Misconceptions about Group Therapy, Part IV

Note: This is Part IV of a 6-part series of blog articles. Here I introduce 3 more reasons for reluctance to join a therapy group. In the preceding article, entitled “Misconceptions about Group Therapy, Part III”, I presented 3 other reasons for this reluctance.

16 Misconceptions about Group Therapy 

Below, I will attempt to debunk 3 more of the distortions about process therapy groups:

8. I have to choose between either individual or group therapy.

This is true only if you cannot afford the time or financial investment in both therapies simultaneously. Individual and group sessions are not mutually exclusive unless you determine that you cannot participate in both at the same time.

A good percentage of group members also engage in individual therapy. Many clients participate and thrive in both settings. In fact, many therapists suggest that members get involved in both therapies. This combination can work to help clients make lasting progress. In individual therapy you can talk about your group experiences and in group you can disclose what you are working on in your individual sessions. For many people, this combination is the most powerful therapeutic leverage of psychotherapy.

9. Because there are multiple participants in a group, I will not get enough individualized attention.

It is true that your personal issues will not be focused on as much as they would be in individual therapy. You may not get as much time to discuss a problem in depth in a group.

However, you can initiate discussion about your current challenges and receive feedback from multiple people. You may receive perspectives that you or your therapist may never have thought about before. And, others may share how they have a similar dilemma and you will learn how they deal with it.

Sometimes an individual member will receive a lot of time directed toward them and their issue in a group session. Other members may relate to your topic, identify with it, learn from it and have a lot to say about it. We have many similar issues to discuss with one another.

Some topics are “hot” and stir-up more emotion and interaction than others. By listening to others, you may uncover issues within yourself that you were never aware of.

10. I will get a lot of good advice from the group leader and members.

People who desire admission into group psychotherapy to address their personal problems often expect that they will get a lot of helpful advice and direction from the leader and the other members. They seek recommendations on how to conduct their life and how to make desired changes.

Actually, in process therapy groups, most leaders encourage the members not to give direct advice to one another. Members can openly share their opinions, say how they solved problems in the past, or declare what they would do if they were in another member’s position, but they should not give direct advice about what to do or how to handle a situation unless the member solicits suggestions.

Leaders usually want to minimize advice-giving and emphasize sharing and exploring personal feelings, experiences, thoughts, memories, troubles, confusions, dilemmas and not to give out advice. It is not the role of the members to “fix” one another. For many members, to not give advice is a challenge because they are in the habit of often handing out suggestions to others.

Why no advice?

There are several reasons to minimize advice-giving in therapy groups: First, because most people don’t appreciate or follow unsolicited advice. Second, all members are in a group to work out their own unique personal problems, not to have their issues solved by others. Third, the group and its members do not gathered together to “fix” one another. They are there to help one another explore themselves and their options, to discover new things about themselves and to practice new behaviors. Fourth, giving advice often diverts the conversation away from the member’s struggle and their feelings that surround the problem focused on. It may be more valuable for members to listen and to allow the individual member to discover their own solutions and to talk openly about their attempts to solve the problem.



To read the next blog article in this 6-part series, “Misconceptions about Group Therapy, Part V”, click the link below:  http://www.drrevelmiller.com/2019/12/misconceptions-about-group-therapy-part-v/


For more blog articles about group psychotherapy, click the link below:


To find out more about my group therapy services, click the link below:


For more information about my therapy groups, call me for a brief consult at 805-448-5053.

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