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  1. #1
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    Indecision about group therapy

    Hi,

    I'm posting because I'm racked with indecision and wondering if anyone wants to give me their thoughts on the matter:

    About a year ago I started seeing a psychologist because I have trouble being close in relationships (most importantly love relationships). I'll be with someone for years and years and still somehow feel like they're an acquaintance whom I just happen to sleep with. So I started seeing a therapist. Found a wonderful therapist, and he helps me a great deal. Only thing is: He really wants me to try group therapy. When I first went to see him a year ago, he tried to stick me in a group (I flat-out refused) and now he's trying again. I'm really conflicted about whether to try this or not for several reasons :

    I have a terribly hard time talking in a group. I'm very shy in any kind of formal group setting (though I'm fine in a relaxed group out to dinner). And I'm not interested in fixing this particular problem about who I am (in spite of his wanting me to). I'd rather just be accepted (or go my own way). I'm also really only interested in learning to be closer to someone one-on-one (as opposed to in a group setting).

    I'm also scared that if I tried group therapy and failed to be able to interact with people (something I consider very likely in a group setting) that I wouldn't want to see my own therapist any more (I'd be seeing him for concurrent individual therapy). I never want to see people who have seen me fail at something. I pretty much want to get away from them forever. That would be a real loss to me.

    But with that said, I have a lot of faith in my therapist, and he may be right that it would help. Although really I don't feel like there's anything lacking in individual therapy. I'm tempted to try it just because he wants me to. It's not likely that I'll ever develop the motivation/desire on my own (which may in and of itself be a sign that I shouldn't try group). But I fear I'll destroy what I already have and ultimately drop out of all therapy (something I'll discuss with him but haven't yet).

    He wants me to start the group (along with another new person) in 2 weeks. I haven't been able to answer yes or no. I think I have more reasons not to try it than to try it, but I'm sort of fascinated with the idea. There's something intriguing about picturing myself doing something that would be so horrible (for me). I guess that's horror-movie style attraction and not necessarily a basis for trying anything!

    Okay sorry so long. Anyone out there been in a similar situation? If so, whatdja do? Anybody have any thoughts on group therapy in general? (Particularly if you're shy like me.) I met one girl at my gym who had tried it, and she said it was a horrible experience.

    Thanks for any input,
    Sidony

  2. #2
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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Group therapy is a source of anxiety for many people, but for certain issues, such as social anxiety or self-esteem issues, it can be very beneficial - I think often people need to work up to group therapy via individual therapy.

    That said, I don't think anyone should feel that if they don't participate in group therapy they can't address their significant issues. Sometimes, it's a matter of personal preference and personal style.

    I don't do groups any more because I think as a therapist I'm much more effective in individual therapy. I don't think I'd be a very good candidate for group therapy as a patient either, for some of the same reasons.

  3. #3
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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter View Post
    I don't think anyone should feel that if they don't participate in group therapy they can't address their significant issues.
    Thanks, I guess I was starting to get that impression from him. And yet it all seems to be helping -- I definitely think my relationships are improving. It's just slow progress. I hope that the idea of group therapy won't somehow be what causes me to end individual therapy.

    I guess I'll be undecided for a while. If I do try it, I'll post with my impressions of it and what effect I think it'll have on my relationship with the therapist. I get the impression that most of his clients see him for both individual and group though I could be wrong.

    Funny, I probably would have avoided therapy altogether if I'd realized there was even such a thing as group therapy! (I didn't know much about the field of psychology.) But I'm kind of phobic that way....

    Thanks, Sidony

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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    I didn't want to go to group therapy, either, Sidony. I was afraid it wouldn't be right for me, and I'm a very, very private person by nature. The thought of sharing myself with a group of people was horrifying. Yet, I did give it a try and found it to be a very rewarding experience.

    Do what's right for you. If you decide to try the group, go in with an open mind and try not to take baggage with you. You might find, as I did, that it's a much different experience than you might expect.

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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Thanks for the input! If you don't mind my asking, how long were you in the group? Or better, how long did it take before you thought it was helpful instead of all horrifying? I see my therapist again tomorrow and hopefully will talk about all of it in detail. At least if I can keep myself from avoiding the subject!

    Sidony

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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    For me, things began to loosen up within me after about three or four sessions. I realized it was me rejecting the group, and that the group was not going to reject me. It became clear that we were just a few people, sitting in a room, discussing the world we lived in and how we reacted to that world. There was no room for judgement, since we were all working toward the same end - healthy, happy lives.

    Once I accepted the others as peers instead of judges, and people with whom I could share, things opened up for me. I was in that group for nearly two years. It's an experience I wouldn't have traded for anything. I learned a lot, and I hope I was able to help others to learn through my experience. It's now a time I remember fondly. I remember, when I left the group to move to another town, the others asked the psychiatrist who conducted the group if he could find someone else - just like ME! That did my heart good, and helped me to realize that I really was valued, and valuable.

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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    I think I am going to give it a try. I'm hoping for 2 things: that it won't mess up my relationship with my therapist (i.e. that I won't feel so bad if I quit that I'm unwilling to see him any more) and secondly that I can find some way of coping with the initial reaction. See, I initially expect to feel really stupid if I try to talk to a group of people (in addition to being private by nature, I always felt that way in the past if I was put on the spot -- that's why I'm shy!). That's irrational (I'm sure I'm reasonably bright), but I can't do anything about it at the moment (I certainly can't find a coping mechanism between now and Monday). So I'd have to experience that awful feeling of stupidity again, and it'll probably last for days. I really don't know how to cope with that. My immediate reaction would be to have a couple of drinks afterward, but that sensation wears off and I'm stuck with that awful feeling again to torture my thoughts. It'd be nice if I could fix that in advance, but I don't see any way of doing it.

    Blah!
    Sid

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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Talk to your therapist about using CBT techniques (cognitive counters or cognitive restructuring) to counter those negative thoughts when they occur.

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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Sidony,

    As I can relate to exactly what you have described, what I found that has helped me is to use a mood log which can be found here Daily Mood Log which for me has and does help with countering the automatic negative thoughts that I have.

    Good luck with the group therapy and I am really proud that you are taking this step forward.

    Take care

  10. #10
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    Re: Indecision about group therapy

    Thanks for the input! And the mood log is a good idea.

    I guess my post was pretty negative. I get depressed when I try to make decisions that are important to me, and then I can only think of the negative possibilities. (My brother is exactly the same way so I guess we both learned it together somewhere.) Depression definitely doesn't help if you're looking for courage! I haven't put myself in a situation that evoked those kind of negative thoughts in a long long time so I hadn't thought about trying to fix that. I definitely should though. My biggest negative thought is not that I'm stupid (which I know isn't true), but that I have nothing to say. I hope the latter isn't true but it sometimes feels that way.

    Sidony

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