Group Psychotherapy & Group Analysis
Group Psychotherapy can help with:
- problems in making and sustaining relationships
- social anxiety
- difficulty in finding a voice when in a work, family or social group
- feeling left out or on the edge in social situations
- being isolated as child / finding it hard to maintain adult friendships
- feeling ashamed of feelings and anxieties which you have kept private and never been able to talk about
- hearing others share similar experiences can help you discover you are not alone)
What is Group Psychotherapy?
It may come as no surprise that the people who can most benefit from a group are often the ones who least want to join one! Group therapy is an evidence based, effective long term treatment for people struggling with emotional distress and interpersonal problems. It provides a space where you can talk with others in order to understand and overcome these difficulties. It is also a powerful tool for personal development and learning which can be of benefit to anyone who is interested in exploring more about themselves.
Talking in a group is beneficial in a number of ways. You can clarify your difficulties through discussion with others. You can also express the pent-up feelings which surround and complicate your problems in an accepting atmosphere. You are likely to gain encouragement from the discovery that other group members are struggling with similar difficulties and are making progress with them. Your self-esteem can improve as you find that you can be helpful to, and appreciated by, other members of the group. The opportunity to speak seriously with others and to give and receive honest feedback can help to improve your confidence.
Group Analytic Psychotherapy is a form of psychodynamic psychotherapy, which incorporates elements of Interpersonal Therapy (I.P.T.). It is indicated in the Department of Health N.I.C.E. Guidelines For Treatment of Depression as an effective treatment for complex and persistent mood disorders including social anxiety and bi-polar affective disorder. Groups meet for 90 minutes weekly and for those who require a more intensive approach, a twice weekly group is available which meets for 90 minutes twice a week.
How does it work?
Group members commit to work on their issues for at least a year and usually longer. Each group consists of up to eight men and women who meet for 90 minutes once or twice a week. Everything shared is confidential and you are invited to share whatever feels to be most important.
This is like free-association in psychoanalysis, when one person shares an experience others can add their own memories or experiences so that a full picture develops. Hearing others’ experiences can be helpful as we realise that we are not alone and that our problems are part of being human. We can also see ourselves in others who can act like mirrors.
Groups can offer honest and frank feedback as to how others experience you, these can be observations that you are unlikely to hear in everyday life. As trust develops, it is possible to explore how you relate to others in the group. This may resemble relationships in your life outside or from childhood. You may discover that there are recurring patterns in the way that you approach others. Some of these can be counterproductive.
A group offers the chance to try out new ways of being with others as a step towards forming more satisfying personal, social, family or work relationships.
What approach is used?
The groups use an approach called Group Analysis. This draws on the insights of psychoanalysis and sociology as models for understanding human relationships. We all start our lives as a member of a family group. Conflicts in our early relationships can get carried over into adulthood. We may be conscious of this process. But there can also be unconscious conflicts left over from our past which result in symptoms such as low self-esteem, lack of confidence, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social phobias or difficulties in relationships.
How does it help?
- Belonging to a group who are interested to hear about your life, your ups and downs and your reflections.
- Learning how to reach out and be more open in close relationships.
- Learning to communicate under pressure.
- Improving the quality of your relationships. g. not getting stuck in just pleasing others or repeatedly agreeing to do things you don’t want to do.
- Becoming more resilient and less reactive when faced with disappointment or rejection.
- Being able to participate in groups without having to be either at the centre or withdrawing completely.
- Being able to be true to yourself with others.
Jo came into the group having had a serious episode of depression. She had a pattern of having a series of internet relationships but never staying with the same partner for more than a few months. Each time she got involved, she started to feel trapped. In the group she found it very hard at first as she felt like nobody would be interested in her unless she was either funny or helpful. It took some time until she began to talk about long buried experiences from her childhood where she had felt unprotected and lonely. At this point, she started to feel close to others in the group and began to open up and feel closer to her partner outside the group.
“it was all about learning to be human”
This was how one group member summed up their times in a group. Realising that we are all struggling with both painful and joyful experiences, hearing others talk about their vulnerable feelings can be liberating as we realize we are not alone.
David grew up an only child and struggled to make close friends. He had always found social groups difficult, having been teased at school and often felt self-conscious and awkward. In relationships he tended to be drawn to women who were aloof and critical. During his time in the group he noticed that he tended to either get very involved or withdraw completely. This was similar to what had happened in his family where he had either felt close to his parents or would spend long periods on his own. The group helped him to learn how to chip in, to stay involved during group conversations and talk about his feelings. Being a valued member of a therapy group helped him in his other social groups where he felt more comfortable being himself.
John Cleese and Group Psychotherapy
John Cleese is probably one of the most well-known people to have publicly acknowledged being helped by over three and a half years of group analysis with Robin Skynner, the group analyst and family therapist. In his book Families and How to Survive Them, he writes:
“After about a year, I began to feel I was undergoing the most interesting experience of my adult life. For a start, once we’d all lowered our barriers a bit, I was able to see my fellow group members behaving in a freer, more open way than you can ever hope to observe in normal social life, except perhaps with your two or three most intimate friends.”
Once Weekly Groups :
Tuesdays 8.00 – 9.30am with Marci Lopez Levy, graduate.
Tuesdays 6.15 – 7.45 pm with Sue Griffin, UKCP.
Wednesdays 5.00 – 6.30 pm with Howard Edmunds, UKCP
Wednesdays 6.45 – 8.15pm with Marci Lopez Levy, graduate.
Thursdays 7.15 – 8.45 pm with Sue Griffin, UKCP.
Twice Weekly Group Analysis :
Tuesday 5 – 6.30pm & Thursday 7.30am – 9am with Howard Edmunds, UKCP