The most obvious difference between group therapy and individual therapy is that,
although the therapist facilitates the group process, in group therapy most interactions happen between group members rather than between the
therapist and the client. Additionally, group therapy may be more affordable for people who are unable to pay for one on one therapy.
Interpersonal Group Therapy
I am quite enthusiastic about providing interpersonal group therapy. It is a dynamic opportunity for clients to learn things about themselves that they cannot learn in any other setting. Interpersonal groups offer a real life situation where group members can experiment with
relationship dynamics in a safe space. Group members have the opportunity to interact with other real people, not just with the therapist. This makes the interactions
very real and alive, and the potential for interpersonal growth is immense. This unique situation gives group members the opportunity to try out ways of
interacting that might feel too scary to try with friends, family members, or
Interpersonal groups can offer an opportunity to overcome shyness and insecurity, or examine over-dominant behavior. They provide a real life situation in which you can see how you interact with others, and how and why others react to you the way they do. They can help reveal your true motives and feelings in interactions with others, and provide a mirror in which to view your true self. They can also assist you in learning how people feel and react to you when you are being fully authentic. Do you
wonder how other people see you? Here’s a chance to ask them. There is
no end to the possibilities.
The role of the therapist in interpersonal group therapy is quite different than in individual
therapy. The first job of the therapist is to put the right people together for each
group. In a successful group, all the members start with similar levels of relational
skills and readiness. This is extremely important, and it is why interpersonal groups
can take a while to get started. I meet
with everyone individually several times before they start a group. That way I know what their
strengths and challenges are, and they develop a trusting relationship with me as the facilitator.
The second role of the therapist is to facilitate group process. Remember, group therapy
is a laboratory for experimenting with relationship. Part of the therapist’s job is to maintain emotional safety, and monitor the pace of the group while also providing challenging opportunities for group members to look deeply into themselves. I do this by
helping people pay attention to what they are feeling and saying, or eliciting
feedback from other group members about their feelings and observations. Being mindful and honest in your interactions about your motives and reactions to others allows members to really
learn from their group experience.
Support groups are focused on a particular topic, such as the loss of a loved one, or issues pertaining to a common challenge. In a support group, the members share their
experiences, give each other encouragement, brainstorm new ways of handling
their challenges, and hear what has worked (or not worked) for others who are
facing similar situations. Support groups help people to experience that they
are not alone in the challenges they struggle with.
Differences between my Support Groups and Interpersonal Group Therapy
- Support groups allow people to join at any time during the group process, and people can discontinue the group when they feel they are ready. I usually, however, ask clients to commit to a minimum of 8 weeks in a support group in order to facilitate lasting change. Support groups are ongoing, and as such have members entering and exiting at various points in the group.
- With interpersonal group therapy there are usually eight to ten people in closed group (new members cannot enter mid-group). I ask group members to commit
to attend for at least 12 weeks, but the group has no set end date and group members may elect to continue for a longer period of time.
- Interpersonal group therapy is mainly focused on the process that is
happening in the room with other group members. Support groups are
mainly focused on what is happening in group members lives outside
the room in regard to the groups topic.
- Support groups have a predefined topic to focus on; there is no
predetermined topic in interpersonal group therapy. Often the first
thing people talk about in interpersonal group therapy is how they feel
about being in a new environment or meeting new people for the first
- The leader is more active and directive in a support group than in interpersonal group therapy.
If you are interested in interpersonal group therapy, please schedule an appointment with me to discuss your goals and expectations. If you are interested in a support group, feel free to inquire about topics that you are interested in, or view my flyers on the following topics.
Support Group Information (more to come)