When people think of therapy, they usually think of individual therapy. However, there is another form of therapy which involves people working together in a group in order to address their concerns. In making your decision about therapy, you may find it helpful to consider this way of working. It is known as Group Analysis and it has a number of advantages over individual therapy, although many people choose individual therapy.
We are all familiar with groups; family, school, work and leisure. They are the settings in which we live our lives. Past experiences in groups may have presented you with difficulties and the value of group therapy is that it offers the opportunity to think about how you relate to people or to explore past and perhaps challenging experiences in groups such as your family. In doing so the intention is not just to replicate the experience but also to provide an opportunity to explore these issues and to have a better experience.
Of course being in a group involves sharing your concerns with others and not unnaturally your immediate response might be one of concern about issues such as confidentiality or being exposed to criticism. We can assure you that each group is carefully led by an experienced facilitator and the emphasis is placed on developing a sense of trust in fellow members and creating an environment in which you can feel that you belong and will be secure.
The groups are small (usually having a maximum of eight members), and our experience is that in a secure and safe environment it becomes possible to converse with your peers and to talk about yourself and your feelings at your own pace and without any pressure to perform. Group members are asked not to meet socially or to make contact with each other outside the group. This ensures that everything is contained within the group meeting.
Anybody can potentially benefit from group analysis, but it may particularly suit you if you feel isolated or have little support or opportunities to receive feedback from others. The group has an unique capacity to help people feel less alone in the world. Being in a group allows you to receive support and be challenged, but it also allows you to give support to others. However, there is no fixed formula about who can benefit from a group. Groups contain people who bring the whole range of human experience.
Your first contact with Hampden House is in the form of an assessment, and at that stage we may suggest to you that a group would be well suited to your needs. There is, of course, nothing to stop you saying ‘I want individual therapy’, or for that matter to opt for group therapy. If you have an interest in joining a group you should ask to speak to Esmé or Dascha. Our intention is to engage with you about what is in your best interests and to arrive at a mutual agreement. But of course, in the final resort, the choice is yours.
Finally you should note that there are some practical advantages to groups. They meet in the early evening outside normal working hours and costs are lower than for individual therapy. There are at present two groups being run at Hampden House, both meeting weekly.