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Group Therapy Guidelines Before, During, And After The Session

There are a lot of questions surrounding the topic of group therapy. What happens during therapy sessions? How effective can group therapy be? How do I go about group therapy? And so much more. These questions and uncertainties are mostly because therapy and mental health, in general, is such a taboo topic. Because of this, anything related to a person’s mental wellbeing is mostly hidden behind a veil of uncertainty and is kept hush.

This article will be divided into three broad categories that aim to help answer some of these questions: what to do before group therapy, how to conduct yourself during group therapy, and how to process the group therapy sessions that you have just undergone. Our goal is that after reading this article, you would have a general idea of the guidelines of group therapy and how it works.

Preparing for Group Therapy

Before going to therapy, there are some things that you ought to do before starting. You should not just dive in blindly without prior preparations because you may end up clueless and lost. This will be unproductive because instead of spending your time fruitfully, you would have more to spend more time adjusting to the way things work.

1. Set a goal for yourself. The first step you should do when preparing for your therapy is to know your goals. Why are you doing therapy? Think about it deeply and keep it in mind. Therapy can be draining for anyone, so you should constantly remind yourself of this goal to keep you going.

2. Write questions you might want to ask. Preparing a set of questions that you want to ask ahead of time will not hurt. It will help you think of conversation topics ahead of time so that your therapy will run smoother. However, it is not your job to initiate all conversations so if things get awkward later in therapy, do not fret. All these are normal situations, however, having a “cheat sheet” of things that might come up or things you are interested to ask will probably be helpful for all involved.

When having your group therapy

Now that you have done the preparations that you need for therapy, you finally step in to meet other people. They are your peers who are undergoing similar struggles as you are, so make sure to relax and take a deep breath. Once the ball gets rolling, hopefully, you and your peers get to have meaningful conversations and a fruitful therapy session. Here are some ways you can do that:

1. Set an expectation and say it upfront. When in therapy, it would be a good idea to be transparent about your goals and intentions. This will be a good way to break the ice as well because it is likely that everyone has similar expectations and intentions, but are shy to be the first to talk. Therefore, you should be honest in terms of your expectations and say it out loud: “I expect and hope that with this therapy, I will…” then you fill it in. Hopefully, this would lead others into doing the same which would then ignite possible conversations and shed light on possible similarities between you and others.

2.  Be honest but kind. A lot of addicts are compulsive liars. This is not surprising news because addicts tend to do anything to get high again. Therefore, addicts eventually end up getting good at lying and covering up what they want to say. This might be helpful for them previously, but it would be counterproductive in the setting of group therapy. In fact, lying and being evasive is the exact opposite of what you should be doing in therapy.

Being honest and vulnerable is one of the only ways you get to express what you are feeling. We agree that it can be terrifying to be vulnerable and open yourself up to other people’s judgments, but this cathartic release in a safe and judgment-free space can be very gratifying. It can remove a heavy burden on your shoulders as you share with others what you are feeling. However, you should do all of these kindly and with deep sympathy. You should never be condescending in front of others who mustered the courage to be vulnerable just to be met with your prickly words. Kindness goes a long way, especially in an environment like group therapy.

3. Be a part of the team. Engaging with other people and taking part in their conversations will play a vital role in the success of group therapy. You should lend a listening ear and give feedback to other people when appropriate. Sarcasm and angst should not have a place in group therapy because all of you have the same goal of getting yourselves back up on your feet. When other people ask you questions, answer them with courtesy and kindness. If there are activities in group therapy, do try to participate as well. Basically, be a good sport about group therapy and do not spoil it for others. 

What to do after a session

1. Know the next session. After all has been said and done, the first thing you need to know after a group therapy session is when the next one might be. Knowing this and blocking it in your schedule will help you gain some semblance of order in your life which can be beneficial.

2. Reflect and process. Therapy is not easy and you would have inevitably heard some interesting stories. Try to reflect on what you have heard and see if there are things your peers did that may benefit you and is applicable in your own life as well. Furthermore, having an emotionally-charged therapy session may be draining for some, so you should give your time to digest all the things you have heard and process them the best way you can.

Having group therapy is a challenge in and of itself, especially for people who never had it before. It necessitates a great deal of patience and compassion for you to be able to have success with it. However, if you can overcome that learning curve and get past all of the harder parts, group therapy can be extremely fruitful. You can bond with other people in a way that is unique and unlike any other. You bare yourselves and get vulnerable so that others may have the chance to help you, and you get the same opportunity to do the same.

Taking the right steps at the right time is crucial in your path to recovery. Contact us to help you take that step.

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