Overcome Your Anxiety in a Supportive Group Environment
Group therapy is a valuable opportunity to participate in a structured, supportive, weekly program led by a licensed therapist. Principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy are used to help participants develop useful skills to successfully manage anxiety and other mental health challenges. A therapy group provides a chance for you to practice skills in real life interactions, helping you to gain confidence as you look at certain situations in a new and different way.
Groups may be time-limited or ongoing, depending on the needs of the participants, and are usually comprised of six to ten people who are hoping to develop specific skills or work on common issues. While group therapy initially seems intimidating, research has shown that participants in group can benefit in ways that are different and sometimes better than individual therapy for the same condition.
Group Therapy at The Ross Center
The Ross Center offers a variety of group therapy options throughout the year, and we use the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to inform our group practice. We have groups for adults as well as children, and our groups are based in science and proven effective therapies.
Additionally, group therapy can be a cost-effective alternative to individual therapy, or an adjunct to your therapy designed to help speed recovery. You’ll find a safe and supportive environment for learning new skills, which can be a powerful foundation for durable change.
Group Therapy and Upcoming Events
- Northern Virginia
Led by Aditi Vijay, Ed.M., Ph.D., participants will gain knowledge in using the basic DBT principles of behaviorism, mindfulness,…
- Northern Virginia
In this interactive lecture format, Virgina Runko, Ph.D., CBSM, DBSM, will review the literature on assessing and identifying various…
- Washington, DC
Students and parents meet in separate groups to learn strategies for minimizing anxiety.
Group Therapy FAQ’s
You may have questions about what it’s like to participate in a group at The Ross Center. Find answers to your questions here:
No, all RC groups are open to everyone. However, outside patients will need to complete a group intake to assess if they are an appropriate fit for the group. (Current RC patients can talk to their provider to see if the RC groups are a good fit).
Most people in RC groups have other diagnoses in addition to the one the group is intended to address. For instance, someone with social anxiety disorder may also experience depression or ADHD. The initial intake will help sort out if other mental health concerns might interfere with group treatment. All groups at the RC are structured and focused on clear goals. Most participants also have an individual therapist to address other issues that might arise (although this is not necessarily a requirement).
That depends on the severity of anxiety, and the level of interference it’s causing in daily living, as well as how motivated you are to change, how engaged your are in the group, and most importantly, how much homework you do between group meetings. With fear of flying, taking just one flight—with a new “lens”, fresh information, mindfulness tools, and a willingness to accept discomfort—will be sufficient to continue flying. With social anxiety, group typically serves as a “jumping off point”, increasing social skills and social engagement.
No. All group members must commit to the full length of the group, and pay in full for the entire group course. If someone knows in advance they’ll have to miss more than one session, they will be asked to defer to a future group rather than sign up now. This is so that all individuals get the full benefit of the group, and that group cohesion is formed among all participants. Participants are signing up to work on their anxiety with other people—if those people aren’t there, the group fails!
RC group leaders are typically licensed clinical psychologists with extensive experience working one-on-one and in group settings using cognitive behavioral therapy to address anxiety disorders. They are considered experts in their field and employ evidenced-based strategies supported by social science research.
Approximately half of patients seeking group therapy are taking medication. That is an individual choice left up to you and your provider. For some, being on medication may reduce anxiety enough to be able to show up and participate in group. For others, gradually tapering off medication may make sense in order to feel anxious and learn how to tolerate the anxiety while doing exposure work.
Here are some of the core skills you’ll work on in group:
- Mindfulness—how to stay present in the moment on purpose without judgment
- Identifying, challenging, and replacing negative automatic thoughts
- Thought watching—noticing thoughts without engaging them
- Appropriate assertiveness—asking for what you need in a respectful but firm manner
- Relaxation—how to calm your nervous system
- Social skills—appropriate ways to engage socially with others
Behavior is DOING. To reduce anxiety, exposing yourself to the very thing you fear, i.e. doing what you’re scared to do, is essential. Like a slingshot, you need to pull back (feel more anxious) to propel forward (feel less anxious). This might mean flying on a plane if you fear flying, or it might mean talking to a stranger if you have social anxiety.
No one is ever forced to do anything in group! How much and when you do things is up to you—although you will be guided and encouraged. Exposure work is a core feature of the RC groups, but much of it is done as homework on your own timetable. If you feel anxious about exposures, that’s to be expected! If you didn’t feel anxious, this would be the wrong group for you. We take small steps to get started, and always ask, “Would you be willing to try…?”. The more you’re willing, the more progress you make in addressing your anxiety.
YES! Most RC groups include a workbook with the expectation that participants will read a chapter per week and complete short worksheets, as well as anxiety and behavioral logs. As the groups progress, the homework shifts to designing your own behavioral exposures (with the help of the group leader) to do between group sessions. “The more you put in, the more you get out.”
Yes! Unlike traditional therapy groups where members are instructed not to communicate with one another, in the RC groups, members are encouraged to interact outside of group to practice exposures (eg, with social anxiety, how to initiate and plan a social outing; with fear of flying, taking a field trip to a local airport). During the initial group session, parameters for interaction will be discussed with an emphasis on confidentiality.
The benefit of small groups (5-8 people, usually closer to 5) is that there is room to address everyone’s concerns. But more often than not, someone else in group shares the same concern. While not “support groups,” the RC groups foster a very supportive atmosphere where group members work to help one another by drawing on their own personal experience to share with others.
While we don’t accept insurance at the RC, we will provide you with a receipt after each session with codes that insurance companies recognize. You would be responsible for submitting those receipts for reimbursement. While every plan is different, some reimburse group therapy generously—we encourage you to call your company to inquire.