I have run psychotherapy groups for many years and I thoroughly enjoy running them.
Many psychotherapy issues can be worked on in a group setting and there are some issues that are more effectively addressed in group psychotherapy than individual psychotherapy.
Feedback from clients:
In the vast majority of cases, clients have provided me with the feedback that group psychotherapy has allowed them to make changes that they could not have made in individual psychotherapy. That being said, on a few occasions, some clients have tried group psychotherapy and found it to be too challenging so have reverted back to individual psychotherapy, which is perfectly fine to do.
When group psychotherapy is not appropriate:
Group psychotherapy is not always appropriate for someone. A common example of when group psychotherapy may not be that helpful is when an individual is working through something that requires their therapist’s undivided attention and/or a prolonged, intense focus upon them. This would almost certainly mean that individual psychotherapy would be more beneficial than a group setting where the therapist must attend to other people as well. It is important that you get the level of attention from your therapist that you need at any given time.
Sometimes, when someone is already in a therapy group, they find themselves dealing with an issue that means they require more individual attention than they can get in the group. In these instances, the client may choose to temporarily enter back into individual psychotherapy with the intention of returning to the group at a later date, or they may have individual sessions in addition to the group sessions in order to get the attention that they require. Either course of action is ok with me and you can decide what you would rather do.
Assessment of suitability for group psychotherapy:
I assess people’s suitability for group psychotherapy before they can join a therapy group with me. This serves a number of purposes:
- It allows me to protect the individual wishing to join the therapy group, ensuring that they are suited to such an environment.
- It allows me to protect the existing psychotherapy group members by ensuring that only people who are suited to a group psychotherapy environment can gain access to the group.
- It ensures that my clients are getting the type of therapy that is most suitable for them.
- It ensures that the group is kept safe and non-toxic.
When clients that I am already working with on an individual basis wish to join a therapy group:
If we have worked together for a time in individual psychotherapy, I may suggest to you that joining a psychotherapy group could be of benefit to you based on our work together. You will never be pressured into joining a psychotherapy group or ending your individual psychotherapy with me.
You can also ask to join a psychotherapy group at any point during our individual work together and I will endeavour to provide you with a place in a psychotherapy group. If, for some reason, I cannot provide you with access to a psychotherapy group that I am running, we will discuss what to do to ensure you get what you want, if at all possible.
For individuals that wish to join one of my psychotherapy groups who I have not worked with previously:
If we have not worked together before and you are interested in joining a therapy group, I would need to work with you in individual psychotherapy for a number of sessions first. This would be so that:
- I can assess whether I feel you would benefit from being in one of the psychotherapy groups I run.
- I would need to assess whether I think a group I run would be suitable for you.
- Possibly, which psychotherapy group I feel would most benefit you.
- So that you and I can form a good therapeutic relationship. Group psychotherapy can be very challenging so you need to feel safe with me.
- Similarly, I need to know you well enough to be able to support and protect you in the group, to understand what your needs are, and to have an idea of what might be going on for you in the group.
- Having individual psychotherapy together would also allow me to know what your body language means, what you are likely to find challenging, and so forth.
Issues that are particularly well-suited to being explored in a group setting include the following:
- Should you suffer from social anxiety and wish to rid yourself of it.
- If you want to become more assertive or learn how to assert yourself well.
- If you wish to improve how you communicate with other people.
- If you want to have better relationships.
- If you wish to stop feeling inappropriate shame, self-consciousness or humiliation when around other people.
- If you find it difficult to be in and/or talk in groups and want to feel at ease instead.
- If you would like to improve how you come across to other people.
- If you would like honest feedback about how you come across to others.
- If you wish to discover how other people perceive you.
- If you wish to uncover things that you might do that cause other people to have a negative reaction to you.
- If you would like to generally embark on a journey of self discovery, self improvement and self awareness.
The psychotherapy groups that I run are boundaried, safe, confidential, respectful and supportive environments.
How confidentiality is managed when an individual joins an established psychotherapy group:
Confidentiality is to be maintained by all members of the psychotherapy group as a condition of joining and continuing to be a member of the psychotherapy group.
When someone is joining an established therapy group, their name will be shared with the current group members and if there is a boundary or problem with the individual joining then this will be related back to the individual without the identity of any existing group members being disclosed.
Anyone wishing to join a psychotherapy group will not be advised of the identities of the people in the group prior to attending the first session – they will learn who is in the group as a result of attending the sessions.
If I am aware of a significant relationship or boundary issue between an existing group member and someone who wishes to join that group, I will immediately inform the person wishing to join that there is a boundary issue and I will not disclose their name to the group. If I can, I will offer the individual a place in an alternative group.
For further information regarding confidentiality more generally, please see below.
Relationships between group members:
Relationships between group members outside the therapy group are not permitted due to the difficulties this can cause within a psychotherapy group setting. So, close friends, family members, couples, etc, cannot join the same therapy group.
If you’re not sure if this applies to your situation, I am very happy to explore this with you.
I work with a lot of people who are training to be psychotherapists and counsellors, many of whom are on the same training courses. A student can join the same psychotherapy group as one of their classmates as long as they do not have a significant relationship with each other (over and above being on the same training course).
Group Psychotherapy Session Information
For prospective clients:
If you need to have individual psychotherapy sessions with me in order for me to assess your suitability for group psychotherapy, the business contract for individual sessions will apply and will include a free initial assessment session: https://www.north-west-therapy.co.uk/sessions-and-cost/
Please let me know if your primary goal is to join a psychotherapy group so that I can provide you, at the earliest opportunity, with confirmation as to whether this is going to be possible.
Session length and frequency of the group psychotherapy sessions:
Group psychotherapy sessions take place weekly and they last for 2 hours.
Sessions take place at the same time and on the same day each week.
I reserve the right to change the location, time and day of sessions if absolutely necessary, although this is a very unusual occurrence. However, I had to do this on one occasion when the therapy centre where I was running one therapy group had to close in order for building work to take place, and I temporarily relocated the psychotherapy group for a few months to a nearby venue.
If I am the sole group leader, then group psychotherapy costs £30 per two hour group session.
Payment for each group session is to be made by bank transfer prior to the start of the session.
I review my fees on an annual basis.
Once an individual has joined one of my psychotherapy groups, payment is for the place in the group and the fees are payable irrespective of attendance.
A payment of £120 must be made prior to entering the psychotherapy group. This payment is for the final four group psychotherapy sessions and is non-refundable.
Leaving Group Psychotherapy and Providing Notice:
As a condition of joining the group, clients agree to give four sessions notice prior to leaving the psychotherapy group. As stated, clients must pay for these sessions prior to joining the group and this payment is non-refundable. This is different to individual psychotherapy where notice is ideal, as opposed to forming part of the business contract.
The reason for this rigidity and an insistence upon upfront payment is to assert the need for clients to give notice that they intend to leave, which nearly all clients are happy to do.
When an individual leaves a psychotherapy group abruptly or just comes for one or two sessions, it reduces the perceived psychological safety of the group for those clients who remain in the group. In addition to it being problematic for other group members, it is often the case that when people leave group situations abruptly it is because this is part of their psychological process but this process is often one that causes people difficulties in life. I hope that this aspect of my business contract will encourage clients who have this process to change it. Obviously, on a personal level I prefer it if clients make a good ending as well but that is not the reason for this stipulation.
Should the situation arise whereby something is happening in the group that is causing you to feel very unsafe, extremely scared, terribly overwhelmed, etc, please make me aware of this either during the group, after the group, or call or email me so that you and I can do something about it. Whatever it is that is causing you a high level of distress – even if you think it is to do with your history rather than another group member or members – let me know if you’re struggling or suffering so that I can step in and help.
If you are a previous client and you wish to resume group psychotherapy with me, please contact me – I have never worked with a client that I would be reluctant to work with again.
Therapy groups run by myself and another psychotherapist:
I have jointly run several psychotherapy groups in the past with male psychotherapists.
The fee for these groups is typically slightly higher to cover the cost of two psychotherapists instead of one, but otherwise the same business contract as outlined above would apply.
If this is a service you are interested in, please email or call me so that I can let you know if I am already running, or intending to run, this kind of therapy group again and what the fees would be.
Anyone entering group therapy with North West Therapy agrees, as a condition of their membership, not to disclose information about other group members to anyone outside the therapy group.
My Confidentiality Policy:
All sessions are confidential. This confidence will be maintained, and apply to any and all records, in accordance with the Data Protection Act, except in the following circumstances:
- Where the client gives consent for the confidence to be broken and the client and I feel this is an appropriate course of action.
- Should I be legally compelled to disclose information.
- Where the information disclosed by the client is of such gravity that confidentiality cannot be maintained. Although there may be other times where this is necessary, the most likely scenarios are 1) where there is a possibility of grievous physical self harm to the client (I will maintain confidentiality if self-harm is disclosed as long as it is not of such a serious nature that I fear for the client’s health or life) 2) where there is a strong likelihood of the client causing harm to somebody else 3) in cases of a serious crime being committed (typically where physical harm is involved).
- Where possible, I will always aim to make the client aware that I am considering disclosing information to a third party and will always seek the client’s consent if I can. However, I reserve the right not to. I have, as yet, never had to disclose information to a third party without a client’s consent so this would be a very unusual occurrence.
- I reserve the right to break confidentiality should my interests require disclosure.
- I discuss my work in a formal setting with other therapists as part of my ongoing professional development but this is done in such a way that the client’s identity is concealed and protected at all times.
- I keep a record of attendance, linked to an individual’s first name, for a short period of time following the conclusion of the work. I typically keep no other notes relating to my clientwork with one significant exception: I have worked with many clients who have experience rape, sexual abuse and/or other forms of sexually-based violence, and when a client discloses that they have suffered a sexually based attack, I keep notes relating to this type of disclosure indefinitely, as long as the client consents to this. This is so that, should a client choose to report the attack to the authorities at any point in the future, and if the client would like me to provide a witness statement detailing their disclosure; I can provide this information to the police and the CPS. Even if I were to stop working as a therapist (I have no plans to stop working but I presume I’ll retire at some point – in thirty years or so) I intend to retain these notes. I see it as my duty as a decent human being to maintain these records and to make them accessible upon the request of any clients who have experienced and disclosed sexual violence.
- Any records that I do keep for any reason are stored in a safe and confidential way and will be destroyed in the event of my death without being accessed by a third party.
- I do not record information pertaining to my clients’ G.P.’s as a matter of course.
- Should it become apparent that I need to be in contact with a client’s GP or other health professional, I would only initiate this contact after obtaining written permission from my client to do so, which you would have no obligation to provide.
I have always and will continue to maintain appropriate insurance throughout the duration of my work with clients.
Client & Practitioner Responsibility:
The client must agree to take responsibility for their own health and seek medical advice regarding any changes that they make that could impact on their health.
I am not qualified to give legal, financial or medical advice.