Group therapy can provide a safe and confidential space to work through common issues and to encourage other participants who face similar difficulties. Some of the most comforting words are “me too”- the moment when you discover that your struggle is also someone elses struggle, that you are not alone and others have been down the same road.
As a form of therapeutic care, group therapy is where several clients meet with one or more therapists at the same time. The client’s form a support group for each other as well as receiving psychologist support and advice.
How do I join a group?
Participating in group therapy can complement individual therapy. Participants can be recruited into groups focused on particular issues, such as:
• Chronic pain
• Anger management
Groups are small usually ten to twelve people. The group establishes ground rules together including respecting confidentiality, so that participants can be open and honest in their communications. Groups can be closed – where all members commence at the same time, or open – where members can join at any time.
When a group is being formed, expressions of interest to participate will be sought. An individual session with a psychologist will help to jointly decide whether a participant is suited to start the group at this point in time.
How much does it cost?
Group therapy can be an affordable way to obtain support as the fees per group session are less than individual therapy. There is also a Medicare subsidy for 10 group sessions with a valid Mental Health Plan, which is in addition to the allowance for 10 individual sessions.
What groups can I get involved in?
A Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) group is starting soon.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. Modern mindfulness-based approaches in health care began in the United States, in the late 1970s, with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s development of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). His pioneering research found remarkable effects of MBSR on chronic pain and stress.
What is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?
MBCT is gentle, systematic training in mindfulness that helps to free us from the grip of:
• the tendency to overthink, ruminate or worry too much about some things, coupled with
• a tendency to avoid, suppress or push away other things.
Early in the 1990s, psychologists John Teasdale and Mark Williams (from the United Kingdom) and Zindel Segal (from Canada) reasoned that mindfulness training could have powerful effects in preventing relapse in recurrent depression. They created the 8-week MBCT program and began to research its effectiveness.
Over the past 30 years they and others have continued this research. The results were so striking that mindfulness has become part of mainstream evidence-based psychological treatments. Research is showing that MBCT not only prevents serious recurrent depression, it can build resilience that can help people suffering from a wide range of emotional problems: health anxiety, social phobia, panic, and agoraphobia to bipolar disorders and chronic depression; as well as with the psychological challenges of physical illness, such as cancer.
How many participants are in the group?
This group is limited to 10 participants, who must be over 18. Participants are selected after individual assessment one-on-one with a psychologist.
What is the format?
The format of the MBCT group is a 2-hour session every week for eight weeks. This research-based course is designed to give you the skills and understanding that will empower you to free yourself from getting entangled in painful emotions.
You will be supported by a skilled psychologist with specific experience with MBCT, who can provide support and guidance as you work through the program.
You will also be supported by the companionship and goodwill of others who also want to embark on this journey of self-discovery.
Home practice is an important component of the MBCT group. You will be guided by the facilitator on the practices, but should plan to find an hour a day to commit time to practice. While this can sound a lot in busy lives, facing the challenges will, almost without exception, bring benefit by the end of the 8 weeks.
Time and location
The group will run every Monday evening, 5.30pm to 7.30pm at North Sydney Psychology 504/44 Miller Street, North Sydney.
For interested participants with a valid Mental Health Plan, the first one-on-one session will be an individual bulk-billed session. For the 8-week group, the rebate is a maximum of $176. The cost of the program is to be paid upfront with the rebate for each session processed each session.
For interested participants without a Mental Health Plan, the first one-on-one session is $150 and the cost of the program of $595 paid upon commencement of the group.
Alexander Robertson, Psychologist and MBCT trainer.