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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate. Sorry to trouble you. I have a question or two regarding

Customer Question

Kate. Sorry to trouble you. I have a question or two regarding group therapy please.

I have recently started group therapy but I am struggling with it so much. How do I know if it's just that group therapy isn't for me or whether it's just that I am out of my comfort zone?

At the beginning of this month I opened up to them and explained that I was feeling like I couldn't go on. They said that if I was so angry with my mum for not being there for me then how could I even consider doing the same to my children. I have spent the last 14 years working so hard NOT to be like her that their remark cut me deep and pushed me nearer to the edge. I've tried to let that remark go but this week something else happened. Nobody was really speaking this week or supporting each other. She asked why ... I said that I hadn't spoken because I had had an 'okay' week and didn't feel that I needed to speak, thus freeing up more time for everyone else to air their problems/concerns. She bit straight back saying that did I realise how completely self obsessed I sounded. I tried to explain what I meant but she said that I should have been offering support to the others. I accept that maybe I should have offered support but I didn't want to start relating their experiences to mine as I didn't want to risk making myself feel worse. I know that's selfish but one thing I have learnt throughout my life is that only I will protect me!

I don't know what to do. Do I go back or do I call it a day? How do I make that decision?

Sue
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You are not bothering me at all, Sue. I am happy to hear from you!

 

If you are coming away from the group feeling criticized and hurt, then the group may not be the right one for you. In a group setting, it is important that each person feel they are supported no matter what they express, as long as they are not trying to hurt the other participants. The therapist in charge of the group is supposed to monitor and guide the group so it stays supportive and helpful. If you do have someone say something critical, it should be a supportive statement that is meant to help you move forward. Not one where you feel hurt.

 

When you talked about your mother not being there for you and they asked you how you could consider not being there for your children, that is not a helpful statement. It is more of an attack. It might have been worded differently so it was helpful or rephrased so you felt it helped you. The therapist in charge of the group should be guiding them to find better ways of expressing this to you.

 

That is not to say that all of the comments or questions people have for you should be pleasant to hear. Sometimes you do need a bit of a challenge in order to change. But it should be a beneficial challenge. For example, if you brought up being angry at your mother and then mentioned how you feel, the group should have been guided to point out the similarities between your mother and you in that case. This can be done in a gentle and helpful way.

 

It sounds like this is a matter of finding another group that is run by someone who protects the members and makes the group function in a therapeutic way rather than a confrontive way. Is there anyone you can ask for a referral? Or you may want to talk to the local community mental health center about groups they recommend. You local United Way may also have good suggestions for you.

 

I am sorry this happened to you. But don't give up. You can find a better experience with some research and referrals.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Kate.

 

This group was as a result of a referral by my mental health team. I have expressed my concerns to them but they keep saying that I should stick with it. This group is for up to 2 years work, followed by a year of intensive psychotherapy (3 days a week, 2 sessions per day). It has, evidently, got great results and is the only therapeutic community in the south east.

 

I know that not many people get offered a place but I can't just change to what they want me to be. It was the actual facilitators that have made the comments to me ... if it had been another member I think I would have brushed it off.

 

The main facilitator knows my background ie the abuse, my relationship with my mum, how trust is a huge issue for me etc, which is why I am confused about her reaction this week. I have no problem with being challenged but I can't cope with feeling attacked.

 

I know that if I ring and say I'm not going this week then they will say that I should go and talk about this at the group. Maybe in an ideal world I should do exactly that, but I am scared of saying the wrong thing ... plus, I have only been there for 7 weeks and don't yet feel comfortable talking in front of everyone.

 

I have had a lifetime of being told that everything I said or did was wrong, so these remarks have just served to reinforce those beliefs.

 

I have a meeting with another new care coordinator this week so maybe I will talk with her although, because of things that have happened with care coordinators on this team, I cannot trust her.

 

Sorry, I'm feeling scared and very alone at the moment and I can't trust my own judgement anymore. I want to walk away but then I'm scared that I can't get better without it (mainly because they all keep telling me that this is what I need).

 

Sorry Kate. I think I need to find someone to talk all of this out with.

 

Sue

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Sue,

 

It is ok that you feel as you do. If you are uncomfortable with this group and have given it the best shot that you can, it may be time to move on. You are feeling that you cannot trust them, which is a big component in therapy. If you cannot trust who you are talking to, then you are not going to be willing to share. And not sharing holds you back.

 

Also, this may not be the style of therapy you need. It may work for a lot of people, but it doesn't not fit everyone's needs. And if the treatment team you have feels it is a successful program, that could be based on something like 80% of the people saying they liked it. There could be 20% who felt it did not work. But you are not hearing about the ones who are saying it didn't help because an 80% positive response is considered successful. Meanwhile, you are one of the 20% who don't agree.

 

Does this group tie in with your other treatment? Are you required to go in order to receive the other treatment like individual therapy? If not, I'd say it's a good idea to look at other options. No matter your issues, if you are being confronted with therapy that makes you shut down, it is not going to be helpful to you no matter what you do.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm not having any other treatment. The way I understand it I am not allowed to be in individual therapy at the same time as group therapy!

 

I have done years of 1:1 psychotherapy, but was encouraged to give that up a year ago to pursue abuse counselling. Unfortunately that was limited to a maximum of 12 weeks and it left me with lots of opened wounds, resurrected emotions and nowhere to take them to work through them!

 

I initially said that I would give this group until Easter so that I wouldn't beat myself up for not giving it a proper chance. Right now I don't know if I can keep going until then. I already feel like I've failed.

 

I considered not going again Friday but I know that the danger with having a week off is that I will want to go even less the following week.

 

One thing I am scared about is that the mental health team will give me a hard time for giving up.

 

The thing that makes me really feel that this isn't for me is the way I react when I feel attacked like I have felt eg Friday, when all this was said, shrugged it off in front of everyone, then I spoke to my best friend and laughed about it ... but I knew then that it had really hurt me. I took my meds early that night because I didn't want to be awake thinking about it but I awoke at 2am and didn't get back to sleep ... instead I got up, binged and then self harmed. I know that isn't how it should be but I'm not sure I can tell anyone about it.

 

I know I need to get this sorted one way or another.

 

Thanks for listening to me rambling on.

 

Sue

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Sue,

 

I wasn't sure if the team felt that this group was better for you for now, then they would resume individual therapy after you completed the group. Sometimes, programs are run in such a way that people are referred to whatever type of treatment the team feels is necessary at the moment. And once one portion is completed, the other is taken on.

 

Whether or not the treatment team is happy with your choice to discontinue the group therapy, this is your life, your treatment and therefore your choice. Are you fearful they will discharge you? If so, do you have other options or is your health system a one time, one choice situation?

 

Continuing in the group until a set time is not going to help you if you are already feeling the group is hurting your progress more than helping it. You are not a failure if you decide to leave. It is a personal choice based on whether or not the group is helpful, not a goal to reach a certain date while trying to participate in a damaging situation. This is about you. And only you can say if this is helpful or not. By saying it is not, you are standing up for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you, so it's important that you set your own boundaries and say this is enough, it's not helping me.

 

If your treatment team won't acknowledge your needs in this situation, you may want to explore other options. Can you work with a support group on line? If you need medications, can your personal physician prescribe for you? Is there a possibility of seeking out another therapist not connected to your present treatment team? If you are comfortable with moving on from your current situation, it might be beneficial to seek other options that give you more choice and let you feel more in control, and less bothered about seeking the help you feel you need.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Sue,

 

I wasn't sure if the team felt that this group was better for you for now, then they would resume individual therapy after you completed the group. Sometimes, programs are run in such a way that people are referred to whatever type of treatment the team feels is necessary at the moment. And once one portion is completed, the other is taken on.

 

Whether or not the treatment team is happy with your choice to discontinue the group therapy, this is your life, your treatment and therefore your choice. Are you fearful they will discharge you? If so, do you have other options or is your health system a one time, one choice situation?

 

Continuing in the group until a set time is not going to help you if you are already feeling the group is hurting your progress more than helping it. You are not a failure if you decide to leave. It is a personal choice based on whether or not the group is helpful, not a goal to reach a certain date while trying to participate in a damaging situation. This is about you. And only you can say if this is helpful or not. By saying it is not, you are standing up for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you, so it's important that you set your own boundaries and say this is enough, it's not helping me.

 

If your treatment team won't acknowledge your needs in this situation, you may want to explore other options. Can you work with a support group on line? If you need medications, can your personal physician prescribe for you? Is there a possibility of seeking out another therapist not connected to your present treatment team? If you are comfortable with moving on from your current situation, it might be beneficial to seek other options that give you more choice and let you feel more in control, and less bothered about seeking the help you feel you need.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I don't think the current mental health team would discharge me as I was referred to them in May last year in order that they could work with me for up to 2 years. Of course, I have no guarantee that they will keep me on their caseload for the whole 2 years. If they did discharge me all I can do is get my GP to refer me back to the Access Team but they are limited to 6 months work before referring me to the team I am with now!

 

I'd have no issue with transferring to another therapist on a 1:1 basis again, but I would have to fund that as they offer a maximum of 6 weeks on the NHS ... I am realistic enough to know that 6 weeks is not going to sort out 40+ years of my life!

 

There is nothing lined up for me by the mental health team once this group therapy is completed, so I wouldn't be putting anything in jeopardy by walking away from the group early!

 

I believe that even if I got discharged then the Access Team would have to offer me out patient appointments with their psychiatrist, so I wouldn't be completely stranded.

 

Being in control is so important to me as most of my life I have felt very out of control. I will speak with my new care coordinator Thursday and explain my concerns. I will then make a final decision about where to go from here.

 

Sorry I have rattled on! I couldn't make sense of my head because everybody seemed to be putting the pressure on me to continue but nobody was actually listening to me.

 

Thank you so much.

 

I have accepted each of your answers as I am so grateful. Thanks again.

 

Sue

 

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Sue,

 

You certainly have not rattled on. You have very legitimate concerns and I feel for you caught in this situation. It cannot be easy at all.

 

It sounds like you have thought this through very well. Your choices may be a bit limited, but you are doing what you can in a tough situation. You may want to try the online groups, self help through books and other resources, and even Just Answer if that works for you. And I will certainly be here to help you if you need help finding more resources or just want to talk.

 

I am always happy to help, anytime. I hope this situation works out and you can get what you need. You are in my thoughts.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Kate. I feel so much better for just offloading it ... it's all been going round and round in my head.

 

Thanks again.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're very welcome! I'm glad I could help.

 

Kate

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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
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Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.