Group Psychotherapy is a “relational “ form of therapy in which a small group meets regularly under the leadership of a trained, preferably certified, group psychotherapist to help support, understand and learn about themselves and one another. One of the essential benefits of group therapy is that it helps people to feel connected, breaking through the feelings of aloneness and lack of meaning that contribute to depression, anxiety and relationship challenges. We are social beings, we come to know ourselves through formative group environments- our families, schools, organized activities and work. These are the environments in which we grow and develop as human beings, and also experience vulnerability and wounding. Group psychotherapy provides a space to connect, to share stories of triumph and trauma, and to better understand painful life experiences, by learning from and with each other in a meaningful way.
With skillful leadership, the group becomes a “safe container,” a learning lab for the exploration of self-awareness essential to improving interpersonal relationships. In the group, there are many different levels of exploration occurring simultaneously- the intra-psychic- “who am I within myself?”… the interpersonal, “who am I in relationship?”… the group as a whole- “ who am I in this group? And beyond this group?” Group helps people gain insight and make important changes, improving the quality of their lives. Group members also discover that they can apply the discoveries from group to other parts of their lives. For group members who are psychotherapists themselves, it is a great training opportunity. The best way to learn about how to be a really good group leader is to be a group member!
According to the American Group Psychotherapy Association, in studies comparing group psychotherapy to individual therapy, group therapy has been shown to be as effective and sometimes even more effective, because of the social context. In cases of medical illness, there is robust evidence that group therapy helps people cope better, enhances the quality of their lives and, in some cases, such as breast cancer, has even been shown to help people live longer. Group therapy is a significant resource, a high-value, cost-effective treatment option for those who may be struggling with the aftermath of traumatic experiences and who may have limited financial resources.
I am passionate about group! I encourage all individual and couples therapy patients to get into group at some point in their therapy work. I lead many kinds of groups. In my private practice, I offer local and online contemplative-based mixed gender process groups, women’s process groups and online clinical consultation groups. By offering online groups, I offer the opportunity for members to work with others beyond their local communities, across cultural boundaries both internationally and domestically. This provides a rich multi-cultural and diverse experience and a deepening of perspective.
Through my work with the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights, I offer short term group programs such as the Contemplative-Based Trauma and Resiliency Training (CBTRT) and the 8 week Portable Calm training to global mental health practitioners. You can learn more about that here
My theoretical orientation is an integration of psychodynamic psychotherapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. I begin the first ten minutes of each group session with mindfulness practice to help members develop better anchors for self-regulation and self- compassion. Learning how to bringing curiosity to the thoughts and feelings that emerge through the session helps members become more aware and less overwhelmed. The last 10 minutes of each session is set aside for meta-processing to widen the lens and identify discoveries that occurred in the session. This structure supports metallization- the process of naming experience and integrating learning.
For group members who are in the fields of psychotherapy, psychiatry, human resources, community psychology or education where understanding group dynamics is vital, meta-processing presents a training opportunity to identify the interventions that help deepen the work of the group.
I am a Certified Group Psychotherapist, a Fellow of The American Group Psychotherapy Association, a member of The International Group Psychotherapy Association, The Four Corners Group Psychotherapy Association and a Past President of the Austin Group Psychotherapy Society. I am also the recipient of the 2015 Social Responsibility Award from the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health for clinical excellence in group related humanitarian outreach.
For me, being a group therapist is enlivening. It is a privilege that has brought meaning, richness and creativity to my professional life for over thirty five years.
Let’s explore whether group therapy is for you! I would be happy to discuss what kind of group might be a good fit!
Click here to contact me for further information or to schedule an appointment today!