How to Be a Good Member of Group Therapy

When you walk in the room, remember to ask the Group Leader how she is, because she doesn’t get to talk about her own feelings very much.

Always sit in the same seat. People—especially people who go to Group Therapy—need consistency. Don’t wear makeup to Group. If you look too put together, the others won’t think your problems are real.

When the woman who sits to your left says she thought of you when she got wasted last weekend, don’t take it as an insult. Remember, in Group, you are defined by your damage. Don’t tell her you thought of her when you saw the mother in the bookstore struggling with the special needs child, because to you, she is the Mother of the Special Needs Child.

Don’t take up too much time when it’s your turn to speak, and always apologize for taking any time at all.

When the Group Leader reminds you that you’re allowed to take up space, apologize for apologizing.

If you don’t like something someone says, say “I’m having a reaction to that” instead of listing every reason they’re wrong.

When Group Leader tells everyone to trust their Higher Power, don’t tell her you’re an atheist.

When the Emotional Eater says she hates herself for eating so she eats more, tell her you hate yourself for drinking so you drink more. Tell her you hate yourself for the way you let other people treat you, even if you just hate the other people. Remember, in Group, the person you hate the most is always yourself.

If you’re silent for too long and the Group Leader asks you to respond to something a member says, say something insightful about their problem instead of relating it to yourself.

Don’t be silent for too long.

When someone else is speaking, don’t pick at your fingernails.

When the Mother of the Special Needs Child gives you useless or bad advice, say “I’ll think about that.”

Wonder how Group Leader always knows when time is up even though she never noticeably looks at the clock.

When Group Leader asks you how something makes you feel, don’t just say “bad.” Usually say “powerless” or “guilty.” Sometimes say “worthless.”

When someone cries, pass the box of tissues.

Find a way to relate your problems to your childhood. Remember, we’ve all had traumatic childhoods. Some of us just don’t know it yet.

When Group is over, don’t bolt out the door. Make small talk as you walk out together.

Come back next week, even if you don’t feel like it. Group Leader says the times you most need to come to Group is when you most don’t feel like it.

Buy a bottle of wine on the drive home. Next week, tell Group you drank a bottle of wine.