Group Therapy and Support Groups - Cheyenne VA Medical Center
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Cheyenne VA Medical Center

 

Group Therapy and Support Groups

Group therapy involves one or more clinicians who lead a group of patients, usually 5 to 15. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only.

Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as substance abuse, stress , depression, or chronic pain. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who seeking a job, trying to make a life change, or those who have experienced loss.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Psychologists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.

Groups can act as a support network and a sounding board. Other members of the group often help you come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge, and hold you accountable along the way.

Regularly talking and listening to others also helps you put your own problems in perspective. Many people experience mental health difficulties, but few speak openly about them to people they don't know well. Oftentimes, you may feel like you are the only one struggling — but you're not. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they're going through, and realize you're not alone.

Diversity is another important benefit of group therapy. People have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other people tackle problems and make positive changes, you can discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns.

More Than Support

While group members are a valuable source of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. Group therapy sessions are led by one or more psychologists with specialized training, who teach group members proven strategies for managing specific problems. If you're involved in an anger-management group, for instance, your psychologist will describe scientifically tested strategies for controlling anger. That expert guidance can help you make the most of your group therapy experience.

Joining a Group

To find a suitable group, ask your physician or your individual psychologist (if you have one) for suggestions. Also check with local hospitals and medical centers, which often sponsor a variety of groups.

When choosing a group, consider the following questions.

Is the group open or closed? 

Open groups are those in which new members can join at any time. Closed groups are those in which all members begin the group at the same time. They may all take part in a 12-week session together, for instance. There are pros and cons of each type. When joining an open group, there may be an adjustment period while getting to know the other group attendees. However, if you want to join a closed group, you may have to wait for several months until a suitable group is available.

How many people are in the group? 

Small groups may offer more time to focus on each individual, but larger groups offer greater diversity and more perspectives. Talk to your psychologist about which choice is better for you.

How alike are the group members? 

Groups usually work best when members experience similar difficulties and function at similar levels.

Is group therapy enough? 

Many people find it's helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual psychotherapy. Participating in both types of psychotherapy can boost your chances of making valuable, lasting changes. If you've been involved in individual psychotherapy and your progress has stalled, joining a group may jump-start your personal growth.

How much should I share? 

Confidentiality is an important part of the ground rules for group therapy. However, there's no absolute guarantee of privacy when sharing with others, so use common sense when divulging personal information. That said, remember that you're not the only one sharing your personal story. Groups work best where there is open and honest communication between members.

Group members will start out as strangers, but in a short amount of time, you'll most likely view them as a valuable and trusted source of support.

Examples of Current Groups You May Find Helpful:

Mindfulness Group

Mindfulness meditation is a very popular tool that can be used in many ways.  This group is for Veterans seeking to better manage their feelings of anxiety, anger, chronic pain, stress and/or depression. We will utilize mindfulness skills; including meditation, deep breathing, movement and observation of thoughts and feelings. Compassion and living fully in the present moment will be developed.

Substance Abuse Group

The group is focused on getting sober, developing an effective relapse prevention plan, and continuing a lifestyle centered around recovery from substance use.  The group will use an evidence-based practice as the basis for discussion.  Veterans in both early recovery and long-term recovery are welcome to attend the SATP group.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression and Anxiety

Vets learn how to understand the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  This group aims at reducing depression and anxiety symptoms by changing thoughts and behaviors through the use of specific skills. It is 16 weekly, 90-minute sessions with take-home practice between sessions.

Peer Support Group

Most Veterans who are successful in achieving recovery point to the support of other Veterans as a key to their success.  This is a weekly group for Veterans run by Veterans.  Any Veteran seeking recovery from a mental health or substance use challenge, or seeking to be helpful to other Veterans in recovery is welcome to attend.  This group allows for the conversation of all aspects of recovery, including recognizing symptoms, managing symptoms, how to use treatment effectively, and how to improve work and family life. 

Memory Skills Group

Concerns about memory are one of the most common complaints of adults over 50 years of age.  This 4-week class is designed to help Veterans better understand memory problems that may be caused by dementia, stroke, TBI, PTSD, etc. The class focuses on building skills to help adapt to memory problems. The skills do not necessarily lead to better memory, but they can help people compensate for their memory problems and have fewer memory-related frustrations.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PCT) Support Group:

This support group is specifically designed for Veterans diagnosed with PTSD.  The focus is on improving relationships, how various emotions are dealt with, and designing ways for dealing with the consequences of PTSD.  The goal is to have improved coping skills, improved social skills on various levels, reduction of PTSD symptomatic disruption on daily living, reduction of anger levels and improved communications.

Tobacco-Free Living Groups

This is a 6-week 60 minute group, for Veterans (or 12 week 30 minute group for VA employees) who want to quit using tobacco products.  Some of the topics include how to prepare for Quit Date; Coping & Nicotine Replacement; Behavioral Health Changes; and Relapse Prevention.

Pain School: Living with Chronic Pain

Pain School is a 5-week group course to better understand and manage chronic pain. Each session will focus on a new topic and skill that may be helpful in managing your pain and how you think about your pain.   While some people may experience a decrease in pain, this course focuses on living a fulfilling life in spite of pain.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Group

Skills-based, empirically supported treatment that has been found to be helpful with a number of problems that stem from difficulties adjusting mood, interacting with others, and experiencing distress/strong emotions. The goal is to help people function more effectively and build a life worth living. The group meets weekly for 90-minutes with take-home practice.

Women’s Support Group

The Women’s Support Group is a psychoeducational support group for women who have experienced trauma.  Topics covered include mindfulness, daily coping skills,  effects of trauma, and interpersonal relationships.  This group is informal and designed to be supportive of members wherever they are in their journey.  

Caregiver Support Group

This group provides a safe haven for sharing true feelings in a non-judgmental atmosphere.  It also allows for a social outlet where caregivers can make new friends.  Information about reliable products and services.  A place to learn new coping skills, saving caregivers a lot of trial and error.  Advice on what lies ahead, so caregivers can anticipate change.  Support for caregivers’ sanity and confidence, knowing they are not alone.  Help in dealing with family members, and support from people who truly understand your situation.

Contact Info

Location

  • Cheyenne VA and Clinics

Contact Number(s)

  • 307-778-7550 Ext. 7349
  • 888-483-9127 Ext. 7349

Hours of Operation

  • M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.