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Group therapy

Monday 14 November 2016

Group therapy is one of the different types of help available from the Advice and Counselling Service. Many people have misconceptions about what group therapy involves and how it can help. The following will explain more about what it is and who can benefit.

“Attending the group helped me to have better relationships. It made me aware of some self-defeating patterns I had in relating to others so I could get beyond them and enjoy my time at uni more.”

“After group therapy I no longer worry that I am going to make a fool of myself in social situations. My voice doesn’t shake like it used to.”

“Being in the group has helped me to develop many life skills. I feel better equipped for the world out there. I am excited about putting the new me into practice.”

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a talking therapy that takes place in a group.

How many people are there in a group?

Each group has a maximum of eight students.

When do the groups meet?

We run two therapy groups one on Wednesdays from 2.15–3.45pm, the other on Fridays from 2.15–3.45pm.

How long do the groups meet for?

The same people stay in a group over a period of time and this provides the potential for greater learning and change. Some people stay in the group for a semester, some attend throughout the academic year, and others continue for more than one year.

Who runs the groups?

The groups are facilitated by an experienced group therapist called Dr Jessica Mayer-Johnson who works in the Advice and Counselling Service.

What are the benefits of group therapy?

Joining a therapy group offers the chance to understand more about yourself in relation to other people, and to learn to engage with others, perhaps in a more rewarding way. There is the opportunity to learn from others and to receive feedback and support. Read comments from past group members.

Who can benefit from group therapy?

It can be particularly helpful for people who find it difficult to talk in groups, for example, and for many other problems as well.

What do people talk about in the group?

People talk about all sorts of things from current day-to-day frustrations, to deep-rooted, painful issues. The group therapist who is leading the group will be experienced in letting the group develop gradually as trust and safety grows, so you won’t have to open up until you feel ready to.

How does group therapy work?

Through the relationships within the group, members become aware of how past patterns of behaviour may have blocked development and change. These patterns of behaviour are usually repeated in the group. Exploring the blocks opens the way for understanding and change. Group members can offer encouragement, and alternative perspectives to each other. A group can be a powerful agent for change.

What is expected of the members of a group?

Group meetings are confidential and members are asked not to meet each other outside the group. In this way, personal problems can be explored in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality. Members are expected to attend every week as regular attendance is really important in group therapy.

What if I know someone in the group?

Every effort is made before you join a group to make sure that you are very unlikely to know anyone else in the group, eg we check that no-one from the same course group is already in the group and that no-one you have spoken about to the group therapist is currently attending a group. If in the unlikely event that you did know someone then Jessica would help you both to manage the situation and come to a decision about how to proceed. This may mean you agree that it is okay for you both to stay in the group, or that one of you will join a different group, or seek help from somewhere else.

How do I join a group?

If you’re interested in joining a group you should see a counsellor and tell them you are interested in group therapy. You can use the drop-in service every weekday afternoon or book an appointment in advance by contacting the counselling service (to find out more go to welfare.qmul.ac.uk/opening-times-and-contact-us).

Talk with the counsellor about whether a group could be of benefit to you. If it seems likely that group therapy could be appropriate the counsellor will arrange for you to meet individually with Jessica to discuss this. It can sometimes take several appointments with Jessica before a decision is made and a space becomes available for you to join a group. If group therapy does not seem suitable Jessica will help you to find the most appropriate referral to another service for the kind of help you need.

Advice and Counselling Service

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