Probably the biggest advantage of support groups is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have the same problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person.
You control, and are ultimately responsible for, what, how much, and when you tell the group about yourself. The more you become involved, the more you are likely to benefit. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share personal issues, therapy groups can be very growthful and affirming. Many people are helped by listening to others and thinking about how what others are saying might apply to themselves.
Group therapy is often more enriching for some than individual therapy. You can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen carefully to others. Most people find that they have important things in common with other group members, and as others work on concerns, you can learn much about yourself. In the group environment, others serve as “mirrors” that reflect aspects of yourself that you can recognize and explicitly choose if you want to modify or change. Group members may bring up issues that strike a chord with you, which you might not have been aware or of known now to bring up yourself. A natural process or enhanced acceptance of self and others occurs as one learns to relate more honestly and directly with others in the group. The group provides an opportunity for personal experimentation – it is a safe place to risk enough to learn more about yourself.
Being in a support group can also help you develop new skills to relate to others. In addition, the members of the group who have the same problems can support each other and may suggest new ways of dealing with a particular problem.
In group counseling, both counselors and group members are responsible for confidentiality. Your group counselors abide by professional standards and should not release any information to outside sources without your written permission. The only exceptions are in cases of imminent danger to self or others, child/dependent abuse, court order, or where otherwise required by law. As a group member, you share the responsibility to keep confidential the identity of each group member as well as the information shared during the sessions.