Group Therapy

People seeking therapy often don’t automatically think about joining a group. However, group psychotherapy is particularly helpful for improving relationships with others, self-development, self-esteem, identity, depression, anxiety and many other difficulties that cause people to seek help. Being part of a therapy group can help us feel very connected to others, creating a strong sense of belonging, so these groups are also very helpful if you tend to feel alienated and on the ‘outside’.

The approach I use as a group psychotherapist is called group analysis. This draws from different theoretical models, including psychoanalysis, sociology, systems theory, inter-relational psychotherapies, and family therapy.

As a group analyst, I am particularly interested in the social background of the individual, as I believe this is at the core of our selves and relationships. I think about my clients, and their struggles, always in the context of their network of past and present relationships. I am particularly focussed on helping the way my clients relate. Groups are very effective for this as they offer both the supportive experience of belonging, and a forum where members become more able to describe how they experience, and are experienced by, each other.

Therapy groups last for an hour and a half and meet weekly. Some groups meet twice weekly.  Groups can have up to 8 members but can still work well with as few as 3 or 4 members. Like individual analytic therapy, the time is not structured and the focus of discussion is not decided or led by me. One way of describing what happens is that group members come together and  talk about what preoccupies them. The interaction deepens and people find they engage in a profound and meaningful way with each other and themselves. Over time, members become increasingly able to understand and tackle their struggles. At the centre of these interactions is the idea of an exchange – giving and receiving. Engaging with others in this way develops resilience, empathy and self-confidence.

If you are interested in joining a psychotherapy group you and I would have individual sessions first to think about this and to help prepare you for the group. How many individual sessions you need will vary. Some people need to have a course of individual psychotherapy before joining a group.

Group Analysis was originally developed by S.F. Foulkes in the 1940s in the UK. It is now an international psychotherapy movement with group analytic organisations active in many countries.  In the UK, Group Analysis is the main group psychotherapy model used in the NHS and other public body settings.