Why Are People Reluctant to Join Group Therapy? Part II

Note: This is Part II of a four-part series of blog articles. Here I will introduce 2 more of the reasons for reluctance to join a therapy group. In the 1 preceding and 2 follow-up articles, entitled “Why Are People Reluctant to Join Group Therapy? Part I, Part III and Part IV”, I present the other 6 reasons for this reluctance.

8 Reasons Why People Are Reluctant to Join a Therapy Group

Below are 2 more common reasons why people are reluctant to join a psychotherapy group:

3. Fear of being criticized and confronted by other members

Yes, most new entrants into a therapy group and some old-timers in the group as well fear being criticized and confronted by the others. But the members are encouraged to share their feelings, thoughts and opinions with each other. And yes, at times some may be critical of their fellow members. They may express their criticism directly and also why they hold that criticism.

Some group leaders encourage members to confront one another, not to pretend, cower away, remain silent or hold-in their reactions. Conscientiously sharing opinions and direct comments are encouraged.  Confrontation is simply facing a real issue or asking a difficult question. It is not necessarily negative, critical or destructive. Confrontation is sharing a real feeling or thought and it can be a disturbing and negative experience or uplifting and positive.

This is “straight talk” and the receiver is responsible to judge whether the information shared is positive or negative, hurtful or helpful, distorted or realistic. That member can react automatically or consider what is being said to them and judge whether it is helpful or not. In group process, the receiver of the confrontation can decide whether to take it in, be quiet and protect themselves, or fire back in retaliation.

Fortunately, confrontational statements are usually quite helpful and the receiving member usually considers what has been said in a thoughtful way. Criticisms and confrontations are not always humiliating or rejecting and the recipients are not always crushed. Instead, group members begin to manage both types of interactions in healthier ways, to take advantage of feedback, and learn that their imagined fears are not always accurate. So, they become more open and secure within themselves.

Other than in group therapy, where else are people encouraged to share real thoughts and feelings?

4. Fear of loss of confidentiality outside the group by the other members

People who contemplate joining a group are often concerned that the other members will “leak” or reveal their personal and embarrassing information into their community. They fear that their confidentiality and privacy will be violated if they join a group.

Most professional group therapy leaders are either licensed by their state or under supervision by a licensed mental health profession. These professionals and associates are held to strict ethical principles and laws about confidentiality. So, most newcomers trust the therapy leaders because they are bound to a set of ethics and could lose their license if they ever broke confidentiality without a patient’s permission.

But why would some ordinary group members hold their tongues? Well first of all, it is a mutual desire among all of the members. Each member holds his tongue out of respect but also because they expect the others to hold their tongues as well. Second, in order to join most therapy groups, each new member is required to agree not to disclose personal information outside about any other members. They commit and hold to this agreement.

Most importantly, however, group members almost never talk about the other members to outsiders because they respect and honor each other. They make their own personal decision and commitment to protect the group and the individual members in it. This is like a vow of honor that members make to themselves and they take pride in it and seldom struggle to contain themselves when tempted.

Breaches of confidentiality are a rare incident and I have never known of a violation by a member within one of my groups and my colleague group leaders have never shared with me that they had to deal with an infraction within one of their therapy groups.

How to Take the First Step

It’s normal to feel anxious about joining a group. Therefore, it makes sense to go directly to the source for more information. Schedule a consultation with me. Ask all your questions and voice all your concerns. In turn, I will educate you about group therapy so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not group psychotherapy may be helpful for you. Our consultation could be the game-changer you need to take a life-altering step.


To read the next article is this 4-part series, Part III of “Why Are People Reluctant to Join Group Therapy?”, click the link below:  http://www.drrevelmiller.com/2019/12/why-are-people-reluctant-to-join-group-therapy-part-iii/


Read other blog articles about “Group Therapy” by clicking the link below:


Learn more about my “Group Therapy” services by clicking on the link below:




Are you interested in possibly joining a therapy group? Call me soon to schedule an initial phone consultation session – 805-448-5053.


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