Why every good therapist needs a group

Group work has changed my life.

My professional life as a therapist, sure — but that’s not even what I’m talking about here.

Group is magic, and if you’re a therapist who wants to use yourself (your thoughts, emotions and intuition) more effectively in therapy room AND get a whole bunch of personal benefits across the rest of your life, please believe me when I say that you need a group of your very own. There’s nothing else like it — not 1:1 therapy, not supervision, not happy hour with your therapist buds.

I should mention that before group changed my life, I already knew myself pretty well. Like many therapists — probably like many of you — I have always been a reflective, self-aware and curious person. I love Myers-Briggs (any fellow INFPs in the house??); I’m an introvert. I love pondering.

But when you join a group, you get access to a perspective you’ve never had before. You inevitably see parts of yourself that you’ve tried to avoid, consciously or not.

Group becomes a microcosm of your world, and before long, you’ll start thinking and feeling and doing what you do with people in the rest of your life. Except in group, we can take a look at these patterns more closely, and even change them if we want to.

You’ll start to see (and more importantly, EXPERIENCE IN REAL TIME) how you get in your own way:

* Maybe you always put others’ needs ahead of your own to the point where you don’t even know what you truly want or need anymore.

* Maybe you’re so used to being in ‘expert mode’ that it’s hard for you to let go, be vulnerable and connect on a more intimate level with people.

* Maybe you have trouble practicing what you preach when it comes to expressing your emotions with clarity.

* Or, if you’re like me, it might be really hard for you to let go of responsibility for others’ feelings long enough to fully experience and express your own.

Group helped me begin to see the ways I was limiting myself. I had a sense I was doing this — at work, in certain relationships — but I couldn’t put my figure on exactly how, and it would have taken me a long time to figure it out on my own.

You can’t hide in group, at least not permanently. The group leader sees you, and so do your fellow group members, and as truths emerge about the way you are when you’re with others, you can decide what patterns you want to keep and what you want to change.

Group can be thrilling, and scary, and over time it connects you to others in a way that’s not always easy to achieve in ‘real life.’ Part of this is because all emotions are ok in group, even ones that you’d rather lock up with a key (and I guarantee you there’s at least one or two you don’t like to feel/express, therapist or not!)

Group is the ultimate form of self-care. It provides you with a protected, 75-minute space in which to experience yourself and others in new ways, AND you get to carry it with you wherever you go — into work meetings and client sessions and arguments with your partner or kids. What you learn in group will spill over into every other part of your life, including into your relationship with yourself. It just will.

So take off your therapist hat (it’s gotta come OFF now and then!) and come join the Clinician Process Group. It has been going strong for more than a year, and is now open to therapists in private practice in addition to therapists working in community mental health. If you’re intrigued, complete the interest form at the bottom of this page, and I’ll be in touch soon to talk about whether it’s the right fit for you.