Group FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
Interpersonal Group
Anger Related Group.
Addiction Treatment
How will group be structured?
Is the group open or closed?
When will group start?
Why do I need to join a group?
What is a Facilitator?
How long do I have to attend?
How much will it cost?
What Should I Expect?
Benefits of Group Therapy
More Than Support
How alike are the group members?
Is group therapy enough?
How much should I share?
Why consider group therapy?
How long do I stay in the group?
What if I feel I don’t fit in?
Is it confidential?
What do we talk about?
How do I join a group?
How will I know that this is the right therapy for me?
How will I know it is working?
Can anybody go to group?
Is it always the same people in the group?
What is group therapy?
What are the goals of group therapy?
Why group therapy?
Is there a limit to the number of group sessions I can have?
How do I make the most of group therapy?
Are there ground rules for participating in group therapy?
What about confidentiality?
Isn’t individual therapy better?
The background to Interpersonal Group Psychotherapy
Values and Meaning
A Summary

Interpersonal Group. This will be traditional group therapy with one or two facilitators and between 4 and 8 group members sitting in a circle and lasting for between 75 and 90 minutes. There will be no programme, timetable or structure. Instead, members will be invited to check in and to take group time to explore anything on their mind at the time. The focus will be not just on what members say but on the way they say it. Particular focus will be on relationships between members of the group and how episodes and events from the past have an effect on relationships in the here-and-now. Self-disclosure and feedback with be encouraged and supported. individual and group safety will be paramount.

Anger Related Group. These will be concerned with the helpful and healthy expression of anger. There will be several different groups:

  • Cage the Rage – overt anger, aggression and violence.
  • It’s OK to be Angry – covert and hidden anger, passive-aggressiveness etc
  • Assert Yourself! – specific assertiveness training
  • Getting Along & Keeping Cool – Adolescent anger management and aggression and violence control

For more information, please see HERE Back to the Top

Addiction Treatment. For those who meet the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence syndrome. The emphasis will be on total abstinence from all mood altering substances and behaviours. These will be the types of groups. Click on links for more information

Relapse Prevention Group. Various groups, both open and closed, to help maintain total abstinence and maintain healthy boundaries.

Year long Intensive Addictions Treatment Programme (Starting in Autumn 2015 depending on funding)

Psychoeducational groups to enhance existing recovery. These include communicational skills, assertiveness training, HIV/AIDS Education, parenting skills etc. For more information, see HERE

Workshops devoted to a single topic. We have a repertoire of over 250 topics. Examples include intimacy, grandiosity, Johari Window, Cycle of Change etc. For more information, see HERE

Substance-specific groups are available for marijuana, alcohol, stimulant or cocaine dependence. These consist of between 8 and 15 CBT groups. They are suitable for clients in early recovery or with a recent history of relapse. For more information, see HERE

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Disordered Eating Programme, We have a 17 session CBT course to provides some strategies and techniques to change the thinking patterns associated with disordered eating. For more information, see HERE

12 Steps, We offer Step 1, 2 and 3 groups and workshops and lectures on various aspects of the 12 Steps. The process of these groups will be completely secular and not associated with any belief system. We view gods and religion as constructs of the human mind and imagination. As such, and only as such, they can be powerful aides to exploring inner space and the imaginal world.

For more information, please see our website: nextsteptherapy.ie (Right hand column, Main Areas) <a href=”#top”>Back to the top</a>

How will group be structured? Groups will be held in my therapy rooms at 9 Lower Abbey Street in an anonymous business centre. All group members will be met and assessed by a therapist prior to commencing group to ensure that the group is appropriate to meet the client’s need and to ensure that there will be a good mix.

Is the group open or closed? Open groups are those in which new members can join at any time. Closed groups are those in which all members begin the group at the same time. They may all take part in a 12-week session together, for instance. There are pros and cons of each type. When joining an open group, there may be an adjustment period while getting to know the other group attendees. However, if you want to join a closed group, you may have to wait for several months until a suitable group is available.

When will group start? Groups will start when 4 or more people have expressed an interest in attending and have paid for 4 groups in advance. See payment details below.

Why do I need to join a group? Do you find yourself making any of the following statements or do you have a strong sensation, thought, feeling or emotion when you read them:

  • Do you feel lonely; a bit lost; unsure of yourself; low in mood; feel that others don’t understand or appreciate you?
  • Do you feel jumpy, nervous or shy; do you blush easily?
  • Do you feel used by others; have feelings of anger but cannot express them?
  • Do you feel that the world is a scary or hostile place?
  • Do you feel angry all the time, have outbursts of anger or rage; are you or have you been aggressive or violent?
  • Do you find it hard to make or keep friends or to get along with other people?
  • Do you feel that you have lots to say but that nobody ever listens or that people do not seem to hear you?
  • Were you bullied at school
  • Do you feel sad, in low mood, little energy?
  • Do you feel that you have nothing important to say or that life is not worth living.
  • Do you use alcohol or other drugs to help you deal with uncomfortable thoughts, moods or feelings?
  • Do you feel bad about yourself after using more alcohol or other drugs than you intended.?

If any of these comments ring true for you, then maybe Group will be of help to you; where you can find support and begin the journey back to self.

What is a Facilitator? There have been and will be many definitions of a facilitator. Webster defines ‘facilitation’ as “increased ease of performance of any action.” It can be summed up in the following way – “A process and group dynamics expert experienced in designing and leading group workshops and work sessions.”

I find this a little too general and a little too restrictive. So here is my definition: A facilitator is someone who uses some level of intuitive as well as explicit knowledge and experience of group process to formulate and deliver some form of formal or informal process interventions at a shallow or deep level to help a group achieve what they want or need to do or get where they want or need to go.

I believe that a human being has an inbuilt propensity towards self-actualisation. The job of the therapist is then to identify and remove obstacles, the rest following from the innate tendency of the client to grow.

I think of group members as fellow travellers, rather than dividing into healers and the afflicted – we are all in this together and no person has immunity to the tragedies of life

Safe? Yes, always. Comfortable? Possibly not all of the time, some of the time!

How long do I have to attend? Group therapy is open-ended. This means that the same group continues to run as long as 4 or more people attend.

How much will it cost? Next Step Therapy is a not-for-profit Social Enterprise so we try to keep costs as low as possible. The first 4 groups sessions are paid at €25 per session (75 to 90 minutes). This includes all handouts, assignments and access to on-line moderated Forum. The reason we offer this is to give prospective group members an opportunity to get a feel of how the group works.

Week 5 onwards is paid monthly in advance and consists of three different payment options.

Plan 1 Weekly sessions and an hourly monthly group review with facilitator and 3 other clients. The review session will be solely concerned with group involvement; what helps, what hinders. Feedback will be encouraged and strategies for effective group membership will be explored. This is the minimum level of group involvement. The plan costs €125pcm and is payable in advance by direct debit.

Plan 2 Weekly sessions and an hourly monthly individual review with group facilitator. The review session will be concerned with group involvement; what helps, what hinders. Strategies for effective group membership will be explored. Core issues will also be explored with regards to assisting deeper involvement in group process. This plan costs €155pcm and is payable in advance by direct debit.

Plan 3 Weekly group and individual session where both forms of therapy, individual and group, will be integrated so one supports the other. The plan consists of weekly individual therapy and weekly group membership with a monthly small group review as in Plan 1. This plan costs €325pcm and is payable in advance by direct debit.

Low Cost Options If you cannot afford any of the above options, please get in touch and we can explore other options. We plan to turn the business into a charitable body soon and appeal for funding in order to be able to offer a high quality and low cost psychotherapy service to those with limited means.

What Should I Expect? Group therapy involves one or more therapists who lead a group of roughly four to 10 clients, depending on type of group. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only.

Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who have experienced loss, whether it be a spouse, a child or someone who died by suicide.

Benefits of Group Therapy Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Therapists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.

Groups can act as a support network and a sounding board. Other members of the group often help you come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge, and hold you accountable along the way. Regularly talking and listening to others also helps you put your own problems in perspective.

Many people experience mental health difficulties, but few speak openly about them to people they don’t know well. Often, you may feel like you are the only one struggling — but you’re not. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they’re going through, and realise you’re not alone.

Diversity is another important benefit of group therapy. People have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other people tackle problems and make positive changes, you can discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns.

More Than Support While group members are a valuable source of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. Our group therapy sessions are led by one or more psychotherapists with specialised training, who teach group members proven strategies for managing specific problems. If you’re involved in an anger-management group, for instance, your therapist will describe scientifically tested strategies for controlling anger. That expert guidance can help you make the most of your group therapy experience.

How alike are the group members? Groups usually work best when members experience similar difficulties and function at similar levels. However, a wide range of different personality, age, racial, sexuality and class backgrounds can be expected

Is group therapy enough? Many people find it’s helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual psychotherapy. Participating in both types of psychotherapy can boost your chances of making valuable, lasting changes. If you’ve been involved in individual psychotherapy and your progress has stalled, joining a group may jump-start your personal growth.

How much should I share? Confidentiality is an important part of the ground rules for group therapy. However, there’s no absolute guarantee of privacy when sharing with others, so use common sense when divulging personal information. That said, remember that you’re not the only one sharing your personal story.

Groups work best where there is open and honest communication between members. Indeed, therapy groups are at their best when a few members leave their comfort zone and take a risk and disclose painful personal history and others respond supportively.

Group members will start out as strangers, but in a short amount of time, you’ll most likely view them as a valuable and trusted source of support.

Why consider group therapy? Research has shown that group therapy can be a very effective form of therapy for people who are looking to have more fulfilling relationships and communicate more meaningfully with others in their life, handling conflict and difference more effectively. It is also a useful form of therapy for those who wish to build confidence and self-esteem, overcome anxiety or depression and generally manage life’s challenges in a more beneficial way. We are all born into family groups and from these groups we emerge as individuals. The group becomes a microcosm of the group members outside world and how he/she relates there. The group members can help each other to come to understand each other’s way of relating and understanding their experiences and explore different meanings and different ways of relating to their experiences and to people in their lives.

How long do I stay in the group? When you join the group, you are asked to give six months commitment to attend the group on a weekly basis – this is to allow you enough time to get used to being in group and to begin to make use of the group process. When you decide when you want to leave the group – you are encouraged to discuss this in the group with the other group members and to give time to the leaving.

What if I feel I don’t fit in? Feeling like you don’t fit in is often the reason people consider group therapy as a helpful form of therapy for them. You will meet with the group facilitator for individual sessions to discuss what you are looking for from a therapeutic experience and if a group is the best place for you. Worries you may have about not fitting into the group, confidentiality etc will all be discussed in these individual sessions in advance of joining the group. If, when you join the group, you feel you do not fit in, you will be encouraged to try to express those feelings so that they can be worked with and you can arrive at the best decision that is right for you at that time.

Is it confidential? Yes. Everything that is said in the group is confidential (unless there is a threat to the safety of a child, in which case any concerns would be discussed with the group member). It is only in the knowledge that what is talked about is kept within the circle of the group members that you will feel really free to openly express yourself and trust the other members of the group.

What do we talk about? Group members are asked to speak freely about whatever is on their mind. There is no specific agenda in the group (for example, parenting skills would be on the agenda in a parenting group). Group members are invited to respond to whatever is being spoken about in the group – this is the core work of group therapy.

How do I join a group? Before joining a therapy group, the group member meets with the group facilitator for a screening session.

How will I know that this is the right therapy for me? In your individual sessions prior to joining the group, this question is thoroughly explored with you and the therapist. Clarity is arrived at in relation to being in the right therapy through understanding your experience of earlier groups and of earlier therapy, and also by understanding your wish to join a therapy group.

How will I know it is working? Knowing that therapy is working for you is at first a feeling experience. Later on this is supported by a recognition of change in your behaviour, attitudes and thoughts. You may also notice a change in your ways of relating to others. Each person can only know this for themselves – and it is helpful to talk about whether you feel it is working or not in the group in order to give yourself every opportunity to get as much as you can from the experience.

Can anybody go to group? No, not everyone can join a group because group therapy is not a suitable option for everyone. That is why there is always a period of exploration and preparation before joining the group.

Is it always the same people in the group? We have two types of groups here at The Next Step, open and closed groups. An open group, also known as a slow group, is where people join and leave the group at different times, in a manner that allows time for the group members to become comfortable with the changes and enables the therapy to continue effectively. This is a core part of how the group functions and is important for the establishing of consistency and trust in the group.

A closed group is generally a specific topic related group, such as anger management or depression groups. The group will not start until fully subscribed and will remain closed to new members. These groups have a specific number of weeks duration, usually six, eight of ten weeks although occasionally longer.

What is group therapy? Group therapy is a form of counselling where a small group of people meets regularly to discuss, interact, and explore problems with each other and the group leader. Group therapy seeks to give people a safe and comfortable place where they can work out problems and emotional issues. Members gain insight into their own thoughts and behaviour, and offer suggestions and support to others.

In addition, people who have a difficult time with interpersonal relationships can benefit from the social interactions that are a basic part of the group therapy experience.

What are the goals of group therapy? People who participate in counselling groups benefit in many ways. At Next Step Therapy we believe groups are uniquely suited to help people:

  • give and receive support
  • gain understanding of problems and explore possible solutions
  • practice interpersonal skills in a safe group setting
  • learn more about how you come across to others
  • increase observation and feedback skills
  • enhance problem-solving skills
  • improve emotional expressiveness
  • decrease social isolation
  • develop good communication skills

Why group therapy? Most personal problems are interpersonal in nature. Very often they stem from our relationships or from our personal patterns of relating. Group therapy offers the rare opportunity to explore and understand how you relate to others and get specific feedback on how others react to you.

For many, groups can be more effective and produce quicker results than individual counselling. The lessons group members learn from each other and the chance to work through problems with other people who share similar concerns are what make groups special. Only in group therapy can you directly work on how you relate to others. The group environment of trust and safety can help you build the skills you need to create the same kind of trust and safety in your “real life”— at home, school or college and at work; with friends, family, and intimate partners.

The group experience can help you learn about your style of relating, your ability to be close, and your personal effectiveness in relationships, and gives you the unique chance to see how others struggle with these concerns. It also offers the opportunity to explore a broad range of personal concerns.

Is there a limit to the number of group sessions I can have? There is no limit on group sessions. We hope you will utilize our group programmes as much as you would like.

How do I make the most of group therapy?

  • Attend regularly. In joining the group, you have made a commitment to the other group members as well as to yourself.
  • Make the group part of your life. Don’t think of group as something that happens once a week and then forget about it in between. Between group sessions, think about what happened in group and about how you felt during and after group, and try to figure out why you had those feelings.
  • Take responsibility for your counselling and your group. It’s your group, so if it is not moving in the direction you want, say so.
  • Participate actively. You will make more progress if you get actively involved in the group discussions.
  • Experiment with new forms of behaviour. Until you begin to act differently, you won’t change.
  • Take some emotional risks in group. It is structured to be safe and supportive.
  • Be as honest and open as you are able in group. It allows other group members to get to know who you really are.
  • Speak in the first person. This makes what you say much more personal and powerful.
  • Accept responsibility for your own experience and allow other to be responsible for theirs. Don’t foster dependency by assuming responsibility for others in the group.
  • Learn to listen to others attentively. If you are formulating your response while someone else is speaking, you are not really hearing what is being said.
  • Learn to differentiate between thoughts and feelings…when you say “I feel that…”, or “I feel like…”, you are moving away from expressing feelings to expressing thoughts.
  • Speak directly to individuals in the group rather than about them to others.
  • Be honest and direct with your feelings in group in the present moment, especially your feelings toward other group members and the therapists.
  • Be spontaneous. Often we wait our turn to speak, try to be polite, or think about what we want to say for so long that the moment to say it has passed.
  • Be specific and direct with your feedback.
  • Share both positive and negative.
  • Don’t give advice and suggestions.
  • Don’t try to solve other member’s problems for them.
  • Don’t blame or judge others.
  • Be respectful, even when you don’t agree with a person’s position or behavior.
  • Phrase your feedback so it is about your experience of the other person, and not a judgment of how they are.
  • Ask for feedback when you need it…Seek clarification and avoid becoming defensive or making excuses.

Are there ground rules for participating in group therapy?

  • The group sessions are confidential. The identity of the members of the group, and what they say in group is not to be talked about with anyone outside the group at any time. It is up to each group member to maintain this confidentiality.
  • Attend regularly and punctually. If you are going to miss a session or be late, please let one of the leaders of the group know.
  • Mutual respect is essential to maintaining the safety of the group. It is okay to disagree with others. It is not okay to treat other members disrespectfully.
  • Having a feeling and acting on it are two different actions. Acting out your feelings in group is not acceptable, whether you act them out upon yourself or on another member. The way we most respect ourselves and others is by experiencing our feelings and then talking about them.
  • It is your responsibility to talk about your reasons for being in the group as honestly as you are able.
  • If you decide to leave group, because you have met your goals for treatment or because it isn’t the most appropriate treatment method for you, we ask that you come to the group and say good-bye.

What about confidentiality? Groups are private and confidential; that is, what members disclose in sessions is not shared outside of the group. The meaning and importance of confidentiality are reviewed with group members at the first meeting and every time a new member joins the group.

Isn’t individual therapy better? That’s one of the common misunderstandings about group therapy:  “Group therapy will take longer than individual therapy, because I will have to share the time with others.”

Group therapy can be more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little by listening carefully to others. You will find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. Second, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but which you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself.

“I will be forced to tell all of my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets to the group.”

No one will force you to do anything in group counseling. You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. You do not have to share what you are not ready to disclose. You can be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you. When you feel safe enough to share what is troubling you, a group will likely be very helpful and affirming.

“I have so much trouble talking to people, I’ll never be able to share in a group.”

Most people are anxious about being able to talk in group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions people find that they do begin to talk in the group. Group members remember what it is like to be new to the group, so you will get a lot of support for beginning to talk in the group.

The background to Interpersonal Group Psychotherapy The model of interpersonal group psychotherapy is rooted in the original work of Harry Stack Sullivan (1953) and his emphasis on the central imperative of achieving interpersonal attachment and reducing anxiety interpersonally as the guiding developmental thrust in human existence. The pursuit of secure interpersonal attachment and the experience of self as accepted, affirmed and coherent within the context of relationships are critical forces. A core principle is that psychological disturbance reflects interpersonal disturbance. The interplay of the individual’s temperament andbiological predispositions, and early interpersonal environment shape the individual’s sense of self and view of self in relation to the world.

Values and Meaning There are four ultimate concerns or facts of existence – death, isolation, meaninglessness and freedom – that evoke deep anxiety when confronted. We are in the deepest sense, responsible for ourselves and as Sarte put it, we are the authors of ourselves.

Heidegger spoke of two modes of existence – the everyday mode and the ontological mode. The first we are consumed with material surroundings and are filled with wonderment with how things are in the world. The second we are focused on being per se, we are filled with wonderment that things are in the world.

One of our major tasks is to invent a meaning sturdy enough to support a life and to perform the tricky manoeuvre of denying our personal authorship of this meaning – that it was “out there” waiting for us.

In finding meaning, may ask: What do you want on your tombstone epitaph?

Schopenhauer said that willing is never fulfilled – as soon as one wish is satisfied, another appears…every human life is tossed backward and forward between pain and boredom.

The Buddha taught that the question of meaning in life is not edifying and one should immerse oneself into the river of life and let the question drift away.

A Summary  Group therapy involves one or more therapists who lead a group of roughly four to ten people. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only.

Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who have experienced loss, whether it be a spouse, a child or someone who died by suicide.

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