Groups are always put together with people of similar background with similar issues. A teenager is best served joining a group of younger participants. A depression Group might be made up of adult women. Our goal is to find the best fit where the client can feel safe and comfortable sharing experiences and issues. Another Group might be made up of Type A personalities. The commonality of the participants is what makes a Group work effectively. For example, we have two Groups that deal specifically with LGBTQ persons experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder. Those Groups are tailored to factor in the cultural uniqueness of the LGBTQ community.
We adhere to professional guidelines in organizing, designing, and facilitating any Group. We limit participation in a Group to six individuals who are committed to recovery. The Group structure is based on the cognitive behavioral approach of positive reinforcement, and the replacement of irrational (negative) thought and action with rational (positive), undistorted thought and action (ARTs v ANTs). We understand the nature of affirmation and repetition. We also recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach has its limitations unless supported by other methods of positive reinforcement and motivation.
Our workshops adhere to a strict, time-controlled regimen not uncommon to other CBT programs; our Groups address the same issues and the same methods of recovery but at a pace subject to the comfort of the Group as a whole. The structure is designed to be more supportive and inclusive; comfort, safety, and confidentiality are prioritized.
A typical two-hour Group session is structured as follows:
The first 30 minutes allows participants to provide updates on their program, share experiences and stories, and ask questions, in an atmosphere of support. Many individuals experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder don’t have someone with whom they can confide, and this is true for other disorders as well. We insulate and isolate ourselves from others for a variety of symptomatic reasons. It’s also uncommon to find someone who really understands what we are going through.
The next hour is topical where we address something of relevance to the Group. Positive motivation, neural network restructuring, specific elements of CBT, and so on.
The final half hour is left for follow-up, comment, constructive argument, and so on. We usually find time to engage in an exercise from the CBT playbook that supports the discussion and the Group at its level of recovery. The focus of a Group is solution over cause―on the here-and-now, and methods that are immediately incorporated to alleviate the symptoms that affect our mental and emotional well-being.
We don’t provide therapy; when warranted, we refer clients to a licensed counselor experienced in the specific disorder. Our Groups are practicums that supports therapy. A practicum provides the blueprint and tools necessary to the project; the participant does the actual work. The only difference between that and therapy is our emphasis on self-reliance. Our participants are able to maintain their progress long after the Group has disbanded, although they usually develop lasting relationships with other in the Group.