Healing Series: Group Therapy with Pam Greenstone, MA, LPC

Pam Greenstone, MA, LPC teaches us what group therapy is all about. You won’t believe the amazing list of therapeutic factors Pam explains come from healing in community. We also learn about why group therapy can be so beneficial for adoptees specifically.

Show Notes


Topics We Discussed

  • Pam teaches us about the history of group therapy. The very first group therapy session was held in 1906!
  • Therapeutic Factors in group therapy (by Irvin Yalom):
    • Instillation of Hope
    • Universality
    • Imparting of information (psycho-education)
    • Altruism (giving help)
    • Recapitulation of the family of origin
    • Developing socializing techniques
    • Imitative behaviour
    • Interpersonal learning
    • Group cohesiveness (sense of belonging)
    • Catharsis
    • Existential factors (finding ways to relate and connect with each other)
  • Therapist-led group therapy vs peer-led support groups, self-help groups, self-help book groups, 12-step groups
  • In therapy groups you are trying to bring the focus back to the present moment and to the relationships in the room. “You can grow your capacity to start observing yourself”
  • Therapy groups are more structured. There are a set of very specific agreements in place for safety. There are multiple intake sessions with the therapist prior to joining the group.
  • In any healthy support group, or self-help group (etc.) setting we will see many of these therapeutic factors appear.
  • “Not all groups are helpful and therapeutic, it’s ok to listen to your instinct and exit a group if you don’t feel like it’s a safe enough place for you.”
  • What would bring an adoptee to move from seeing a therapist one-on-one to joining a therapy group?
  • Pam walks us through a few scenarios of things that happen during group therapy
  • You get a chance to practice awkward conversations, expressing real feelings, and see how it plays out with real life people in group. Then you have learned the skills to do that in your regular day-to-day life.
  • Harry Stack Sullivan “We are harmed in groups and therefore we must heal in groups”
  • Donald Woods Winnicott “There is no such thing as a baby. A baby can exist only in relation to a mother.”
  • Adoptee-specific benefits of group therapy
  • Set of agreements that are common to therapy groups:
    1. Agree to be present each week, on-time, and to remain throughout the meeting
    2. Agree to work actively on the problems that brought you to group and talk about the important parts of your life
    3. Agreeing to put feelings into words and not actions
    4. Agreeing to use the relationships made in the group therapeutically and not socially
    5. Agree to remain in the group until the problems that brought you to group have been resolved
    6. Agree to be responsible for your bill
    7. Agree to protect the names and identities of your fellow group members
    8. Agree to terminate appropriately
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