Why Are People Reluctant to Join Group Therapy? Part III

Note: This is Part III of a four-part series of blog articles. Here I will introduce 2 more reasons for reluctance to join a therapy group. In the 2 preceding and 1 follow-up articles, entitled “Why Are People Reluctant to Join Group Therapy? Part I, Part II 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 additional common reasons why people are reluctant to join group therapy:

5. Belief that other members do not have the ability to help them

Many people believe that other group members cannot help them. They often assume that others don’t have the insight, sensitivity or training to give them positive or helpful feedback. Upon entry into the group, they may not have faith in others’ insights and perceptions. This is a common yet erroneous belief.

When we have troubles, who do we usually talk with? Our friends, family members or ordinary people who we trust, right? So, over time, group members become trusted friends as well. They get involved in each others’ problems and support one another’s attempts to change and grow. Often, the other group members become more enabled to give us gems of insight and feedback than most friends, lovers and family members.

You don’t have to be a professionally trained therapist to sense others’ emotions and thoughts. This skill is heightened with experience during group sessions and in getting to know other members on a deeper level over time. In fact, members can often be more supportive and helpful than the therapist because they become important to the recipient of the feedback.

When group members feel safe and protected in the group setting, they can become more honest, bold and direct in their responses. The members are there to help one another and they know and appreciate that unique situation. The discussions, therefore, are seldom superficial and tend to be deeper and more genuine.

6. Fear that past negative experiences will replicate in a therapy group

We all grew up within a number of different types of groups. In fact, as humans and mammals, we are “pack animals”. We are wired for interaction among our own kind and we are attracted to groups in order to survive, learn tasks and accomplish goals. Most of us thrive in groups and avoid being alone or isolated for very long. We select mates, friends and live with family, join clubs and associations, and participate on teams.

However, for many of us, we have been hurt within groups as well. And, we remember these infractions and violations and the pain it cost us. So, if the pain was more powerful than the joy and pleasure of being a group participant over our lifetime, then we may be resistant or suspicious about joining another group in fear that the same type of negative experience will re-occur in a therapy group. We don’t want to take the chance of re-enacting painful events that took place in our families and other past groups.

So, because of our assumptions and anxiety of negative reenactment, we withdraw or resist and are hesitant to join group therapy. We allow the past to dominate and re-occur again in the future. In other words, we got burned and we aren’t going to give it a chance to happen again. So, we hem and haw and then we sometimes decide against joining a therapy group or we reluctantly enter the group with caution, suspicion and a self-protective stance. We expect that we may get psychologically injured in the group.


Challenging and Changing This Trend

The most important counterpoint is the proven reality that most of the above fears never materialize. In addition, it’s crucial for folks to consider that group therapy is an excellent choice for:

  • Working on developing interpersonal skills
  • Honing your communication skills
  • Finding solace among others dealing with similar issues
  • Being accountable for creating the changes you seek
  • Hearing a wider range of feedback from several perspectives

Another very important factor is cost. Since your therapist is seeking at least 4 people per session, your cost for therapy is decreased. This can make the difference between comfortably affording therapy or not.


To read Part IV of “Why Are People Reluctant to Join Group Therapy?”, click the link below:



You can read my other blog articles about “Group Therapy” by clicking the link below:


To learn more about my “Group Therapy” services, click on this link:



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


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