Myths of Group Therapy

What crosses your mind when you think of group therapy? A smoky room of recovering addicts smoking cigarettes? A church basement of weepy women pining for their ex-husbands? A “family group” where the therapist has lost control to one raging member?

I mean no disrespect in these descriptions. There is some truth to them. For example, recovering addicts often benefit from community and groups for all kinds of grief allow a safe place to express your emotions.

But these images portrayed by the media can stop even the most self-help enthused women from seeking therapy. Even therapy with trusted, licensed therapists in St. George, UT referred by a close friend or family member. And that really is a shame.

There are clear benefits to be gained from group counseling. So let’s work to dispel a few of these myths and misconceptions. Empower yourself with real information about how group therapy can help you.

MYTH #1: I will be forced to share all of my deepest thoughts, feelings, and secrets with the group.

Members are encouraged to share at a level that feels comfortable for them. The group leader or other members may invite you to discuss your reactions or personal concerns, but you will never be forced to do or share something you do not want to. Most people find that they feel safe enough to share something they are struggling with or a concern they have.

A group can be very affirming and help you realize that you are not alone in your struggle, pain, or healing. We encourage you to share only what you are ready to disclose. While many group members have reported feeling relief or an increased sense of understanding and acceptance after disclosing, it is accomplished within their personal time frame.

MYTH #2: Group counseling will take longer than individual counseling because I will have to share the time with others.

Group members are often surprised by the material they can cover in group or how their concerns are being addressed even when others are speaking. Group therapy can be more efficient than individual counseling because you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you might choose to say very little but listen carefully to others.

Recognizing how your own experiences may be related or how you can connect with another member can also help you to learn from others and facilitate personal growth. You’ll also benefit from group members role modeling, sharing perspective and holding space for you to be accountable between sessions.

MYTH #3: I will be judged or verbally attacked by the leaders and by other group members.

It is very important that group members feel safe. This is for one simple to understand therapy concept: We don’t grow unless we feel safe. Therefore, safety comes first. And in this case we are talking about your emotional safety. Anyone who has experienced emotional abuse can attest to the lack of freedom and personal awareness they experienced during that fearful time in their life.

The group leader is there to help cultivate a safe environment in which group members feel heard and respected. As group members come to trust and accept one another, they generally come to view feedback and even confrontation as positives.

In fact, one of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment. It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how your actions may be contributing in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group counseling can offer. This is all done in a respectful, gentle way, so that you can hear it and apply it (or not!) to your unique experience.

One of my favorite mantras for feedback is: “If it fits, let it sit. If it doesn’t apply, let it fly.” You don’t have to agree with your group members or even your group leader. You are free to take what works and leave the rest for the benefit of your personal growth.

MYTH #4: I have so much trouble talking to people, I’ll never be able to share in a group where I don’t know anyone.

Although it’s common to feel uncomfortable when sharing with people you don’t know, most people find that their level of comfort and willingness to talk increases as the group progresses. Also, changes are you are in a group with a common goal or theme. For example, coping with depression or healing from PTSD. Many find it easier to open up knowing that they are in ‘good company’ with like-minded or like-motivated individuals.

Almost without exception, within a few sessions, people find that they feel connected to other members, and they start to feel a sense of pride and confidence as they build new skills. Often, they will notice more benefits from active participation in the group.

Becoming comfortable speaking with others in a safe, group setting, may help your relationships with others and other aspects of your life. Being able to learn to express yourself in any setting, when you choose to, is empowering and liberating.

MYTH #5: What about confidentiality?

Confidentiality is mandatory for all group participants. You commit to upholding confidentiality by not discussing any group members and their experiences outside of the group. Everything that happens in group, stays in group.

Confidentify in group therapy doesn’t mean your lips are 100% sealed. In fact, it can be important to have a trusted person to support you in your group experience. For a fact, this isn’t to say you cannot share what happens in group – but you learn to share from your experience. Rather than returning home and telling a partner, “Suzy Smith talked about how her husband recently died and I cried and cried!” you might tell your partner, “I was so moved by people sharing about grief tonight – I felt so connected to the stories I cried and cried.”

MYTH #6: What if another member of the group is my neighbor or friend?

The group leaders can help you explore the extent of the relationship and make adjustments as needed if you are not comfortable having someone you already know in the group. We will work with you to find the best fit and solution for your level of safety and comfort.

MYTH #7: My problems aren’t as bad as others or they are worse than others, so I won’t fit in with the group or benefit from it.

Comparison creates a barrier to healing and growth. We encourage members not to compare their suffering (or lack thereof) to other members. Your pain, healing, loss, trauma, joy, and journey are all valid. Group may provide a place for you to experience compassion for yourself and others, without having to decide who went through the worst experience. Healing comes when we recognize that we are not alone in our struggles.

MYTH #8: I’ve seen what groups look like on TV shows- I don’t want anything to do with that.

If you haven’t gathered by now, groups look very different when compared to how they are portrayed on TV and in the media. Group members do not need a diagnosis or label to participate in the groups at Guided Wellness. We encourage you to view yourselves as unique, multifaceted individuals and group therapy as a place to learn, grow, and become empowered women.

MYTH #9: I live in a small town, groups aren’t offered near me. GUIDED WELLNESS COUNSELING, ST. GEORGE UT | 84770 | 84790 | 84780

Do you think being part of a group could be helpful to you? Would you like more connection with like-minded women, seeking better relationships, healthy boundaries, greater confidence and recovery from PTSD? The next step is to call for a free 15-minute consultation.

During this consultation we’ll ask you to tell us a little bit about why you are interested in a group or individual counseling. For example, are you having trouble moving on from a divorce or end of relationship? Do you need better boundaries? Have you experienced the loss of a loved one? Are you struggling with PTSD symptoms?

Based on this information we’ll recommend a group (or other service) that is the best fit for you. We’ll get you registered and then you are ready to go! This is a really exciting time for your personal growth. Are you ready to get started?

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Guided Wellness Counseling

Healing Depression, Anxiety, and Trauma in St. George and all of Southern Utah.

EMDR Therapy and EMDR Consultation Services.

720 South River Road Suite E 103, St. George, UT 84790