Group Therapy: Common Questions and Concerns
What do I talk about?
- Tell the group what's bothering you.
- Whether you need to be supported or challenged, let the group know. Tell people what you expect of them.
How much you talk about yourself depends upon what you're comfortable with. However, unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties. Revealing your feelings is important and affects how much you'll be helped.
The most useful disclosures relate to your present concerns. If you have questions about what information could be helpful, ask the group.
I worry that...
"I'll be forced to tell my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets."
You control what, how much and when you share. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share what's troubling them, a group can be helpful and affirming. Even if you're not ready to talk about something, listening to others can help. What they're saying may apply to you.
"Group therapy will take longer because I'll be sharing the time."
Group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons: First, you can benefit from the group, even when you're quiet and listening carefully. Second, group members may bring up issues that strike a chord with you – things you may not have been aware of or brought up yourself.
"Others in the group will verbally attack me."
It's important for members to feel safe and leaders will help develop that environment within the group. While feedback is often hard to hear, groups can point out damaging behaviors in a respectful, gentle way, so you can hear and use the insights. As trust grows, group members generally experience feedback (and even confrontation) as a sign of caring.
"I have trouble talking to people. I'll never be able to share in a group."
Most people are anxious about talking in a group, but this almost always fades quickly. People also remember what it's like to be new to a group; you're likely to get a lot of support when you do begin talking.
"Group therapy is second-best."
Group therapy is the most effective treatment approach for many issues college students face. When a group is recommended, it's because your therapist believes it's the best way for you to be helped. He or she can discuss the reasons for the recommendation with you.
Common concerns adapted from Counseling Services, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.