Group Therapy

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a treatment approach designed to bring individuals (usually 5 to 8 members) together to work through issues that they usually share in common. Groups meet weekly for 50 to 90 minutes (depending on age) with 1 or 2 group leaders.

The type of group therapy we do at the Venn Center follows the Interpersonal Approach. This is different from support groups (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous) because Interpersonal Group Therapy helps group members learn how to give one another direct feedback. You will learn how others experience you, you’ll become aware of the emotions people feel when you talk. This here-and-now approach helps people learn about the effects of their issue on others. Group members are instrumental in helping others get past their road-blocks. Group members often overcome barriers to sharing their feelings and thoughts with others.

Who is group therapy right for?

Most of us have issues that can be worked through in group therapy. The Interpersonal Approach is very helpful in providing feedback to many different types of people about a variety of issues.

Group therapy will be particularly helpful to people who have not had the experience of being in a safe environment all of their lives—a place where they feel safe to say what they want and need without a threat to their well-being. The Interpersonal Approach requires that the group work in the direction of providing a safe place for everyone to express their feelings, whatever they may be. The goal is to help all group members tolerate feeling vulnerable, let their defense mechanisms fade, and help boundaries become penetrable.

As a person feels more confident and comfortable, true feelings are more likely to emerge. When true feelings have a place to come out, and when a person feels safe being who he or she is, then healthy growth is possible.

How does group therapy help?

Groups have a way of triggering the very issue that is most troubling a person. Why? Many times a group can recreate the dynamic of our family-of-origin. What this means is that you will likely find someone in the group who “acts” like your dad, mom, brother, or sister. That is because the patterns we experience earliest in life will continue to influence the way we see and want to see others.

But in our families-of-origin, it is often the case that we didn’t feel powerful enough or safe enough to express our true thoughts and feelings. Children, in the family system, are expected to respond to the power and authority of parents.

No longer a child, now as an adult, you have the opportunity to act powerfully in a group to discuss your issue and what it means in your life. The safety of the group can empower you to say what you think, what you feel, and what you need. You will learn about your life issue in a new way, through not only your own experiences, but through processing it with the group as a whole.

How do I get into a group?

Groups are formed by Venn Center Staff after they learn about the issues people want to work on in groups. To get into a group, identify the issue that is challenging you. What’s bothering you about life? After you have done this, contact the Venn Center for an Initial Consultation followed by an Intake Interview. After you describe your issue in your own words, your Venn Clinician will help you choose a group that is best for you.

Will I only do group work?

It depends. Each group member is dealing with a similar issue, but each person’s life situation, experiences, and problems are unique. Often, individuals come for individual therapy and also group therapy, given that you get something unique from each. This is something you’ll discuss with your Venn Clinician.

Current, On-Going Groups:

Adult Group:

Men and Women; Ages 35 to 60

All members are married or have been married and have children. An interpersonal approach is used to work on issues of self and relatedness to others.

Group therapist: Dr. Steve Wruble.

Young Adult Group:

Young Men and Young Women Together; Ages 18 to 29

Members of this group are single; they are working on issues-of-self that relate to a sense of competency and direction in life. Relationship issues are an important part of the therapy.

Group therapist: Dr. Steve Wruble

High School Groups:

Separate Groups for Adolescent Males and Females; Ages 15 to 18

In this group we work on self-development. Cognitive- behavioral and interpersonal relations approaches to living in the “here and now” are introduced to help these maturing young people learn to “be present” and understand their lives and experiences.

Group therapists: Dr. Steven Wruble and Dr. Susan Petak