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3 min read

Group Counseling for PTSD in Austin: What To Expect

Individual therapy can be daunting. Talking about the things you've kept bottled up for so long? That's a pretty nerve-wracking thing in and of itself.

When it comes to group therapy - sharing those same things in front of a bunch of strangers - that scare-factor can be multiplied by many magnitudes.

So why do so many therapists recommend group therapy? Simple: when used as a replacement for or in conjunction with individual therapy per therapist instructions, group therapy has been shown to be massively effective for a wide array of mental health concerns - particularly PTSD.

But knowing that group therapy is effective doesn't really help the nerves. So what can Austinites expect from their first PTSD group therapy session? How do sessions typically work? Let's talk about that.

What types of group therapy sessions are available in Austin?

There are many kinds of group therapy that each serve a different purpose and are executed in different ways.

Below is a list of a few of them, as well as quick descriptions of how they work.

Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy

A cognitive behavioral group therapy session involves a series of discussions that take two forms:

  • Analysis, where group members walk through their thought patterns and emotions with other group members and the guiding therapist.
  • Restructuring, where the therapist guides group members to healthier and more constructive thoughts and emotional patterns

By developing a healthier and more accurate thought process, group members can work together to address trauma and begin thinking about it in a more healing way.

Skills Development Groups

Skills Development Groups focus less on trauma itself and more on practical coping skills and strategies that members can use to reduce distress in their daily lives.

Skills Development Groups are often recommended for those who are making good progress in individual therapy.

Interpersonal Process Group

Often, trauma and its psychological consequences interfere with the way one socializes and interacts with other people.

An interpersonal process group is designed to help facilitate social learning and relearning for those who may need it. By interacting with the other group members, patients can learn methods for socializing more effectively with people in their "real" lives.

Psychoeducational Group

A large part of mental health revolves around the "mystery" of the mind. Having a mental health concern can be scary both because of the symptoms themselves and because it's impossible to actually see what's going on with one's brain.

Psychoeducational groups work to remove some of that mystery by allowing the guiding therapist to provide instruction and examples related to the science and practical nature of a given condition or concern.

While group therapy sessions vary widely in terms of content, the basic format of a group therapy session remains largely the same between types.

How are group therapy sessions structured?

Typically, group therapy sessions hold between 5 and 15 members. A licensed therapist will be the guide and main point of information and instruction. The therapist can also serve as a moderator to keep conversations civil and productive in case tensions rise.

Members are typically encouraged to attend at least six sessions before making any considerations about changing groups. Many people go to group therapy each week for a full year or, in more severe cases of PTSD, indefinitely. Others go through a brief course of 8 to 12 sessions.

Group therapy can be attended solely as one's exclusive mental health treatment or alongside individual therapy as a supplemental treatment. It's important to adhere strictly to your therapist's guidance on this matter, as they know your specific case best.

What can I expect from my first session?

Your first session of group therapy will likely consist of a lot of introduction and housekeeping.

If you are starting group therapy at said group's first session - that is, the group has just been formed - then everyone will likely spend the first session making introductions and listening to the therapist establish the procedure for sharing and discussing trauma.

If you're joining after the sessions have already been going on, you will likely introduce yourself and then observe the first session.

Will I have to talk about my trauma?

You will certainly be encouraged to talk about your trauma and share your experiences with the group, but you will never be forced to do so.

Therapists know that forcing someone or pressuring them into sharing something they aren't ready to share is a surefire way to go backwards in the healing journey. A licensed therapist will encourage you to be vulnerable but will also fiercely protect your right within the group setting to not share.

Group Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you are interested in trying group therapy, Williamsburg Therapy Group is home to some of the very best doctoral-level group therapists in Austin.

Maintaining a high level of availability is important to us because we believe you deserve mental healthcare as quickly and effectively as possible.

Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right PTSD group for your case. Feeling better may be closer than you think.

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