Perhaps, you have never given serious thought to referring your clients to group psychotherapy.
If you are a therapist with the usual mix of patients, your clients fall into 3 categories: those who are moving along solidly in their work, those who are at something of a plateau where for sometime there has been relatively little therapeutic movement, and those who are at best minimally engaged in treatment and possibly on the way out. Unless you are also a group therapist, it may never have occurred to you that your work with clients in all three categories could be invigorated by concurrent group psychotherapy.
So let’s consider what might be gained by a referral to group therapy, not only for your clients, but also for you. For clients, group therapy adds another kind of support and another vehicle for learning about themselves, an arena in which the interpersonal issues that are being described in individual therapy can actually come alive. The therapy group is a ‘live learning laboratory’ in which people walk in important aspects of themselves, providing a rich forum for interpersonal feedback and increased self-awareness. This can augment the work of individual therapy, making it livelier and richer as the patient brings back ongoing interpersonal experiences from his work in the group.
Both clients and individual therapists can also benefit by the presence of another set of trained eyes and ears. For the client this provides an opportunity for the coordinated input of two collaborating therapists. For the therapist it means another trained professional who is viewing your patient, but through a slightly different lens — a respected colleague who can give you a different take on your client.
Along with this, is an important side benefit for you — the possibility to enhance your own sense of colleagueship and to add to your professional network? In my own practice, I find that the people who refer patients to me for group therapy often become part of my referral network for individual or couples work, or for some areas of expertise that they are known for that are not a part of my own practice.
In short, referring a patient to a group can add not only to the richness of your patient’s life and psychotherapy experience but to your own as well.
To find a suitable group for a client who you think might benefit, you may begin by consulting the registry of certified group therapists provided by the American Group Psychotherapy Association or a local affiliate such as the Northeastern Group Psychotherapy Association (link).
© 2018 Marsha Vannicelli