When clients enter therapy with a problem that affects their relationships, group therapy can often be a useful substitute or addition to individual therapy. We are all inherently social beings, and relationships bring out our best and our worst. Clients with social fears, those who could benefit from rehearsing new social skills in a safe environment, people who have had problems with romantic or workplace relationships – all have benefited from group therapy.
Dr. David L. Kupfer, together with an experienced female co-therapist, Ms. Gloria Myers Beller, LCSW, offers therapy groups aimed at serving high-functioning men and women at a variety of age levels. Some current groups include young adults in the process of establishing independent lives and dealing with dating challenges, while other groups include mostly members who are the mid-life stage. These groups tend to include approximately 6 people, all of whom are there to get help for themselves and to offer support to the other members. Group members are guaranteed confidentiality, and this makes them feel safe taking the interpersonal risks that may be hard for them in the outside world. In the group, two types of content tend to be discussed: members talk about problems they are facing in the “outside” world – marriage, dating, dealing effectively with co-workers and relatives, and they also are encouraged to work on their evolving relationships with their fellow group members – what it feels like to give and receive help, how they deal with members of each gender. Participants often learn valuable lessons about how they are perceived by others, and have the chance to learn from others’ life experiences. Group members are asked to commit to staying in the group a minimum of three months, to allow themselves time to overcome their initial anxiety and give the group a good chance to help them. Members are encouraged to avoid contact with other group members when they are outside the group itself; this keeps issues within the group, keeps the group “sacred” or different from the ordinary outside worlds of the members, and prevents members from “gossiping“ with each other without speaking directly to their fellow group members face-to-face.
Group therapy has been shown to help some psychotherapy clients more than individual therapy. It is not for everybody. Potential group members can meet with one of the group leaders for an evaluation to determine whether it is the right approach for them.