What are the steps in joining a group?

You can start by either calling and leaving a message, filling out the on-line referral form or by calling one of the leaders directly(check the About the leaders section) if you have a preference for a particular group or a particular therapist. After speaking with you over the phone, a leader will offer you an initial interview if he or she feels like they have a group that might be suitable for you.

In the first interview, the group leader will try to find out what you want to work on in group therapy and to get some idea of your personal history. The group leader will also try and explain how they think group might be helpful for you. In addition, you will be given an opportunity to ask some questions about group therapy and about the leader so that you can get some idea for yourself whether you think there is a good match between yourself and their group.

If both you and the group leader feel like their group would be a good fit for you, then they will schedule an additional individual interview. Additional preparation for group and more in-depth history taking is usually accomplished during the second interview. After the second interview, you will be given a date to start the group. Most leaders like to give their groups some advance notice of a new person joining the group, and the amount of time between your second interview and joining the group will depend upon group leader preferences as well as the group’s needs at the time you are joining.

How does an Interpersonal Therapy Group differ from other kinds of groups?

There are many different kinds of groups, including support groups, psychoeducational groups and therapy groups. An Interpersonal Therapy Group differs from other groups in one important way. In an Interpersonal Therapy Group there is no specific focus, such as divorce or bereavement, nor is there a particular symptom that everyone shares. Instead, group members are there because they recognize that they have developed some long-standing patterns of thinking, feeling or behaving that don’t work well for them in their lives. These patterns are usually related to symptoms and can be made worse by a life crisis, but it is the patterns themselves that group members are there to try and change. Due to the fact that these patterns have usually been present for a long time, it is expected that it will take a while to change them. For this reason, when you join an Interpersonal Therapy Group there is no time limit for how long membership will last.

Can I try the group for a few weeks before I commit to it?

It isn't possible to join a group on a trial basis as this would be disruptive to the members who are already there and working. Keep in mind that when you join a group, you are committing to a learning process rather than to a particular group of people. This is why it is important to understand how group works and how your group leader thinks about the change process before you join. Make sure that you spend the time in your individual interview getting all your questions answered. It is expected that there will be group members who you will like more than others. However, you may find that you have as much, if not more, to learn from the group members with whom you are less comfortable. You can also expect that there will be times when coming to group is difficult and not particularly enjoyable. Again, it is often in these moments that you can learn something about yourself that you didn’t know. The process of change in a therapy group is unique and if you commit yourself to it and work hard at it, most people experience group as being very beneficial.

Can I be in both individual and group therapy at the same time?

Individual therapy and group therapy usually have the same goals, yet they offer different ways of achieving them. For many patients, being in individual therapy and group therapy at the same time is an effective way to work on their problems. They have the benefit of learning some new things about themselves in their interactions with other group members, and this learning can be expanded upon in their individual work. This is not practical for everyone however, and having an individual therapist is not usually a requirement for being in a group.

What kind of problems does an Interpersonal Therapy Group help with?

People join an Interpersonal Therapy Group for many reasons, and often their reasons are stated in a way that is unique to the individual. For example, you may have a boss that intimidates you and you want to feel more effective in dealing with this individual. However, behind such individual expressions of group goals are problems that are frequently shared by many people entering a group. The kind of problems that group can help with include:

  • difficulty experiencing and/or expressing certain feelings
  • obstacles in being intimate with others
  • negative thoughts and feelings about yourself
  • being effective in getting your needs met
  • handling conflict


How Group Therapy Can Work for You (downloadable pdf)