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WHAT IS GROUP THERAPY?

Group therapy is a specialized form of therapy in which clients meet with a therapist in a small group. There are many different formats and methods of group therapy. Some are structured around a particular problem or situation while others focus more broadly on a variety of relationship issues. Sometimes group therapy provides educational input with structured exercises and homework between sessions. Other formats use open discussion among the group members with no set agenda. Regardless of the method utilized, group members are required to make several agreements so that the group can work well together. (see Group Agreements below) These working agreements ensure confidentiality, safety and honest feedback.

Short Term Group Therapy

In short-term supportive groups, clients meet for a predetermined number of sessions, typically six to twelve, focusing on common issues shared by members. The opportunity to be with others ‘in the same boat’ breaks down feelings of isolation and helps people find support and strength to face their unique challenges.
From time to time, I offer short term groups for:
  • parents of special needs children,

  • chronic pain patients,

  • couples facing infertility issues,

  • disordered eating, and

  • couple’s relationship issues.

Longer Term Group Therapy

Longer term group psychotherapy focuses on understanding and resolving a broader range of emotional and relationship problems. In this form of therapy, clients receive support and encouragement for personal growth and change. These groups meet for an extended period. The therapist guides the group in an examination and reflection of the issues as they occur. Much of the interpersonal learning comes from within the group as members come to know and understand their own patterns. The meetings are private and confidential, often regarded as a time-out from one’s regular daily relationships, thereby creating a ‘neutral zone’ for honest self-expression and exploration. (*(See 'Client Information for the Interpersonal Group' link)

What issues may be addressed?

The personal concerns one might bring to this group are quite broad. Examples may include:
  • self-criticism and perfectionist tendencies,

  • understanding and changing power and control issues with others,

  • developing better emotional connection in relationships,

  • understanding one’s need for approval and it’s impact on others,

  • exploring issues impeding closeness,

  • tolerating vulnerability and strong emotions,

  • developing assertiveness in relationships, and

  • becoming more able to face conflict.

The Group Agreements

  • Regular, punctual attendance: The agreement is to make the group a priority, to organize oneself to manage the time commitment and to be respectful in giving notice in situations serious enough to cause an absence. If a group participant feels tempted to miss a session or drop out of the group, this decision is best verbalized and explored, rather than acted upon.

  • Confidentiality: The agreement is to protect the privacy and identity of the other group members by exercising caution and tact outside of the group meetings.

  • Respect, safety and honesty: The agreement is to express oneself in an honest manner while being respectful of others. Strong feelings should be in words, not actions.

  • Feedback: The agreement is to give honest, constructive feedback as the group develops.

  • Keep the group separate and neutral: The agreement is to use the group as a ‘time out’ from one’s real life; a safe haven outside of the constraints of typical social life. If one group member wishes to have outside contact with other members, it is best if these are verbalized and explored rather than acted upon.

  • Payment of fees: The agreement is to take responsibility for the prompt, full payment of the group fees.


For more information about group therapy see The Canadian Group Therapy Association at http://cgpa.ca/ or The American Group Psychotherapy Association at http://www.agpa.org/




Please call or email to inquire about therapy.
A brief initial telephone consultation is free of charge.
Phone 204-947-3485
Email: jd_smith@mts.net