those that initially come with concerns about how they appear to others or how difficult they find relating to others i.e. knowing what to do or say and when to do or say it, find that they're not as bad as they think, by being in a therapy group.
If you make any changes in your life, you need to practice them before they become integrated into who you are day-to-day. In a therapy group you repeatedly get to practice effective communication, hearing people, being heard, being valued and showing the value you see in others. You will experience feeling uncomfortable and not quite knowing what to do with it, you'll be facilitated by the therapist to figure out what's happening for you, what it means and how to communicate it - it's like a micro-world. A space where everyone is different and you still need to navigate yourself through it, but it's safe and boundaried - a great way to learn and develop!
Everyone in the group will be there to develop in some way shape or form and everyone will all be a part of the others' journeys. Knowing that you have the group to speak to each week, knowing that they will have a genuine interest in how you've been, helps keep you accountable and maintain the motivation needed in your own journey.
I've already mentioned that people often find that they do much better in groups than they originally thought, before immersing themselves into something like a therapy group. They find this out because, during the group, they develop the ability to share how they see themselves and how they think others see them, they develop the ability to ask and check this thinking out. Each member of the group has also probably been developing their ability to be authentic in relationships, if not outside the group, definitely inside it; and they're able to give honest feedback which is priceless for development and for taming that inner critic!
Thinking of Joining a Therapy Group?
If you live in or around the Hull area, my therapy group is scheduled to restart on July 4th and will run every Wednesday 7-9 pm.
The group is open to new members from now until June 6th, 2018.
Click here if you'd like more information about the group; alternatively, you can contact me by telephone or email.
Here were the concerns from a member of one of my groups:
The biggest hurdles for me in signing up was the fear of not knowing what to expect from the group, discussing personal feelings within the group, the cost of the group and arranging childcare or changing shifts at work for while I was attending.
Here's what she said when she left:
I enjoyed the group, I wish it had gone on longer....
Alex was able to make me feel at ease and what I had to contribute was valued. I can’t thank Alex enough for the time she gave me or find the words to explain what a difference she has made to my life.
Contact me by telephone or via email to inquire about joining the weekly therapy group.