"I have so much trouble talking to people. I’ll never be able to share in group."
Most people are initially anxious about talking in group. Almost without exception, however, new members find that the group process draws them in within a few sessions, and they begin to share with the group in ways they never anticipated.
"I will be pressured to share my deepest thoughts and feelings with the group."
You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. We encourage you not to share what you are not ready to disclose. Many group members find that when the group feels safe enough to share what they are most apprehensive about, the group can be very helpful and affirming. At the same time, you can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how their thoughts might apply to you.
"Group therapy is second-best to individual therapy."
Group therapy has been recommended to you because your counselor believes that it is the best way to address your concerns. Group therapy is not used at SCS as a means of dealing with individual therapy overflow. Rather, we recommend group therapy when we believe it is the most effective treatment method to help you. In fact, group is frequently the treatment of choice, and group is in many ways the very best of what we have to offer.
"Group therapy will take longer than individual therapy because I will have to share the time with others."
Group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy, for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little, but listen 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.
Secondly, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but you might not have been aware of, or brought up by yourself. Therefore, learning from others can be a powerful therapeutic experience and often enhances the work.
"I will be judged, criticized, or verbally attacked by the leaders and by other group members."
It is very important that group members feel safe. Group leaders are there to create a safe environment for all involved. We understand that feedback is often difficult to hear, from leaders and members alike. As group members come to trust the group, they generally experience feedback, and even confrontation – as if it were coming from a good friend. One of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment.
It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group can offer. This will be done in a respectful, gentle way, so that you can hear it and make use of it.