Group therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy used in the treatment of a range of problems, including relationship challenges, personality issues, grief, trauma, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.

Groups are a powerful way for people to discover things about themselves and their relationships. Forming intimate relationships with strangers can seem intimidating, but when group members can create genuine, personal relationships, it can lead to profound healing and transformation.

12 TIPS TO BENEFIT FROM GROUP THERAPY

Be open.

Join the group to form relationships with other group members, and arm yourself with the courage to be genuine, interested, and self-reflective. Verbalize your thoughts, feelings, and judgments as they arise during the group. As you start your thoughts during discussions, you will grow more connected to yourself and others.

Respect and guard group boundaries.

Make sure to keep all content of therapies and the identity of group members confidential. Don’t be late and stay until the session finishes. Attend every meeting and let the group know in advance if you have to be absent. Keep all communications between group members in the group room. When someone trespasses the line, work to bring the interaction back to the group. Protect the boundaries by speaking to the group about your expectations. The group will feel safer when you set and respect boundaries.

Practice genuine connection.

Practice genuine connection
Be willing to discuss your feelings — how others affect you, and how you relate or not relate to what is being shared. Identify a common denominator with others in the group by giving attention to how you connect with other’s stories, feelings, goals, etc. Take note of when you feel closer to someone and when you withdraw.

Be more understanding with yourself when you feel like you dislike someone or a behavior. It’s normal to feel like you do not fit in with other group members — you may feel superior, inferior, or just incompatible based on demographics. Let others know how your view of these differences is hindering you from trusting the group as your first step in building an authentic connection.

Use your fair share of group time.

Be mindful of when you choose to keep quiet instead of speaking your mind. Share your insights, and take note of how you censor your words. Be conscious of whether you tend to take up more air time than others. You will benefit from the group only as much as you share verbally.

Avoid pleasing others.

When you first joined the group, it may have been hard to avoid wanting to be liked or pleasing others. However, taking risks is essential in learning how you are as a person in relationships and how you impact others.

Your willingness to look simple-minded, flawed, vulnerable, and unresolved will evolve with the group’s maturity. Don’t try to be accommodating. Your genuine feelings about a topic or person are more relevant than your approval and/or solution to the issue being shared.

Be curious about yourself and others.

Be curious about yourself and others
Strive to get to know about other people and encourage others to do the same to you. If you’re curious about someone in the group, ask questions, and anticipate any kind of answer, or a lack thereof. Most importantly, ask for feedback, like if your actions or habits drive people away or invite closeness. Allow others to provide you with feedback about their unfiltered experience of you.

Bring any topic.

Talk about your difficulties, your pain, your worries, your failures with the group, and ask the members to confront and hold you until you gain the courage and clarity to make changes. Likewise, share your joys and accomplishments. Have the courage to discuss what you need to talk about, regardless of what others might be going through.

Examine your choices.

Discuss life decisions with the group in the early stages of your decision-making process — including the possibilities of leaving the group. Ask the group members to help you in identifying the problem, studying your motivations, naming your options, and evaluating how each might work out for you. The process will pinpoint some of your issues around identifying your needs, intentions, and how your choices can ruin your success.

Trust the process.

By sharing your inner subjective experiences, you are in some way, surrendering to the process, offering your share of the human story, allowing others to get you, and promoting a process that will teach you how to trust.

However, don’t expect the process to take you to your goals. The amount of information you want to share will evolve as time goes by. To present yourself as authentic, you will have to disclose yourself, correct misrepresentations of yourself, and confess some of your secrets.

Take care of your relationships within the group first.

Take care of your relationships within the group first
While an outside issue may be a helpful starting point in the group, keep in mind that the most significant learning will happen when everyone is “in the present”, or when thoughts, feelings, and judgments come up during the sessions.

Make an effort to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present in the room as much as possible. Evaluate the issues you can or can’t connect with, the people you identify with, and those you have written off. Initially, bringing up feelings in the heat of the moment may feel challenging, but use any remaining emotions to get closer.

Make a better family for yourself.

Getting stuck in the group is vital in learning how to get unstuck. The group exists to bring up issues you are oblivious to so that you can give attention to them and give up old ways of treating yourself and others. Some of these issues will likely come up early in the group.

Be interested in the depth of your reaction. While you may feel overwhelmed to feel so exposed, remember that this is when the most significant learning about the unconscious patterns you bring to relationships will come out. In the coming days, you will have the chance to create therapeutic experiences with the group.

Make it your group.

Don’t merely wait for your needs to be met, but let the group and your therapist know when you feel dissatisfaction. If you want your voice to be heard, interject, or interrupt. If you think that the group does not feel as dynamic as you wish, verbalize your feelings. Get real and vulnerable with someone in the room to get more out of the group.

If someone seems untrustworthy, address what you feel with some urgency. Point out something that you think is being overlooked, and speak up if the therapist says something you don’t like. It is your group no matter how long you have been in it.

Many mental health professionals offer group therapy. If you are from Houston, Texas, or the surrounding areas, and are looking for a therapist, visit Phyllis Tonkin, LCSW today at One Riverway, 777 South Post Oak Lane, Suite 1700, Houston, TX 77056. You may also call her anytime at 713-668-6666 (tel) or 713-206-5156 (cell), or send her an email at [email protected].

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