Most therapy groups run once a week. In our practice at Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy, we also offer a twice weekly group, but how does having a second session in the week help?
An essential aspect of any group therapy is building emotional relationships between group members, enabling strong attachments to form. This creates an enhanced sense of belonging which, in and of itself, is therapeutic.
In addition, because psychological difficulties tend to originate in some form of breakdown in early childhood relationships, group psychotherapy also emphasises the relationships in the group as an essential means of understanding oneself and others.
These relationships are both real and transferential (the latter, meaning other members and the conductor can ‘stand in’ for important relationships, especially in the original family). In this way, therapy groups offer all kinds of opportunities to explore the complexity of relationship dynamics, both past and present. This helps the individual to develop insight into their patterns of relating and what ‘went wrong’ early on, as well as the potential to find resolution and transformation in ongoing relationship problems.
Any functioning therapy group will enable these emotional bonds and dynamics to grow between members but in a twice weekly group these relationships are likely to be particularly intensified and strengthened.
Group analytic psychotherapy is concerned not only with reaching depth in relationship to others but also in relationship to oneself. In this approach, we are interested in what is known and conscious but also, and arguably more importantly, what is unknown and unconscious.
It has long been assumed and agreed, in the analytic professional field, that greater frequency of sessions will reach greater depths in the psyche. When the gaps between sessions are shorter there is less time for defences to build up. This is as true for group work as it is for individual work.
It is perhaps obvious to say that a more frequent therapy model will provide greater sense of continuity from session to session. Shorter gaps means that threads and conversations can be picked up, carried forward and explored. This facilitates the emotional intensity and the depth outlined above but can make the group also feel more containing.
This helps because therapy work can be anxiety-inducing. To be successful, therapy will always touch parts of ourselves that we don’t see, or don’t want to see, or don’t want others to see.
The more frequent contact also reduces anxieties that inevitably arise in making any close relationships. On the occasions friction or conflict in the group arises, the opportunity to return and repair is only a short time away.
Who would benefit from twice weekly group therapy?
Returning to my original title/question, you may be wondering if you are someone who might benefit from twice weekly group therapy?
Finances and Time
Of course, there can be practical considerations. A twice weekly group essentially involves greater time and financial commitment than once weekly groups. Currently, for example, the twice weekly group I run works out at £60 a week (2 sessions of £30 twice a week). This is £20 a week more that my once weekly groups.
However, it is worth noting that in relationship to individual work, £60 a week is a lower fee than that charged by many psychotherapy practices, including my own and those at BHP, for individual therapy.
In addition, if you feel you would benefit from working in a more frequent way, doing this in a group is financially far more cost effective than in individual work.
The time commitment is also something that some people find they need to think about. My experience is usually once people have made connections in the group, it becomes a part of their life and network and so easier to accommodate.
There is also a good argument that the intensity of the work speeds up the process and that, in the long term, more frequent psychotherapy tends to achieve results more quickly and more lastingly than once weekly. There are, of course, exceptions to this in both ways but my experience has certainly been that changes tend to come about more quickly and with greater tenacity in twice weekly groups.
Who might benefit?
So, who might benefit from this more intensive, in-depth, group work? Well, this is much the same as for any group therapy – see Is a Therapy Group Right for Me? Am I Right for a Therapy Group? – Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy
And, beyond that, I would say anyone and everyone!
It seems to me that the advantages, as outlined in this article, will have a special appeal to some people. This may be for different reasons; according to individual struggles, where people are in their lives, and what they feel drawn to. But ultimately, if you are looking for an in-depth and impactful psychotherapy with an emphasis on exploring your relationship dynamics and patterns, that is also cost effective, then this may well be a good option for you.
My focus here is on the ‘twice weekly’ element of this question, but if you are interested in reading more about group therapy, and its benefits, below are some links to some blogs and webpages.
(Further reading can also be found under ‘blog’ and then ‘groups’ on our homepage)
What is it like being in a Psychotherapy Group? Case study – Joe
How psychotherapy groups can help change our internalised family systems
Claire Barnes is a group analyst and training group analyst. She runs 3 groups at the practice,
Twice weekly: Mondays 4.15-6.45pm, Wednesdays 7.15-8.45pm
Once weekly: Thursday mornings 10.15-11.45am
Once weekly: Thursday evenings 6.15pm-7.45pm
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of joining any of her groups, please contact through the enquiry form.