Below are some of the most frequently asked questions at the BYU-I Counseling Center. For any other questions you have, please feel free to email Marci Nite at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 208.496.9370.
How can group therapy be as effective as individual therapy since I share the time with others?
Actually, group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group by listening carefully to others and their experiences. You will find that you have much in common with other group members, and, as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. Secondly, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but that you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself.
What are the benefits of group therapy versus individual therapy?
Group therapy offers many benefits that are not as available with individual therapy. One reason for this is that groups are composed of various personalities, experiences, and coping strategies. The strengths of each individual group member can serve as a model for other group members who are still learning about those skills and strengths.
In everyday life it is often difficult to get useful and reliable information about yourself from others. People seldom take the time to carefully observe others as well as themselves, and the social constraints against giving others honest feedback inhibits the sharing of observations that could be helpful and instructive. By contrast, group members do take the time to observe and share impressions in honest and caring ways.
What if I'm too scared to talk in group?
Most people are anxious about being able to talk in group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions people find that they do begin to talk in the group. The other group members understand what it is like to be new to the group, so you will most likely get a lot of support for beginning to talk in the group, particularly from the group leaders.
Will I be forced to share my deepest thoughts and feelings in group?
Just like in individual therapy, you control what, how much, and when you share with the group. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share what is troubling them, a group can be very helpful and affirming. Group members and leaders may invite you to share your fear of opening up to the group, but will also respect your decision not to share. We encourage you only to disclose what you are comfortable discussing. However, you can also be helped by listening to others and reflecting on how what they've shared may apply to you as well. As the group continues to develop and build safety, most people find themselves more comfortable to communicate openly.
How can I be certain other group members will not talk about me outside of the group?
Each group member agrees to the confidentiality of the information shared in the group prior to joining the group. What is said in groups must remain among the members of the group in order for all members to feel safe and trusting in the group. It is not appropriate for a group member to disclose events of the group to an outside person or other group members outside of group outside of group meetings. While the group leaders cannot guarantee that members will maintain group confidentiality outside the group, this is thoroughly discussed and agreed upon with each member prior to joining the group.
Will it be safe for me to share with the group and not be critcized or judged for what I do, think or feel
It is very important that members feel safe in the group. Group leaders are there to help develop a safe environment and will work to maintain a constructive and caring atmosphere. We understand that feedback from others may at times be difficult to hear. A benefit of group therapy is receiving feedback from others who are trying to help, while also having a trained group leader present to facilitate the conversation. Group may be one of the only places in which you can receive honest and supportive feedback about how you might be behaving in ways that are hurtful to yourself or others. Group leaders will help members give feedback in a way that is respectful, thoughtful, and constructive.
Can I just try group and if I don't like it, stop coming?
Because it takes time to get acquainted and warm up to other people, group members are asked to commit to at least four sessions before making the decision to leave group. Group therapists are available for consultation regarding the issue to leave or to stay. Once the decision to leave group is reached, the exiting group member should inform the other group members of the decision to leave and the reason why. Ideally, this is done in person at the last group session the exiting member is attending.