Alison Sutcliffe Counselling & Psychotherapy: Brighton, Hove, Online

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Therapeutic Groups

The groups I facilitate welcome and respect the diverse breadth of what it means to be a person.

Groups can provide a safe space to explore and learn about yourself and how you relate to others - both inside and outside of the group.

The need to belong is a powerful and fundamental motivation.

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Is a therapeutic group for me?

  • Are you feeling isolated?
  • Do you feel lonely in yourself and/ or when surrounded by others?
  • Do you sometimes wonder if you are the only one who feels the way you do?
  • Would you like to gain greater awareness of how you come across to others?
  • Would it help you to realise that you are not so alone in some of how you feel in life?

    If you find yourself answering "yes" to any of these questions then a therapeutic group could well be for you.

  • We live and learn in groups.

    What might I get out of being in the group?

    We initially learn how to relate to others in those very first groups that we are part of: for some this might in our families, at school and later maybe at work…what better place to learn about how we relate to others, as well as how we are received, than within another group?

    In our group it is possible to:
  • Learn about ourselves with the support of others;
  • Ask for feedback about how we are being received by others;
  • Experiment with relating to others in different ways.

    All this within the safety of our group that is set up to allow us to work on ourselves, and how we relate to others in the world, as maybe some of ways in which we are relating to others right now isn’t quite working for us.

  • How often?

    Groups tend to be run on a weekly basis for around 90 minutes or monthly for a whole day.

    Some groups operate like a 'drop in' however, in the groups I run, group members commit to prioritising attendance at the group: a group is like a team in that it works best if everyone is there.

    How long?

    People stay in groups for different lengths of time. As one person feels ready to leave, someone new may join.

    We are built for connection - nothing is more important to our well-being.

    I am new to therapeutic groups and feel nervous - is that normal?

    Entering into any group for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking for many of us - it’s completely normal to feel nervous. Those already in the group are likely to have also had those 'first group nerves'. Many find that after the initial nerves they begin to settle in and feel more comfortable with what happens in the group and often report really looking forward the weekly space they give to themselves.

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    What should I talk about in a group?

    There is no set agenda within the groups I run. Group members are invited to bring their own experiences to each meeting - these might be experiences from inside or outside the group. In our group the group members learn from each other in relation to each other. We continually learn how to be in the world from being in relationships in groups e.g. in our families, within school, at work and we can continue to learn how to live more fruitfully from being within this group.

    I really like members of the group - is it okay for us to have contact outside of the group?

    Traditionally group therapy has discouraged any contact between group members outside of the group. Whilst the purpose of our group is not to find friends, and friendships within the group might make it harder for you to speak as freely within the group as you might wish to, my stance is that if you do have contact with others from the group it is vital that you are willing to bring any difficulties, or big changes within your relationship, back into the group to talk about them. Not doing this can negatively impact the group.

    Our group can begin to reflect elements of our life outside of the group. In this safe space we can experiment with trying something different.

    I want to get the most out of a therapeutic group - do you have any tips?

  • Tip 1: Use I-statements. I-statements are one method of effective communication. Using I-statements can help you express your feelings in a manner that results in you taking responsibility for your feelings. Expressing yourself this way is more likely (but of course cannot be guaranteed) to result in the person you are communicating with being able to hear you more fully as opposed to them feeling defensive or blamed. (Follow this link for more info: I-statements).
  • Tip 2: Some people find that coming to the group with some ideas of what they want to explore that day helps.
  • Tip 3: Sometimes you might find that you are struggling in the group. This might be noticed by myself or someone else in the group however sometimes this might not be obvious to anyone but you. The group is here to support you and you are encouraged to share what is happening for you.

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