Group members have said that having the opportunity to connect with other gay men in a safe environment is invaluable to their growth. If someone is working with another individual therapist, I seek to work collaboratively with his therapist.
Many people find group therapy to be like joining a healthy family. One that is thoughtful, caring, encourages you to open up, supports you, challenges you and helps you grow. When conflicts develop, as they do in any family, there is an opportunity to respond differently and work through these problems in a constructive way.
Group therapy is also the perfect place to learn how you come across to others. It is helpful to see the differences between how you perceive yourself and how others react to you initially and over time. You can also check out what makes sense about how you think about things, your attitude about yourself and how you conduct yourself.
We all face many transitions and challenges such as:
- Shifts in relationships.
- Career setbacks.
- Coming out.
- Struggling with bad habits.
- Family problems.
- And so on.
That's why a group is a good place to get support.
If you want to make some changes, group is a safe place to practice new ways of expressing and thinking about yourself.
Group members can also challenge any self-defeating behaviors you may be struggling with.
What Can I Talk About In Group?
Some men want to feel more comfortable being gay or socializing with groups of gay men. Others are comfortable with being gay but want feedback on problems they are dealing with.
Making yourself vulnerable to the group with feelings of sadness, loneliness, anger or voicing differing opinions can initially be difficult but ultimately is rewarding.
By opening up, you won’t feel alone with your problems as others often have similar feelings or experiences. And, it is possible to resolve your own issues by helping someone with similar problems.
You won’t be surprised to hear that we talk a lot about dating and related topics such as:
- Where to find available guys.
- How to sort through potential partners.
- Getting feedback on dates.
- Learning not to personalize rejection.
- Knowing when to have sex.
- Getting support for staying away from inappropriate guys.
- Looking at blocks to closeness.
- And much more.
The group can also help you find balance between time spent with friends and hobbies and time pursuing a mate.
We frequently talk about what makes a satisfying sex life. People discuss how comfortable they are having sex and how they feel about their bodies. Some guys talk about safe sex plans or concerns over anonymous / compulsive sex.
HIV has impacted all gay men. HIV positive men get support from the group to develop coping skills to move forward. And, if you are positive and dating, there is always the question of when to talk about your status. HIV negative men struggle with whether to get tested, staying negative and "can I date an HIV positive man?" Everyone is learning to cope with friends or partners who are HIV positive and how this illness continues to effect our lives.
When you are having problems in your relationship, the group can be a helpful sounding board. We talk about how to prevent negativity from getting out of control. And, how to communicate with your partner without blaming, criticizing or putting your partner down.
The group can also help you to learn more about yourself when other members or partners trigger old childhood issues in you and what role you may be playing with problems in these relationships. Some guys talk about how they are not sure they want to be in a relationship. Others talk about the difficulties of being vulnerable with feelings and combining sex with intimacy.
How Long Does Group Therapy Last?
While group therapy is not designed to be indefinite, it can take a significant commitment of time from you to really benefit from the intimate feedback you will receive.
When you join the group, everyone has to play catch up to try and get to know you, which can only happen as you reveal yourself over time. Just like any new situation, it takes a good couple of months to become familiar with your surroundings. Group can also be an invaluable companion to individual therapy.
What If I Am Not Ready For A Group?
If group therapy does not feel right to you at this time, but you want to talk about some of the problems outlined here, I am available for individual and couples sessions.