Group Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with 3-12 clients at the same time. This type of therapy is widely available at a variety of locations including private therapeutic practices, hospitals, mental health clinics, and community centers. Group therapy is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication.
The Principles of Group Therapy
In The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom outlines the key therapeutic principles that have been derived from self-reports from individuals who have been involved in the group therapy process:
The instillation of hope: The group contains members at different stages of the treatment process. Seeing people who are coping or recovering gives hope to those at the beginning of the process.
Universality: Being part of a group of people who have the same experiences helps people see that what they are going through is universal and that they are not alone.
Imparting information: Group members can help each other by sharing information.
The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group: The therapy group is much like a family in some ways. Within the group, each member can explore how childhood experiences contributed to personality and behaviors. They can also learn to avoid behaviors that are destructive or unhelpful in real life.
Development of socialization techniques: The group setting is a great place to practice new behaviors. The setting is safe and supportive, allowing group members to experiment without the fear of failure.
Imitative behavior: Individuals can model the behavior of other members of the group or observe and imitate the behavior of the therapist.
Interpersonal learning: By interacting with other people and receiving feedback from the group and the therapist, members of the group can gain a greater understanding of themselves.
Group cohesiveness: Because the group is united in a common goal, members gain a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Catharsis: Sharing feelings and experiences with a group of people can help relieve pain, guilt, or stress.
Existential factors: While working within a group offers support and guidance, group therapy helps member realize that they are responsible for their own lives, actions, and choices
Change Talk LLC Group Rules:
Anything said between any two or more group members at any time is part of the group and is confidential. I understand that everything said in group is confidential. I agree to keep secret the names of other members of the group and what is said in the group. I agree to keep secret anything which occurs between or among group members. I understand that there is an exception to this confidentiality which applies to the group leader. If the group leader believes that someone is in danger, the leader has a professional obligation to take direct action in order to keep everyone safe. I agree not to keep secret from the group anything which occurs within the group.
2. Privacy (The Stop Rule)
No group member is ever required to answer any question, to participate in any activity, or to tell anything. If I am asked questions or asked to participate in an activity which makes me feel uncomfortable, I understand that I have the right to pass, that is, the right to refuse. I agree that will never pressure other group members to participate in any discussion or activity after the member has passed or refused. I understand that the group leader is obliged to protect this right. I also understand that I will benefit more from group the more I am able to take risks in sharing and participating.
No group member is ever humiliated, hazed, or abused in any way. I agree to avoid this destructive behavior.
Violence or intimidation toward other group members is never tolerated. I understand that I must never be violent or intimidating toward other group members and that if I threaten to harm persons or property I will be asked to leave the group. Dating or fraternizing with group members is discouraged.
4. Alcohol and Other Drugs
Group members cannot participate in the group under the influence of alcohol or other mind altering drugs. When under the influence of chemicals, persons do not have access to their emotions and have less control over their behavior. I understand that if the leader believes that I am under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, I will be asked to leave the group and/or participate in mandatory drug screening.
I agree that I will attend every meeting unless an emergency arises. If an emergency should arise I will notify the group leader prior to the meeting to tell him or her that I will be unable to attend. I understand that the group leader will tell the group what has happened. I understand that if I have three unexcused absences, my continued group membership will be discussed. I also understand that I must update my treatment plan with my clinician every ninety days which requires my attendance of an individual psychotherapy appointment.