Group counseling can be a great benefit for many reasons.
If you’ve never been in a group for counseling, you may be wondering what it would be like and if it would be helpful to you. Here’s some great reasons to try group counseling.
Support from others with the same goals. Groups are usually centered on a specific issue such as self-improvement, grief, depression or anxiety. When you work on an issue that is challenging you with a group, you are not only working with a skilled counselor but also with others who want to improve their lives in the same way. You are all working towards the same goals and offer support to each other. Group members often feel that the compassion and empathy they feel from others in their group carries a lot of weight because it comes from people who really know what dealing with that issue really means.
There are multiple perspectives to learn from. The others in the group are often at different stages in their work – this brings in the perspectives of people who have been where you are, allowing you to learn from what worked for them or didn’t. You may also be further along than others, allowing you to share what has worked for you and reminding you of how far you have come in your own work.
You help others, too. Group members will often feel a sense of satisfaction from being able to help others as well as feeling helped.
Lower cost than individual counseling. Group counseling usually is a lower fee than individual counseling, making it easier to afford this type of counseling, and allowing you to possibly participate longer than you would have otherwise.
You might have some concerns about being in a group for counseling.
One common concern is that it will be difficult to talk and share information with a bunch of strangers. I have noticed that it doesn’t take long before you realize that each person in a group is searching for ways of coping with the same type of things you are and it doesn’t take long before the group is talking about sharing with ease. The process of giving and receiving acceptance from others overshadows this concern within a short time.
A second common concern is the time commitment. Groups are often set up on a specific day and time and you are expected to participate in a minimum number of sessions if you join. You can always search for groups of a relatively short duration (we run groups that are six week commitments) for the topic you are interested in. You also may simply go ahead and join – group members often find that the structure and expectation of a group is helpful, and that the commitment to self growth actually fuels a sense of accomplishment and self esteem.
A topic of interest may already be on your mind, or you may be searching for a general self improvement group. Searching for a group through http://www.meetup.com, or with a Google search may be one of your first steps. If you are in the Denver area, sometimes groups will be posted on the events page at The Denver Post. And if you do have a specific topic in mind, you may find websites that deal with that topic, that list groups in geographic areas for you to choose from.
If you’ve been able to find groups at a specific site, feel free to leave a comment and let others know how to find it. I’d also be interested to hear of specific groups or any thoughts you have about groups in general.