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Group Counseling FAQ

Who can benefit from group therapy?

Group therapy can be especially useful for people who want to better understand their style of relating to others and how others relate to them, as well as how to develop more fulfilling emotional connections by working on issues of trust, intimacy, anger, conflict, assertiveness, risk-taking, and self esteem. Group can also be useful for individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drugs, medical illness, loneliness, shyness, or who have experienced losses, sexual assault, or other stressors.

How do I get started?

To begin, you and I will meet for an initial consultation where I help you to describe the issues you are struggling with. This process gives me the opportunity to learn about you, to develop an understanding of the problems you want to work on, and provides you the opportunity to ask any questions and discuss any concerns you may have.

How many people are in a group?

Groups typically have 6-10 members.

What is the ratio of males to females?

The ratio of males to females is generally balanced unless the designated group is designed to be gender specific.

What is the age range of people in the group?

The age range of (adult) group members is necessarily broad. This is because the greater the diversity of age among participants, the greater the opportunity to experience people representing those you struggle with in your daily life.

How long does a group therapy session last?

The duration of a group therapy session is 90 minutes to two hours depending on the group you are participating in.

How often does the group meet?

This may vary depending on the group but generally once weekly for 8- 10 weeks. These are Closed Groups meaning participants can not join an already in-session group but must wait for the next scheduled group to begin.

Do I need to be in individual therapy to join a therapy group?

Individual therapy combined with group therapy is a potent combination and can accelerate your progress in resolving your problems and achieving your life goals. That said, group therapy in and of itself is a powerful agent of change, and based on your specific needs, may in fact be the ideal therapy of choice to increase your happiness and give you more options in life.

What if I’m not sure about the kind of therapy I need?

During the required initial consultation I will listen carefully as you describe the problems you want help with, and then collaborate with you to develop a treatment plan best suited to your specific needs.

Isn’t individual therapy better then group therapy because you don’t have to share time with others?

Group therapy can be more effective and produce quicker results than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little by listening carefully to others. You will find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. Second, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but which you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself, and may not come up in an individual session.

Do I have to share my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets to the group?

Your sense of safety in group is of paramount importance. That’s why you control what, how much, and when you share with the group. You do not have to share what you are not ready to disclose, and need not talk at all until you are comfortable. You can be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you. As your sense of safety in the group increases you can begin to share more information about your life and the problems you are struggling with.

Are there any guidelines for group members?

Guidelines are discussed with every member during the initial individual group consultation prior to joining the group, and are regularly reviewed during group sessions. These guidelines provide an objective, stable structure that helps to increase members’ sense of safety. All members of the group agree to follow these guidelines as best they can, and understand that their purpose is to provide a reliable framework to guide the group forward in their work together.

You may find that you as well as other members deviate from the guidelines from time to time. Not only is this normal and expected, but it is also incredibly important and useful. The group members’ resistance to following the agreed upon guidelines provides a solid basis on which both the leader and group members can explore, study and remove the stumbling blocks that impede members’ progress in the group, and ultimately, in their daily lives.

The group guidelines are as follows:

  1. Come on time.
  2. Share your thoughts and feelings with other members as they arise in the moment.
  3. Tell the group leader your thoughts and feelings towards him as they arise in the moment.
  4. Make efforts to understand other members and relate what you understand about them, focusing primarily on their feelings, and secondarily on your cognitive or intellectual understanding of the problem at hand.
  5. Relate the significant events of your life as it pertains to what is going on in the group in the moment.
  6. Take an equal share of the talking time (This many not be possible at each group session, but ideally you will take your equal share of talking time when considered in terms of your overall time spent in group).
  7. Express any thoughts, feelings, ideas or attitudes as long as your words are not abusive, insulting or demeaning.
  8. Maintain confidentiality. That means that the names of members or topics discussed in group are strictly off limits to anyone outside of the group.

What about confidentiality?

Knowing that strict confidentiality will be maintained is critical for you to trust other members and feel safe to share information about your life. Any individual who believes he or she will not be able to maintain confidentiality will not be permitted to join the group. I encourage you to address any questions or concerns about this important issue with me during the initial group consultation as well as in group.

All aspects of your treatment at including the scheduling of appointments, content of counseling sessions, and any records kept are strictly confidential as outlined by federal and state law. Any communication with me in either individual, couples or group counseling may only be disclosed when: (a) you sign a release form authorizing such disclosure, (b) if you are in immediate danger of seriously harming yourself or someone else, or 3) if your records are requested by a valid subpoena or court order.

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