Misconceptions about Group Therapy, Part V

Note: This is Part V of a 6-part series of blog articles. Here I introduce 4 more reasons for reluctance to join a therapy group. In the preceding article, entitled “Misconceptions about Group Therapy, Part IV”, I presented 3 other reasons for this reluctance.

16 Misconceptions about Group Therapy 

Below, I will dispel 2 more of the distorted expectations about process therapy groups:

11. In a group I will rapidly make changes in my behaviors, mood or self-esteem.

Like all psychotherapy methods, change is usually made slowly over time depending upon how much effort you put into your healing process. There are usually no “quick fixes” that endure for long periods of time.

Changes in behavior and self-esteem must be earned and maintained. New habits must be transformed. Listening needs to improve. Moods take time to lift. Emotions need to be detected and understood. Thinking must become clearer and more realistic. Genuine friendships and trust need to be developed. Past history needs to be put into perspective. All of this processing, shifting and transitioning takes time.

So, there is a lot to be dealt with in the human psyche for meaningful healing and positive change to take place.

12. I fear being dominated, alienated and emotionally overwhelmed in group therapy.

These are realistic concerns by new members. If you have a tendency to be dependent, non-social or reactive, then these habits will emerge and play-out in the group. However, in group the members will interfere with these unwanted and automatic behaviors and wake you up to how you are behaving.

In addition, the group leader will often discourage you from indulging in these types of habitual behaviors and unhealthy re-enactments too frequently. He/She wants you to experience yourself in new ways instead of in repetitive automatic types of reactions.

13. I’ve had painful experiences in my family and other groups, so I fear that group therapy will re-stimulate old painful memories and emotions.

Yes, these types of uncomfortable reactions can happen in group and they may have unexpectedly occurred to you before in other settings.

Most people have suffered some negative and painful experiences in the past within some type of group. But remember, these reactions are not life threatening. They are emotionally painful and may be frightening but they can usually be contained and controlled within the group setting with the other members.

To heal, sometimes you need to confront old memories and emotional triggers head-on. If you avoid dealing with them, they will continue to disrupt your life and self-esteem. Working on old painful emotional triggers within the group setting can be very helpful, relieving and healing. It will take courage but you will gain better perspective, self-control and peace of mind.

14. People are not trustworthy and therefore they will not be honest or helpful. 

If you feel that other people are not honest or cannot be trusted, then you may have thoughts that stem from past disappointments or trauma or a chemical imbalance in your brain. If you are convinced that others are not trustworthy, then I doubt you would seek group therapy. You would probably feel more comfortable taking psychiatric medicine and engaging in individual therapy.

However, if you have some doubt about about your suspicions and actually do trust some people who you believe are honest, then welcome to group therapy! There is no better way to challenge and test persistent faulty or fearful beliefs than by interacting with other group members over an extended period of time. Within the group meetings you will discover whether or not your belief about people is true or false.

If you can bear it, the group will likely challenge your premises and help you to begin to trust others. Hopefully, the group experience will force you to be honest and trustworthy yourself and compel you to share yourself instead of being fearful, self-contained, secretive and lonely.


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

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 groups, call me for a brief consult at 805-448-5053.


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