Group is a place to understand yourself better, to learn more effective ways to deal with yourself and others, and to practice these new ways often enough in a confidential supervised setting so that they become natural. Much of the value of your total group experience will come not from getting the "answer" to your problems but from experiencing the group itself. A lot depends on what you put into the experience.
- Group is a place to learn about yourself from your own and others' responses and interactions. A group member will have the opportunity to develop insight on at least four different levels: how I am seen by others, what I do with others, why I do what I do with others, and how I got to be the way I am.
- Group success depends on open expression of thoughts and feelings, as therapy involves learning to be in touch with our feelings and thoughts without being controlled by them. Each group member must develop a willingness to say what she feels about anything, even if it's not "polite" or "proper." The process of change is slow and the rate of change differs for each member. This may be frustrating at times. It is important that each member feels free to express frustration and other negative feelings as well as triumphs and positive experiences.
- When others express an issue it is far more useful to share your own similar struggles or your reactions to that struggle, than tell the other what they should do.
- Others may say or do things that serve as a trigger, but your feelings are your own. For example if someone responds that your reasoning sounds stupid to her, you may feel hurt which can be expressed as “I feel hurt by how you said that” instead of “You hurt my feelings.”
- It is inevitable that strong feelings will arise.You can talk about anything. Physical violence and threatening are not permitted, and are grounds for being ejected from the group.
- Part of the work in group involves recognizing and respecting each other’s right to their own feelings, values and decisions. While it can be useful to respectfully question our own and other’s values and decisions, we are not here to change anyone else.
- Perfection is an illusion. Everyone makes mistakes. A group provides a place to practice and where we can acknowledge and use our mistakes for further growth rather than to assign blame.
- These groups are for support as well as therapeutic change, and friendships outside of group are discouraged. If members become "social friends" then they are less free to express themselves objectively in group and any significant interchange between members outside of the group must be reported to the group. It is the therapist's responsibility to provide protection and structure so that the group can be a safe place for the members to communicate openly. Shari does not accept “friend” requests from clients on Facebook or any other form of social media and discourages this activity among group members. She requests that all cell phones be put on “Do Not Disturb” during group time.
- There will be no set agenda or formal structure to the group meetings. Ultimately it is for the group members to decide what to talk about, and part of therapy is to understand your contribution to the way the group develops. Each member’s issues are important and the group will develop an ability to share time as needed.
Attendance & Payment
Group success depends upon regular attendance. In order to maintain your space in a group, you are financially responsible for all group sessions whether or not you attend and regardless of advance notice or reason for absence, as you are paying for your place in the group. This is necessary for the optimal functioning of the group. If you do need to miss a session, please let us know in advance, as we will be concerned about you. The current fee for group, which may be adjusted periodically, is $55.00 for the 1½ hour session.
The time will come when you feel ready to move on with your life without group. If you are thinking about leaving, it is good to bring it up before you have decided. Such a discussion will give all of us a chance to review what you and we are doing here. We are all affected by each other. Members are required to give notice of intent to leave at least four sessions before departing so that we have the opportunity to process what your leaving brings up for each of us.
Confidentiality is a trust of privacy or secrecy that is special in a group because it is the shared responsibility of all group members and their therapist. Although the therapist will not disclose client communication or information except as provided by law or in other limited circumstances, group members’ communications and information are not legally protected. Thus, you will be requested to sign an agreement in an attempt to provide group members with as much confidentiality as possible. That agreement will reflect:
- WHAT IS NOT PERMISSIBLE: I will not disclose to anyone outside the group any information that may help to identify another group member. This includes but is not limited to names, physical description, biographical information, and specific of content of interactions with other group members.
- WHAT IS PERMISSIBLE: I understand that I am free to disclose to people I choose the fact that I am a group member and attending this group. I also may disclose personal information about myself with respect to group experience. This includes my personal reactions (feelings and thoughts) to mygroup experience, feedback from other members concerning myself, and any personal information about myself such as new skills I have learned and changes I have made.
As a mandated reporter in Pennsylvania, Shari Baron is legally obligated to report to authorities any suspicion or knowledge of child abuse.
CONFIDENTIALITY in groups.