Group Counseling

Frequently Asked Questions About Group Counseling


Just What is Group Counseling Anyway?

In group therapy (called group counseling, group therapy or simply "group") up to eight individuals meet face-to-face with a group therapist and talk about what is troubling them. Members also give feedback to each other by expressing their own feelings about what someone says or does. This interaction gives group members an opportunity to try out new ways of behaving and to learn more about the way they interact with others. What makes the situation unique is that it is a safe environment with clear boundaries. Group sessions are confidential; what people talk about or disclose is not discussed outside the group.

The first few sessions of a group usually focus on the establishment of trust. During this time, members usually work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group.


Why Does Group Counseling Work?

When people come into a group and interact freely with other group members, they find opportunities to learn about themselves in many different ways. Under the skilled direction of a group therapist, the group is able to give support, feedback and offer alternatives. In this way the difficulty becomes resolved, alternative behaviors are learned, and the person develops new social techniques or ways of relating to people. During group therapy, people begin to see that they are not alone. Many times people feel they are unique in their problems, and it is encouraging to hear that other people have similar difficulties. In the climate of trust provided by the group, people feel free to care about and help each other.


What Do I Talk about When I am in Group?

Talk about what brought you to the counseling center in the first place. Tell the group members what is bothering you. If you need support, let the group know. If you think you need confrontation, let them know this also. It is important to tell people what you expect of them.

Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties. Sharing your feelings is an important part of group and affects how much you will be helped. How much you talk about yourself depends upon what you are comfortable with. If you have any questions about what might or might not be helpful, you can always ask the group.


Are There any Ground Rules for My Participation in the Group?

If group is to be effective, your commitment is essential. Here are the ground rules:

  • If you must miss a session, let the group leader know. The group meeting times have been arranged in advance and you are asked to keep to those times.
  • Having a feeling and acting on it are two different things. Acting out your feelings is not acceptable whether you act them out upon yourself or another member of the group. Our job is to experience our feelings and understand them.
  • It is your responsibility to talk about your reasons for being in the group, when you feel safe enough to do so
  • Group sessions are confidential. Group members and group leaders do not disclose the contents of group sessions to others
  • If you decide that you have gained as much as possible from the group or that it isn't the most appropriate treatment method for you, we ask that you come to the group and say good-bye.
  • The work of the group needs to be done in the group during group time. Therefore, we ask that you not socialize with other members of your group during the time when you are a member of that group.