New step :D

I don't know who cares but I'll update

After months of hesitation I'll be seeing my GP this month to ask to be referred to a counsellor or a CBT group.

But what are you're experiences with either single or group counselling?

Would you recommend either? Need some guidance I guess

PS. That's for the the decision making process guys ( u know whu are) :D

43 Replies

  • Hi nice to see you and good luck with that. I find single counselling very intense but I think it does do the most good. I have only ever had NHS group counselling once and it was CBT. There were only 3 of us and I found the other 2 quite strange. Who knows what they thought of me? :O

    Let us know how you get on. Bev xx

  • Of course, thank you for your input Bev :3 x

  • We wouldn't be here if we didn't care. So you can stop that right now! :P

    CBT, cant remember what I've said now lol. I've previously attended group CBT. This was good, refreshing to hear the honesty and see the vulnerable sides of other people. We shared tears, anger, resentment, you name it! We helped each other. It was primarily for eating disorders at the time. But it covered so much of day to day life. How straight we are with people, say what we really feel, let people know when we're not happy or when they're being selfish etc. Or saying 'no' and sticking to it. Maybe someone always knocks at yours for something and is just taking the p!ss now pretty much. Stay in that uncomfortable moment for as long as you can. Use eye contact. Let them know you're not a pushover. And much much more. Currently awaiting CBT for OCD and anxiety now. Think I'll chase this up tomorrow. Unsure whether it will be group or one on one. Willing to do either though. X

  • Thanks - I'm considering group?

    I wish to know how your CBT goes if you wouldn't mind? For two reasons - Tocheck up on you and to see what you think of it at a more recent date :) x

  • I'm waiting for CBT and I'm very unsure about it. One to one I can cope with, I see a counsellor fortnightly now but that's Just keeping me stable. I don't know about a group situation, that increases my anxiety. Hope you get on okay. Regards Lorna.

  • Thank you Lorna, maybe you can leave a note here when you start to share your feelings towards it ... Or maybe in a personal message? That is more or less where my anxiety stems from - single would be too intence I feel but group would be too open ... SoilI'll have to see what my GP reccommeneds :)

  • I find the idea of anyone else listening to my fears and worries very difficult to cope with. One to one may be intense but I couldn't open up in a group. I will let you know when I get an appointment. Regards Lorna

  • Hi Lorna,

    The benefit of one-to-one is that it will go at YOUR pace, so although it has the potential to become intense it does not have to - YOU will be in charge as long as the therapist understands you, which hopefully they will :) Yes, do keep in touch, we can support you while you wait and settle in.


  • Thanks Sue xxLorna

  • Hiya,

    It is intense but I found that one to one was much better for me. I suffer with anxiety and having group counselling I may have just got lost in the group. Become a bit of an observer.

    Good luck with it,

    Sarah x

  • That's notable actually ... I have. Habit of becoming a spare part x

  • Hi Sarah

    Oh it's sad that you became an observer, that can easily happen and I have had it happen myself in one group. Did the leader not help you to become more involved? It may be that you were not ready for group counselling, often when that happens it is an indication that one to one is more appropriate at that stage. I know it was for me. Don't let it put you off from seeking further counselling if you feel you need it!


  • Hi Sue,

    I think I misled you there. I've only had one to one counselling either through NHS, work provided or privately funded.

    I fear that in group counselling I would become an observer, so I have never gone down that route.

    Thanks for your kind thoughts,


  • Oh sorry, it wasn't you Sarah, I didn't read your post properly! x

  • Hi

    Well done for seeking help. Whether individual or group is best I think depends on many factors as they each have their own benefits.

    Individual therapy is a private situation where the client has an opportunity to share often painful experiences without shame or a need to consider the feelings of the counsellor - you are are unlikely to be given advice but will be helped to find your own solutions through a process of sharing experiences and thinking about the meaning of them for you. Within individual therapy the relationship with the therapist is all important - if you find someone you feel understands you then that is likely to be an emotional experience which has the potential to be highly therapeutic. If you do not feel understood then you should tell the counsellor (trained counsellors understand that nobody can get on with everyone) and ask to be referred to someone else.

    Group therapy working in a CBT model is likely to be a process whereby you have a chance to talk about your problems with others with similar symptoms to your own but because the time is shared it is unlikely that you will get into such intense feelings as may occur within individual counselling. The CBT therapist is likely to provide practical exercises on paper which offer different and new ways of seeing problems and may set homework. CBT is a more practical approach than individual counselling which tends to focus upon emotional release and sharing of experiences to bring about change. Within CBT change comes about through changing the way we understand our experiences and is aimed at behavioural change, unlike counselling where although behaviour may change that is not the primary aim.

    Each is different, and which is best for you will depend upon how you prefer to understand your difficulties. If you want to change some difficult behaviours or ways of thinking but do not want to feel too intensely then you may prefer a CBT group, however if you want to understand yourself better and feel it will help to talk about your life in some depth then individual counselling will offer an opportunity for you to do so. They are not mutually exclusive, for example you could begin with talking things through with a counsellor and once you have an understanding of the issues that led to your difficulties then use CBT in a group to help you to move on from them. People who prefer a CBT approach may choose to see a counsellor if they find their symptoms return after finishing in a group or if as a result of being in a group they feel they need something deeper. For many people a group experience provokes less anxiety than individual counselling where the focus is upon them and their experiences and is therefore more intense, but for people with social difficulties individual counselling or therapy offers an opportunity to develop a greater feeling of security prior to joining a group.

    So, it depends which you think you might prefer. What are your thoughts?


  • I do have social difficulties however I feel that CBT could be more beneficial considering what it focuses on - that was such a helpful answer thank you so much for thanking he Tims to wrote all that :)

  • No problem, clarifying your own beliefs about your symptoms is always the first step in finding the appropriate treatment for each individual. I hope you find CBT helpful but do not rule out other forms of treatment as for some people CBT is life-changing whilst others find it helps them to cope better but they still feel a need for counselling. So do what feels right for you. x

  • Hi Sue thanks for that very comprehensive description which I'm sure

    Will help a lot of people.

    I had one to one Therapy and found it excellent, as I felt I got a bit lost

    In a Group Situation.

    How are you Sue? Hope you had a good weekend.

    Warm wishes


  • That's my worry, getting lost, but I can speak to the group leader I suppose :) x

  • You can speak to whoever you like, as you can here - and in many situations in everyday life :) x

  • That's true :)

  • Hi Hannah

    Yes groups can be difficult for some people - but also it depends upon the model of therapy that the group is using. CBT groups tend to be quite pragmatic and applied and because of that there is a process whereby each person has a turn and the leader generally ensures that, whereas in a therapy group that is less structured the leader will allow the group to evolve (like this site) and some people readily feel lost. I'm not sure which your experience was?

    I'm feeling a lot better thanks, after feeling very weepy and low for days, staying in those feelings and not pulling myself out of them, I now feel quite settled in myself (today at least!). I've even begun some in depth preparation for an art project that I feel is now underway rather than just being something I had in mind. I've been researching and thinking for a while, then began actually writing and brainstorming into a large sketchbook and now I find myself thinking further how to develop the project into sections and various kinds of artwork. If it comes about then it could potentially keep me busy for years, though I haven't actually done any art yet, just a bit of colouring in on the structure I am devising. But I felt very happy for hours yesterday, engrossed in reading, writing notes, adding to my brainstorm and then colouring, it felt lovely!

    I'm not sure about going back to that centre, I can't go anyway this week - well I could go today but it's raining heavily so wouldn't want to go out - but I will see how I feel next week.

    Oh, by the way did I tell you that my son will be visiting from Beijing in August, only for a couple of days but at least I will be able to give him a hug, spoil him a bit and tell him I love him. :)

    What about you Hannah, did you have a good weekend, do anything much?


  • Oh Sue, how lovely to have your son home for a few days. What job does he do in Beijing? You have such well travelled kids. It is just a shame you are all on different continents for much of the time!

    Sarah x

  • Yes, it will be lovely :) He finished an MA in Philosophy and went to Beijing with the intention of teaching English to children for a year, which he did, but liked it so much he stayed on, then met his wife to be and that was it. They married and moved to Beijing and now he's doing a PhD in Philosophy - studying for it entirely in Mandarin and Cantonese! He'll probably end up teaching at a University either in China or somewhere in Europe.

    You know Sarah, I think the reason they both have travelled is that we had foreign students as lodgers when they were children and they really enjoyed hearing about the different countries. I think that sparked an interest and they are also both exceptionally good at languages, probably because both their Dad and I played with words when they were little, mixed up sounds for fun, played quizzes about literature and films in the car to stop them getting bored, oh loads of other things we just did naturally. They are both lovely and as you can hear I am a proud mum.


  • I've never had group therapy, only one to one counseling over short term issues such as my divorce, and one time when I got so depressed I was not functioning. I always imagined I would struggle to get involved in a group, much the same as I did at school. Does the counselor make sure everyone gets an equal chance to benefit? How does it compare to using this online forum to air one's issues?

  • I have found this site to be incredibly useful - I think this is maybe how group therapy would feel - I am currently in school and I'm in a group of social outcasts (in a nice way)

  • Dani

    Do you mean you have opted out from school? I passed the 11-plus which meant I was deemed 'bright' and went to grammar school, but then my parents separated, I was in shock but nobody noticed, then we moved house which left me feeling lost. My mum didn't realise and I had a breakdown for three years as a result of which I truanted throughout that time, finally leaving school at 15 (before the school leaving age at the time). Nowadays I would probably have had CAMHs team involvement due to all my absences but that didn't happen. I used to play with fire at home, set light to the chimney several times, felt so guilty. Unlike you I didn't have the benefit of belonging to a group at all so was totally isolated.

    You say a group of social outcasts, by that I wonder do you mean a group of truanters? Or maybe you do go to school but look or behave differently?


  • I am school and enjoying it ... I meant that my friendship group are very socially awkward ... I'm in year 13 at the moment and enjoying it very much :) ... That is a deep story and I appreciate u sharing it with me x

  • You are welcome - and of course you are socially awkward, you are 13! x

  • Haha I'm 17 but in year 13 at school :D

  • Oh, sorry... I have not got my head around the year labelling - we didn't have that in my time - though my husband works at assessing learning difficulties of school children so I should have learned by now. Well at 17 you still have the right to be anti-social, I know I was! x

  • Hehe that's good then xD x

  • Hi Finding Me I think the chances of getting lost in a Group depend

    On the way the Group is run, and the expertise and experience of

    The Group Leader.

    A good Leader will make sure everyone gets a chance and they will

    Politely silence the people on the Group who go off the point, or

    Those people who try and hog all the attention of the Leader.

    That was my experience and once the Leader laid down pretty firm

    Boundaries with the members it seemed to work very well, but it

    Does need a really strong Group Leader or it could descend into chaos

    And people might get left out.

    Hope this helps.


  • Absolutely Hannah. The most difficult thing for the leader with an unstructured group is knowing when to say something and when to trust that the group will handle any conflict or draw in anyone who is too withdrawn to become involved themselves. Groups are very powerful and can act for good or bad (think of groups of football hooligans!) but therapy groups are usually an optimal size (8-12) to take care of each other as long as the symbolic parent - the leader - is there and felt to be ensuring things don't get out of hand and no harm comes to anyone. It's a bit like a parent allowing children's play to become boisterous and know when to intervene and when to just watch and listen.

    You are right Hannah, in many groups that is what would happen. However, in an analytic group the leader would not ensure everyone got a chance in any obvious way but would they would do is to ask the group as whole to think about what it might be like for people who haven't said anything, to think about why that might be. They would not silence people but would ask group members what it felt like for them when some people talked a lot, whether they found it difficult. The purpose of an analytic group is not to parent the group by telling members what to do but to provide the conditions in which the members become more mature and learn to think more about their own needs alongside those of other people, to understand how people affect one another as they interact - in other words to become more self-aware in order to also become more aware of others. The result is being better able to form healthy adult relationships and become better citizens.

    Groups don't descend into chaos Hannah - that is primitive fear we all have, that if someone doesn't take charge chaos will result and it is true that in task-oriented groups someone usually has to lead whether formally or informally. But in an analytic therapy group chaos will not result because the leader is providing a sense of safety simply by their presence and the assumption that they will intervene if necessary. What does happen in an unstructured group is that some people will feel distress, some will become angry, some will try to lead, some will opt out, etc. If the group is secure (time, place, skilled leader) and continues then the group members will resolve those problems between themselves, over and over again, as gradually the members will become more at ease in themselves and with others. Just as we do here - nobody leads, we are all equal - apart from a few very basic rules to ensure our safety.


  • Hi Finding Me

    Sorry if I don't recall who you are, I often don't read usernames and seldom remember them so if we have had lots of contact before but I have forgotten then tell me off!

    Like you at school I was always on my own and struggled to get involved in any groups but I have found that the more I have understood the issues that led to my depression and the more experiences I have had of being in a therapy group (and leading them!) the more comfortable I am in a group. I came to realise over time that belonging to a group means being myself, much the same as on this site, speaking when I want to and saying what I genuinely have to say but also remaining silent when I want to. Therapy groups vary in the amount of structure they provide, in other words how actively the leader steers what happens in the group. Structured groups are easier for most people but over time I have come to find unstructured groups (like this) most useful and comfortable because they allow me to BE which is what I found most difficult as a child due to my parents not being able to provide suitable circumstances. In order to feel at ease in unstructured groups where the therapist is less obviously active it is necessary to feel reasonably comfortable in oneself with silence, but paradoxically those are the groups that are most therapeutic for people who struggle in them!

    Within the NHS the groups offered are usually structured by the leader even when it is not obvious that's happening - the exception are certain in-patient or out-patient groups where people stay in the group for perhaps several years. Because of the cuts you are unlikely to be offered long term help of that kind, but if you can afford it then long term analytic therapy in a group is excellent for shifting underlying issues around being with other people and fitting in, though it's likely to be about £40 a week unless you can find a group run by a therapist in training... It would be similar to using this forum but with the benefit of 'real' relationships - in other words when using this site we invest each of the other people with a lot of fantasy characteristics which, if we actually met the person, might not be how they seem, or if it was then there may be lots of other characteristics we know nothing about through the website - for all you know I might be an alcoholic or self-harmer - or husband-batterer (I am not :). In a therapy group our fantasies are always being corrected by experience and so the relationships we form in the group help us to deal better with the reality of relationships in every day life without idealising or misjudging one another. Group therapy also offers an opportunity to learn how people get to know us with all our 'faults' and see who we really are, the masks fall and over time if the group is secure - if the time and place remain stable and the leader doesn't interfere with the group process - then we can learn that most people will like us as we are even though they may not like some things about us, we will discover it's ok to be angry, distressed, needy, critical, etc and that those things don't make us unloveable people. It's a chance to re-learn what we needed to learn in childhood, that we are all both good and bad and that groups are good and bad too but are better than feeling alone.

    Are you thinking of joining a therapy group, or is your interest in knowing how they work just out of interest?


  • Hi Sue,

    I'm Maddy. I was just asking out of interest, but after these replies I think I might get something out of joining one. It sounds as if you and Hannah have had some positive experiences with them. Only thing is I don't think they have them around here. It is a very isolated place. I also hate driving far, especially in the evenings. However at least we have HU.

  • Hi Maddy,

    What is HU??

  • What Gemma said. Sorry, I thought I was being cool using initials.

  • that's ok, I'm not cool :) x

  • I plan on joint one so knowing how they work would help xD

  • HU is Health Unlocked I think Sue (I know I'm not Maddy but was just following the thread) I've found the whole thread very interesting and informative as regards the aims and processes of therapy.

    Gemma x

  • Just to add on to that, I too have found the notes very helpful and would like to thank all you guys for answering me :)

  • Thanks for asking. I would not have thought to ask about this but found it useful too.

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