Process Groups

Process Groups
Each Thursday I partner with Julia Schiffman to offer the “Live the Life You Want” group. Julia and I are both Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist interning under John McConnell, Ph.D.

What now?

There comes a time in your sobriety when you ask yourself what now? This might happen sooner for some and later for others, but this is a question that must be answered at a certain point; it’s truly unavoidable. Left unanswered, fear about our future settles in, and we may have no idea where to start. You have your foundation, now it’s time to Live The Life You Want.

What is a Process Group

Group therapy for many can be a powerful tool for growth and transformation. In process groups, up to 12 individuals meet face to face to share their experience with 1 or 2 trained group therapists. The power of process groups lies in the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement and feedback from other individuals in safe environment.

Process groups are typically unstructured. However, some groups are organized around a specific topic or theme. Members are welcome to bring any issues to the group that they feel important, as the primary focus of therapy in the group is on the interactions among group members. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to other members, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members’ contributions bring up for them.

What can I expect from being in group therapy?

The first few sessions of a process group will focus on establishing a level of trust that allows members to communicate openly and honestly. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members’ contributions bring up for them. Group members and group therapists may serve as models for effective communication, offer problem-solving strategies, and promote self-acceptance and self-support.

How can I Get the most out of group therapy?

Be yourself. Start from where you are, not how you think others want you to be. This might mean asking questions, expressing anger, or communicating confusion and hopelessness. Transformation begins with whatever you feel free to safely disclose.

Recognize and respect your pace for getting involved in the group. Some group members will always be ready to disclose their thoughts and feelings; others need more time to gain feelings of trust and security. By respecting your needs you are learning self-acceptance. If you are having a difficult time with how to discuss your problems with the group, then ask the group to help you.

Respectively express reactions and feelings. Pay close attention to what you are feeling as you are sharing or others are sharing. If you are having difficulties recognizing and expressing your thoughts or feelings, ask the group to help.

Give and receive feedback. Giving and receiving feedback can be a major component of your experience in group therapy. The purpose of feedback is to help others identify patterns, personal presentations, unrecognized attitudes, and inconsistencies. Feedback can be one of the most effective ways to deepen any relationship. Feedback is not giving advice. Sometimes we really want to offer advice to someone who is struggling, but often when we do, we fail to let that person feel heard.

Work outside the group. In order to get the most from the group experience, you will need to spend time between sessions thinking about yourself, trying out new behaviors, reflecting on what you are learning, reassessing your goals, and paying attention to your feelings and reactions.

Give the group time to develop. It can take a number of sessions before members of a group begin to have sufficient trust and security to be open and honest, to disclose their concerns and feelings. Thus, we encourage you to make a commitment to attend sessions regularly. If you are not getting what you want out of the group, then talk about that with the group members.

The group as laboratory

In trying these new ways of interacting with others, the important thing is to do something that feels difficult. Old, familiar ways of behaving will probably not result in productive experiments. Moreover, a new behavior may seem difficult at first, but with practice, it gets easier. Then the new behavior may be added to your repertoire-your range options-and it’s available whenever you need it.

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