Individuals may join a group for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes people may wish to focus on a certain issue, e.g. anxiety, depression, past trauma, a sense of isolation, work stress, or perhaps relationship difficulties. Some people may come along just to find out more about why they are the way they are, i.e. for personal development.
The ‘here and now’ experience of the therapy group provides members with an opportunity for learning more about how they see, interact with, and are seen by others. In the group members talk about, reflect upon, and are helped to make links between their past and present experiences and in so doing, gain insight into characteristic repeating patterns of behaviour and possible difficulties. Contact with others gives stimulus, support and challenge and opportunities arise to change unhelpful perceptions and behaviour. The group can also provide a safe place to try out new and unfamiliar ways of relating.
Group members are asked to attend regularly and to make an initial commitment of a set number of months. There is no upper time limit on the length of stay in the group and this very much depends upon individual circumstances. Members are expected to discuss thoughts about leaving in the group.
Confidentiality within the group is important and meetings between group members outside the group are discouraged, as this has been found to slow progress.
All potential group members are assessed prior to entering the group. This is an important opportunity to check out whether group psychotherapy, of this kind, is likely to be the right option. It is common practice to offer a few preparatory sessions on a one to one basis to prepare for the group and some people benefit from a series of individual sessions first. All of this would be explored during the initial consultation.
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