I’m Huilin Lai, LCSW-R, the Director of Ally Counseling and Therapy. Many of you probably learned about us through our therapy groups. Group therapy is an amazing way to empower people. Look, I often ask my own client, "so this thing you shared with me, have you ever discussed it with your friends?" They were usually confused, then I'd tell them "If you talked to your friends about it, it's likely they had the same experience". They were probably shocked, "You mean it's normal?". I'd laugh, "Yes, there's nothing wrong with you feeling/thinking that way". It's indeed the powers of sharing to normalize, and more importantly to connect!!! The world is so surreal and lonely during the pandemic. We all need more support at this time. We don't have to go through everything alone.
A lot of people are unfamiliar with the group modality and expressed concerns of joining groups. We understand. Support groups may have drawbacks but effective groups with skillful group facilitators can help steer away from potential problems.
Here are my answers to some frequently asked questions:
What if I cannot afford the groups?
If you’re a college student with student insurance. It’s likely we can accept your insurance or offer you student discount. We also have discounted rates for healthcare workers to appreciate their heroic efforts during the pandemic. Please reach out to us for detailed payment options.
What if I’m not sure about the groups, can I drop out if they don’t fit my needs?
Yes, you can definitely leave. We understand our groups may not meet all your needs. Our group intake worker will help you select the best group for you and answer all your questions before signing you up. Our facilitators will introduce each group member and group agenda to you the first session. We encourage group members to participate at least 2-3 sessions before withdrawing from it.
Will I meet new group members every time? I have social anxiety.
We hear you. Currently all our groups are closed groups, meaning we won’t accept new members after 2nd or 3rd session.
What if group members go around share my confidential stories?
Don't worry, confidentiality policy will be included in our group guidelines. Everything shared in the room stays in the room. If group members fail to follow confidentiality policy, they will be excluded from future group discussions. Group members only need to share their preferred names and generic information at the beginning. You don’t have to disclose private information and feelings about you until you feel fully safe with other group members.
What if we have disruptive group members?
Don't worry, we carefully screen group candidates and we build our group agreements together. You can bring up any concerns you may have during the intake and we will include them in our group guidelines. All of our group members will have to agree on guidelines including "respect others" to stay in the group.
What if someone shares disturbing experiences and I'm triggered?
Yes, we hear you. We understand it's triggering time for everyone and anything seemingly small to some people can be extremely disturbing for others. We will make sure to include safety rules in our group guidelines. We will assess each member's emotional bandwidths beginning of each session to better direct member sharing. Group facilitators will redirect group sharing to make sure safety of each group member.
What about emotional entanglement, group tension or interpersonal conflicts?
Our facilitators are all well trained in group work. We will intervene if we notice any unhealthy group dynamics. You can also reach out to us in private if you experience any discomforts in group.
What if other group members or group facilitator offer me inappropriate or unsound advice?
We are with you here. Our facilitators are well trained in evidence based group therapy modalities. We will try our best to provide scientific information. We also encourage you to keep practice critical thinking in our groups. As you’re the expert of what’s the best for you. Things relevant to other group members may not be helpful to you. We rely on your feedbacks to design an effective group agenda.
The groups and the facilitators all sound fabulous, but I don’t have faith in me. What if competitive comparisons with others make me feel worse?
We get the same discomfort a lot from previous group members. Competitive comparisons do exist in our groups and….perhaps everywhere else…. Maybe because you have competitive mindset? I know sometimes it can be constructive, motivating you to work harder, but often times destructive right? Some group members chose to join us to learn how to contain their destructive competitive mindset. Believe or not, you’re not alone. A lot of people like you tried to run away from peers, block those who make them feel bad, or even close social media accounts. Pandemic may make things somewhat safer for people who’s been actively withdrawing from the world. But hey, what’s going to happen when the pandemic is over?
Our groups may not be the perfect shelters for people who are struggling with constant destructive comparisons, but we’ll try our best to make it a safer in between place for you to transition back to the real world. And you may also meet other people in the same boat with you.
Join us to experience the Power of Group!!!